Charlie X

Charlie X
"Charlie X"
Star Trek: The Original Series episode
Charlie Evans uses his dangerous powers
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 2
Directed by Lawrence Dobkin
Written by D.C. Fontana
story by
Gene Roddenberry
Original air date September 15, 1966 (1966-09-15)
Guest stars
Episode chronology
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"The Man Trap"
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"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes

"Charlie X" is a first season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series first broadcast on September 15, 1966. It was repeated by NBC on June 1, 1967. It is episode #2, production #8. It was written by D.C. Fontana, from the story by Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Lawrence Dobkin.

Overview: The Enterprise picks up an unstable 17 year old boy with dangerous mental powers.



On stardate 1533.6, the starship USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, takes charge of Charlie Evans (Robert Walker Jr.), a teenage boy from a small cargo vessel called the Antares. As a 3 year old child, he was the sole survivor of a transport ship that crashed on the planet Thasus. For fourteen years Charlie grew up there alone, stranded in the wreckage, and only learned how to talk from the ship's computer systems that somehow remained intact.

The boy is to be transported to his nearest living relatives on planet Alpha V and the crew of the Antares speak nothing but praises about Charlie. They seem, however, more than pleased to see the boy removed from their ship as soon as possible and after the transfer, they bid the Enterprise an unusual and very hasty goodbye and quickly proceed on their way. Charlie undergoes a cursory medical examination by Dr. McCoy and Charlie tells the doctor that the crew of the Antares did not like him very much, and that all he wants is for people to like him.

Charlie quickly becomes obnoxious, and shows signs that he possesses strange powers. First, he develops an infatuation with Yeoman Janice Rand, who is evidently the first human female he has ever seen. He presents her with a bottle of perfume, which turns out to be her favorite scent, even though there is none of it in the ship's stores. Having observed a man in engineering seal an agreement to go to the rec room with a friendly slap on the rear, he does the same to Rand, to which she of course objects. Charlie meets Rand later in the rec room, where Mr. Spock (whom Charlie later calls Mr. Ears) plays a Vulcan lyre, and Lt. Uhura sings. Charlie is annoyed with Uhura's performance as Rand is paying more attention to her than to him, so he causes Uhura to abruptly (but temporarily) lose her voice.

When the Antares gets nearly out of sensor range, it transmits a warning message to the Enterprise, but the message gets cut off. Charlie makes the curious and sinister comment, "It wasn't very well constructed", shortly before Spock determines that the Antares has blown up. Afterward, more bizarre events begin to take place aboard the Enterprise. For example, a cook (voiced by Roddenberry) reports that the synthetic meatloaf has been transformed into real turkeys.

Back in the rec room, Kirk defeats Spock at three-dimensional chess, beating Spock's logic with his own quirky move. Charlie is intrigued with the game and tries to duplicate the same feat but loses quickly. Kirk and Spock leave the room but an angered Charlie stays behind and causes the white chess pieces to melt, revealing he has both a bad temper and powerful telekinetic abilities.

In an attempt to get Charlie interested in a woman his own age, Rand introduces him to Yeoman third-class Tina Lawton, but Charlie only has eyes for Rand and brushes Tina off, angering Rand. Later, Kirk tries his best to instill Charlie with some manly qualities, and attempts to teach the young man how to fight. Sam, Kirk's training partner, laughs at one of Charlie's falls, and Charlie makes him "go away" — Sam literally vanishes into thin air. Shocked by what he has witnessed, Kirk calls for security guards to escort young Charlie to his quarters, but Charlie says he will not let them hurt him; he then makes their phasers disappear. Kirk suspects Charlie has been given the powers which legend ascribes to the ancient race of Thasians and confronts Charlie about it. Charlie admits he used his powers to destroy the Antares, but says the ship would have blown up on its own sooner or later, and regardless, "they weren't nice to me".

Charlie discovers Kirk's plans to divert from Alpha V, and he takes control of the Enterprise and members of the crew. He forces Spock to recite Earth poetry, turns Tina into a lizard, and chases down Rand. When she resists his advances he gets angry and makes her disappear, saying "she wasn't nice at all". Charlie tells everyone that he can make them all go away, anytime he wants to. Kirk and Spock attempt to confine him in a detention cell, but to no avail. Charlie goes on a rampage, turning a young crew member into an old woman and removing the faces of other crew members who are laughing.

