Today is... World Beard Day? We're not sure who exactly determined this, but everyone on Facebook is going bananas with pictures. But why limit yourself? Why not Out-of-This-World Beard Day? When it came to facial topography, Star Trek was certainly better known for pointy ears and ridged foreheads, but over the five decades there was some finagling of the follicles. So in celebration of this hair-raising celebration we've decided to scratch our chins and list the Five Best Beards on Star Trek.
5 - Picard's Possible Future Beard
If you are going to rant and rave about something as nutty as “anti-time” while harassing all of your old colleagues, best to have a scraggly white beard to do it in. TNG's “All Good Things...” (truly the greatest final episode in any major show ever, let's be honest) skips around the timeline, but you always want to be in the (possible) future to see Patrick Stewart sporting a beard. He had facial hair in a few other scenarios, but this one is certainly the best.
4 – Classic Kor
Before Star Trek had the budget to make Klingons with radical ridged foreheads, they had to use other techniques to make the bad guys look bad. (Yes, yes, I know all about the augmentation virus [http://www.startrek.com/article/one-trek-mind-16-you-know-youre-a-star-trek-fan-if] – I'm just talking “real world” here for a second.) The classic Klingons Kang (“Day of the Dove”) and Koloth (“The Trouble With Tribbles”) had goatees and bushy eyebrows, but there was something about Kor (“Errand of Mercy”) that was particularly perfect. Maybe the way his mustache came to a sharp point? To me it says “Don't trust this guy!” Luckily the Organians were there to put the kibosh on hostilities before it got too dangerous.
3 – Bones' Retirement Beard
Despite its, shall we say, patient pacing, there is a lot going on at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. So much so that it may take a while before you realize that we're missing a key player.
After the transporter accident that kills Sonak, we hear some commotion about someone who doesn't want to beam aboard. (Who can blame him?) It's our beloved country doctor Leonard McCoy, with his shirt half open exposing a shiny medallion and sporting a full lumberjack beard,. He's grousing about Admiral Nogura's seldom-used reverse activation clause. “In simpler language, Captain, they drafted me!” He soon cleans up and is back at his post, but the image never fades away.
2 – Mirror Universe Spock
I've written before [http://www.startrek.com/article/one-trek-mind-18-my-personal-trek-tipping-point] about the shock that accompanied the first glimpse of Mirror Universe Spock. Even before we knew what “Mirror Mirror” was going to be about, we could tell, from one close-up, that our beloved logical half-Vulcan was now, somehow, EVIL. It's amazing what a few follicles and some spirit gum can do!
The “dark goatee to denote evil twin” was such a winner that it became easily recognized pop culture shorthand, and was directly parodied on Futurama and South Park. (And Enterprise's own Mirror Universe episodes kept it going with Ambassador Soval.) We've done a great number of lists on One Trek Mind over the years, but this is the first time an entry has also been the name of a reasonably successful rock band [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spock%27s_Beard]. For that alone, this deserves high placement. But … not number one.
1 – Will Riker
Of course it is Riker at number one. (I mean, c'mon, he's Number One!) Spock's Mirror Universe beard may have had a greater impact on culture at large, but within the world of Star Trek, we know Riker's beard is where it's at. In Season 1 of TNG, the Enterprise-D's First Officer still seemed like he was on some unsure footing. But when he came back in Season 2 with his more rugged, masculine look it was “Shields Up!” All the ladies loved him, all the men envied him and our crew really clicked into place. Mirror Spock's Beard is the facial hair of evil, but Riker's is grooming for good.
Now's the time to get out the razors and tell me what other ones would make your top five. I'd like to see someone make a case specifically for Thomas Riker!
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also 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.