Klingons (Klingon: tlhIngan, pronounced ) are a fictional warrior race in the Star Trek universe. They are recurring villains in the 1960s television show Star Trek: The Original Series, and have appeared in all five spin-off series and eight feature films. Initially intended to be antagonists for the crew of the USS Enterprise, the Klingons ended up a close ally of humanity and the United Federation of Planets in later television series.
As originally developed by screenwriter Gene L. Coon, Klingons were darkly colored humanoids with little honor, intended as an allegory to the then-current Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, though Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry did not aspire to any political parallels. With a greatly expanded budget for makeup and effects, the Klingons were completely redesigned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), gaining ridged foreheads that created a continuity error not explained by canon until 2005. In later films and the spin-off series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the militaristic traits of the Klingons were bolstered by an increased sense of honor and strict warrior code.
Among the elements created for the revised Klingons was a complete language, developed by Marc Okrand off gibberish suggested by actor James Doohan. Klingon has entered popular culture; the works of William Shakespeare and even parts of the Bible have been translated into the guttural language. A dictionary, a book of sayings and a cultural guide to the language have been published and, according to Guinness World Records, Klingon is the most popular fictional language by number of speakers.
The Klingons were created by screenwriter Gene L. Coon, and first appeared in the 1967 episode "Errand of Mercy". They were named after Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan, who served with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in the Los Angeles Police Department. In the original television series (TOS), Klingons were typically portrayed with bronze skin and facial hair suggestive of Asian peoples, and possessed physical abilities similar to humans (in fact, Coon's only physical description of them in his "Errand of Mercy" script is "oriental" and "hard-faced"). The swarthy look of Klingon males was created with the application of shoe polish and long, thin moustaches; budget constraints would not allow any further creativity. The overall look of the aliens, played by white actors, suggested orientalism, at a time when memories of Japanese actions during World War II were still fresh. The production crew never came to an agreement on the name "Klingon"; Coon was adamant about keeping the name, and it persisted because no one else offered up a better name.
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