Star Trek (1966–1969): Season 2, Episode 15 - The Trouble with Tribbles - full transcript

To protect a space station with a vital grain shipment, Kirk must deal with Federation bureaucrats, a Klingon battle cruiser and a peddler who sells furry, purring, hungry little creatures as pets.

Deep Space Station K-7
now within sensor range.

Good. This flight is supposed to provide
both experience and knowledge.

How close will we come to a Klingon
outpost if we continue on this course?

One parsec, sir.
Close enough to smell them.

That is illogical. Odours cannot travel
through the vacuum of space.

- l was making a little joke, sir.
- Extremely little.

Mr Spock, immediate past history
of the quadrant?

Dispute between two parties
since initial contact.

Battle of Donatu V was fought near here
23 solar years ago....inconclusive.

- Analysis of disputed area.
- Undeveloped.

Sherman's Planet is claimed by our
Federation and the Klingons.

- We do have the better claim.
- The area was mapped by lvan Burkoff.

John Burke.

Burke, sir?

l don't think so. l'm sure it was...

John Burke was the chief astronomer
at the Royal Academy in old Britain.

Oh, Royal Academy! Well...

ls the rest of your history that faulty?
Key points of dispute?

ln the Organian Peace Treaty,

one side must prove it can develop
the planet most efficiently.

And though the Klingons are brutal and
aggressive, they are most efficient.

Peter the Great had a problem like that.


Kirk here.

l'm picking up a subspace distress call
from Space Station K-7.

- Go to warp factor 6.
- Code One. That's a disaster code.

This is a Red Alert.
Man your battle stations. All hands.

Space - the final frontier.

These are the voyages
of the starship Enterprise.

lts five-year mission,
to explore strange new worlds,

to seek out new life
and new civilisations,

to boldly go
where no man has gone before.

Captain's log, stardate 4523.3.

Deep Space Station K-7
has issued a Priority One call.

More than an emergency,
it signals near or total disaster.

We assume the Klingons have attacked.
We are armed for battle.

Phasers armed and ready, sir.

But...there is nothing there.

Just the station.

Priority One distress call.

lt's just absolutely peaceful.

- Lieutenant, break subspace silence.
- Aye, sir.

The channel's open, sir.

This is Captain Kirk of the
Enterprise. What is your emergency?

Captain Kirk, this is a Mr Lurry,
manager of K-7.

l must apologise for the distress call.

You issued a Priority One distress call.
State the nature of your emergency.

Well, perhaps you'd better beam over.
l'll try to explain.

You'll...try to explain.

You'd better be prepared
to do more than that. Kirk out.

Mr Spock, l need your help. Uhura, see
that the transporter room is standing by.

Yes, sir. Transporter room stand by.

lf there was no emergency, why did you
issue a Priority One distress call?

That was my order, Captain.

This is Nilz Baris, from Earth to take
charge of developing Sherman's Planet.

So you can put an entire
quadrant on defence alert?

Mr Baris is the undersecretary
in charge of agricultural affairs.

- And that gives him the authority.
- Oh.

This is my assistant, Arne Darvin.

This is my first officer, Mr Spock.

l want all available security guards

posted around the
storage compartments.

- Storage compartments?
- Containing the quadrotriticale.

What? What's quadrotriticale?

Wheat? So what?

The quadrotriticale is not wheat,

l wouldn't expect you
to know about such things.

Quadrotriticale is a rather...

lt is a high-yield grain, a
four-lobed hybrid of wheat and rye.

A perennial, also, if l'm not mistaken.
lts root grain, triticale,

can trace its ancestry
back to 20th Century Canada...

You've made your point.

lt's the only Earth grain
that will grow in Sherman's Planet.

We have several tons here. We have to
get it to Sherman's Planet safely.

Mr Baris thinks Klingon agents
may try to sabotage it.

You issued a distress call
for a couple of tons of wheat?


Of course, l realise that...

You summon the Enterprise
without an emergency.

You take full responsibility.

- What do you mean?
- Priority One misuse is an offence.

l did not misuse the Priority One
channel. l want that grain protected.

Couldn't you at least
post a couple of guards?

We do have a large number of ships
passing through.

lt would seem a logical precaution.

The Sherman's Planet affair
is important to the Federation.

