5 original Star Trek episodes that were banned overseas

By: H&I Staff    Posted: December 1, 2022, 2:24PM

While we in America might look back at Star Trek: The Original Series as wholesome family fun, the rest of the world didn’t always think that way. In fact, there were a handful of episodes from the series that weren’t shown on TV in certain countries. While the U.K. had the strictest rules regarding what was considered suitable for its viewers, Germany banned an episode was well — for a more understandable reason. 

Luckily, most of these episodes weren’t totally impossible for Europeans to get a hold of. They were either aired later on, or Trek fans were able to screen them at conventions. Other episodes, such as “Man Trap,” “Enemy Within,” and “Bread and Circuses” were shown on TV, but violent scenes and Captain Kirk’s doppelgänger’s near attempted assault of Lt. Rand were edited out.

Here are the five episodes that were outright banned in the ’60s.

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This episode, featuring a society of children whose parents have all mysteriously died of a disease, was banned by the BBC because it "dealt most unpleasantly with the already unpleasant subjects of madness, torture, sadism and disease." This was likely considered even more offensive than other Trek episodes that featured similar storylines because the cast was primarily children, and in the U.K., Star Trek was considered a children’s show.


“Plato’s Stepchildren”

"Plato’s Stepchildren" was lumped in with "Miri," being banned by the BBC for the "violent" content. However, the episode raised eyebrows on NBC executives in the U.S. for featuring the first interracial kiss on network TV, between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner. Execs were afraid the scene would cause a backlash from conservative viewers. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was the underlying reason behind the BBC ban.


“The Empath”

If "torture" was a reason "Miri" and "Plato’s Stepchildren" were banned by the BBC, it’s no wonder "The Empath" was. Though there isn’t any real outright graphic violence in the episode, as Kirk, Spock and McCoy are tortured and chained up by aliens called Vians as part of an experiment. They’re locked in a chamber with a mysterious woman who turns out to be an empath. The Vians torture the men in an effort to see if she is compassionate enough to have her species saved. Though McCoy almost dies, Gem saves him. Despite the happy ending, the BBC wasn’t having it.


“Whom Gods Destroy”

By now we’ve learned that torture was frowned upon on British television. However, this isn’t the only reason "Whom Gods Destroy" wasn’t originally aired in the U.K. The main reason Brits weren’t originally able to tune in was actually one of the most famous scenes in the show’s history — the risqué performance by Marta, the Orion slave girl. Despite the fact that Spock says the dance reminds him of dances done by kids in Vulcan nursery school, it wasn’t deemed suitable for children.


“Patterns of Force”

While we might scoff at the idea of Star Trek being too violent for British kiddies, it’s easy to understand why Germany wouldn’t air "Patterns of Force." The episode focuses on Kirk and Co.’s search for a missing Federation historian who turns out to have manipulated an alien culture to take after the Third Reich. Despite the fact that the Federation is attempting to undo this wrong, there are swastikas abound, and the outfits just look a liiiittle too much like vintage Nazi uniforms.

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