Movie Reviews

Michael Dorn Thought 1 Star Trek: TNG Episode Made Worf "A Murderer"

Summary

  • Worf’s dilemma in Star Trek: TNG shows his struggle to balance Klingon heritage with Starfleet duties.
  • Michael Dorn questioned Worf’s decision, feeling it made him seem more alien and less human.
  • Worf’s refusal to save a Romulan makes him appear less bound by human morals, adding depth to his character.



Michael Dorn questioned Lt. Worf’s decision in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as Dorn was worried that fans would think the Klingon was a murderer. As the only Klingon in Starfleet at the time, Worf was often torn between his desire to embrace Klingon culture and his duties as a Starfleet officer. After the death of his biological parents at the Khitomer Massacre, Worf was raised by humans on Earth. Because of this, he already felt somewhat disconnected from Klingon culture, but this TNG episode emphasized that Worf was not human.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, episode 7, “The Enemy,” the USS Enterprise-D intercepts a distress call, which leads them to a crashed Romulan ship on a storm-ridden planet. When they find a survivor named Patahk (Steven Rankin), they quickly transport him to sickbay. Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) determines that Patahk needs a blood transfusion and that Worf is the only suitable donor. Having lost his parents to the Romulans, Worf refuses to help, despite pleas from Crusher and Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).


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Why Michael Dorn Thought Star Trek: TNG’s “The Enemy” Made Worf “A Murderer”

In Worf’s defense, Patahk does say: “I would rather die than pollute my body with Klingon filth!”

As Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Enemy” progresses, it seems to be building to the moment when Worf has a change of heart and saves the Romulan at the last minute. Except that he doesn’t. Worf holds firm and Patahk dies, further complicating Picard’s discussions with Romulan Commander Tomalak (Andreas Katsulas). According to Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, Michael Dorn had some reservations when he read this moment in the script. Read his quote below:


I called the producers and said I didn’t agree. I thought [giving blood] was the honorable thing to do. I thought people would look at [Worf] as a murderer. The producers felt that Worf was getting to be too Human…just a guy with a big head. When the opportunity came for them to show that Worf was not Human, that he is not bound by the same morals as we are, they felt it was a wonderful opportunity.

Worf has the ability to save Patahk, but he lets him die anyway. This decision feels directly opposed to everything Captain Picard (and, by extension, Star Trek) stands for, but it still feels in character for Worf. Patahk’s death almost causes a battle between the Enterprise and Tomalak’s warbird, which could have potentially led to a war. Worf’s decision does not look great for him, but it also helps audiences remember that he doesn’t think the same way humans do.


Was Worf Too Human & Not Klingon Enough On Star Trek: TNG?

Worf has always struggled to reconcile his Klingon heritage with his more human tendencies.

For most of Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, Worf was little more than a background character. After the death of Lt. Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), however, Worf stepped up to become Security Chief and got a lot more to do every week. Still, TNG wasn’t always sure what to do with Worf, and they sometimes forgot he wasn’t human. His supposed Klingon strength was not always consistent, as bad guys took Worf down with surprising regularity. It wasn’t until TNG season 3 and beyond that the show began to reveal more about Klingon culture and explore Worf’s relationship to his people.

Star Trek: The Next Generation
is the ultimate celebration of humanity and reflects Gene Roddenberry’s humanist views better than any other
Trek
series.


As he was raised by humans on Earth, Worf felt like an outsider among his own people. It makes sense that he would act more human than most Klingons, and his journey on TNG largely reflects that. This was thanks in large part to Star Trek writer Ronald D. Moore, who became known for his Klingon-related episodes and went on to write for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was on DS9 that Worf truly came into his own, more fully embracing his Klingon side, but episodes like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “The Enemy” showed hints of Worf’s alienness among the mostly human crew of the USS Enterprise-D.

Star Trek the Next Generation Poster

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation is the third installment in the sci-fi franchise and follows the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew members of the USS Enterprise. Set around one hundred years after the original series, Picard and his crew travel through the galaxy in largely self-contained episodes exploring the crew dynamics and their own political discourse. The series also had several overarching plots that would develop over the course of the isolated episodes, with four films released in tandem with the series to further some of these story elements.

Release Date
September 28, 1987

Seasons
7

Showrunner
Rick Berman , Michael Piller , Jeri Taylor

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