Kirk to Enterprise.
Secure from general quarters.

And beam down two security guards.
Have them report to Mr Lurry.

Authorise shore leave
for all off-duty personnel.

- Yes, Captain.
- Kirk out.

How dare you authorise two men
for a project of this importance?

l have never questioned
the orders or intelligence

of any Federation representative.

Until now.

Summoning a starship on a priority
channel to guard storage compartments.

Storage compartments of wheat.

Nevertheless, the Klingons would not
enjoy us developing Sherman's Planet.

l guess not.

l see you didn't waste any time
taking shore leave.

- How often do l get shore leave?
- She wants to shop. l'm helping her.

Excuse me, excuse me.

Mr Chekov, what do you make of this?

Oh. Quadrotriticale. l've read about this
but l've never seen any before.

- Does everyone know about this?
- Not everyone, Captain.

- lt's a Russian invention.
- Ah.

l don't want any. l told you before,
l'm telling you again.

l don't want any more
Spican flame gems.

Thanks to you, l already have enough
to last me a lifetime.

You won't find a finer stone anywhere.

But l have something better.

Surely you want some...
Antarian Glow Water.

l use that to polish the flame gems.

You're a difficult man to reach,

but l have something
from the far reaches of the galaxy.

- Surely you want.
- Not at your price.

What is it? ls it alive?

May l hold it?

Oh, it's adorable. What is it?

What is it? Why, lovely lady,
it's a tribble.


The sweetest creature known to man,
excepting, of course, your lovely self.

lt's purring! Listen, it's purring.

lt's only saying that it likes you.

- Are you selling them?
- That's what we're trying to decide now.

My friend, ten credits apiece
is a reasonable price.

You can see how much the lovely little
lady appreciates the finer things.

- One credit apiece.
- He won't bite, will he?

Sir, transporting harmful animals
is against regulations.

Or weren't you aware of that?
Besides, tribbles have no teeth.

- l'll double my offer. Two credits.
- Twice nothing is still nothing.

lf you're not gonna take him, l am.
l think he's cute.

- Four credits.
- ls that an offer or a joke?

- That's my offer.
- That's a joke.

- Five?
- l can see you're an honest man.

l'm going to lessen my
price to eight and a half credits.

You're talking yourself out of a deal.

- Six credits. Not a credit more.
- Seven and a half.

Seven? All right, you robber. Six credits.

- Done. When can l have them?
- Right away.

What are you selling them for?

Well, let me see, little lady. Six credits.
A reasonable bargain for a small profit.

10% mark-up. Ten credits.

- Thief.
- l'll sell you this one.

- Hey. He's eating my grain.
- That'll be ten credits.

That is my sample.
l'll do with it as l please.

And l please to give it
to the lovely little lady here.

Oh, l couldn't. Could l?

- l insist.
- Are you trying to ruin the market?

Once this lovely lady starts to show
this precious darling around,

you won't be able to keep up with them.

- Yes, what is it?
- From Starfleet. Priority channel.

- Admiral Fitzpatrick speaking.
- Put it on visual.

- Captain Kirk?
- Kirk here.

lt is not necessary to remind you of the
importance of Sherman's Planet.

The key to winning this planet
is the grain quadrotriticale.

The shipment must be protected.

Effective immediately, render any aid
that Undersecretary Baris requires.

The safety of the grain and the project
is your responsibility.

- Starfleet out.
- Now that's just lovely.

But not totally unexpected.

- Captain Kirk?
- Yes, Lieutenant? What is it?

Sensors are picking up a Klingon
battle cruiser closing on the station.

Red Alert.
Notify Mr Lurry we'll be right up.

What is the position of the Klingon ship?

100 kilometres off K-7.
lt's just sitting there.

- l have Mr Lurry.
- Put him on visual.

Mr Lurry, there's a Klingon warship
100 kilometres away.

- l don't think they're planning to attack.
- Why not?

Because the captain of the Klingon
ship is sitting right here with me.

Cancel Red Alert. We'll beam right down.

Security, cancel Red Alert.

Captain's log, stardate 4524.2.

A Klingon warship is hovering only 100
kilometres from Deep Space Station K-7

while its captain waits in the office.

Their intentions are unknown.

- My dear Captain Kirk.
- My dear Captain Koloth.

