Though it wasn’t the first block buster sci-fi franchise by a mile, Star Trek still made a massive impact on the genre that continues into the modern day. Between the original series, Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, the spin-off films, the reboot films, the animated series, and even a brief comic run, it’s basically become the gold standard for creative futurism. And the universally recognized face of the franchise? Surprisingly, it’s not the clean-shaven, straight-jawed all-American James T. Kirk and it’s not the paternal, wizened visage of Jean-Luc Piccard.
Almost every Star Trek fan in the world will name the stoic, pointy-eared logical alien Spock as the most iconic character in the entire cannon. The emotionless science office is not only a perfect embodiment of the technologically and philosophically advanced world of Star Trek, but was a beloved character who fans of the original series could identify and sympathize with. But despite his constant preaching about the virtues of logic and reason, there are a fair few aspects about the indelible Mr. Spock that are most… illogical. And while some of them are at least explained by Star Trek’s internal lore and logic, there are some elements that couldn’t even be explained by a time paradox.
25 CREATED A TIME LOOP AT SEVEN
Time travel is as baked into the fabric of science fiction as alternate universes and futuristic technology and Star Trek is no exception. The first example of time travel chronologically is surprisingly not when the Enterprise crew went back to the '80s to save some whales, it was when Spock went back in time to save himself.
See, when he was seven, Spock was going through a growth ritual in the wilds of Vulcan with his pet alien dog when he was set upon by a carnivorous predator. He was only saved by the timely interference of who he assumed to be simply an older cousin. In reality, it was Spock himself who had come back to prevent his own death, thus creating an infinite time loop which could only be broken with Spock’s death.
24 DIDN'T TELL ANYBODY ABOUT HIS BROTHER
Despite being one of the worst Star Trek movies, The Final Frontier at least has Kirk’s famously passionate “I need my pain” speech. It also features one of the lamest and least explained surprise twists in the entire franchise when it’s revealed that the main villain, Sybok, was actually Spock’s long-lost brother. This twist is so epically stupid that even Kirk points out how Spock never once mentioned to any of his closest friends that he had a brother.
At which point Spock amends that Sybok is only his half-brother -- because that clears things up. Why did Spock never bring this up before? Even if the two hadn’t seen each other in upwards of 50 years, they spent a childhood together and it’s unreasonable to think that Spock went so long without so much as admitting to having a brother.
23 HAS A PICTURE OF THE OG ENTERPRISE CREW ON HIM?
The brief but tasteful tribute to the late Leonard Nemoy in Star Trek Beyond was a beautiful homage to the man who first brought Spock to life. As the young Spock pulled an electronic picture of the original Enterprise crew from the effects of Spock Prime, the camera panned across the image and ensured that there would be nary a dry eye in the theater. But hang on a second, those items came from the original Star Trek universe of which the reboot films are a tangent.
That means the picture must have been on Spock Prime’s person when he went back in time through the black hole. So he was just carrying this picture around on a rescue mission? Why? This isn’t a wallet-sized picture he could just tuck in his pocket, it’s a framed, electronic tablet.
22 WHY WAS HE PASSED UP FOR A PROMOTION TO CAPTAIN?
This isn’t so much a weird thing about Spock as much as the circumstances surrounding him. At the beginning of the original Star Trek series, it is briefly stated that Spock had been serving as chief science officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise for over 11 years under the command of then-Captain Christopher Pike. Pike is promoted in the pilot episode, reaching the rank of Admiral and leaving the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise up for grabs.
Spock, as one of the longest serving crew members and already a pride of the Federation, would have been the logical pick for the yellow shirt. Instead, he got passed over for budding young Captain James T. Kirk who proceeded to prove himself as illogical a choice as possible. But hey, at least Spock got promoted to first mate!
21 TAKES PIKE WHEN INSTEAD OF ASKING HIM TO COME
Before serving the Federation under Kirk, Spock was a protégé of Captain Christopher Pike and developed a deep-seeded respect for the man developed over a decade-long partnership. When Pike was promoted to Admiral, Spock continued to serve on the Enterprise while his old mentor took a training job. However, a training accident left him paralyzed and unable to respond to stimuli.
