'Star Trek: Discovery' Originally Had Very Different Plans for Its Tardigrade

Star Trek: Discovery has given fans a new perspective on quite a bit of the iconic franchise's lore. And apparently, that initially included a pretty unique look at one of the series' monsters.

During the show's PaleyFest panel earlier this year (via TrekMovie), Discovery co-creator Alex Kurtzman explained the approach that the series wanted to take with its tardigrade, which was first seen at the end of the series' third episode.

"So we have this tardigrade and for those that don’t know it is a microscopic creature that lives in water and it is part of an ecosystem." Kurtzman explained. "And like all Trek allegories, what you see is not always what you get, so what may look like a monster may not be that, even though the creature has been introduced as such."

Apparently, this involved a rather unconventional approach to how the tardigrade fit into the show - by having it be one of the members of the bridge's crew.

"In the original conception, the tardigrade was one of the bridge crew members…" Kurtzman revealed. "It was going to be like you come in and there was Mary and there was Shazad and then there is Ephraim [named for the first zoologist to observe tardigrades]. It would have been really cool because he would have just been there."

Ultimately, Discovery decided against it, with Kurtzman arguing that they "just couldn't pull it off." But reportedly, the series got pretty far in the concept, creating an on-set puppet for the character.


Discovery's midseason finale left the show in a pretty unique position, one that could certainly allow more canon characters to enter the fold. After the midseason finale, the running fan theory has been that the show made a leap to the Mirror Universe, the fan-favorite world explored periodically in the Star Trek canon. If that's the case, maybe this bridge crew tardigrade could play a role in that - or at least don a delightful Mirror Verse evil mustache.

Star Trek: Discovery returns to CBS All Access on January 7, 2018.