Meanwhile, a Thasian ship approaches the Enterprise. The Thasian commander appears on the bridge, saying that his race has given Charlie his powers to help him to survive on their world, and that it would be too dangerous for Charlie to live among humans. The Thasians return Yeoman Rand and repair the damage Charlie has done. They apologize to Kirk and promise to take Charlie to live with them. Charlie begs Kirk for forgiveness and pleads frantically with him to not let the aliens take him away, as the Thasians do not understand human emotional needs. When Charlie finally does vanish, Kirk agrees that it is for the best.

40th Anniversary remastering

This episode was re-mastered in 2006 and was first aired July 14, 2007 as part of the remastered 40th Anniversary original series. It was preceded a week earlier by "Return to Tomorrow" and followed a week later by "The Squire of Gothos". Aside from remastered video and audio, and the all-CGI animation of the Enterprise that is standard among the revisions, specific changes to this episode also include:

  • The Antares is shown for the first time alongside the Enterprise in the opening sequence, and was not seen at all in the original episode. The design of the ship is reminiscent of the drone cargo ships (shown in Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles") with the addition of a forward section for the Antares crew.
  • The Thasian ship has been given a slightly more solid shape as opposed to the shapeless glow that originally appeared.

Episode history

  • The premise for this episode formed part of Gene Roddenberry's original March 1964 pitch for Star Trek, under the name "The Day Charlie Became God". When the series entered production, it was assigned to D. C. Fontana to write.[1] It is a reworking of the principal theme of Jerome Bixby's award-winning 1953 short story "It's A Good Life" (filmed as an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1961 as well) with the immaturity and emotional conflicts of adolescence substituted for those of the six year old in Bixby's tale. (Bixby wrote four episodes for ST:TOS, but is not credited for Charlie X).
  • For a while during production, the episode was known as "Charlie's Law" — a name which survived in the James Blish adaptation of the episode for Bantam Books. In a scene in the script which did not air, Charlie's Law is stated as "You'd better be nice to Charlie... or else."[2]
  • Gene Roddenberry made an uncredited audio cameo as the cook who exclaims that the meatloaf has turned into real turkeys.
  • There is a small continuity error within this episode. During the scene where Kirk explains the swat to Charlie, he is called to the bridge. He enters the turbolift wearing his yellow pullover uniform shirt, and exits on the bridge wearing his green wrap-around tunic.

Non-canon sequel

The character Charlie Evans reappeared in the unofficial mini-series Star Trek: Of Gods and Men (played by William Wellman Jr.), still bearing resentment towards Kirk after forty years for handing him over to the Thasians. He uses the Guardian of Forever to go back in time and change history, by killing Kirk's mother before he can be born. This action leads to Gary Mitchell taking over the galaxy, as Kirk was not there to stop him. When confronted by Pavel Chekov (now an anarchist freedom fighter), John Harriman (now a sadistic captain of Mitchell's fleet) and Nyota Uhura (who retained residual memories), he restores their memories and expresses remorse. Initially he refuses to allow the Guardian to be used, fearful of the consequences. However, he changes his mind after a mental battle with Gary Mitchell, where he holds his own against the self-declared god, apparently draining much of Mitchell's power. Finally he goes back in time and kills his past self before he could ever use the Guardian, thus resetting history and leaving only Chekov, Harriman and Uhura retaining memories of the events that transpired.


Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'B' rating. Handlen marked the episode down for its poor female characters and repeated use of a "god-child", but praised more "disturbing" elements of the episode such as Charlie's pranks and his eventual fate.[3]


  1. ^ Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5. 
  2. ^ Charlie X, final draft by D. C. Fontana, online at Orion Press
  3. ^ Handlen, Zack (16 January 2009). ""The Man Trap"/"Charlie X"/"The Naked Time"". The A.V. Club.,22774/. Retrieved 10 June 2009. 

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