‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Cast Reveals Why the Klingons Look So Different

Star Trek: Discovery is now here, and we’re getting a better look at what we can expect out of the new series. One of the most shocking things about the adaptation is the new physical take on the iconic Klingons. They are now bald, have different skin tones, and different costumes.

This certainly isn’t the first time the creatures have gotten a makeover, but this one is pretty drastic. So why the big change and how will it affect the show? Apparently, the new look isn’t the only thing that has changed about the species. Here are seven things we know about the new Klingons.

1. Klingons will have heightened senses because of their new features

A Klingon stands behind a podium on a ship.
A Klingon on Star Trek: Discovery | CBS

According to the designer, Neville Page, the ridges act as extra-sensory receptors on the Klingons’ heads and backs. Per io9, this is because the Klingons are “apex predators” and would need this to make it to the top of the food chain. One of the Klingon actors, Mary Chieffo, went into detail about this new development.

Obviously the hair was the biggest thing people noticed, or the lack thereof. And I will attest to the fact there is a reason my ridge goes back the way it does. There are sensors and pheromones … There is a whole reasoning behind it that is adhering to what has always been true in Klingon canon … So I deeply believe we are in line with what has come before but is also adding a new kind of nuance.

So the makeover for the characters isn’t just skin deep.

2. Bryan Fuller chose to change the design

A purple Klingon looks into the camera.
A Klingon on Star Trek: Discovery | CBS

Some fans might be questioning why the iconic aliens are getting yet another makeover. But the answer is to respect the former co-showrunner’s wishes. “One of the things [Bryan Fuller] really, really wanted to do was shake up the design of the Klingons,” revealed executive producer Alex Kurtzman to CBS All Access.

“One of the first things he ever pitched was his aesthetic for the Klingons and how important it was that they be aesthete,” said executive producer Aaron Harberts. “That they not be the thugs of the universe, that they be sexy and vital and different from what had come before.”

3. There will also be some diversity within the species

Sonequa Martin-Green, with short hair and a blue, collared jumpsuit.
Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery | CBS

“We will introduce several different [Klingon] houses with different styles,” said co-showrunner Aaron Roberts, according to Screen Rant. Some of the differences will include skin color, ideologies, and clothing.

There are 24 different houses. So the species will look different not only from previous iterations of Klingons, but also vary from character to character as well.

4. The diversity shows in the casting for the Klingons

Chris Obi is dressed in all black and has one hand raised.
Chris Obi in American Gods | Canada Film Capital

It has been announced on Twitter that Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo have been cast as Klingons. The actors are all very different from each other, so the diversity of the Klingons aren’t simply through makeup and costumes.

5. The show also is separate from Star Trek Into Darkness

The cast of Star Trek Into Darkness are seated next to each other in a ship.
Star Trek Into Darkness | Paramount Pictures

Although the franchise is staying strong with its theatrical film releases, it won’t be in the same vein as the new show. So the Klingons are free to look different in the movies from how they will look in the TV series.

This will probably help fans not to assume they are in the same universe.

6. It’s tradition for the Klingons to change throughout the series

This is a closeup of Kahless in a robe.
Star Trek: The Next Generation | Paramount Television

The one constant thing throughout the adaptations of the television series is that Klingons get a redesign. In Star Trek, they had very human features. That was changed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture to add more ridged foreheads.

Some of these changes were unexplained, while others were.

7. Klingons previously had their appearance changed from a virus

 Captain Jean-Luc Picard stands next to Captain Worf Michael Dorn stand next to each other.
Star Trek: The Next Generation | Paramount Pictures

It’s very likely that this new look is due to the tradition of changing the antagonists’ feature. But there have been other reasons behind redesigns. For example, one reason given for the changes in past Star Trek series was that the species got the Klingon augment virus. It was created accidentally by Klingon researchers, and it gave the race more strength, intelligence, and loss of forehead ridges.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!