What's the Deal With: Klingon Head Ridges?
First, the researched answers, coming from annotated sources:
The novel Faces Of Fire explains that these are racial characteristics
of the two major continents, northern and southern, on the Klingon home world.
So which ones are the southern ones?
"Korg, you cain't play with the dawgs until you finish all yer Gorn
on the cob!"
A producer said on TV said that head ridges are signs of aging. The older you
are, the more ridges you have. I suppose that means Worf was embarrassed to
admit how old he really was in DS9's "Trials and Tribblations". (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Their Brains Shrunk. Honest...it's all documented here - http://www.sev.com.au/toonzone/sevtrek/klingonforehead.asp
According to J.G. Hertzler and Bob O'Reiley, Klingons during TOS weren't allowed
to drink. However, Klingons in the other series *were* allowed to and did so
in bars. When they got incredibly drunk, they would bash their foreheads together,
thus, forming head ridges. (email@example.com)
Then there are the genetics theories.
Klingon's have always had ridges. However, during the "time of troubles,"
following first contact with the tribbles, tribble geneticists infected all
of their people with a virus. Though harmless to tribbles, it had a catastrophic
effect on Klingon appearance. The infected lost their ridges turned a greenish
hue. The entire Klingon fleet was ultimately infected and forbidden from contact
with the home worlds. Their hideous appearance became a constant reminder of
their failure to detect and prevent this attack, they spent the rest of their
lives attempting to regain their lost honor. Conquest, battle with the federation
and finding and destroying the Tribble homeworld was all they had. A vaccination
was ultimately developed allowing Klingons to roam the galaxy free from bioterrorism.
Their hatred of the tribbles has never been forgotten though. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two more genetics theories, but they sort of fall apart at the end.
Ah. Lamarck's theories on acquired traits explain this best. The Klingon society
as we see them now (circa TNG, Voy) are a warrior race, putting extreme emphasis
on battle-readiness and fighting ability. The Klingon battle-style is quite
in your face and feral, so suppose your Klingon ancestor was horrifically mangled
in a skirmish, and after several facial operations, still had all sorts of bone
protrusions coming outta his head. After a couple Bat'leth fights, maybe a few
blood-wine-infused brawls, he learns that the bone-grafts add to his head butting
skill, and cause his opponents to cower in fear. This being a useful trait,
it is therefore passed down to generations upon generations, and nobody remembers
the smooth-heads. Now, as far as the Enterprise Klingons.......um.....tachyon-pulsed
Jeffries' tube emissions. With holodeck-created wormholes and temporal time
The Klingon Empire decided to genetically modify its own race by adding those
head ridges because they could not bear their own physical resemblance to humans,
and wanted to look much fiercer. Grr, arrgh.
That, or they have secretly begun worshipping a chicken god. (email@example.com)
The cultural theories:
Sometime in the 70s, Klingon adolescents decided that washing their faces daily
with Oxy-5 was without honor. Next thing you know, some serious Klingon acne
starts showing up (you know how greasy targ can be), what we call head ridges
Simple. First, you have to look at the culture. What is taboo? Every culture
has things it considers shameful and embarrassing. In the case of Klingons,
anything that shames them; cowardice, being captured in battle, having a shiny
nose, and other things that make them seem less warrior-like, such as transvestitism,
My theory? Sexually Transmitted Disease. Some sort of Klingon thing that makes
their ridges fall off. So obviously, Klingons with this disease would be pariahs
in their society, but as they would still be warriors, they would have to be
given the chance to make war. So, put them all together onto ships, and send
them off against the puny annoying Federation. But once Starfleet and the Klingons
became friends, they had to hide their shame elsewhere, so now, probably on
the fringes of Klingon Space at the outer rim of the galaxy you'll find a colony
of these flat-headed Klingons. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here's the Dirty, Lying Copycats Theory:
There's another planet not too far from the Klingon homeworld. Just for purposes
of this explanation we'll call it Klingat. The Klingats are prone to mimicry,
much like the people in "A Piece of the Action."
Sometime after present time on the NX-01, Starfleet loses contact with the
Klingons. Any type of computer malfunction or damage destroys the records about
the Klingons. They replace what they can by memory. In the meantime, this mimic
society we call the Klingats achieve warp drive and quickly assimilate Klingon
ways and attitudes. By Kirk's time, these Klingats are almost identical (minus
ridges) to the Klingons, they even go by the name "Klingon."