Towards the end of Pike’s life, Spock kidnaped him away to Talos IV, a planet they’d discovered together of telepaths and illusionists. Though Pike was originally opposed to the idea of spending his last years under mental hospice, he changed his mind on route. But if Pike was so easily convinced, why did Spock kidnap him and risk getting court martialed in the first place? Just explain the situation and get permission beforehand.
20 ADHERES TO UTILITARIANISM, DOESN'T PRACTICE IT
Hypocrisy is sort of the name of the game when it comes to Star Trek, what with the constant breaking of the Prime Directive, out of character moments, and blatant disregard for the laws of physics. But perhaps nobody in the series is a bigger hypocrite that Spock and there is perhaps no greater example of this than his exploits on Vendikar and Eminiar VII. The two planets had been at war for so long that they had become perfect utilitarians when it came to genocide.
To preserve both their cultures, they relied on a computer system to select who was ‘killed’ in a hypothetical attack and those chosen would volunteer themselves for execution. But when the Enterprise accidentally got caught up in the ‘war,’ Spock was among those who were supposed to die. However, despite being fiction’s most notable utilitarian, he decided to chose life over the perfect system.
19 HALF-VULCAN, HAS ALL VULCAN ABILITIES AND PHYSIOLOGY
One of the key elements of Spock’s character is that he’s only half-Vulcan. He essentially has a foot in both worlds, alien enough to be different from his human comrades but similar enough to empathize with them. However, as the series progress, it became clear that Spock’s struggle with species dysmorphia was strictly emotional. In every other sense, he was pure Vulcan. He shared their physiological traits including, besides the obvious tilted eyebrows, pointed ears, and bowl cut, a secondary pair of eyelids, green blood, and their telepathic mind melding abilities.
He can even donate blood to his injured father which, despite them being closely related, should be impossible if Spock’s DNA is only 50% Vulcan. Any genes he may have received from his human mother have been visibly squashed by superior Vulcan genetic coding, apparently, making the whole point of his character kind of moot.
18 HE CAN MIND-MELD WITH COMPUTERS?
The Vulcan mind meld is one of the most versatile and helpful tools in their bag of assorted alien tricks. The ability to share a consciousness with another living being has been insanely useful to Spock over the years and he seems to have a genuine affinity for the gift, having performed it on, among other things, a humpback whale, a living rock monster, and…a 2oth century computer?
During the V’ger incident, a crisis that pulled Spock out of retirement, he managed to mind meld with the apocalyptic V’ger in an attempt to communicate with it. The resulting neurological trauma put Spock out of action for the rest of the film. Later, it was revealed that V’ger was actually the old Voyager 6 probe. So Spock mind melded with a machine? Does that mean Voyager was alive? Are all machines alive?
17 NO EMOTIONS, YET OFTEN HAS NEW GIRLFRIENDS
The entire crux of Spock’s character is that he’s essentially an emotionless automaton, an unfeeling drone meant to be the comedic side character who learns to be more open with others through interactions with his crewmates. Here’s the thing though, even in the '60s this was a boring and cliched stereotype. So to make him more interesting, writers were constantly reintroducing Spock to this strange human concept called ‘love.’
Virtually every other week, Spock was paired with a new love interest who fell head over heels over his stoic mannerisms, feelings (that Spock would often hesitantly reciprocate with the help of telepathy), hallucinogens, or inhibition-lowering spores. Still, that’s hardly an excuse for a character based almost entirely on logic to engage in the most illogical of human emotions on a constant basis.
16 HE PUT HIS SOUL IN MCCOY INSTEAD OF KIRK?
The death of Spock in Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan is one of the most unironically touching moments in the entire franchise. As Spock sacrifices himself to save his friends, he waxes poetic about utilitarianism one last time before succumbing to the poison he’d exposed himself to and dies right in front of Kirk, just missing the epic “KHAN!” shout.
