This article contains minor spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 1.
Star Trek is a franchise with a massive legacy, one the newer series on Paramount+ are gleeful to explore. The problem that rears its head and stops a lot of fun possibilities can often be encompassed by a single word: canon. What had been previously established in a movie or TV episode, to many, should not be explicitly contradicted.
Almost from the very start, Star Trek has had a spotty relationship to its own canon but generally most of the shows have gone out of their way to maintain it. A classic example was in Star Trek: Enterprise’s use of the Romulans. In their first appearance in The Original Series, it had been established no human had ever actually seen a Romulan. That meant in Enterprise, set around 100 years before the time of TOS, no human character should lay eyes on a Romulan. The show went out of its way to keep this consistent, despite featuring several Romulan appearances. It took a lot of work, but canon was (mostly) respected.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is seemingly trying to do the same thing with the Gorn. One of the franchise’s most popular alien races, the Gorn first appeared in the TOS season one episode “Arena” where a member of the species did battle with Kirk. It was established in that episode that this was the first time the Federation had ever met the Gorn. This would seem to preclude the idea that Strange New Worlds, set before the time of TOS, could encounter everyone’s favorite reptilian baddies.
Unlike Enterprise, Strange New Worlds seems to not be sticking with this piece of canon. The Gorn form a key part of La’an Noonien Singh’s traumatic back-story. If you really want to stretch the notion that we haven’t seen a Gorn yet on screen (and maybe Singh never full on saw them?) then maybe this is mostly adhering to canon. Executive producer Akiva Goldsman however teases that the writers are “less concerned” with canon in this case than you might think.
“We are really big on canon but at a certain point we will interference with it in order to tell a good story,” he tells us.
The lure of the Gorn was too much to pass up. Goldsman describes the race as “a really, really great enemy for whom we have no compassion. An enemy who might be pure evil in Star Trek’s world, where we correctly have empathy and compassion all the time. An actually evil adversary.”
The potential of the Gorn, to Goldsman, trumps anything previously set down by The Original Series. This may anger some fans but we’ll have to wait and see what Strange New Worlds does with the Gorn in the future. Could we see a Gorn in the scaly flesh by the season’s end or will they stay in the shadows?