Published Jan 19, 2020
The Gorn Identity
53 years of "Arena" in pictures.
The Gorn is 53 years old. Actually, he’s probably much older than that, but Star Trek fans first met the big, lumbering green guy in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Arena,” 53 years ago today.
The Gorn, in his birthday suit, on the set of “Arena.”
The Gorn costume was created by Wah Chang while actor, stuntman and Star Trek convention favorite Bobby Clark actually got into the character to play the Gorn. “[Director] Joseph Pevney hired me as a stunt actor,” Clark told StarTrek.com in a 2011 interview. “Now, for ‘Arena,’ I was hired as an actor who could do my own stunts. That’s how I’d say it. Regardless of what the critics say about the fight with Bill Shatner, I think the Gorn was pretty interesting. I was supposed to be cumbersome, I was supposed to be awkward and I was supposed to be slow. That was the reptilian nature of the Gorn. But, definitely, I was hired as an actor who had the capability to do the stunts.” Clark, for the record, went on to appear in three other TOS episodes: “The Apple,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Return of the Archons.”
The Gorn return to action, albeit cartoon style, in “The Time Trap,” an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series that aired in 1973.
The Gorn figured into a number of Star Trek books and video games, but didn’t return to live-action television until the Star Trek: Enterprise Mirror Universe episode, “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II.” That was stunt coordinator Vince Deadrick, Jr. in the costume, with his performance enhanced by VFX.
Let’s not forget that there was a whole 96-page Wildstorm graphic novel devoted to the Gorn, The Gorn Crisis.
The Rura Penthe prison sequence in Star Trek (2009) also initially included a Gorn, but the creature hit the cutting room floor.
William Shatner and the Gorn reunited in 2013 for a very funny commercial touting NAMCO Bandai’s Star Trek: The Video Game.
And, of course, there are Gorn characters in Star Trek Online, where they are a playable race and belong to the Klingon Empire faction. The Phalanx Science Vessel, Draguas Support Vessel and Varanus Fleet Support Vessel are the only playable Gorn ships in-game, though there are Gorn-style C-Store costumes for the Vo'quv Carrier and Vor'cha Battle Cruiser.