Star Trek Just Retconned Tribbles

Today, CBS All Access released the second installment of its second series of Star Trek: Short Treks. The new episode is titled “The Trouble with Edward,” a direct callback to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It should then be no surprise that the episode itself deals with tribbles. Taking place before the events of The Original Series, “The Trouble with Edward” retcons what fans knew about the nature of tribbles. Here’s what we now know. SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “The Trouble with Edward” follow.

“The Trouble with Edward” follows Capt. Lynne Lucero (Rosa Salazar), a former science officer aboard Enterprise, as she takes her first command position aboard the USS Cabot. The research vessel is on a mission to solve a food shortage for a civilization that exists on the outskirts of Klingon space. While most of the ship’s science team has been collaborating and sharing resources, one protein specialist, Edward Larkin (H. Jon Benjamin), has been working on his own project.

Larkin believes that tribbles can be a useful food source. He suggests the biggest problem is that the creatures don't breed fast enough, but suggests genetic engineering could solve that problem. Capt. Lucero voices her concerns about the ethics of breeding tribbles, a species they no little about, for food. This puts Lucero and Larkin at odds with each other for the rest of the episode.

That’s the first retcon to tribbles in Star Trek. In “The Trouble with Tribbles,” the creatures breed at a dangerously fast rate, the opposite of how they are described by Larkin here. It turns out the change in their breeding habits is the result of Larkin’s tampering.

Despite being ordered to stop his research, Larkin infuses his tribble sample with human DNA. Specifically, he uses his own DNA. This alteration to tribble genetic makeup causes the tribbles to start breeding at a rapid pace. Another scientist onboard the Cabot confirms that tribbles are now “born pregnant,” as described in “The Trouble with Tribbles.”

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By the end of the episode, the tribble population grows to the point that the ship malfunctions. It ends up careening into Klingon space, which may be why Klingons hate tribbles so much by the time “The Trouble with Tribbles” takes place. In fact, this incident may be part of the reason why relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire become so tense.

What do you think of the retcon to tribbles? Let us know in the comments. Star Trek: Short Treks, “The Trouble with Edward,” is streaming now on CBS All Access.