Published Sep 14, 2023
The Best of Pavel Chekov
In celebration of Walter Koenig's birthday, we're looking back at our favorite Chekov moments in The Original Series.
As a core member of James T. Kirk's crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, it's hard to believe that Ensign Pavel Chekov wasn't always there from the beginning of their five-year mission.
The ensign joined the crew with Star Trek's second-season "Catspaw." Actor Walter Koenig's addition to The Original Series served two primary goals. The first, creator Gene Roddenberry hoped to attract a younger audience, which resulted in Koenig sporting a Monkees-style wig to resemble the hugely popular Davy Jones. Second, he wanted Star Trek to portray a future that was a one world community, building a diverse bridge crew. The addition of a non-threatening or militaristic Russian to the core crew, during the Cold War, was culturally significant. Additionally, for Russia's advancements in the space race, it made sense to put a Russian on the bridge in the utopian vision of the 23rd Century.
To celebrate Koenig's birthday, we're looking back at our favorite Chekov scenes from The Original Series.
"The Trouble with Tribbles"
While on shore leave, Chekov and Lt. Uhura come across a cute new species, a tribble, and bring it back aboard the Enterprise. Shenanigans ensue as the tribbles reproduce at a rate faster than earthly rabbits, and the starship is suddenly overrun with tribbles, which thankfully soothes the crew with its cooing.
However, Chekov's most memorable moment involves Scotty, drinks, and an all-out brawl while at a bar on K-7. The engineer and ensign playfully chide each other over their drink of choice — scotch and vodka, respectively. Their relaxing downtime is interrupted when a Klingon baits them with insults; first, insulting Earthers by comparing them to Regulan bloodworms. Korax then hurls an insult towards their captain which riles up Chekov. Scotty tries to temper the moment, and even hands the scotch to the distracted ensign who sneers at his glass when he realizes its not his glass. But once the Klingon insults their starship, that riles Scotty to his feet, which signals to Chekov it's on where he then leaps on a table to take down a Klingon!
I can do it, sir. I'm not that green.
Pavel Chekov, "Catspaw"
While only a junior officer, Chekov manned the navigator post on the bridge, and covered Spock's station in his absence. Upon reporting his findings on the landing party's status to DeSalle in the center seat, the assistant chief engineer questions the Chekov's readings and suggests he may need help recalibrating the scanners. Incredibly thorough in his duty, the ensign cuts him off dismissing the notion that he's green and unable to do it on his own.
Do not question his ability and efficiency. Bones even chides his encyclopedic relay of examples to Kirk because "a captain requires complete information," before the doctor laments to Jim that Mr. Spock is "contaminating this boy."
"Who Mourns for Adonais?"
The junior officer never passes the moment up when it arises.
The landing party meets a humanoid on the surface of the planet Pollux IV who proclaims he's Apollo, which instantly elicits the following retort from Chekov, "And I am the czar of all the Russias!" When his captain admonishes him, he apologizes with a chuckle stating he's never met a god before.
Related: Chekov never missed the opportunity to boast about his Russian heritage. Whenever anyone on the crew remarked on a saying, invention, and/or event, he was quick to (erroneously) point out that it came from his homeland. Case in point, when Scotty tells Sulu of the Earth saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," Chekov interjects that the Russians invented.
"Spectre of the Gun"
The captain usually gets all the love stories, but not in this Season 3 opener.
The xenophobic Melkots transports the landing party consisting of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and Chekov into their recreation of Earth's Wild West where they must relive the 1881 shoot-out in Tombstone, Arizona - a "manner befitting their heritage for trespassing.'
While playing the role of Billy Claiborne, Chekov falls for a girl he meets at the bar. However, an Earp kills him because he wanted her for himself. Fortunately for the crew, they don't escalate the situation as they realize it's not real; they're projected illusions. The Melkots are impressed in their peaceful ability to not escalate the situation into a shoot-out. As a result, they return the crew to the Enterprise, including Chekov, who really did die in the earlier altercation, and agree to establishing contact with the Federation.
Koenig told StarTrek.com back in 2011 that the singular episode he enjoyed the most was this one, revealing, "It was an interesting concept mandated by economics. Our budget was very small and they didn’t have the wherewithal to be a complete, detailed Wild West town, so they did it in a sort of abstract manner, which I thought gave it some class and some style. I thought it was a very, very good decision and it worked very well."
"The Deadly Years"
Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If I live long enough, I'm going to run out of samples!"
"Oh, yes. I'll live. But I won't enjoy it.
Chekov and Sulu, "The Deadly Years"
It's not the easy being the poster boy for the fountain of youth.
When the entire landing party is ravaged by a disease that results in rapid aging, the only crewmember unaffected is Chekov. McCoy runs multiple tests to understand why the junior officer hasn't aged like everyone else. Chekov proves that, even in the 23rd Century, no one enjoys a trip to the doctor's visit. Besides, don't punish him for his boyish good looks.
Turns out, all you need is a healthy dose of adrenaline (and fear)!