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The 16 Most Surprising STAR TREK Klingon Transformations of All Time

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) Commander Kruge (Christopher Lloyd)
Check out the most surprising Klingon transformations ever to appear in the Star Trek franchise.

The Klingons are the most popular villains in the Star Trek franchise.  Developed by screenwriter Gene L. Coon for the 1967 episode "Errand of Mercy" they started as "Cold War" Soviets and transformed into fierce and honorable warriors.

Klingons are an imposing sight with their heavy brow, dark skin and extreme facial hair. Numerous actors have played Klingons, but these are the most extreme and surprising transformations of all time.

#16. Michael Dorn as Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Michael Dorn as Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Michael Dorn was a regular on shows like CHIPs, and Days of Our Lives, thanks to his handsome good looks. He originally tried for a walk-on role on Star Trek: The Next Generation along with other "tall, slim, black actors," but they loved his stoic performance so much he became a series regular. Dorn is almost unrecognizable in his misshapen teeth, domed head and long hair.

#15. Christopher Plummer as General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

The man who sang in Sound of Music played one of the most fearsome Klingons ever. Christopher Plummer has won numerous Tony Awards for his Broadway skills and his leading man good looks landed him dozens of roles in films like The Night of the Generals, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Man Who Would Be King and the 1969 classic Lock Up Your Daughters.

But when he played a Klingon in Star trek VI he opted for a very different look. Plummer asked them to remove the customary wig and make his makeup less severe. Add the bolted on eye patch and you have the most handsome Klingon ever.

#14. David Warner as Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
David Warner as Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Who would think a Shakespearean actor would play a ruthless Klingon? No actor has more Shakespearean training than David Warner. He's a member of the Royal Shakespearean Theatre and played everyone from Hamlet to Cinna the Poet in Julius Caesar. He's one of the most popular Klingons and appeared in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

#13. Robert O'Reilly as Gowron in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Robert O'Reilly has played a villain on hundreds of shows including Cheers, Knight Rider, Sledge Hammer!, MacGyver, In the Heat of the Night, NYPD Blue and Dallas. What makes him an especially surprising Klingon is what he calls "that crazy loon eyeball thing" where his eyes seem to pop out of their sockets and fly across the room at you.

#12. Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor in Star Trek: The Next Generation

While mainly a television actor, Walsh brought fire and venom to her performance as B'Etor, the other half of the treacherous Duras sisters. It's hard to believe her sweet smile can be transformed into the cruel sneer she carries.

#11. Suzie Plakson as K'Ehleyr in Star Trek: The Next Generation

The beautiful and charming Suzie Plakson played the half-human half-Klingon K'Ehleyr and her smile, and beauty, was almost hidden under her Klingon headpiece. Thankfully, they skipped the gnarly teeth.

#10. Rosanna DeSoto as Azetbur the new Klingon Chancellor in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

The Mexican-American actor is well-known for her television roles on Cannon, Kung Fu, Barnaby Jones, Barney Miller and The Redd Foxx Show. Beautiful and exotic, she played the severe daughter of the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

#9. John Colicos as Commander Kor in Star Trek: The Original Series
John Colicos as Commander Kor in Star Trek: The Original Series
John Colicos is a well-known character actor, but when he played the very first Klingon it was all new. He said, "It was all such a last-minute job that nobody knew what Commander Kor should look like. So, we devised the makeup right then and there."

He based the look on the warrior Genghis Khan giving himself a "vaguely Asian, Tartar appearance." A fascinating and surprising performance when he appeared on screen for the first time.

#8. J. G. Hertzler as Martok in Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

J.G. Hertzler isn't the most handsome man in the world, but he's completely different from the hideous Klingon Martok in Star Trek: The Next Generation. During his audition, to prove he had the anger necessary to play the role of General Martok, Hertzler threw a chair against the wall.

#7. Kevin Conway as Kahless the Unforgettable in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Kahless united the Klingon people and became the first Klingon emperor. The idea that 5' 6" actor Kevin Conway, who played in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Elephant Man, Other People's Money, and When You Comin' Back, is laughable. But he pulled off an incredible performance as the Kahless clone. Thanks to "short man syndrome" he became one of the greatest Klingons ever.

#6. John Schuck as Klingon Ambassador in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

John Schuck is an unlikely face for a Klingon. He played Rock Hudson's half-brained assistant, Sgt. Charles Enright, in the 70s crime drama McMillan & Wife, and Herman Munster in the 1980s sitcom reboot The Munsters Today. Even Leonard Nimoy said he wasn't right for the part. But the actor convinced him that he could play the old, and wise, Klingon Ambassador using his theater training. He surprised everyone with his memorable acting.