Be sure my intentions are peaceful.

As l've told Mr Lurry, the purpose of my
presence is to invoke shore leave rights.

- Shore leave?
- Captain.

We Klingons are not as luxury-minded
as you Earthers.

We do not equip our ships with,
how shall l say it, non-essentials.

We have been in space for five months.

What we choose as recreation
is our own business.

l might also add that under
the Organian Peace Treaty,

you cannot refuse us.

Yes, well, l don't make those decisions.

Mr Lurry is in charge of those matters.

Captain, may l speak to you a minute?

l don't want them here, but l don't
have the authority to refuse.

Well, l have the authority to act.
l'm gonna use it.

My dear Captain Koloth.

You may indeed bring your men down
on shore leave, but only 12 at a time.

And l assure you that for every man you
bring down, l'll have a security guard.

There will be no trouble.

There's been no formal declaration of
hostilities between our governments.

So, naturally, our relationship
will be a peaceful one.

Let us both take steps
to keep it that way.

Of course.

- Another technical journal?
- Aye.

- Don't you ever relax?
- l am relaxing.

How long have you had that thing,

Since yesterday. This morning, l found
out that he, l mean she, had had babies.

ln that case, you got a bargain.

- Are you running a nursery?
- Oh, Captain.

l hadn't intended to,
but the tribble had other plans.

Did you get this at the space station?

- Yes, sir.
- Most curious creature, Captain.

lts trilling seems to have a tranquillising
effect on the human nervous system.

Fortunately, of course,
l am immune to its effects.

Do you mind if l take
one of these down to the lab?

Well, all right, but if you want to dissect
it, l don't want to know about it.

l won't harm a hair on its head,
wherever that is.

Seeing as you're giving them away,
can l have one?

Oh, sure. Why not?
l think they're old enough.

Go ahead.

Bridge to Captain Kirk.

- Kirk here.
- Mr Baris is on Channel E, sir.

- Pipe it down here, will you?
- Aye, sir. Mr Baris is coming on.

What can l do for you?

Kirk, this station
is swarming with Klingons.

l was not aware 12 Klingons
constituted a swarm.

Captain Kirk, there are Klingon soldiers
on this station.

l want you to keep that grain safe.

Mr Baris,
l have guards around the grain.

l have guards around the Klingons.

They are there
because Starfleet wants them there.

As for what you want...

lt has been noted and logged. Kirk out.

Captain, may l ask where you'll be?

Sickbay with a headache.

Bones, what have you got
for a headache?

- Let me guess. The Klingons. Baris.
- Both.

How many of these did Uhura give you?

- Just one.
- But you've got 11.

You noticed that, huh?

- Here. This ought to take care of it.
- How do they...

l haven't figured that out yet.

But I can tell you this. Almost 50% of its
metabolism is geared for reproduction.

Do you know what you get
if you feed a tribble too much?

A fat tribble.

No. A whole bunch
of hungry little tribbles.

Well, Bones, all l can suggest

is you open up a maternity ward.

All you men on shore leave stay in
groups. Avoid trouble with Klingons.

l'll tell them before they go, sir.

Aren't you going on shore leave?

- No, sir.
- l want you to go on shore leave.

Make sure
everyone stays out of trouble.

But Captain... Aye, sir.

Scotty, enjoy yourself.

Ah, friend. Can l offer you
a charming little tribble?

Um... No, thanks.

Perhaps one of you other gents?

Ah... Mm...

Friend Klingon. Can l interest you
in a harmless little tribble?

- Get it away from me.
- l'm sorry. l...

l don't understand.
l've never seen them act this way.

Get out with that parasite.

- He's a harmless little...
- Take it away!

Ah, my good friend! How would you
like to enter another little transaction?

- This time, a tribble for a spot of...
- A tribble?


A tribble.

When are you gonna get off
that milk diet?

- This is vodka.
- Where l come from, it's soda pop.

- This is a drink for a man.
- Scotch?

- Aye.
- lnvented by an old lady from Leningrad.

The Earthers like those fuzzy things,
don't they?


Frankly, l never liked Earthers.

They remind me
of Regulan blood worms.


Easy, lad.
You ought to be more forgiving.

Oh. l just remembered.

There is one Earth man who doesn't
remind me of a Regulan blood worm.

