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The Man Trap (episode)

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"The Man Trap"
TOS, Episode 1x05
Production number: 6149-06
First aired: 8 September 1966
Remastered version aired: 29 September 2007
6th of 80 produced in TOS
  1st of 80 released in TOS
43rd of 80 released in TOS Remastered
  1st of 728 released in all
M 113 Creature
Written By
George Clayton Johnson

Directed By
Marc Daniels
1513.1 (2266)
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A mysterious creature stalks the Enterprise, murdering crew members. (Series Premiere)




Orbiting the planet

The arrives at the planet M-113 to provide supplies and routine medical exams to Doctor Robert Crater and his wife, Nancy, with whom Dr. Leonard McCoy was once romantically involved. M-113 has been home to the Craters for five years, during which time they have conducted an archaeological survey of the planet's ruins. They are the only known inhabitants of the planet.

Kirk, McCoy, and crewman Darnell beam down to the planet and meet Dr. Crater and, apparently, Nancy Crater, but each of the landing party sees a different woman. McCoy, who says he is amazed at how little Nancy has changed since he last saw her, sees Nancy as he knew her twelve years prior. Darnell sees a completely different, younger blond woman who looks exactly like someone he met before on Wrigley's Pleasure Planet. Kirk sees a woman similar to the woman McCoy sees, but more appropriately aged. After Crewman Darnell steps outside to get some fresh air, he is lured away by the seductive version of Nancy Crater that he sees.

Act OneEdit

Dr. Crater then arrives. Crater tells Kirk that the only thing they need are salt tablets. Otherwise, they want to be left alone. Kirk debates this, insisting they must need other supplies and that regulations require that McCoy give them physicals. During the physical, a woman's scream is heard from outside.

When Kirk goes to investigate, he finds Darnell dead, with Nancy standing over him. His face is scarred with circular marks. Nancy claims she saw him put a poisonous plant called a Borgia in his mouth.

Kirk and McCoy and the dead crewman beam back up. When the transporter room reports that one of the party is dead, Spock, who is in command, unemotionally responds, "Bridge acknowledging," causing Uhura to express wonder that Spock did not even ask who among the party had died.

Aboard the Enterprise, McCoy determines that Darnell was not poisoned, and in fact McCoy can find nothing wrong with him at all.

Act TwoEdit

Later, McCoy discovers that Darnell's body has been drained of salt.

Kirk, McCoy, and two crewmen beam back down to the planet to investigate further, and Kirk insists that Dr. Crater and his wife beam up to the Enterprise until the investigation is complete. Abruptly Dr. Crater runs off to find Nancy. Sturgeon, one of the crewmen who beamed down with Kirk and McCoy, is found dead. The other, Green, is also killed by Nancy and then "Nancy" transforms into Green.

Kirk and McCoy question Nancy/Green, and then the three beam up to the Enterprise.

The woman Kirk and McCoy saw as Nancy Crater, and later Green, is a shape-shifting creature, the last surviving native of M-113, and can literally appear as a different being to each person "she" meets. By reaching into their minds and drawing on their memories, the creature can lull her potential victims into a false sense of security, and apparently hypnotize them, before killing them. Still in the image of Green, the creature follows Yeoman Rand (who is carrying a tray of food, including a salt shaker), but leaves without harming anyone, revealing the deception, or getting any salt.

Loose aboard the Enterprise, the M-113 creature begins killing members of the crew, first by posing as someone they know and trust, and then draining their bodies of salt.

Act ThreeEdit

Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet to capture Professor Crater. Crater does not want to be captured and fires a laser pistol at Kirk and Spock, hitting and destroying one of the ancient planetary structures. Kirk and Spock then set their phasers for stun. Spock then distracts Crater and Kirk fires a red bolt from his phaser and stuns Crater. Kirk and Spock then question Crater about the creature. After Kirk inquires about Nancy, Crater says that she has been dead for years. He also describes the M-113 creature, comparing it to the buffalo on Earth that once covered three states, but no longer. The problem facing the M-113 creature is the need for sodium chloride – salt. The creature will die without salt. The rest of its race died due to this shortage, and now "Nancy" is the last of her kind.

