The Naked Time

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"The Naked Time"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by Marc Daniels
Written by John D. F. Black
Featured music Alexander Courage
Cinematography by Jerry Finnerman
Production code 7
Original air date September 29, 1966 (1966-09-29)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
Next →
"The Enemy Within"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"The Naked Time" is an episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek. It was first broadcast September 29, 1966, and repeated on April 27, 1967. It is the fourth episode of the first season, written by John D. F. Black and directed by Marc Daniels. The story has a sequel in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode "The Naked Now".

In the episode, a strange affliction infects the crew of the Enterprise, destroying their inhibitions.

This was the first episode in which the audience saw the Vulcan nerve pinch. (The nerve pinch was actually produced (filmed) first in The Enemy Within, but “Enemy” was broadcast a week after “Naked Time”.)


On stardate 1704.2, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, arrives in orbit around the dying planet Psi 2000. Though their mission is to observe and document the planet's breakup, they have also been tasked to locate a research team on the planet that had not been in communication with Starfleet for months. A landing party led by Mr. Spock beams down, finding the life support system of the researchers' observation post shut down and the team frozen to death in bizarre situations, such as fully clothed in a shower, seated at a control console as if nothing was wrong, as well as one woman who was strangled. One Enterprise crewman, Lt (junior grade) Joe Tormolen, removes his environmental suit glove to scratch his nose and comes in contact with a strange red liquid. The landing party is beamed back to the ship and quarantined by Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy. McCoy finds no medical issues with them and allows them to return to duty.

After returning to the Enterprise, going through decontamination and being cleared by Dr. McCoy, Tormolen begins to exhibit mental health issues, prompting Mr. Spock to observe Tormolen has a higher than normal quotient of self-doubt. He acts irrationally, expressing hostility towards other crew members in a crew lounge. He threatens Lieutenants Sulu and Riley with a knife before turning it on himself. His wound is minor and not life-threatening, but in Sick Bay he dies after a successful surgery, to McCoy's bewilderment.

Meanwhile, both Sulu and Riley also begin to behave irrationally. Sulu acts like a 17th-century swashbuckler in the style of the Three Musketeers, while Riley revels in his Irish ancestry, locks himself in the Engineering section, and proclaims himself captain of the Enterprise. Those whose skin they have touched soon follow suit, and the infection quickly spreads through the crew. As they abandon their posts, the ship's orbit destabilizes and she begins to fall into the planet's erratic gravity well. As the Enterprise enters the upper atmosphere, the hull begins to heat.

Chief Engineer Scott eventually regains control of Engineering from Riley, but Riley had already shut down the engines. It would take more time than the ship has in its decaying orbit to restart them before the Enterprise crashes into the planet.

Spock becomes infected when Nurse Chapel takes his hands and confesses her love for the Vulcan science officer. Spock struggles to contain his emotions, and infects Captain James T. Kirk when Kirk tries to help. McCoy, having taken precautions to avoid infection, studies blood samples from his patients and water from Psi 2000 and finds that the water from the planet possesses a previously undetected complex chain of molecules that affects humanoids like alcohol, depressing the centers of judgment and self-control. It is transmitted by touch. He develops a serum to reverse the effects, administering the initial doses to the command crew to allow them to bring the ship back under control.

Kirk orders Scott to make a full-power restart of the warp engines, a dangerous process that mixes matter and antimatter in a cold state to create a controlled implosion and drive the ship away from the planet. This is suggested by a theory postulating a relationship between time and antimatter, but it has never before been attempted. The restart is successful, propelling the Enterprise at impossible speed away from the planet into a space-time warp that sends the ship back 71 hours in time. While Kirk hopes reliving the last 3 days is nothing like what they have already experienced, Spock comments that they now know a way to travel back through time. Kirk's response is "We may risk it someday, Mr. Spock."


"The Naked Time" was originally intended to be a two-part episode, with Part One ending with a cliffhanger with the Enterprise going back in time. The ending was revised so it would become a stand-alone episode. What would have been Part Two eventually became another stand-alone episode, "Tomorrow Is Yesterday".[1]

A piece of Star Trek lore originated with this episode. When the script required Lieutenant Sulu to reveal that in his deepest self he sees himself as a swashbuckler, George Takei had to learn how to handle a sword in a hurry. When not needed on the set, he would practice fencing, frequently lunging at passing members of the film crew and sometimes pinking them. A delegation eventually called on Gene Roddenberry and threatened that the entire crew would quit if Sulu was ever given a sword again.[2]

"The Naked Time" is the only episode of The Original Series in which the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) was shown or referred to. The sleeve insignia of that rank is a single broken stripe, and Joseph Tormolen is the only member of the Enterprise crew ever to be shown wearing it.


George Takei has repeatedly mentioned in interviews that this is his favorite episode, and spends a chapter on it in his autobiography.[3]


The events of this episode are repeated in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now", where Riker references the incident as an in-universe historical event. Events are also mentioned in the TNG Season 6 episode "Relics".

The 2009 Star Trek film makes a reference to the scene where Sulu acts like a swashbuckler, when Kirk asks Sulu what type of combat training he has and he replies "fencing".

Footage from this episode appears in the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past.


  1. ^ "The Naked Time". 
  2. ^ Whitfield, Stephen, and Roddenberry, Gene. The Making of Star Trek (New York: Ballantine Books),1970. ASIN: B0015HW8N4
  3. ^ Peter Anthony Holder (November 21, 1994). "An Interview with George Takei". 

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