That's Kirk.

A Regulan blood worm
is soft and shapeless.

But Kirk isn't soft.

Kirk may be a swaggering, overbearing,

tin-plated dictator
with delusions of godhood.

But he's not soft.

Take it easy, lad.

Everybody's entitled to an opinion.

That's right.

And if l think that Kirk
is a Denebian slime devil,

well, that's my opinion too.

Don't do it, mister. That's an order.

- You heard what he called the captain.
- Forget it. lt's not worth fighting for.

We're big enough to take a few insults.

Now drink your drink.

Of course, l'd say
that Captain Kirk deserves his ship.

We like the Enterprise.
We... We really do.

That sagging old rust bucket is designed
like a garbage scow.

Half the quadrant knows it. That's why
they're learning to speak Klingonese.

Mr Scott!

Laddie, don't you think
you should rephrase that?

You're right. l should.

l didn't mean to say the Enterprise
should be hauling garbage.

l meant to say it should be hauled away
as garbage.

Captain's log, stardate 4525.6.

A small disturbance between the Klingon
crew and the Enterprise crew

has broken out
aboard space station K-7.

l am forced to cancel shore leave
for both ships.

l want to know who started it.
l'm waiting.

Freeman? Who started it?

- l don't know, sir.
- All right.


l know you. You started it, didn't you?

- No, sir. l didn't.
- Who did?

- l don't know, sir.
- l don't know, sir...

l wanna know who threw the first punch.

You're all confined to quarters till
l find out who started it. Dismissed.

Scotty, not you.

- You were supposed to prevent trouble.
- Aye, Captain.

Who threw the first punch?

- Um...
Mr Scott?

- l did, Captain.
- You did?

- What caused it?
- They insulted us, sir.

- lt must have been some insult.
- Aye, it was.

- You threw the first punch.
- Aye.

- Chekov wanted to but l held him back.
- You held...

Why did Chekov want to start a fight?

Well, the Klingon, sir...
ls this off the record?

No, this is not off the record.

Well, Captain.

The Klingons called you a...

...tin-plated, overbearing dictator
with delusions of godhood.

That's all?

They also compared you
with a Denebian slime devil.

- And they said you...
- l get the picture.

Yes, sir.

And after they said all this,
that's when you hit them.

- No, sir.
- No?

No, l didn't. You told us to avoid trouble.

- Oh, yes.
- l didn't see it was worth fighting for.

After all, we're big enough
to take a few insults.

Aren't we?

What started the fight?

They called the Enterprise
a garbage scow, sir.

l see.
And...that's when you hit the Klingon?

Yes, sir.

You hit the Klingons because
they insulted the Enterprise,

not because they...

Well, sir. This was a matter of pride.

All right, Scotty. Dismissed.

You're restricted to quarters
until further notice.

Yes, sir.

Thank you, sir. That'll give me a chance
to catch up on technical journals.

What's the matter, Spock?

There's something disquieting
about these creatures.

- Don't tell me you've got a feeling.
- Don't be insulting.

They remind me of lilies.
They toil not, neither do they spin.

But they seem to eat a great deal.
l see no practical use for them.

Does everything
have to have a practical use?

They're nice, soft and furry
and they make a pleasant sound.

So would an ermine violin,
but l see no advantage in having one.

lt is human to love little animals,
especially if they are attractive.

l am well aware of human
characteristics. l am inundated by them

but have trained myself
to put up with anything.

l don't know much about tribbles,
but l've discovered one thing.

- What is that, Doctor?
- l like them.

- Better than l like you.
- Doctor?

They have one redeeming

- What's that?
- They do not talk too much.

lf you'll excuse me, sir.

Dr McCoy, would you mind
coming up to the bridge?

Lieutenant Uhura, how did all these
tribbles get on the bridge?

l don't know, sir.
They do seem to be all over the ship.

- Dr McCoy.
- Yes.

Did you want to see me?

Don't look at me.
lt's the tribbles who are breeding.

- We're gonna be hip deep in them.
- Will you explain that?

They're born pregnant,
which seems to be quite a time saver.

l know, but really...

And from my observations, it seems
they're bisexual, reproducing at will.

- And they have a lot of will.
- l'm forced to agree with the doctor.

l've run computations on their
reproduction. The figures are alarming.