In fact, Schuck did so well, that his unnamed character returned for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). Shuck went on to play the Klingon doctor Antaak on Star Trek: Enterprise (2005).

#5. John Larroquette as Maltz in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Who knew Dan Fielding could play a fearsome Klingon? Larroquette won several Emmy Awards for his role as slimy prosecutor Dan Fielding on the 80s sitcom Night Court. But somehow he managed to hide his smirk under layers of Klingon makeup.

#4. Tony Todd as Unnamed Klingon in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
Tony Todd as Unnamed Klingon in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

What made Tony Todd a surprising Klingon isn't the actor, who was brilliant in the few minutes he was on screen. It's the fact that he's bald, and has an earring. Of course, before that he used his deep voice to play Worf's brother Kurn on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

#3. Christopher Lloyd as Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Okey-Doke! Christopher Lloyd's work as a mental patient in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the burnout Reverend Jim Ignatowski in Taxi seem like an unlikely choice for the Klingon Commander that kills Kirk's son. But, despite his winning two Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, he managed to play the evil Kruge without so much as a laugh.

#3. Barbara March as Lursa in Star Trek: The Next Generation
 Barbara March as Lursa in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Barbara March is talented and beautiful having done such classic Shakespearean roles as Isabella in Measure for Measure, Desdemona in Othello, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Lady Macbeth. But her "Klingon Kleavage" is on full display as the ugly and cruel Duras sister Lursa.

#1. Michael Ansara as Kang in Star Trek: The Original Series
Michael Ansara as Kang in

The handsome Syrian-born actor Michael Ansara was famous for his television role as the Native American Cochise in Broken Arrow (1956). But his turn as Kang turned him into the most memorable Klingon to appear on The Original Series, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Which is your favorite Klingon? Is there an actor you didn't know was a Klingon or one that I missed?

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  1. #4 isn't Tony Todd, it's Sean Blakemore. His character's name is Captain Kuron. Todd isn't even in STID AFAIK.

    1. You probably know that Tony Todd played Worf's brother Kurn in ST TNG. He appeared in several different episodes.

  2. I'd completely forgotten that Larroquette was in Star Trek III. And I'd always wondered what O'Reilly looked like. Cool stuff, guys. You should cover all the aliens in Star Trek.

  3. Great List. How about James Worthy, the Basketball player.

  4. oh the stories i have at a klingon convention... chang is so cool

  5. Martok wasn't in TNG, he was in DS9.

    How about Ned Romero and Brian Bonsall?

  6. The Klingons were always fun. I liked Gowron a lot. I think.

  7. What a waste of Tony Todd. He deserves better.

  8. Good one David! I'll add him to the list. Will Wheaton suggested one too

  9. We just might Alex. It would be a long list though.

  10. All great Klingons! worthy of mention as well are William C Campbell (Captain Koloth -the Trouble with Tribbles), Mark Leonard ( Klingon Captain, Star Trek-the Motion Picture) Cathie Shirrif (Valkris, Star Trek III) Todd Bryant (Klaa, Star Trek V), Spice Williams (Vixis, ST V) and Patrick Massett (Duras)

  11. Very good choices Kurt. Especially Spice Williams!

  12. Yes, Gowron was complete, batshit crazy. A real Klingon.

  13. John Tesh was a Klingon on TNG...he got to stab Worf with a pain stick and growl a lot...

  14. Gowron was actually played by Tony Todd, wasn't he?

  15. i think i miss koloth

  16. William Campbell! Now that is a great Klingon. At least he came back in DS9.

  17. That's Wil Wheaton's favorite too. LOL

  18. Actually Tony Todd was a Klingon in TNG, he played Kurn, Worf's brother.

  19. You left out Stephen Root, who captained a Bird of Prey in TNG's Unification. But I didn't recognize him for a while either, so I guess I should cut you some slack.

  20. That is a good one. Thanks for the slack

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  22. Martok (JG Hertzler) is a DS9 character, not TNG. Cool article though!

  23. They missed Koloth (William Campbell).

  24. The suspension of disbelief was shattered when Christopher Lloyd spoke in English. Captain Kirk, if you don't want to give the Genesis Device - Okey Doke!

  25. Why? If you are a Klingon assigned on a convert mission inside of Federation Space, there to retrieve stolen data from a Klingon operative, also operating in Federation Space would you not know how to speak English? Plenty of modern armed forces here on Earth train or seek out officers who can speak other languages. Why would the Klingons be any different?

  26. You missed the point. It wasn't because he spoke English. It's because of Lloyds distinctive voice. I had the same problem. Every time he talked I thought of Jim from Taxi.

  27. It was good timing to repost this link; I'm watching the ST TNG episode where Duras kills K'Helyr. I loved Gowron's crazy eyes and Martok was always fun on DS9.


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