Act FourEdit

In the Enterprise's briefing room, Kirk holds a conference with department heads and Professor Crater. The M-113 creature appears at this meeting as McCoy. It is during this meeting that Crater informs everyone that he and the last surviving creature have formed a symbiotic relationship. Crater provided the M-113 creature with the needed salt and, in turn, the creature gave the professor companionship... something Crater craved since the creature murdered his wife, the real Nancy Crater, for her salt. Crater also admits that he can recognize the creature in any guise, but does not reveal that the creature is present in the appearance of Dr. McCoy.

Kirk McCoy & Nancy

Kirk, McCoy, and the M-113 creature, posing as Nancy Crater

Finally, the creature kills Crater and changes into Nancy Crater to beg McCoy to defend it (her) from Kirk and Spock, who have figured out the creature's secret. They then rush to the doctor's quarters and convince him that this is not the real Nancy. To convince McCoy that "Nancy" is not what she seems, Spock repeatedly and violently strikes "Nancy", who is apparently not affected at all. Finally, "Nancy" strikes Spock, knocking him across the room. Then the creature reverts to what is its apparent natural form, placing its hands on Kirk's face. Kirk cries out, and finally, in an emotionally painful move, McCoy kills the creature with a phaser blast, saving Kirk and the Enterprise crew. Afterwards, the Enterprise departs its orbit of M-113. Spock notices a solemn-looking Kirk in his captain's chair and asks what is wrong. Kirk replies "I was thinking about the buffalo, Mr. Spock."

Log entriesEdit

  • "Captain's log, stardate 1513.1. Our position, orbiting planet M-113. On board the Enterprise, Mr. Spock, temporarily in command. On the planet, the ruins of an ancient and long dead civilization. Ship's surgeon McCoy and myself are now beaming down to the planet's surface. Our mission, routine medical examination of archaeologist Robert Crater, and his wife, Nancy. Routine, but for the fact that Nancy Crater is that one woman in Dr. McCoy's past."
  • "Captain's log, additional entry. Since our mission was routine, we had beamed down to the planet without suspicion. We were totally unaware that each member of the landing party was seeing a different woman, a different Nancy Crater."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 1513.4. In orbit around planet M-113. One crewman, member of the landing party, dead by violence... cause unknown. We are certain the cause of death was not poison."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 1513.8. I am now certain that the violent death of my crewman was caused by some strange lifeform."
  • "Captain's log, additional. Armed and able-bodied crewmen are not attacked and slaughtered this easily. Apparently, the killer can immobilize them as it approaches, perhaps with some hypnotic or paralyzing power. The answer lies with Professor Crater."
  • "Captain's log, continuing. The Enterprise has been invaded by a creature capable of assuming any form and with the capacity to paralyze and draw the life from any one of us."

Memorable quotesEdit

"Go away. We don't want you."
"What you want is unimportant right now. What you will get is what is required by the book."

- Crater and McCoy, on the routine medical examination required by Starfleet

"Mister Spock, sometimes I think if I hear that word frequency once more, I'll cry."

- Uhura, starting a conversation with Spock

"Tell me how your planet Vulcan looks on a lazy evening when the moon is full."
"Vulcan has no moon, Miss Uhura."
"I'm not surprised, Mister Spock."

- Uhura and Spock

"This man shouldn't be dead. I can't find anything wrong with him. According to all the tests, he should get up and just walk away from here."

- McCoy, on the death of Darnell

"Message, captain. Starship Base on Corinth IV requests explanation of our delay here, sir. Base Commander Dominguez says we have supplies he urgently needs."
"Tell José he'll get his chili peppers when we get there. Tell him they're prime Mexican Reds, I hand picked them myself. But he won't die if he goes a few more days without them."