It’s such a good death scene that an entire movie about how he gets resurrected doesn’t soften its impact. In Search for Spock, it’s revealed that he hid a portion of his soul in McCoy to be used in the resurrection process later. Because, you know, it wouldn’t make sense to entrust his soul to his best friend Jim Kirk, the guy who’d put his life on the line multiple times to save Spock already.
15 FEELS GUILTY FOR PUTTING KIRK IN DANGER, LITERALLY HIS JOB
It’s an unfortunate statement of fact that even the best of the Star Trek films have something worth complaining about and unfortunately, Undiscovered Country is no exception. With the Klingon’s finally trying to find peace with the Federation, the promoted ambassador Spock choses to send his old friend Kirk to lead a diplomatic mission and retrieve the Klingon Chancellor for the peace talks. Chaos ensues and Spock has to get involved by breaking Kirk and McCoy out of Klingon prison.
Pretty par for the course, all things considered. What doesn’t make sense is Spock’s reaction to these proceedings. He confesses to Kirk that he feels inordinately guilty about putting his friend in danger, which was pretty much 60% of the episodes of the original series. This was apparently a crippling guilt which haunted Spock for almost 80 years. Again, over something he did all the time years earlier.
14 KNOWINGLY CREATES A TIME PARADOX
The Star Trek tangent universe created by J.J. Abrams was formed by Spock Prime and a Romulan drilling ship entering a black hole and going back in time. When Spock Prime explains the situation to a young Captain Kirk and helps him return to the Enterprise, he orders Kirk not to reveal his existence to the younger Spock as it might create a time paradox.
Cut to later in the film where Spock Prime not only reveals himself to regular Spock, but announces his intention to stick around with the displaced Vulcans and continue to mess with the timeline. And then, since that didn’t fold reality in on itself, he did it again when young Spock wanted advice on how to deal with Kahn. Because who needs the universe intact if Spock can’t bond with himself?
13 WHY DOESN'T HE KEEP TRACK OF HIS PON FARR CYCLE?
The Vulcan Pon Farr cycle is considered one of the most beloved parts of Star Trek lore. Every seven years, Vulcan males succumb to mind-bending emotional rages that must be subsided either through mating or ritual combat within a certain time frame or else die from the chemical dysphoria in their brains.
Though this only happened once during the original series, it’s happened a few more times in the films and to other Vulcans on the spin-offs, but each case is more or less the same. Oh no! Pon Farr is here! We need to go back to Vulcan so the resident Vulcan can take a life-saving shore leave with their significant other! If Spock is so logic-driven, why doesn’t he and other Vulcans just keep track of their cycle so they can plan accordingly?
12 FIGHTS LITERAL GODS, CALLS KHAN HIS MOST DANGEROUS ENEMY
It was great to see Leonard Nimoy give his unofficial blessing to J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot series by returning twice to reprise the role that made him famous. However, he may have taken it a bit too far in Star Trek: Into Darkness. To help build up how dangerous the rebooted version of Khan was, Spock Prime called him one of the most dangerous villains he’d ever faced when young Spock called him up for advice on how to deal with the terrorist.
Prime said this after he’d personally faced down malevolent deities, multiple doomsday devices, and stopped more than a few apocalypses. Kahn was certainly a worthy opponent for the Enterprise crew to grapple with, but considering some of their other enemies, he was more personal than he was dangerous.
11 HE NEVER MIND-MELDED WITH HIS FATHER?
To say Spock and his father Sarek had a poor relationship would be an understatement. The two fell out when Spock turned down the Vulcan Science Academy to join Starfleet and didn’t speak for almost 30 years. In their infrequent meet-ups during the original series, they slowly mended their relationship, but never achieved the full father-son bond they had in Spock’s childhood. It was only decades later on Sarek’s deathbed that Jean-Luc Piccard found the perfect solution.
