The Counter-Clock Incident

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"The Counter-Clock Incident"
Star Trek: The Animated Series episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 6
Directed by Bill Reed
Written by John Culver
Production code 22023
Original air date October 12, 1974 (1974-10-12)
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"The Counter-Clock Incident" is the sixth episode of the second season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek, the 22nd episode overall. This episode was also the second season finale as well as the series finale. It first aired in the NBC Saturday morning lineup on October 12, 1974, and was written by Fred Bronson under the pen name "John Culver". Bronson would eventually work on two Next Generation episodes ("Ménage à Troi" and "The Game").

Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise. In this episode, the Enterprise is unwillingly pulled by a smaller craft into the heart of a supernova and finds itself in another universe.


On stardate 6770.3, the Federation starship Enterprise is taking its first commander, Commodore Robert April (voiced by James Doohan), and his wife, Sarah (voiced by Nichelle Nichols), to a diplomatic conference on the planet Babel and his planned retirement ceremony, when it encounters a ship flying at fantastic speeds directly into a supernova.

The Enterprise attempts to assist by grabbing the vessel with a tractor beam and locking onto it, but instead both ships are pulled through the supernova and into a negative universe where time flows backwards and "everything works in a counterclockwise fashion."[1] Consequently, everyone aboard the ship begins to grow younger. The young woman piloting the ship, Karla Five (voiced by Nichele Nichols), takes them to her homeworld, Arret (Terra, backwards), and seeks the help of her son, a much older man named Karl Four (voiced by James Doohan).

In a race against time for the increasingly de-aging Enterprise crew, they work out a solution for getting back home. With Captain Kirk and his crew members reduced to children, "April, now a thirty-year-old man, retakes command and must bring the Enterprise to safety before it's too late."[1] The attempt to get back home is successful, and then he and his wife, Sarah, use the transporter to restore the rest of the crew to their proper ages.


Actress Majel Barrett, who commonly voiced Nurse Christine Chapel, Communications Officer M'Ress and the Enterprise computer, was given screen credit for this episode but was not part of it.[2]


Science fiction author Alan Dean Foster expanded this story under the title Star Trek Log Seven, making it the first third of a full novel. He prefaced the animated story with scenes depicting a young Starfleet officer named Robert April being shown Matt Jefferies' original blueprints for a then-uncompleted Enterprise and being told he was to be given command of the new ship, then following through to the christening of the Enterprise and Captain April giving the order to embark on their first mission.[3]:3–10

At the conclusion of the material from the animated episode, Foster adds new story about the Enterprise being sent on a mission to secure a reclusive brother-sister team of scientists who are reported to have a new weapon capable of destroying planets.[3]:64 ff. In the process, Kirk runs up against Klingons intent on acquiring the scientists for the Empire and must contend with Captain Kumara, who he had known back in his Academy days. Foster concluded his story by revealing that the Enterprise's adventure with the Klingons had been a test by an advanced alien race calling themselves "The Wanderers". In fact, all of the inhabitants of the planet on which they had found themselves as well as the brother-sister scientists were actually members of the Wanderers.[3]:174–179


Although the episode is based on a somewhat ludicrous premise, it "works far better than it has a right to, thanks to its message that the elderly have a lot to teach us and can be productive members of society."[1] Hence, the episode's positive message outweighs its flaws and TAS' final show "features the same wit and intelligence that characterised the animated missions throughout its two-year run."[1]

During the final revelation at the end of Foster's novelization, it turns out that the entire adventure in the negative universe was just the first part of the Wanderers' test with Karla Five also being a Wanderer. During this revelation, they discuss the illogical nature of the other universe where a society would begin with all possible knowledge that they would ever have and then de-evolve, or how a person would be "born" as a senile old person in a grave and then die in its mother's womb.[3]:177

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Altman, Mark A.; Gross, Ed (1998). TrekNavigator: The Ultimate review guide to the entire Trek saga. Back Bay Books. p. 48. 
  2. ^ ""Star Trek" The Counter-Clock Incident (1974) - Full cast and crew". IMDb. n.d. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Foster, Alan Dean (June 1976). Star Trek Log Seven (1st ed.). Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-24655-1. 

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