My question is extremely similar to this one.

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, thus I always took it for granted that Klingons look like this:

enter image description here

Now I'm watching the brand-new Star Trek: Discovery, and I see that Klingons like this:

enter image description here

What happened? it took me a short while to grasp that they were klingons. The small ears and small nose, barely going "out of" the face, seemed a change very unnecessary.

Why didn't they make Discovery's klingons look just like the ones from TNG? I don't think an in-universe explanation exists, but I would be happy to be proven wrong. Out-of-universe explanations are welcome.

Note: I know that nowadays the Computer Graphics technology is much more advanced, but I don't see why they would use it to change how klingons look like if they could simply leave them in the same way.

  • I answered this on a similar question. I can write it up again, or you can read it here (my answer is the last one): movies.stackexchange.com/questions/45589/… Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 0:28
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    Many interviews, including those cited in the answer @DarthLocke provided, suggest that we might actually see different kinds of Klingons, including those we're more familiar with. But the promos, so far, as well as the glimpse we get of the Council in "Battle of the Binary Stars", suggests otherwise, at which point all we're left with is someone In Charge decided that Discovery needed different-looking Klingons, and now we just have to cope with it! I'll be happy if we see at least a few more human-looking Klingons, though, given that smooth-headed Klingons were canonized in DS9 and ENT. Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 23:49
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    FWIW I grew up watching TOS and took for granted Klingons looked like this: vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/p__/images/c/c9/Kor.jpg/revision/… ...until Star Trek The Motion Picture (1979)
    – Anthony X
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


As it turns out, there are 24 Klingon Houses that exist on other Klingon Planets. And the conditions of each planet, created axioms for diverse cultures. So Star Trek: Discovery wants to explore them, as they begin to form an empire...

"The empire is very big. They don’t all grow up on Kronos. They don’t all live on the same planets and certainly those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently?…We tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth." https://trekmovie.com/2017/08/03/stlv17-designers-explain-why-star-trek-discovery-klingons-are-bald-and-more/

Star Trek: Discovery - Klingon Communication

"What can you say to reassure us that we’re not losing the Klingons we know and love?” a furtive audience member asked during the Q&A portion. Mitchell assured the crowd that the recent publicity still image released was of one Klingon, from one house. “We will see all 24 houses and the leaders among them,” he revealed. The houses will be explored, and the physical and ideological differences between them. L’Rell is part of two houses, Chieffo explained, and the conflicts arising therein, as well as how she is viewed by the Federation versus her own people, will be explored in depth."http://www.treknews.net/2017/08/03/star-trek-discovery-cast-klingon-houses-stlv/


#UPDATE - Further Explanations from EPs at NYCC

2.03 L'Rell

Building from an episode of TNG:

“You might have noticed in the trailer, there is a bit of a new aesthetic going on,” Chieffo said, attributing the hair to Discovery ’s makeup effects department head Glenn Hetrick. “He was inspired by Season 6, episode 23 of The Next Generation, ‘Rightful Heir.’”

In “Rightful Heir,” Lieutenant Worf feels spiritually adrift and makes a pilgrimage to the Temple of Boreth, where witnesses a miracle: the return of Kahless, the first Klingon emperor and guardian of their afterlife, prophesied to return and lead the Empire once more. Worf eventually learns this Kahless a clone created by overzealous priests. It is the Kahless clone who tells the legend that inspired the Season 2 redesign:

“I went into the mountains, all the way to the Kri’stak Volcano. I cut off a lock of my hair and thrust it into the river of molten rock which poured from the summit. The hair began to burn, but then I plunged it into the Lake of Lusor and twisted it into a sword. And after I used it to kill the tyrant Molor, I gave it a name: bat’leth, the sword of honor.”

In the spirit of Discovery, we took that one little beautiful seed that was planted from an earlier iteration and expanded on that. We see that in a time of war, the Klingons would shave their heads and, in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out,” Chieffo said. “I really love the symbolism of that.”

And about not following suit in the Dominion War

“The Dominion War takes place more than 100 years after the events of Discovery,” she says. “Traditions change and are lost in time. Much of what T’Kuvma predicted about homogenization and assimilation of the Klingon race occurs after the explosion of Praxis & subsequent political shift.”

Chieffo is referring to the destruction of the Praxis, the moon of the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS, as seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The Klingons mined Praxis and it was a key source of energy for the Klingon Empire. The moon’s destruction caused a political shift that ultimately led to the signing of the Khitomer Accords, which turned the long antagonistic relationship between the Federation and the Klingons into a relationship between peaceful allies. Signed in the late 23rd century, the Khitomer Accords were still in place in the late 24th century and informed the relationship between the Klingons and the Federation in storylines featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

Chieffo’s assertion that the peace treaty fundamentally changed Klingon culture is supported by episodes like Deep Space Nine’s “Blood Oath,” in which Klingon characters like Kor, Koloth, and Kang - each introduced in the pre-Khitomer Accords era of Star Trek: The Original Series - vaguely comment on how the old Klingon ways have fallen out of favor since making peace with the Federation.

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    Both ENT and TNG talk a lot about the different Klingon houses; they just don't give us a firm number of Great Houses. DIS is also drawing, interestingly enough, at least a little bit from pre-TNG novels, including The Final Reflection (the reference to the Black Fleet). If they do their job well, we might wind up with a fully reconciled Klingon canon. But so far, we've only seen these radically redesigned Klingons. Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 23:53
  • @MichaelScottShappe Thanks, ya I think I remember ENT talking about it, but it's been a while--also there is the genetic-mutating virus too, which I have been wondering will be mentioned in Discovery?? Just wonder if it factored in at all with some of the diversity? Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 0:04
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    Thank you very much! Sorry that I missed your answer on the similar question.
    – Pedro A
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 18:58

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