- Uhura and Kirk

"But it's a mystery. And I don't like mysteries. They give me a bellyache. And I've got a beauty right now."

- Kirk, on Crater's need for salt tablets

"You could learn something from Mister Spock, doctor. Stop thinking with your glands!"

- Kirk to McCoy, on the search for Nancy

"Why don't you go chase an asteroid?"

- Rand, to "Green"

"Yeah, how'd you like to have her as your own personal yeoman?"

- Crewman, admiring Yeoman Rand walk down the corridor

"May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet."

- Sulu to Rand, as she brings him a food tray

"Why do people have to call inanimate objects she?"

- Sulu, to Rand

"You been nipping Saurian brandy or something?"

- Rand, to "Green" in the botany room

"Keep a tight fix on us. If we let out a yell, I want an armed party down there before the echo dies."

- Kirk to Uhura, just before he beams down to the planet

"This thing becomes wife, lover, best friend, wise man, fool, idol, slave. It isn't a bad life to have everyone in the universe at your beck and call! And you win all the arguments!"

- Kirk to Crater, on the M-113 creature

"Fortunately, my ancestors spawned in another ocean than yours did. My blood cells are quite different."

- Spock, on surviving the creature's attack

"It's killing the captain! Shoot it, doctor, quickly!"
"No! No!"
"It's killing the captain! Shoot, quick!!"
"I won't shoot Nancy!"
"This is not Nancy! If she were Nancy, could she take this?!"

- Spock and McCoy, as Spock begins to punch the creature in the face

"Lord, forgive me."

- McCoy, before killing the creature

"Something wrong, captain?"
"I was thinking about the buffalo, Mister Spock."

- Spock and Kirk, on the death of the creature

Background information Edit

  • "The Man Trap" was the first Star Trek episode to air, on 8 September 1966. As Robert H. Justman and Herbert F. Solow recount in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, the decision to broadcast it before any of the other limited number of completed episodes was largely a process of elimination. Although it had good special effects and demonstrated the series' intelligent approach to alien life forms, "The Corbomite Maneuver" was not chosen because its completion was delayed by the post-production process and virtually all of its action took place aboard the Enterprise. The latter drawback also weighed against "Charlie X", which was further deemed "too gentle" a tale because it dealt with the problems of an adolescent. "Mudd's Women" was out of the running because no one wanted to lead off the series with a risqué story about selling women in space. The second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", was considered too "expository" in terms of its background to be broadcast so early. Justman himself favored "The Naked Time" because he thought it would provide an ideal introduction to the different characters' personalities. In the end, "The Man Trap" won out because its straightforward action plot was not considered too exotic, it had the advantage of a monster to thrill the viewers, and it fulfilled the series' "strange new worlds" concept.