They're consuming our supplies
and returning nothing.

But they do give us something.
They give us love.

Cyrano Jones says a tribble
is the only love that money can't buy.

Too much of anything, even love,
isn't necessarily a good thing.

Yes, Captain.

Get the maintenance crew
to clean up the ship.

And then contact Mr Lurry
and tell him l'm beaming down.

Have him find Cyrano Jones
and hold him.

And get these tribbles off the bridge.

Aye-aye, Captain.

l'm mystified by your tone. l've done
nothing to warrant such treatment.

Oh, really?

You knew what would happen when they
were taken from their environment

into an environment where their
multiplying has no restraining factors.

Well, of course. What did you say?

By removing the tribbles
from their natural habitat,

you have removed the cork from the
bottle and the genie has escaped.

By that,
you mean do they breed quickly?

That's how l maintain my stock.
Breeding is not against regulations.

Only breeding dangerous animals.
These are not dangerous.

- Just incredibly prolific.
- Precisely.

And at six credits a head,
well, that is, a body, it mounts up.

You should sell
an instruction manual for this.

Then what would happen
to the search for knowledge?

l must be tending my ship. Au revoir.

Go ahead, sir. Tell him.

l consider your security measures
a disgrace.

You have taken this project
far too lightly.

On the contrary. l think of this project
as very important.

lt is you l take lightly.

l am going to report fully
to the proper authorities

that you have given complete
access to this station

to a man who is probably
a Klingon agent.

To whom are you referring?

That man who just walked out of here.

- Cyrano Jones, a Klingon agent?
- You heard me.

- l heard you.
- He could not believe his ears.

What evidence do you have?

My assistant has kept Mr Jones
under surveillance for some time.

His actions have been most suspicious.

He was involved in that altercation
between your man and the...

- What else do you have?
- l've checked his ship's log.

He was within the Klingon sphere
of influence four months ago.

He is an independent scout. lt's also
possible that he's a Klingon spy.

We have already checked
on Cyrano Jones.

He is a licensed asteroid locator and
prospector. He's never broken the law.

For the past seven years,
he has obtained a marginal living

by engaging in the selling
of rare merchandise

including, unfortunately, tribbles.

- He is after my grain.
- Do you have any proof?

He's disrupted this station.

People have disrupted stations
without being Klingon agents.

Sometimes, all they need is a title.

Unfortunately, disrupting a space station
is not an offence. Now, excuse me.

l have a ship to tend to. Au revoir.

My chicken sandwich and coffee.

This is my chicken sandwich
and coffee.

- Fascinating.
- l want these things off the ship.

Aye, they're into the machinery all right,
and probably in all the food processors.

- How?
- Through the air vents.

There are vents of that type
on the space station.

And in the storage compartments.

Contact Manager Lurry and Nilz Baris.
Meet us near the storage compartments.

We're beaming down. Come on, Spock.


- What's wrong?
- Plenty, if what l think has happened.

- ls that door secure?
- Nothing could get in.

Good. Open it.

- lt's not working. Seems to be stuck.
- Let me try.

- They seem to be gorged.
- Gorged?

On my grain? Kirk, l am going to
hold you responsible.

- There must be thousands.
- Hundreds of thousands.


That's assuming one tribble
multiplying with a litter of ten

producing a generation
every 12 hours over three days.

That's assuming
they got here three days ago.

Allowing for the grain consumed
and volume of storage compartment.

Kirk, you should have known.

You are responsible for turning the
development into a disaster.

And l am through being intimidated.

You have insulted me, ignored me,
walked all over me.

You abused your authority
and rejected my requests.

And this is the result.
l am going to hold you responsible.

l'll hold you in irons if you don't shut up.

Jim, l think l've got it. All we have to do
is quit feeding them.

Quit feeding them, they stop breeding.

Now he tells me.

This tribble is dead.

And so are these.

A lot of them are dead. A lot are alive,
but they won't be for long.

There is something in the grain.

l want the tribbles, the grain,
everything analysed.

l want to know what killed them.

l haven't figured out
what keeps them alive yet.

lf l find out anything, l'll let you know.

That isn't going to do you any good.

This project is ruined
and Starfleet is going to hear about it.

When they do, they will have a board of
enquiry and they will roast you alive.

