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Multiple realities
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A Tholian (2155)

A Tholian (2155)

A Tholian (2155)
A Tholian (2268)

A Tholian (2268)

A Tholian (2268)

"Be correct: we do not tolerate deceit."

- Loskene (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

The Tholians were an extremely xenophobic, non-humanoid hermaphroditic race with a propensity for precision.

History and politics

The head governmental unit of the Tholians was the Tholian Assembly. During the mid-22nd century, the Vulcan High Command had only limited contact with the Assembly. It was, however, unknown at the time that they may have been involved as a faction in the Temporal Cold War. (ENT: "Future Tense")

First Contact with Earth

In 2152 the Tholians made an unusual move and traveled far beyond their territory and actively sought to possess a 31st century time-travel pod discovered by the Earth starship Enterprise, under the command of Jonathan Archer. Four Tholian starships intercepted and disabled the Vulcan cruiser Tal'Kir, while it waited to rendezvous with Enterprise. They in turn attacked and defeated the Suliban fleet that was in pursuit of the arriving Earth ship. They then successfully removed the pod from Enterprise's possession, only to have the pod return to its proper timeline moments later. (ENT: "Future Tense")

The Defiant incident

In the mirror universe, in 2155, the Tholians detonated a tri-cobalt warhead inside the gravity well of a dead star. The explosion created an interphasic rift which acted as a doorway to a parallel universe. Because of its instability, the Tholians reasoned that it was too dangerous to send one of their own ships through, so they transmitted a distress call into the opening, hoping to lure a ship from the other side. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")


The Tholians attack the USS Enterprise

In 2268, the Federation starship USS Defiant would enter this region of space, annexed by the Tholians, in response to the mirror universe distress call. Three weeks later, the starship USS Enterprise would discover the Defiant trapped in a spatial interphase, only to observe the starship, and consequently landing party leader James T. Kirk, cross over into the mirror universe.

Shortly thereafter, a Tholian starship intercepted the Enterprise, demanding that it should leave Tholian territory. At the request of First Officer Spock to be allowed to rescue Kirk from the Defiant, Tholian Commander Loskene allowed them a small timeframe, before they were required to withdraw. The Enterprise crew was unable to rescue Kirk in the time provided and the Tholians opened fire, damaging the Enterprise and, after the arrival of a second Tholian starship, attempted to trap it in their web. The Enterprise, however, was able to recover Kirk and successfully escape, before they fell victim to the web. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

Tholian web, mirror universe

The Tholians attack the ISS Enterprise

Unknown at the time, the Defiant had traveled back in time to the mirror universe, where, when fully clear of the interphase, it was towed by the Tholians of that universe to a small moon drydock in the Vintaak system, deep in Tholian space. There they employed several humanoids to gut the ship. Commander Jonathan Archer of Starfleet learned of the vessel's presence in his universe. He commandeered the ISS Enterprise and flew it deep into Tholian space while cloaked to steal the Defiant. After sending a boarding party on board the Defiant, the Tholians spun a tractor web around the Enterprise and destroyed it. The boarding party managed to activate the Defiant's systems, but not before the Tholians spun a tractor web over the entrance of the drydock. The Defiant then destroyed three Tholian ships and the moon's drydock, before escaping the system. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

It is unclear what the long-term consequences were for a Terran Empire ship invading Tholian space, stealing the Defiant, and destroying several of their ships.

Later aggressions

Contact with the Tholians over the next century would be sporadic. In 2353, the Tholians destroyed a Federation starbase. The only survivor of this attack was Kyle Riker, the father of Starfleet Commander William T. Riker. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

This attack was said to have taken place during "The Tholian Conflict." In the script of DS9: "Homefront" it is further stated that Admiral Leyton is "a veteran of conflicts with the Romulans, Cardassians, Borg, and the Tholians."

Tholian attacks would remain frequent enough for Starfleet to develop Tholian-based battle simulations. In 2355, during one such simulation, William T. Riker used a notable strategy to calculate a sensory blind spot on a Tholian vessel. (TNG: "Peak Performance")

They would remain a threat well into the 2360s, when it was anticipated by Klingon Special Emissary K'Ehleyr that if a Klingon Civil War were to break out in 2367, the Tholians might eventually be involved. This fear, however, did not come to pass when the civil war broke out months later. (TNG: "Reunion")

Trade and diplomacy

The Tholians conducted business with Bajoran trader Razka Karn in the early 2370s. They pursued him because of unscrupulous "business" practices so he took refuge in the Badlands. (DS9: "Indiscretion")

The Tholians maintained ambassadors with other powers throughout the Alpha Quadrant. In 2371, a Tholian ambassador visiting DS9 reported that someone broke into his quarters during the night and stole three cases of latinum. (DS9: "Defiant")

Several weeks later, Odo accused Nog of stealing from the Tholian ambassador and arrested him, although this was part of Jake Sisko's plan to repair his friendship with Nog. (DS9: "Life Support")

The following year, a Tholian observer was killed in the bombing of the Antwerp Conference on Earth by a Dominion infiltrator. (DS9: "Homefront") Despite this, the Tholians would sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion the following year, prior to the outbreak of the Dominion War, remaining neutral throughout the conflict. (DS9: "Call to Arms")

In 2379, Romulan Senator Tal'aura had an appointment with the Tholian ambassador to Romulus, conveniently causing her to leave the Senate chambers only moments before the assassination of the entire Senate. (Star Trek Nemesis)