Script and story Edit

  • The first draft of this episode's script was completed on 13 June 1966, with the final draft being completed three days later. In The Star Trek Interview Book, author George Clayton Johnson recalled that story editor John D.F. Black's only major objection to his first draft was that the M-113 creature did not arrive aboard the Enterprise until the third act. Black argued that the crew had to be put in jeopardy sooner, and so Johnson revised the script accordingly.
  • An early title for this episode was "Damsel With a Dulcimer". Professor Crater was supposed to drive a tractor around the archaeological site in the original story outline.
  • In Johnson's and Black's script version of 13 June 1966, the moral dilemma of killing 'the last of its kind' had been more pronounced, with the creature, disguised as McCoy, trying to reason with the crew. Also in that version, Professor Crater lives in the end, mourning the loss of the creature. Gene Roddenberry's rewrite for the final draft toned down the emotional aspects of their relationship in favor of a more straightforward monster plot, having the creature kill its own companion and lover. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
  • Johnson's original draft mostly lacked the presence of Spock – it was Scotty who accompanied Kirk to catch Crater – which was also changed by Roddenberry. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
  • Sulu's botanical collection was much more lavish in Johnson's original script, including a plant resembling the face of a Chinese dog, etc. This was eliminated for budgetary reasons, Beauregard remaining the only moving "exotic plant". (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
  • It was Roddenberry's idea to have the creature, in its illusory form, speak Swahili to Uhura. Kellam de Forest supplied him with the translation. In English, the illusory crewman says "How are you, friend. I think of you, beautiful lady. You should never know loneliness." (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
  • This episode bears a resemblance to an earlier George Clayton Johnson story called "All of Us Are Dying," later adapted by Rod Serling for The Twilight Zone episode "The Four of Us Are Dying", first aired on January 1, 1960. That show also involved a person who could make himself into whomever he chose. The episode featured actors Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Peter Brocco, and a score written by Jerry Goldsmith.
  • The episode was novelized by James Blish under the original scripted name "The Unreal McCoy" in the first Star Trek adaptation collection, released in the US by Bantam Books in January 1967.
  • Blish changed some of the names in his novelization, possibly working from an earlier script draft. The planet is called Regulus VIII, and the archeologists are Robert and Nancy Bierce.

Credits Edit

  • As the first episode actually telecast, the opening credits are slightly different from most other first season shows. Gene Roddenberry has "created by" credits and there is no "starring" before William Shatner's name. This version of the credits was used only once more, in "Charlie X".
  • In this episode, Garrison True and Larry Anthony both speak several on-screen lines, yet are not listed in the closing credits.
  • In the first season, directors and writers were not even credited until the very end of each episode, while they are credited right after the title of each episode beginning in season two.

Cast Edit

  • The very first Enterprise crew members whom the television audience saw in this premiere episode were Spock, Uhura, and Leslie, sitting in the command module on the bridge (which is, in fact, a recycled shot from "The Naked Time").
  • James Doohan (Scotty) does not appear in this episode, but he is briefly heard on Kirk's communicator in dialog lifted from another episode.
  • William Shatner has severe problems to this day with persistent ringing in his ears, a condition known as tinnitus. He says it was caused by explosions going off near him during his television work. In both this episode and "Arena", explosions occur very close to Shatner. Leonard Nimoy also had tinnitus due to this occurrence, but not as severe as Shatner's.
  • Guest stars Jeanne Bal and Vince Howard were both regular performers playing faculty members on the 1963–65 public high school drama Mr. Novak, a program on which many future Trek performers guested (including George Takei and Walter Koenig).

Costumes Edit

  • The costume of the M-113 creature was designed by Wah Chang. Chang obviously used a modified gas mask as the creature's mouth. The costume later appeared, displayed on the wall of Trelane's castle in "The Squire of Gothos". Later, the "creature" found a new home in Robert Justman's office, along with the two Gorn suits from "Arena" and the "frozen" mannequin from "The Naked Time". (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story)
  • The suit worn by Barnhart bears a strong resemblance to the radiation suits seen in The Outer Limits episode "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles" (guest-starring Leonard Nimoy), even down to the numbers seen on the suit. There were several other holdovers from The Outer Limits in Star Trek, notably creatures created by Janos Prohaska that were modified to create creatures seen in the Talos zoo in "The Cage" and, of course, the Horta in "The Devil in the Dark".
  • For the first time, Uhura wears a red uniform instead of a gold one.
  • A female crewmember wearing pants can be seen on a corridor. "Charlie X" is the last episode featuring a crew woman wearing pants.
  • In one of the red alert scenes on an Enterprise corridor, the crewmen are wearing turtleneck uniforms. It is a recycled (originally unused) shot from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". (It can be seen at the beginning of Act One, in the original, pre-broadcast version of the second pilot.)

