Shore Leave (Star Trek: The Original Series)

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"Shore Leave"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 15
Directed byRobert Sparr
Written byTheodore Sturgeon
Featured musicGerald Fried
Cinematography byJerry Finnerman
Production code017
Original air dateDecember 29, 1966 (1966-12-29)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Balance of Terror"
Next →
"The Galileo Seven"
Star Trek: The Original Series (season 1)
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Shore Leave" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by Theodore Sturgeon and directed by Robert Sparr, it first aired on December 29, 1966.

In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise visits a bizarre planet where strange and utterly improbable things happen to the landing party sent to do an initial planetary survey.


On stardate 3025.3, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, arrives at a planet in the Omicron Delta system. Scans reveal the planet to be congenial, and the crew is exhausted after three months of continuous operations. Kirk announces shore leave for all off-duty personnel.

But not long after beaming down, the landing parties experience strange occurrences. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy sees a large, anthropomorphic white rabbit hop past hurriedly, and a moment later Alice, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, asks McCoy if a rabbit has passed by. Lt. Sulu finds an antique Colt Police Positive revolver and later is attacked by a katana-wielding samurai. Yeoman Tonia Barrows is accosted and attacked by Don Juan.

Kirk thinks that McCoy's seemingly ludicrous report of seeing characters from Alice in Wonderland is made up only to make him beam down for investigation. Even so, he is convinced by Spock to visit the planet for relaxation. At first, Kirk does not believe the doctor's story, but then he is shown large rabbit tracks as proof. Kirk then stumbles upon young Starfleet Cadet Finnegan, a cocky Irish practical joker, an upperclassman who had been the bane of his existence back in his Academy days; and a former girlfriend, Ruth, whom he has not seen in years.

Kirk orders a temporary halt to the beaming down of personnel until the landing party can discover what is really happening. Science Officer Spock reports that the planet is emanating a strange force field that seems to be drawing energy from the ship's engines. If the drain continues, it could jeopardize the ship. He also reports that the energy patterns suggest some kind of industrial activity.

Spock beams down to gather sensor readings as communications between the ship and crew members on the planet's surface are becoming impossible, thereby stranding himself on the surface as the transporters have become useless. After Yeoman Barrows finishes changing into a medieval dress, a knight on horseback charges her. McCoy steps in front of Barrows to protect her, and he is impaled with the lance. Kirk shoots the knight with the pistol he confiscated from Sulu. Kirk and Spock analyze the body of the knight and find out it is not human in origin, but rather resembles the vegetation on the planet's surface. A World War II fighter plane then strafes the landing party, and during the commotion, the bodies of Dr. McCoy and the knight mysteriously vanish.

Spock deduces a connection between the visions and the landing party's thoughts just before the visions appear and asks Kirk what was on his mind just before his "vision." Kirk recalls thinking of his academy days; then, as Spock expected, Finnegan reappears. Finnegan taunts the Captain and then runs off, with Kirk on his heels. The chase ends in a ravine where Finnegan and Kirk have a fistfight. Finnegan feigns an injury so that he can catch Kirk off guard, attack, and knock him out. Finnegan then proceeds to taunt the unconscious Kirk. When Kirk wakes up, the fight resumes, and wanting to take revenge for all the torment the upperclassman put him through as a plebe, Kirk fights back and knocks out Finnegan. Spock and Kirk realize that their thoughts are conjuring up their fantasies, but also that the visions are starting to prove deadly for them. Kirk orders everyone to come to attention and stop thinking about anything.

An elderly man appears and identifies himself as the "Caretaker." Accompanying him is Dr. McCoy, who was revived by the sophisticated machinery below the planet's surface. McCoy smiles and confirms he is all right and shows off the two Rigelian cabaret girls he conjured up, to the irritation of a jealous Yeoman Barrows.

The Caretaker informs Kirk that the planet is a sophisticated "amusement park," but its constructs are not designed to be harmful or to last permanently. He apologizes for the misunderstandings and offers the services of the planet to the Enterprise's weary crew, with the caution that the visitors must choose their amusements with care. Kirk accepts the offer as Ruth appears again, and he authorizes the crew to beam down. The leisure-loathing Spock, however, has had his fill of shore leave and requests to be returned to the Enterprise.


Gene Roddenberry had been running flat out for two years without a break, first producing The Lieutenant, then selling Star Trek to NBC, and finally getting the series into production. Just after "Shore Leave" was approved for preproduction, his wife and doctor insisted that he take a vacation.

The script turned in by renowned science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon had emphasized the importance of fantasy as a component of relaxation, and the network was concerned that the script might be too surreal. Roddenberry assured the network that the script would be rewritten and the fantasy would be de-emphasized before he went on vacation. Unfortunately, this was not made clear to incoming operational producer Gene L. Coon, who did the rewrite and emphasized the fantasy aspect even more. Roddenberry returned the day before shooting was due to begin and realized that he had a problem.[1] Sturgeon particularly objected to McCoy's bringing back two women to the ship, believing it undermined the emotional tension between McCoy and Tonia.[2]

The show was filmed in Africa USA, the same wildlife reserve where Daktari was filmed. Africa USA was created in 1962 by animal trainer Ralph Helfer, so the 600 acre site at 8237 Soledad Canyon Road, 5 miles from Vasquez Rocks, provided both the location and the animals. Roddenberry set up shop under a tree with his typewriter, frantically rewriting and trying to stay ahead of the production crew. As a result, much of the dialogue is ad-libbed.[3]

Even with Roddenberry's rewriting, many of Coon's and Sturgeon's fantasy aspects remained, from an encounter with a samurai, to meeting a tiger (though the idea of Kirk wrestling the tiger was deleted, initially to the annoyance, but later to the relief, of William Shatner), and a scene using an elephant was cut before filming. (Gregg Peters, newly promoted to the rank of Assistant Director, had been detailed to take care of the elephant. During the shoot, the cast and crew teased him about the pachyderm, asking when it would be used. And for many years thereafter, when Peters attended Star Trek conventions, the fans would greet him with a chorus of, "Say, Gregg, when do you get to use your elephant?") [4]

Because of Roddenberry having to rewrite the script on the fly, the episode took seven days to film instead of the usual six.[5]


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'A-' rating, describing the episode as "a lot of fun" and noting "a strong hook to keep the camp from descending into self-parody."[6]

In 2016, Hollywood Reporter rated "Shore Leave" the 82nd best episode of all Star Trek episodes.[7]

In 2018, PopMatters ranked this the 14th best episode of the original series.[8]


The animated Star Trek episode "Once Upon a Planet," written by Leonard "Len" Janson and Charles "Chuck" Menville, two veteran Filmation staff writers, involved the Enterprise returning to the amusement park planet for another rest. However, the Caretaker has died, and the computer left to run the planet, a fairly intelligent machine, now resents its role as servant and turns against visitors, using the props and personalities the visitors think about against them.


  1. ^ Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  2. ^ Hageman, Andrew (October 2016). "A generic correspondence: Sturgeon–Roddenberry letters on sf, sex, sales and Star Trek". Science Fiction Film & Television. 9 (3): 473–478. doi:10.3828/sfftv.2016.9.15.
  3. ^ Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  4. ^ Whitfield, Stephen; and Roddenberry, Gene. The Making of Star Trek (New York: Ballantine Books), 1968. ASIN: B001KNSTY0
  5. ^
  6. ^ Handlen, Zack (March 5, 2009). ""Shore Leave" / "The Galileo Seven"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  7. ^ Hollywood Reporter 'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes
  8. ^ "The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'". PopMatters. July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2019.

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