Tholian pilot

A Tholian pilot from the mirror universe (2155)

A living Tholian was approximately the same height as a Human. It was principally a reddish color, in varying shades, and there was the suggestion of fluid or field motion within the body. Tholians had a hard carapace that was chiefly mineral. There were six thin legs that made it possible for the being to move in any direction quickly; the legs were articulated with joints roughly corresponding to the knee and ankle of humanoid species. Each leg ended in a multi-toed foot. The legs were attached at the base of the torso and were radially symmetric. There were two arms; each had joints analogous to the humanoid elbow and wrist, and each arm ended in a multi-fingered hand. There was slightly visible neck that was covered on a semitransparent dome membrane that shielded the head. Tholians had two glowing spots near the top of their torso. They turned these to face individuals with whom they interacted, which suggested they had some sort of information-gathering organ(s). Tholians were hermaphroditic: they had two sexes, but each individual had both sets of sexual organs. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", "Bound")

Tholian biology required high temperatures around 480 Kelvin (207 °C, 404 °F). They could tolerate lower temperatures for a brief period of time; if they were exposed to temperatures around 380 Kelvin or less, their carapace would crack. This was painful or distressing; a Tholian subjected to such a temperature regime could be coerced to cooperate. In temperatures even lower, a Tholian would freeze solid and shatter. (ENT: "Future Tense", "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Tholians had something analogous to biochemical processes. Phlox from the mirror universe was able to devise a sedative; however, this compound eventually lost effectiveness. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Tholians were naturally able to emit various forms of radiation, which they could modulate. They could communicate over short distances in this fashion. A Tholian imprisoned aboard the ISS Enterprise in 2155 was able to summon help via this method, forcing Phlox to kill it in order to silence it. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Tholians communicated primarily through a series of clicks and chirps.

In 2372, Kasidy Yates claimed she was meeting with a Tholian freighter to deliver medical supplies to treat a viral infection on one of their colonies; she was in fact smuggling the supplies to the Maquis. (DS9: "For the Cause")

Society and culture

Kasidy Yates with Tholian silk

Kasidy Yates holding Tholian silk

During several confrontations with the Federation, Tholian behavior could best be described as aggressive and territorial. Tholians were also renowned for their punctuality.

Tholians rarely advanced very far from their home system, and are known to kill outsiders caught trespassing in their territory. They were also known to frequently annex surrounding systems outside of the Assembly, to further isolate their territory. (ENT: "Future Tense", "In a Mirror, Darkly"; TOS: "The Tholian Web"; DS9: "For the Cause"; TNG: "Captain's Holiday")

Tholian weddings involved paying a dowry. Furthermore, Tholian silk was highly prized and a difficult commodity to obtain. A Tholian ambassador owed Benjamin Sisko a favor and obtained silk for him. (DS9: "Defiant", "The Way of the Warrior")

It is unknown if the silk is produced by the Tholians themselves or by another lifeform in their space.





Background information

  • An emblem representing the Tholian Assembly was created for the book Star Trek: Star Charts, page 35, but has never been seen on camera. Furthermore, according to this book, Tholia, the homeworld of the Tholians, was a Class Y planet governed by the Tholian Assembly. The Tholians had established diplomatic relations with the Federation in 2271, two years after first contact with the starship USS Enterprise.



An example of a 'Pillar' Tholian, as portrayed in the Star Fleet Universe

  • The Tholians play a major role in the comic book series by DC Comics War and Madness, which covered issues 71 through 75 in their second TNG series.
  • The Tholians made an appearance in the "Captain's Log: Sulu" comic from IDW Publishing, set sometime between 2288 and 2290.
  • A race called the Tholians are mentioned in the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Yoda: Dark Rendezvous.
  • The Tholians appear in the alternate Star Fleet Universe as a significant race. In this universe, they are not native to this galaxy, originating in Messier 81, or Bode's Galaxy. The Tholian Holdfast in the Milky Way is a remnant of the once-mighty Tholian Will, an empire that once ruled their entire Home Galaxy. However, one of their subject races, the insectoid Seltorians, developed the technology to break Tholian webs, and used it to overthrow their masters. Some of the surviving Tholians fled to this galaxy, and upon arriving in Y79 (Y1 being the date of first contact between Earth and Vulcan, in that universe) claimed an area of Klingon territory-rimward of Federation space. (This area had originally been used as the staging post for a planned Klingon invasion of Romulan space – but the Tholian arrival thwarted these efforts.) The Tholians fiercely defended their enclave, repelling all Klingon attempts to retake it. Their "home planet" in this galaxy is a miniature Dyson sphere (wrapped around a relatively small artificial "star") that, in a remarkable feat of engineering, they managed to bring with them from M81. They are officially neutral, but Klingon hostility sometimes forces them into co-belligerence with the Federation.
  • The Tholians join the Typhon Pact (Typhon Pact at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works), an alliance of non-Federation powers, in the novel A Singular Destiny, set in 2381.
  • In Star Trek Online, in 2409 the Tholians have captured a Terran Empire Odyssey class starship and are holding it in a subterranean cavern on the planet Nukara Prime. Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force must work together to stop the Tholians' operations and destroy the captured ship before they can harvest its technology. Tholian vessels also appear in the game, both as playable starships and enemy vessels.

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