He suggested Sarek use the Vulcan mind meld to imprint the vestages of his psyche in himself, allow Piccard to serve as medium between the two. When Spock met with Piccard later, he was allowed to feel his father’s undying devotion for him at long last. Here’s a question though, why didn’t they just do that decades ago and enjoy a long, healthy familial relationship sooner?
10 HE MIGHT BE PRACTICING POLYGAMY
The J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies exist in a new universe created by a time paradox, so while certain elements of the new series mirror those of the original show, some things vary wildly between them. One of the most notable changes seems to be Spock’s love life. In the original series, Spock was betrothed from childhood to the Vulcan T’Ping but had the occasional dalliance with a few different women.
In the new series, he’s dating Uhura and seems to be as invested as his stoicism allows in their relationship. But the event that caused the tangential universe to be born wouldn’t necessarily have altered Spock’s betrothal. Even if it did, Spock’s father would still have found a mate for him in his childhood. So is Spock basically dating Uhura with the knowledge that their relationship won’t work out in the end?
9 HE GAVE HIS GIRLFRIEND A TRACKING DEVICE
Arguably the greatest moment in all of Star Trek lore comes in Star Trek Beyond when Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Spock are trying to find their lost crewmates after the Enterprise crashed on an alien world and Spock suggests tracking the radioactive signature of a neckless he gave Uhura. After reassuring the others that the radiation is harmless, Spock is forced to confront the question, “You gave your girlfriend tracking device?” Despite his meek protest, yes, that’s exactly what he did.
He gave his girlfriend a tracking device. This becomes even creepier when you consider where they were in their relationship at the time. It was strained because Spock wanted to do his duty in repopulating the Vulcan race while Uhura wanted to maintain her bodily autonomy. He’s essentially tracking her to make sure she doesn’t take another mate.
8 HE CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT A BRAIN
It has its fans, it has its appologists, but sometimes the original Star Trek series was just downright weird. Take, for example, the episode "Spock’s Brain". In it, Kirk and McCoy discover Spock as a lifeless, vegetative husk. Turns out a race of aliens had literally removed his brain to be used as a power source and computer for their planetary life-support machines.
Fortunately, Spock’s involuntary body functions, such as his respiratory, nervous, and cardio systems, i.e. THE STUFF HE NEEDS TO LIVE, can apparently continue without an actual brain running the show so all Kirk needed to do was get his friend’s brain back and have McCoy…reinsert it. And because this is Star Trek, that’s exactly what they do, all while McCoy controls Spock’s body with a remote control.
7 SAYS NOBODY CAN PRONOUNCE HIS REAL NAME
Despite years of lore, Spock’s real name is not actually Spock. When exposed to emotion-releasing spores on an alien world, Spock confesses to love interest Leila Kalomi that his actual, Vulcan name is unpronounceable by human lips. It’s been noted throughout the series that all Vulcan males have five letter names beginning with ‘S’ and all females have names beginning with ‘T’p,’ so the pronounceability of their names is assumed to be rooted in their family titles.
This was more or less confirmed when it was revealed that Spock’s full name is S’chn T’gai Spock. It’s something of a mouth full, but is still pretty pronounceable. It’s never uttered in any of the shows of films, but by slowly sounding it out, anyone can say, at the very least, a close approximation of what Roddenberry intended it to be.
6 HE MET/BEAT WOLVERINE
In the mid-'90s, Marvel Comics acquired the comic rights to Star Trek and decided to try and display it in the best way possible. This was the same period where the X-Men were experiencing a cultural renaissance by reinventing themselves as space rebels as opposed to inequality commentary. On paper, having the two franchises collide for a crossover would be the best foot forwards for a long-running Star Trek comic line.
In execution? Not so much. In the very first few panels of their interactions, Wolverine decides he doesn’t like Spock’s stoic demeanor and charges him. Wolverine, you might recall, is the nigh-immortal berserker super-soldier and one of the most popular comic characters of all time. Spock steps to the side and beats him in a second with the Vulcan neck pinch. Wolverine. Who has super-senses, enhanced reaction time, and hyper-durability. Gets dropped like a punk by Spock.
