Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the Star Trek character Mr. Spock. For other uses of the name, see Spock.
One of the most famous characters from the original Star Trek television series is the half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. Spock has a family name which is never stated in the series, as it is unpronounceable by humans.
Spock is the son of the Vulcan ambassador Sarek and his human wife Amanda Grayson. Although Spock identified himself as Vulcan, he had an ongoing internal conflict between the reason and logic of his Vulcan half and the emotion and intuition of his human half. By human standards, however, he was incredibly logical and utterly unflappable in the face of danger.
Nearly Spock's entire Starfleet career — he joined Starfleet against his father's wishes — was spent serving onboard a single ship, the famous USS Enterprise. He served for nearly eleven years under Captain Christopher Pike. Publications from the producers of the Original Series indicate that Spock's "backstory" had him assigned to the Enterprise while still a Cadet, and that he was later commissioned an Ensign and subsequently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. The first time the viewing audience saw Spock he was a full Lieutenant, serving as a junior science officer onboard the Enterprise (Star Trek: The Cage).
Spock's first temporary command was in 2254 when he ordered the evacuation of the Enterprise from Talos IV, after all of the senior officers had been kidnapped by the hostile inhabitants. In the late 2260s, Spock was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assigned as the Executive Officer and Science Officer of the Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek: The Original Series). By 2268, Spock had risen in rank to a full Commander. He resigned his commission in 2270 in order to return to Vulcan and undergo training for the Kolinahr discipline.
In 2271 Spock returned to active duty and was reinstated as a Commander and posted as Science Officer to the USS Enterprise. Following the V'ger crisis (chronicled in Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and the loss of Enterprise Executive Officer, Captain Willard Decker, Spock apparently assumed the post of First Officer and Science Officer of the USS Enterprise. It is assumed that another mission of exploration followed this event, however this has yet to be established into canon.
A number of years later, the Enterprise was assigned as a training vessel for Starfleet Academy. Spock was promoted to Captain and assigned as the Commanding Officer of the USS Enterprise as Kirk resumed his duties as an admiral in Starfleet Command. In 2282, Spock was temporarily relieved of command during the Genesis Crisis (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), when Admiral James Kirk took command of the Enterprise as per Starfleet regulations in order to combat Khan Noonian Singh. During that mission, Spock was killed in action after he entered an antimatter chamber without a protective suit. He did this in a successful emergency effort to bring the ship's warp engines online just in time to allow the Enterprise to escape the explosion of the Genesis Device, which would create the planet Genesis.
It was later discovered that Spock had transferred his katra, or spiritual essence, to the brain of a shipmate, Dr. Leonard McCoy, at death. In an honorary space burial Spock's body was enclosed in a torpedo and fired onto the rapidly forming Genesis planet. Thanks to the unique environment of the planet (the work of the Genesis Project) his body was actually "re-birthed" on the planet and it was recovered and his katra returned to it in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. (The nature of the katra was further explored in Star Trek: Enterprise; see the main article on Vulcans for more about the katra.)
Following Spock's rebirth, he completed an accelerated training program and was reinstated as a Captain in Starfleet. (Although never explained on screen, it is assumed that Spock's original personality and memories from his katra somehow reasserted themselves following a brief period of disorientation and amnesia.) In 2286, after the "Whale Song Incident", he was assigned as the Executive Officer of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), although he retained the rank of captain. Spock remained as the Enterprise Executive Officer for the next seven years. During this time, he participated in a historic journey to the center of the galaxy (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) and also was a key figure in forming the lasting alliance with the Klingon Empire (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country).
Sometime after the decomissioning of the NCC-1701-A, Spock retired from Starfleet service and entered the Federation Diplomatic Corps. His activities and whereabouts over the next 70-75 years are a matter of conjecture, but in the early 2370s, Spock was seen outside his then-role as Federation ambassador on the Romulan homeworld of Romulus. He was attempting to bring about a peace between the Romulans and Vulcans, healing a rift between the two peoples thousands of years old. (Star Trek: The Next Generation "Unification Parts I and II") (Vulcans and Romulans are the same species; Romulans left the planet Vulcan after refusing to accept Surak's logical philosophy.) Spock's whereabouts after this event are unknown, although he was referred to on a couple of occasions. It's possible that his work may have been responsible for the improving relations between the Federation and the Romulans (Star Trek Nemesis), however nothing has been established in canon as yet. As far as we know, Spock remained on Romulus.
Spock had an older half-brother, Sybok, who eschewed pure logic, resembling the relationship between Data and Lore; Sybok was presumably killed on the planet Sha-Ka-Ree when a creature Sybok thought was God turned out to be a malevolent entity. He may also have been married, as Captain Jean Luc Picard once observed that he had met Sarek at "his son's wedding". After the death of Amanda, Sarek remarried another human woman, Perrin, who became Spock's step-mother, even though she was considerably younger than Spock.
In the Star Trek novel Yesterday's Son, Spock is revealed to have fathered a son while trapped in the past on the now destroyed planet Sarpeidon. Using the Guardian of Forever, Spock travels back in time to rescue his son Zar, however, Zar returns to the past after helping Spock defeat a Romulan plot. In the sequel, Time for Yesterday, Zar returns to the present to help Spock repair the malfunctioning Guardian of Forever. Zar returns to the past at the end of the novel, but also reveals he is sterile, precluding any possibility of grandchildren for Spock. (Note: these novels are not considered to be canon and therefore may someday be contradicted by future television or film scriptwriters. In addition, another non-canonical novel, Vulcan's Heart features the marriage of Spock and Saavik, suggesting potential future offspring.)
Many fans believe that Spock is the first Vulcan to join Starfleet, a fact that appears to be contradicted by the series Star Trek: Enterprise; in fact, there is no reference to Spock being the first. It has been suggested that he is the first to graduate from Starfleet Academy, however. Note: some official documentation from Paramount such as the startrek.com website support the first-Vulcan-in-Starfleet theory, as do some original Trek novels, however these sources are not considered canon, only what is shown on screen. There is also some uncertainty whether the Starfleet seen in Enterprise is the same entity seen in Star Trek: The Original Series and later series.
Various episodes of TOS revealed different facets of Spock's personality and abilities. For example, "The Omega Glory" revealed that Spock had the ability to exercise limited control over the minds of others—an ability never again exhibited by any Vulcan. This, combined with Spock's ability to transfer his katra, has led some to speculate that Spock possessed more advanced mental and psychic abilities than average Vulcans. TOS also revealed that Spock is an accomplished musician, adept at playing a form of Vulcan harp. He also (in "Requiem for Methuselah") displayed advanced knowledge of classical music. He also possessed enthusiasm for three-dimensional chess.
In popular culture, particularly among non-fans of the series, Mr. Spock is often misnamed Dr. Spock and is confused with the real-life physician Dr. Benjamin Spock. Trek creator Gene Roddenberry denied that he named the character after the real-life Spock; he was simply looking for an alien-sounding name; the book The Making of Star Trek, written by Stephen Whitfield and Roddenberry, includes a list of some two-dozen names that were considered for the character.
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