Visual and sound effects Edit

  • The visual of the planet M-113 from orbit is reused footage previously representing Alfa 177 in "The Enemy Within" (although that segment ended up airing after this one). This planet effect was reused again many times during the series, as Tantalus V in "Dagger of the Mind", Planet Q and Benecia in "The Conscience of the King", the iron-silica planet in "The Alternative Factor", Beta III in "The Return of the Archons", Janus VI in "The Devil in the Dark", Organia in "Errand of Mercy", Mudd's planet in "I, Mudd", Argus X in "Obsession", and Ardana in "The Cloud Minders".
  • A ricochet sound effect is used when Crater is stunned by the phaser shot, the only time this effect is used in the series. Thereafter, Alfred Ryder's voice is slowed down to indicate the stun effect.
  • In early episodes like this one, there are up and down indicators that light up outside the turbolifts. Although they are seen in subsequent episodes, only in the earliest ones do they actually light up to indicate direction of travel. Elevator indicator lights later show up in engineering above one of the consoles.
  • The bridge sound effects still retain sounds from the two pilots. By the time Roddenberry left as producer, those original sounds were not heard again, with the brief exceptions of being heard while on the bridges of the Exeter and the Lexington. The DVD releases, however, have overlaid these older sound effects in every episode. They are presented as "rear channel" sounds which gives the episodes a "surround sound" effect.
  • When Nancy Crater first walks into the dig headquarters, Nichelle Nichols' singing from "Charlie X" is briefly dubbed in. Curiously, Nancy's mouth does not appear to move as she is singing.

Production Edit

  • Just prior to filming, Alfred Ryder (Robert Crater) suffered a severe arm injury which prevented him from using that arm. Despite the pain, he performed the role without complaint. (Star Trek Encyclopedia 2nd ed., p . 90)
  • Although this episode was filmed before "The Naked Time", stock footage from that episode is used for the bridge scene at the very beginning. Kirk's run down the corridor to the sickbay is also pulled from "The Naked Time" as is a reaction shot of Kirk when Spock is telling him about the Borgia plant on the sickbay viewscreen.
  • Also, a recycled shot from "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", showing Spock in the captain's chair is used for the same bridge scene at the beginning.
  • The shot of the computer monitor in sickbay, then in McCoy's quarters is the same shot, is recycled from "The Corbomite Maneuver" (with the close-ups of Kirk and Spock matted in during post-production).
  • This is the only segment of Star Trek in which McCoy's quarters appear. A pan and cut along a blank wall allowed two McCoys to appear in the same room. The three cylindrical containers on the shelf in McCoy's room were previously seen on Ben Childress's table in "Mudd's Women". They later appear in the large lighted panel in McCoy's lab.
  • The ship's arboretum is a redress of the sickbay set. (The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, p. 96)
  • At two points in this episode, the doors can be heard opening and closing without the dubbed sound effect: once when the-creature-as-Green leaves the botany lab and again during the final scene on the bridge.
  • Kirk's communicator flops open as he is crawling along the ground during the shoot-out with Crater. When Kirk opens his communicator to respond to Spock during the scene, there is no sound effect.
  • One aspect of the first season episodes is that the crew are not just walking in the corridors – they are often engaged in maintenance work, checking out equipment in the corridors and so on. This is evident in "The Man Trap" and "Charlie X", especially. Minor crew members also carried on casual conversations and a feeling of the ship as a real community was created, as when Uhura asks Bobby to fix her rattling door or when two crewmen admire Janice Rand. These details about everyday life on a starship largely faded away as the series progressed.
  • As one of the first episodes of Star Trek ever produced, the production effects had yet to be fully "ironed out", which is evident on the surface of the planet when Kirk and company are calling out "Crewman Green, report!" While the characters are supposed to be outside on an open plain, the way their voices sound makes it very obvious that the actors are calling out on an enclosed indoor stage.
  • Professor Crater's phaser is a reused laser pistol from "The Cage".
  • The statue near the entrance of the Crater home can later be seen in Spock's quarters in "Amok Time" and subsequent episodes. In a blooper shot, a man's arm can be seen putting a cigar into the statue's mouth.
  • The opening and closing theme music composed and arranged by Alexander Courage, utilizing an electric violin, was used for the first nine aired episodes and was recorded during the scoring sessions for this episode. On home video and syndication, only "Where No Man Has Gone Before" contains the original end credit music. The remainder of the first season episodes use the Fred Steiner arranged "cello" theme recorded at the same time as the score for "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Balance of Terror", and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One).