5 ALIEN HYBRIDS CAN'T PHYSICALLY EXIST
This is just basic biology. Different species are not naturally capable of crossbreeding because evolution has provided both species with unique DNA sequences which cannot be combined without significant genetic tampering, and even then, it often results in hybrids riddled with health problems. Which means that Spock, as a half-human, half-Vulcan, is something of an evolutionary impossibility. Putting aside the MASSIVE suspension of disbelief required for Vulcans and humans to simultaneously evolve with similar outward physiologies, they have enough internal differences that a hypothetical hybrid like Spock would live in constant pain.
The human genome is made to only match up with identically stacked sequences, which is why there are no human/animal hybrids that occur naturally. Need more proof? Humans have iron-based blood while that of Vulcans, and Spock apparently, is copper-based, meaning that his veins must be constantly burning from the chemical imbalance.
4 WHY DOESN'T HE TEACH EVERYONE THE VULCAN NERVE PINCH?
The Vulcan nerve pinch is easily the most effective physical move that can be used in the Star Trek universe. Where others flail wildly and try desperately to grapple with aliens and humans alike, Spock maintains his cool stoicism in combat by simply jabbing someone in their collarbone and putting them to sleep. For a long time, it was considered his signature move, reserved only for elite Vulcan Federation officers. Then Jean-Luc Picard did it. And then Data.
So a human and an android can both pull off the famed nerve pinch? That means Vulcans don’t have a monopoly on the efficient move. So in the original series, why doesn’t Spock just teach the move to literally every member of the Enterprise’s security and officer teams? At the very least it would save audiences from Shatner’s cringe-worthy fight scenes.
3 CONSTANTLY TALKS ABOUT/BREAKS PRIME DIRECTIVE
This isn’t so much a critique of Spock, but of a Star Trek trope that he more or less originated. The Prime Directive is the Federation’s number one rule, not to introduce or impose new, advanced technology to undeveloped worlds. Doing so could irrevocably alter the flow of evolution on a planet and ruin any chance of its survival. In the original series, Spock is both the first to address this rule and, setting a precedent that would continue into modern Star Trek lore, give an overly-long, detailed analysis as to why it had to be broken in very specific situations.
Over the course of the original series, he repeats this process several times, regularly stressing the importance of the Prime Directive but only so it’s a bigger deal when he inevitably breaks it.
2 HAS TROUBLE CONTROLLING HIS EMOTIONS
Vulcans are famous in both reality and the Star Trek universe as being stoic as rocks, to the point where the only interesting things about them are the few times when they do show emotions. However, the expanded Star Trek lore eventually revealed that this was all a façade. In truth, Vulcans are exponentially more emotional than their human and Romulan counterparts, but have conditioned themselves to remain calm at all times and consider any revelation of emotion to be a cardinal sin.
Before this, however, Spock told Kirk that he has to work extra hard to contain himself because of his half-human heritage. But if he’s only half-Vulcan, shouldn’t he half to work half as hard to control his emotions? His human side should be a boon in this aspect, not a deterrent.
1 CONSTANTLY RUNS INTO ALIEN MIND-CONTROLLERS
Spock is the science officer of the Enterprise, arguably the smartest crewmate onboard, and certainly the most resourceful. Yet despite this, he seems not to recognize the innate pattern that the crew constantly seem to be following. Namely: go to a planet, get infected by spores/telepathic aliens/hallucinogenic plant life/miscellaneous sci-fi mind-bending nonsense, hijinks ensue.
Another pattern that seems to be the Starfleet standard is going to alien worlds with unknown flora and fauna with no armor, space suit, or any protective gear whatsoever. You’d think someone as smart and astute as Spock would recognize the need for some kind of filter to protect against the most common issues the Enterprise faces, but maybe he likes the constant threat of being stabbed in the back by a mind-controlled Sulu or something.