The Naked Time

"The Naked Time" is the fourth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by John D. F. Black and directed by Marc Daniels, it first aired on September 29, 1966.

"The Naked Time"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 4
Directed byMarc Daniels
Written byJohn D. F. Black
Featured musicAlexander Courage
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code7
Original air dateSeptember 29, 1966 (1966-09-29)
Guest appearance(s)

In the episode, a strange affliction infects the crew of the Enterprise, destroying their inhibitions.

This was the first episode in which the audience saw the Vulcan nerve pinch (the nerve pinch was actually produced (filmed) first in "The Enemy Within", but “Enemy” was broadcast a week after “Naked Time”).

The story has a sequel in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode "The Naked Now".


On stardate 1704.2, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, arrives at the dying planet Psi 2000. Their mission is to observe and document the planet's breakup, and to retrieve a research team stationed on the planet. Mr. Spock and Lt (junior grade) Joe Tormolen beam down and find the researchers' life support system shut down and the team frozen to death—one fully clothed in a shower, another seated at a control console as if nothing was wrong, and one woman who was strangled. Tormolen removes his environmental suit glove to scratch his nose and comes in contact with a strange red liquid. The landing party is beamed back to the ship and examined by Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy. McCoy finds no medical issues with them and allows them to return to duty.

While having lunch, Tormolen begins to act irrationally, expressing hostility towards other crew members, and threatening Lieutenants Sulu and Riley with a knife before turning it on himself. His wound is not life-threatening, but in sick bay he dies after a successful surgery, to McCoy's bewilderment.

Meanwhile, both Sulu and Riley also begin to behave irrationally. Sulu acts like a 17th-century swashbuckler in the style of The Three Musketeers, while Riley revels in his Irish ancestry, locks himself in the Engineering section, and proclaims himself captain of the Enterprise. Those whose skin they have touched soon follow suit, and the infection quickly spreads through the crew. As they abandon their posts, the ship's orbit destabilizes and she begins to fall into the planet's erratic gravity well. As the Enterprise enters the upper atmosphere, the hull begins to heat.

Chief Engineer Scott eventually regains control of Engineering from Riley, but Riley has shut down the engines. It will be impossible to restart them by normal procedures before the Enterprise crashes into the planet.

Spock becomes infected when Nurse Chapel takes his hands and confesses her love for the Vulcan science officer. Spock struggles to contain his emotions, and infects Captain James T. Kirk when he tries to help. McCoy studies blood samples from his patients and water from Psi 2000 and finds that the water from the planet possesses a previously undetected complex chain of molecules that affects humanoids like alcohol, depressing the centers of judgment and self-control, and is transmitted by touch. He develops a serum to reverse the effects, administering the initial doses to the command crew to allow them to bring the ship back under control.

Kirk orders Scott to make a full-power restart of the warp engines, a dangerous process that mixes matter and antimatter in a cold state to create a controlled implosion and drive the ship away from the planet. This is suggested by a theory postulating a relationship between time and antimatter, but it has never before been attempted. The restart is successful, propelling the Enterprise at impossible speed away from the planet into a space-time warp that sends the ship back 71 hours in time. While Kirk hopes reliving the last three days is nothing like what they have already experienced, Spock comments that they now know a way to travel back through time. Kirk's response is "We may risk it someday, Mr. Spock."


"The Naked Time" was originally intended to be a two-part episode, with Part One ending with a cliffhanger with the Enterprise going back in time. The ending was revised so it would become a stand-alone episode. What would have been Part Two eventually became another stand-alone episode, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday".[1]

A piece of Star Trek lore originated with this episode. When the script required Lieutenant Sulu to reveal that in his deepest self he sees himself as a swashbuckler, George Takei had to learn how to handle a sword in a hurry. When not needed on the set, he would practice fencing, frequently lunging at passing members of the film crew and sometimes pinking them. A delegation eventually called on Gene Roddenberry and threatened that the entire crew would quit if Sulu was ever given a sword again.[2]

"The Naked Time" is the only episode of The Original Series in which the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) was shown or referred to. The sleeve insignia of that rank is a single broken stripe, and Joseph Tormolen is the only member of the Enterprise crew ever to be shown wearing it.


The events of this episode are repeated in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now", where Riker references the incident as an in-universe historical event. Events are also mentioned in the TNG Season 6 episode "Relics".

The 2009 Star Trek film makes a reference to the scene where Sulu acts like a swashbuckler, when Kirk asks Sulu what type of combat training he has and he replies "fencing".

Footage from this episode appears in the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past.


In July 2011, the internet streaming service Netflix made all Star Trek episodes available, which would include this episode.[3]


George Takei has repeatedly mentioned in interviews that this is his favorite episode, and spends a chapter on it in his autobiography.[4]

In 2012, Christian Science Monitor ranked this the third best episode of the original Star Trek.[5]

In 2013, W.I.R.E.D. magazine ranked this episode one of the top ten most underrated episodes of The Original Series at that time.[6]

In 2015, SyFy ranked this episode as one of the top ten essential Star Trek original series episodes.[7] In 2015, WhatCulture ranked this the 25th best episode of all time in the Star Trek science fiction universe.[8]

In 2016, SyFy noted this episode for actress Nichelle Nichols presentation of Uhura, as having her tenth best scene in Star Trek.[9]

In 2016, IGN ranked "The Naked Time" the 12th best episode of all Star Trek series.[10]

In 2016, USA Today noted "The Naked Time" as an interesting episode of the Star Trek franchise.[11]

IGN ranked "The Naked Time" number 8 in a top ten list of The Original Series episodes.[12]

In 2018, PopMatters ranked this the 11th best episode of The Original Series.[13]

In 2019, Nerdist included this episode on their "Best of Spock" binge-watching guide.[14]


  1. "The Naked Time". Archived from the original on June 4, 2007.
  2. Whitfield, Stephen, and Roddenberry, Gene. The Making of Star Trek (New York: Ballantine Books),1970. ASIN: B0015HW8N4
  3. Knapp, Alex. "The 10 Best Singularity Themed Star Trek Episodes". Forbes. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  4. Peter Anthony Holder (November 21, 1994). "An Interview with George Takei".
  5. "Star Trek: The Original Series: The 10 greatest episodes (+ video)". Christian Science Monitor. September 8, 2012. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  6. Staff, WIRED (May 15, 2013). "10 of the Most Underrated Episodes of the Original Star Trek Series". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  7. Kaye, Don (February 27, 2015). "Long Live Spock: 10 essential Star Trek: The Original Series episodes". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  8. Fisher, Matthew (April 28, 2015). "30 Best Star Trek Episodes Of All Time". Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  9. Roth, Dany (December 28, 2016). "The Top 10 Uhura Moments from Star Trek". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  10. Star Trek: The Top 25 Episodes - IGN, retrieved August 5, 2019
  11. "The 5 best episodes to get you hooked on 'Star Trek'". For The Win. August 31, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  12. Staff, I. G. N. (September 5, 2016). "The Top 10 Classic Star Trek Episodes". IGN. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  13. "The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'". PopMatters. July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  14. "A Guide to Binge Watching 7 Great STAR TREK Arcs". Nerdist. Retrieved July 15, 2019.

See also

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