Now of course, the actual Klingons hate the Klingats. Wouldn't you? After all
they are dishonoring you by using your good name! Sometime before TNG, the Klingats
were destroyed somehow. Much speculation exists as to what exactly happened
to them. Some think the Klingons annihilated them, others say it was an early
Borg attack. The matter is still being investigated. Which of course explains
why Worf got so peeved when he was asked in DS9. Of course it's going to be
a sore spot.
As I posted at http://forums.delphiforums.com/enterprisefans/messages?msg=872.1
And then there's the... um... other theories.
Klingons have ridges on their heads so they can breathe under an ocean of poop.
they incubate under oceans of poop, thus explaining their scary color.
Actually there are no real Klingons anymore. They were all killed when Kirk
finally decided to heck with all this peace stuff and did them in. The poor
folks now living on the Klingon homeworld are actually humans with really bad
skin conditions fooled into thinking they are Klingons. The story about the
tribbles was just a cover story by Starfleet. Mulder would have solved this
in half an hour and still had time to figure out how the Borg Queen could be
alive to fight Janeway after being melted down by Data. (email@example.com)
It's probably a side effect of having a starship full of tribbles. Remember
you mother warning you "Don't make that face, it might freeze like that"?
Well, the annoying little critters made the Klingons scowl so much that their
foreheads froze into the shape they now bear. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After getting their a$$ kicked in Star Trek, they lost a lot of money
on repairing their ships. Goodbye sweet cosmetic surgery! (email@example.com)
The Klingon Head Ridges was actually an early invention by the master of info-mercials
Han Solopeil. He tried to sell the things as veggie choppers on TV to every
house hold that could be snookered into plunking down the 19.95 it cost to buy
the multi-colored invention. Unfortunately they didn't take off with the mass
populace so they were tossed in the dumpster behind Funk & Diaginal which
was adjacent to Gene Roddenberry's place. He was known to rummage thru their
refuse for ideas he would then type up and offer as original stories to network
execs. When he came across these cabbage shredders a light went on over his
head and the idea for angry meat eating aliens was born. The rest they say is
television history. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The tragic result of the unfortunate popularity of the Klingon childhood game
"waffle iron soccer." (email@example.com)
The Earth: Final Conflict Conspiracy Theory:
Dr. Julianne Belman was behind the whole thing. She was never double-agent
working with the resistance -- she was actually a triple agent working for the
Taelons. After the Humans kicked the Taelon's ass, she used Taelon technology
to make herself young again, and then put herself into stasis. She woke up many
stardates later and enlisted in Star Fleet, serving as Number One under Captain
Pike. She bided her time looking for an opportunity to help the Taelons enslave
humanity. After serving on the Enterprise, she got a job as recording messages
for Star Fleet computers. (This would get humanity accustomed to obeying her
Several decades later, she ran the Taelon rejuvenation process again and became
Nurse Christine Chapel on the U. S. S. Enterprise under Captain James
T. Kirk. It was in this capacity that she first encountered the Klingons. Using
genetically modified cyber-viral tribbles, she infected the humanoid Klingons
with Atavan and Jaridian DNA, turning the Klingons into extra-bumpy super soldiers.
She then hid out for a bunch of star decades and appeared again as Lwaxana
Troi, where she genetically engineered her daughter to fall in love with her
bony Klingon creations. Now she just has to sit back and wait for the inevitable
domination of the humans by the Klingons. Then the Taelons will return to enslave
And here are some theories that I personally subscribe to.
First, the fanboy theory: There's two "races" of Klingons: Ridged
and Ridgeless. The Ridgeless kept the Ridged in slavery all those Original Series
years, but the Ruffles rose up against the Pringles a couple of years before
that first Trek movie. Who knows what happened to the old overlords,
but these *are* Klingons--and since Worf didn't want to talk about it that time
on DS9, you can bet the payback was especially gruesome. Not the kind of thing
to share with outsiders.
The more likely theory is that Rick Stratton just got a really good deal on
latex and had to use it *somewhere.* And thus began the era of Artificial Foreheads
in SF movies and TV. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Who spiked the blood wine? I've got a splitting headache..." (email@example.com)
I happen to know the real answer. The Klingons with & without ridges are
just different racial phenotypes of Klingons that originally lived on separate
continents of the Klingon homeworld. The smooth headed Klingons are known as
"Lays" and the others are known as "Ruffles." You see, Ruffles
have ridges. (firstname.lastname@example.org)