Those Troublesome Tribbles
Almost everyone knows those little, lovely, fluffy balls that multiply whenever they can. The first time we saw Tribbles was in “The Trouble with Tribbles”, the fifteenth episode of Season 2 of Star Trek: The Original Series, which was written by David Gerrold and was first aired on 29th December 1967. Of course, Captain Kirk is famous for not loving Tribbles, but even Spock had a thing for them, although he would not admit it, and Scotty ended up “giving” them to the Klingons as a present in their Engineering room. Since that episode, there have been a few others featuring Tribbles in a significant role. The most recent one has been the Short Treks episode “The Trouble with Edward”.
Tribbles are physically harmless, but don’t feed them too much, because they will produce ten offspring every twelve hours. Despite being limbless, they can cling to smooth vertical surfaces. The typical sound Tribbles make can be compared to the purring of a cat. If you pet a Tribble, it will have the same effect as if you pet a dog or a cat; it will help you reduce stress, creating that “happy” hormone in your body. Tribbles grow from ten to thirty centimetres and are herbivores.
You may be thinking, Awww, what harm can a tribble do?! Well, we saw, in “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The Trouble with Edward”, that they look cute and all that, but if they are multiplying you need to watch out!
Worf actor Michael Dorn didn’t enjoy working on “Trials and Tribble-ations”, the Tribble episode in DS9. He hated the Tribbles so much that, every time somebody mentioned them, he reacted as a Klingon would!
In virtually every series or movie of Star Trek, you will find a Tribble somewhere, because the cast and crew love them so much. I believe even Wil Wheaton, who hosts The Ready Room, has had some Tribbles in the set of his ready room.
Did you know also that, in the Kelvin Timeline, Dr. McCoy injected the blood of Kahn into a dead Tribble in order to test the regenerative properties of the blood? When the Tribble was resurrected thanks to the transfusion, this discovery of McCoy’s, in Star Trek Into Darkness, saved Kirk’s life.
In Star Trek Online, Tribbles can help your character heal. Tribbles appear in other Star Trek video games too.
In 2018, my partner and I decided to start a Tribble family. After seeing these cute thingies at the Star Trek convention Destination Star Trek, I was sold, especially when I saw the Borg Tribble. These Tribbles make the same sound as the ones you know from the series.
My partner asked me why I wanted to start a Tribble family. My answer was: well, any time you annoy me, I will throw a Tribble instead of a pillow. This has persuaded him to totally accept them. Every time I throw one, the Tribble’s noise will activate, we laugh and that will break the tension.
It’s not only cute to have Tribble toys but also kind of cosy, although I think you need to think twice about buying one or keeping it safe if you have pets. They probably will destroy the Tribble or will avoid it altogether because it not only makes purring noises but also vibrates.
All in all, Tribbles have had a long and eventful history in Star Trek. They look as though they’ll continue to flourish, much as their species is famous for thriving.
A superfan of Star Trek since the ’90s, Orinda feels that Star Trek has pulled her through rough times more than once. She says, “I love Star Trek because I can be myself, and this can go from just watching the series to entering a cosplay contest.” Orinda has been writing Star Trek fan-fiction stories for a long time and really enjoys doing so. She has 2 podcasts in which she talks about Star Trek (links to these can be found here and here).