Greetings, my fellow puny Earthers!
Tell enough people you are a Star Trek fan and chances are some p'tak will come back to you with, “Oh, do you speak Klingon?” As if it were that easy!
Klingon is a very difficult language to learn (I've bought the books and gave up), though there are a few phrases I've retained. “Hab SoSll' Quch!” or “Your mother has a smooth forehead!” is one that comes up more commonly than you might think.
There are the famous Klingons out there, like Worf, obviously, or General Chang, whose nailed-in eyepatch made such an impression in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. There's Kor, Koloth and Kang, the three Kirk adversaries from TOS who took a blood oath with Curzon Dax and reappeared in DS9. The Duras Sisters, Kurn, Martok, Gowron… these are all name-brand Klingons. But a culture is made up from a whole tapestry of people. Not everyone is a Chancellor or Lt. Commander. Some only step into our lives for a brief moment, and maybe don't say much.
To that end, we are counting down our favorite lesser-known (and sometimes unnamed) Klingons.
5 - Proprietor of the Promenade's Klingon Restaurant
A warrior's gotta eat, right? Part of DS9's appeal was its ability to stay put and really focus on what everyday life would be like in the 24th century. (Well, until that little Dominion War broke out. Then it wasn't so everyday.) Other than Quark's bar and Garak's tailor shop, the merchants on the Promenade mostly just blended into the background.
But on a few occasions we got a glimpse of this robust, dare-I-say-jovial Klingon who offered up live gagh and rokeg blood pie. (We never learned his name on the show, but later novels called him Kaga.) Not only did he serve authentic meals direct from Q'onoS, he would occasionally serenade his diners, accompanied by a small Klingon accordion.
4 – Gowron's Aide
You didn't see too many female Klingons in TOS. But as we got to TNG and the Empire's social structure began to reveal itself, we learned a little more about Klingon social structure. Notably, we met Worf's baby-mama, K'Ehleyr, and the less-than-honorable Duras Sisters.
It was during one of the Duras' more-controversial moments when we caught a glimpse of a striking figure off to the side of Gowron. As Captain Picard stood in the Great Hall, ready to perform his duties as the Arbiter of Succession, the Duras' put forth a claim that the young Toral was a rightful heir to the throne. (This was all done in cahoots with the Romulans, and eventually caused a great deal of trouble for everyone.)
But enough about the pesky Duras Sisters. How about this woman who stood valiantly near Chancellor Gowron, watching his back? You can see the strength in her eyes and her stance! We never learned much about her, but she made an impression!
3- K'Mpec's 14
Maybe this is a cheat, as it's a group of Klingons, but it's their action in unison that's so memorable. These are the fourteen members of the High Council who broke our hearts when they turned their backs on Worf in the Great Hall. Worf's Discommendation is a crucial turning point in Klingon history. He nobly sacrificed his own honor for the good of the greater Empire. And Captain Picard was right there beside him to watch his comrade fall from grace. But by doing this, his brother Kurn is able to live and hopeful restore the good name of Mogh without sinking the Empire into a civil war.
These Klingon rituals are a bit complex, admittedly. The point is that the image of Chancellor K'mpec and the other nobles rejecting Worf – OUR Worf – is one of the bleaker visuals in all of Star Trek.
2 – The Braggart
“Apocalypse Rising” from DS9's season 5 is one the greatest hours of television you'll ever see. In it, Sisko, O'Brien, Odo and Worf go to Qo'noS to prove that Gowron has been replaced by a Founder. Sisko and O'Brien put on Klingon makeup (Odo can camouflage himself far more easily) and they head to the Order of the Bat'leth ceremony.
The new faces need to make themselves respected, so when a boozy Klingon starts telling tall tales about how he pushes around puny Federation members (beheading a Tellarite pig, ripping the breathing tubes off a Benzite), that's where Sisko steps in. After decking him, he bellows one of the greatest quotes in all Star Trek lore. “Brag all you want! But don't get between ME and the BLOODWINE!”
1 – Nu'Daq
I may catch some flak for this one, but I always liked this guy. The captain of the IKS Maht-H'a, Nu'Daq was on a quest (and race with the Cardassians) to find the primordial “seeding” DNA of humanoid races. He wasn't always a nice guy (like destroying the atmosphere of an unpopulated planet, to make sure it STAYED that way), but he had a certain flair you don't always see with Klingon commanders. When he challenged Data to a test of strength, he still found a way to congratulate himself when Data wiped the floor with him. His rejoinders to Gul Ocett (“I'll send you my mother's recipe!”) and to the ancient ancestral voice of peace (“That's all?”) are menacing but somehow still slightly amusing. And his attempts to bribe Data, likely knowing it would never work, show a certain spirited determination to leave no stone unturned.
Qapla', Nu'Daq! May you find a better finish at the end of your next chase!
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. Hoffman is also the host of Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast, from CBS Radio, CBS Local Digital Media and CBS Consumer Products. Engage is available via Play.it/StarTrek, iTunes and StarTrek.com, with new episodes released weekly.