Reception Edit

  • Variety published a very negative review of Star Trek in its 14 September 1966 issue based on this episode, stating the series "won't work." The reviewer called the show "dreary and confusing," and stated that it would be "better suited to the Saturday morning kidvid bloc," surprised on how Star Trek made it to television. However, the critic conceded that the leading performers were trying very hard to appear credible. (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 31)
  • TV Guide also printed a negative review of the series in its 10 September Fall Premiere issue, stating that "the sky's not the limit for this Trek." (The Star Trek Compendium, p. 31)
  • This was the first Star Trek episode that David Gerrold viewed. Watching it upon its first airing, Gerrold was thrilled by what he saw, later reminiscing, "I watched it eagerly. I was amazed that something this imaginative had made it to television." [1]
  • The episode also made an impression on future Star Trek: Enterprise staff writer Chris Black, who was in kindergarten at the time he saw the installment. "I remember [...] seeing the salt vampire,' the M-113 creature, and running out of the room in terror," Black recalled with a chuckle, while working as a writing staffer on Enterprise. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 28)
  • Actress Grace Lee Whitney considers the arboretum scene of Rand and Sulu as one of her favorite scenes of the series. She recalled that shooting the scene was very funny, and the entire cast and crew were in a lighthearted atmosphere. Some dirty jokes were told in connection with Beauregard and her, and even the puppeteer below the table (Bob Baker) tried to reach for her short skirt with the puppet. Whitney later described this episode as "filled with plenty of horrific and suspenseful moments. It was a great debut episode for the series." (The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy, p. 96)

Other information Edit

  • In the Leonard Nimoy-hosted 1983 documentary Star Trek Memories, Nimoy mentioned the fact that NBC chose to air this episode first, since (at least to the network) it was "proper" science fiction with a "proper" alien menace. Nimoy also stated that of the episodes the cast and crew had already completed, this was their least favorite.
  • Being the very first episode aired by NBC on 8 September 1966, "The Man Trap" is also the premiere for Star Trek as a whole. Yet, it was not NBC who could boast the world premiere of Star Trek, but rather Canadian network CTV, which had aired the episode two days earlier. [2]
  • The preview trailer for this episode has the stardate as 1324.1.
  • The sickbay is called the dispensary in this episode.
  • Kirk tempts the creature with six salt tablets.

Production timelineEdit

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and referencesEdit

Starring Edit


Guest starEdit


Uncredited co-starsEdit



2254; 2256; 2261; 2265; archaeology; asteroid; autopsy; "Bones"; Borgia plant; botany; buffalo; chameleon; chili pepper; class M planet; communications officer; communications station; Computer Statistics; Corinth IV; crewman; dispensary (Medical Department); Dominguez, José; earring; Earth; Electrographic Analysis; engineering; file photo; flower; frequency; general quarters; Gertrude; Great Bird of the Galaxy; Human; landing party; Lord; library record tape; Life Sciences Department; logic; M-113; match; MD; medical tricorder; Mexican; military log; moon; passenger pigeon; phaser; pill; "Plum"; poison; salt; Saurian brandy; ship's surgeon; Space Commander; space happy; speaker; starship base; subspace log; Supply and Maintenance; Swahili; tonsil; tongue depressor; tooth; tray; truth serum; Vulcan; Vulcans; water; weeper; Wrigley's Pleasure Planet

External linkEdit

Previous episode produced:
"The Enemy Within"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
"The Naked Time"
Previous episode aired:
Next episode aired:
"Charlie X"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"The Conscience of the King"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

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