And l will be there
to enjoy every minute of it.

Until that board of enquiry, l'm still
Captain. And l want two things done.

First find Cyrano Jones, and second...

Close that door.

- Really. l must protest this treatment.
- Mr Jones, with an armful.

- A few questions.
- Captain Kirk!

What do you want?

An official apology
to the Klingon high command.

l expect you to assume full responsibility
for the persecution of Klingons.

- An apology?
- Yes.

You've harassed my men, treated them
like criminals. You've been uncourteous.

- lf you wish to avoid an incident...
- No, you can't let him.

That will give them a claim
to Sherman's Planet.

More than the word of an aggrieved
Klingon would be necessary for that.

Mr Spock, as far as Sherman's Planet
is concerned,

Captain Kirk has already given it to us.

Well, we'll see about that,
but before l take any official action,

l'd like to know just what happened.

Who put the tribbles in the
quadrotriticale and what killed them?

Before you go on,
may l make a request?


Can you get those things out of here?

- Remarkable.
- Hold on.

- You said tribbles liked everybody.
- They do.

l can't understand. The last time l saw
one act this way was at the bar.

- What was in the bar?
- Klingons. Him for one.

You're right, Mr Jones.
They don't like Klingons.

But they do like Vulcans.
l didn't know you had it in you.

- Obviously tribbles are very perceptive.
- Obviously.

Mr Baris, they like you.

Well, there's no accounting for taste.

They don't like you, Mr Darvin.
l wonder why. Bones?

Heartbeat is all wrong.

His body temperature is...
Jim, this man is a Klingon.

A Klingon?

l wonder what Starfleet Command
will say about that.

What about the grain, Bones?

- Oh, yes. lt was poisoned.
- Poisoned?

lt's been impregnated with a virus which
turns into an inert material in the blood.

The more the organism eats,
the more inert matter builds up.

After two or three days, they couldn't
take in enough nourishment to survive.

They starved. ln a storage compartment
full of grain, they starved to death.

That is essentially it.

- Mr Darvin, are you going to talk?
- l have nothing to say.

- l poisoned the grain.
- The tribbles weren't involved?

l never saw one in my life, and l hope l
never see one of those things again.

l'm certain that can be arranged.

lf you'll excuse me, Captain.

- Captain Koloth. About that apology.
- Yes.

You have six hours to get your ship
out of Federation territory.

l think l could learn to like tribbles.

- l suppose l'm free to go now.
- No, you're not.

There's something l want to show you.

Know the penalty for transporting
an animal harmful to human life?

Captain, one little tribble isn't...harmful.

You wouldn't do a thing like that,
would you?

The penalty is 20 years
in a rehabilitation colony.

Captain Kirk. Friend Kirk.

Surely we can come to some sort of
mutual understanding.

After all, my tribbles did put you wise
to the poisoned grain.

And they did help you to find
the Klingon agent.

You saved a lot of lives that way.

- There is one thing you can do.
- Yes?

Pick up every tribble
on the space station.

lf you do that, l'll speak to Mr Lurry
about returning your ship.

- lt would take years.
- 17.9, to be exact.

- 17.9 years.
- Consider it job security.

Captain, you're a hard man.
All right, all right!

- You'll do it?
- l'll do it.

Starfleet was able to divert that freighter.

Good. Sherman's Planet will get its
quadrotriticale only a few weeks late.

l don't see any tribbles around here.

And you won't find a tribble
on the entire ship.

- How did you do that?
- l can't take credit for another's work.

- Scotty did it.
- Scotty! Where are the tribbles?

Oh. Er... lt was really
Mr Spock's recommendation.

Of course. Spock?

Based on computer analysis, of course.
Taking into account...

l don't want to interrupt this mutual
admiration, but where are they?

Tell him, Spock.

Well, it was Mr Scott who performed
the actual engineering.

Mr Scott?

Where are the tribbles?

l used the transporter.

- You used the transporter?
- Aye.

Where did you transport them?

You didn't transport them into space,
did you?

Captain Kirk. That'd be inhuman.

- Where are they?
- l gave them a good home.

- l gave them to the Klingons, sir.
- You gave them to the Klingons?

Before they went into warp,
l put them all into their engine room

where they'll be no tribble at all.