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Star Trek race
ST TroubleWithTribbles.jpg
Captain Kirk in a pile of tribbles
Also known asPolygeminus grex
Home worldIota Geminorum IV

Tribbles are a fictional alien species in the Star Trek universe. They were conceived by screenwriter David Gerrold, and first appeared in a 1967 episode titled "The Trouble with Tribbles". They are depicted as a small, furry, gentle, attractive, and slow-moving but rapidly reproducing invasive species. Though they appear infrequently on-screen, they have become a popular feature of the Star Trek universe, featuring in their own eponymous official card game, and even lending their name to a family of proteins that are associated with the biology of the fruit fly.[1][2]


Tribbles were first shown in an episode of the second season of the original series, "The Trouble with Tribbles" (1967). They have appeared in several subsequent series, in brief appearances in four Star Trek films, and in video games such as Star Trek: Armada II.

A tribble

According to Star Trek canon, tribbles are native to the planet Iota Geminorum IV. While they appear as small bundles of fur with no other visible features, they do produce cooing and squeaking noises. Their coloring ranges from white and grey to black, as well as speckled brown, yellow, and orange. According to Dr. Leonard McCoy's dialogue, their only two purposes in life appear to be to eat and to reproduce, and they perform both of these functions exceptionally well. McCoy concludes that tribbles use over 50% of their metabolism for reproduction and that they are born pregnant.

Due to their tendency to over-populate, Starfleet considers tribbles to be dangerous organisms and forbids their transportation. A creature genetically engineered to hunt tribbles was introduced in the animated episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles" (1973). The Klingons, in whose presence tribbles produce a convulsive, shrieking reaction, consider them "mortal enemies", as stated in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" (1996).


David Gerrold has said that his original idea for tribbles was based on the well-known parts associated with the overpopulation of rabbits in Australia. He wanted a creature prop that would be cheap to produce, and took inspiration from a ball of pink fuzz attached to a key ring. The name for tribbles was originally "fuzzies," but to avoid confusion with the H. Beam Piper novel Little Fuzzy, Gerrold brainstormed some nonsense words, arriving at "tribble".

Gerrold was concerned that he might have inadvertently plagiarized a similar creature from Robert A. Heinlein's novel The Rolling Stones (1952).[3] These concerns were brought up by a research team, who suggested purchasing the rights to the novel. When contacted, Heinlein asked only for a signed copy of the script and later sent a note to Gerrold to thank him.[4]


In 2007, WIRED magazine noted the Tribbles, as one of the top ten classic, cheesy creatures of Star Trek.[5]


  1. ^ Tribbles entry on Interactive Fly database
  2. ^ Hegedus Z; Czibula A; Kiss-Toth E (2007). "Tribbles: a family of kinase-like proteins with potent signalling regulatory function". Cellular Signalling. 19 (2): 238–250. doi:10.1016/j.cellsig.2006.06.010. PMID 16963228.
  3. ^ David Gerrold (1973). Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth Sale and Final Production of One Episode. ISBN 0345234022.:p.271
  4. ^ David Gerrold (1973). Trouble with Tribbles: The Birth Sale and Final Production of One Episode. ISBN 0345234022.:p.274
  5. ^ Sjoberg, Lore (2007-12-19). "Star Trek's 10 Cheesiest Classic Creatures". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-06-08.

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