From the department of “We’re feeling old,” the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Rightful Heir” premiered on May 17, 1993… which is 25 years ago today. In it, Worf finds his faith sorely tested when it appears that Kahless, the greatest Klingon warrior of all time, has returned from the dead to reclaim the Empire. To mark the anniversary, StarTrek.com is pleased to share 7 Things to Know About “Rightful Heir.”
“Rightful Heir” was the 23rd episode of TNG’s sixth season. It was directed by veteran TNG helmer, the late Winrich Kolbe, based on a pitch by James E. Brooks and a teleplay by Ronald D. Moore. Kolbe later directed “All Good Things…” and went on to direct episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise.
Big, Bad Worf
No one seemed happy with Worf in this episode. “Worf!” shouted Riker. “What the hell are you doing?" Picard was livid at the lieutenant, saying, "Mr. Worf, your personal affairs are strictly your own concern… until they interfere with the operation of this ship. You have now crossed that line." Later, Picard commented, “It’s a pity that you didn't try the holodeck instead of setting fire to your quarters."
LeVar Burton and Marina Sirtis did not appear in “Rightful Heir.” According to Memory Alpha, Troi and Geordi were given lines in the script, lines that were evidently deleted. And, per production call sheets, Sirtis even shot a scene.
Robert O’Reilly made his last TNG appearance as Gowron in “Rightful Heir.” But that was far from the last viewers saw of O’Reilly or Gowron. The actor and character returned on Deep Space Nine, starting with the 1994 episode, “The House of Quark.”
What Would Roddenberry Think?
Trek creator Gene Roddenberry chose to stay away from examining religion on TNG, particularly amongst the main characters. But if, post-Roddenberry, religion were to be explored, it made sense to do so with the spiritual Worf and Kahless and the Klingons.
The Oppenheimer Connection
The actor Alan Oppenheimer portrayed Koroth in this episode. Oppenheimer is the third cousin of famed nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The 1989 big-screen drama Fat Man and Little Boy starred Paul Newman as General Leslie R. Groves and featured Dwight Schultz as J. Robert Oppenheimer. Schultz, of course, recurred as Reginald Barclay on TNG, First Contact and Voyager.
From TNG to Nashville
Charles Esten made the first of his two TNG guest shots here, as he played the Kahless follower Divok in “Rightful Heir” and ventured back to Paramount three years later to tackle the role of Dathan Alaris in “Remember,” an episode of Voyager. Esten, who’s known as Chip, is a singer-actor who’s currently best known his long stint as the decent, but troubled Deacon Claybourne on the series, Nashville.