In the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ season two premiere, “The Broken Circle,” we saw Klingons on the show for the very first time. And much to the happiness of longtime Trekkers, their makeup was very much the design fans have known for most of Trek’s last forty years. Despite Strange New Worlds being a sequel to Discovery, producers Akiva Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers told Inverse that the “new look” Klingon makeup from Discovery is no more. Alonso Myers said “I think we were probably a little more influenced specifically by the look of the movies.” Goldsman added “Henry is very polite. I worked on Discovery and I’ll just say, it’s nice to have those Klingons in the rearview mirror.”
For casual fans who don’t know what the Strange New Worlds showrunners are talking about, here’s the short version. In Discovery’s first season in 2017, the Klingons were given a pretty radical redesign. Their look (and their ships) all seemed to be a totally different alien species. And given how Discovery was a prequel set ten years before the original series, it made little sense. Although the events of Discovery’s Klingon War get a mention in SNW’s season premiere, the makeup change did not. It seems producers just want us to forget that was a thing that happened. Although, it seems that the change came less from fan demand, and more from how much more taxing the heavy Discovery makeup was for the actors.
Of course, longtime Star Trek fans know this is not the first time Klingons have received a radical makeover. In the sixties series, the Klingons made seven appearances total. They had no forehead ridges, and just looked like humans with some very extreme facial hair. Ten years later, and with a feature film budget, the Klingons received the look everyone now knows, with the forehead ridges. This Klingon look became iconic, and lasted throughout the next three decades of Star Trek films and TV series. All until Discovery made a radical change.
Will Strange New Worlds ever bother to explain away the look of the Discovery Klingons? There is precedent for such a thing. On Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, they finally explained after 40 years why the original Klingons looked the way they did. Long story short, it was due to a human-created genetic virus using DNA from human augments like Khan. A virus with effects that took a generation to shake off. Maybe one day, Star Trek will similarly explain away the look of the Discovery Klingons. This is one franchise that knows how to retcon pretty much anything.