Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

For similarly named comic book, please see And a Child Shall Lead Them.

A group of children on the Federation outpost Triacus, under the influence of an evil spirit, commandeer the Enterprise.



Starnes encampment destroyed

Mass suicide

The USS Enterprise responds to a distress call from the Starnes Exploration Party at the Federation outpost on the planet Triacus. But a landing party consisting of Captain Kirk, Spock and McCoy find a scattering of dead bodies. They encounter Professor Starnes, the leader, who seems to be suffering from extreme anxiety. However, Starnes collapses and dies before he can reveal what happened to himself and the other exploration party members.

Ring Around the Rosie

The children circle Captain Kirk, playing "Ring Around the Rosie"

We all fall down!

"Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down!"

Just then, a group of five children – four boys and a girl – emerge from a cave and begin playing. The girl, Mary, asks Kirk to play with them, whereupon she and the boys join hands, forming a circle around him. The children circle their new 'playmate' and sing "Ring Around the Rosie", laughing happily as they "all fall down" – all while their parents' lifeless bodies lie nearby.

Act One[]

A log replayed from a tricorder supports McCoy's opinion that the event is a mass suicide. The log mentions an "enemy from within."

The scientists' children, however, are unharmed – and oblivious to the deaths, unmoved even as the landing party buries their parents. They continue to play as though nothing happened. McCoy theorizes that this could be a psychological defense against trauma and warns Kirk against questioning them further. Captain Kirk and Spock believe the colony has been attacked, with the children deliberately excluded from the attack for an unknown reason. A strange tricorder reading leads Kirk and Spock into a nearby cave, where Kirk is struck by sudden anxiety, which subsides when he leaves the cave.

Kirk has the children beamed aboard the Enterprise, where Nurse Chapel serves them ice cream from the food synthesizer in the ship's arboretum. But McCoy can find no physical anomaly in the children, and Kirk cannot get them to discuss what happened to their parents. When the children are left alone, they chant to summon a "friendly angel" (later referred to as Gorgan) and he appears, congratulating them for getting rid of the adults on Triacus and telling them that they must take control of the Enterprise and travel to Marcos XII.

Act Two[]


Gorgan appears on the bridge

The children, with Gorgan's help, can exercise psychological control over adults. Scott sees in the auxiliary control room that his engineers have taken the Enterprise out of orbit, but they subdue him. By pumping their fists, the children exert mind control over Sulu, Chekov, Uhura and other crewmen to do their bidding. For example, at first Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura believe that they can see Triacus on the viewscreen even though the Enterprise is no longer orbiting the planet. Kirk and Spock do not realize the starship is en route to Marcos XII until Kirk orders two additional security guards down to Triacus, who are instead beamed out into space to their deaths.

Kirk and Spock enter the bridge as the children summon Gorgan, revealing him to Kirk for the first time.

Act Three[]

Gorgan does not address Kirk, but merely warns the children that their "operation" has been discovered.

Uhura's fear of being old

Uhura sees herself as a diseased, dying old woman

Kirk makes the crew realize that they have left Triacus and the children plant new fears in them: Sulu sees rings of swords on the viewscreen that will destroy the Enterprise if he even slightly changes course and Uhura sees not her console but herself as a disfigured, diseased, dying old woman. The children briefly take over Spock's mind and unleash Kirk's greatest fear, losing command of his ship, as every command he issues to Leslie is either disobeyed or heard as gibberish. Spock frees himself of the children's mind control and gets Kirk off the bridge to help him overcome his fear in a turbolift. They try to take control of the ship through the auxiliary control center but Scott and the control center crew are now under the children's influence, as one of the children, Don, is secretly present in the room (behind a lattice wall); Scott and his engineers force Kirk and Spock out.

Chekov, Freeman and security guard arresting Kirk and Spock

Chekov, Freeman and a security officer attempt to arrest Kirk and Spock

Outside auxiliary control in a corridor, Spock tells Kirk that so long as the children are present on the Enterprise, there is danger. Kirk doubts this, given that they are only children, but Spock also says that they are followers and without followers, evil cannot exist. He also says that if the evil inside the children is growing and if they cannot find a way to stop it, they will have to kill them, Kirk finishes for him.

Just then, Chekov, Freeman, and another security officer corner Kirk and Spock, telling them that Starfleet has ordered their arrest. When Kirk resists, Chekov threatens to shoot him with his phaser.

Act Four[]

Starnes encampment

Footage of recreation on Triacus

Kirk again tries to reason with Chekov but under the influence of Tommy, Chekov tells his captain Starfleet Command supersedes his orders. Kirk and Spock defeat the delusional security team by fighting and with Vulcan nerve pinches. Kirk has Spock escort Chekov, Freeman, and the security guard to the detention area and goes to the bridge. Upon arriving, Kirk finds Tommy sitting in his chair and forces him out of it to stand next to Mary. Kirk, together with Spock, summon Gorgan to the bridge by replaying a recording of the children's chant on a microtape and then challenge him. They show the children video footage of themselves on Triacus, playing with their parents, followed by images of the parents lying dead, then by the headstones marking their graves. The children suddenly realize what they have done under the so-called Friendly Angel's influence and begin to cry. Dr. McCoy is pleased that the children are finally showing authentic grief. Without the children's support, Gorgan morphs into a grotesque being with a face of drooping flesh as he disappears, shouting "Death to you all!"

As the ship nears Marcos XII, McCoy leaves the bridge and takes the children with him; while Kirk orders Sulu make a course change to Starbase 4.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"Humans do have an amazing capacity for believing what they choose and excluding that which is painful."

- Spock to Kirk, on the children's lack of grief

"Parents like stupid things."

- Don, believing his parents liked living on Triacus

"It'll spoil your dinner."
"See what I told you? They all say it."

- Kirk and Tommy, as Tommy asks for more ice cream

"Hail, hail, fire and snow.
Call the angel we will go.
Far away, for to see.
Friendly Angel, come to me."

- Tommy, Mary, Don, Steve and Ray, summoning Gorgan – Listen to this quote file info

"Captain, so long as the children are present, there is danger."

- Spock, to Kirk

"You have done very well, my friends. You have done what must be done. You have come aboard the Enterprise. Now, our destination is a Federation settlement. Captain Kirk will undoubtedly choose a closer station. Do not let that deter you. Marcos XII has millions of people on it. Nearly a million will join us as our friends. The rest will be our enemies. Together, with our other friends who will join us, we will defeat our enemies as we defeated them on Triacus. A million friends on Marcos will make us invincible. No one will tell us where to go, when to sleep, where to eat. The universe will be mine to command, yours to play in. To accomplish this great mission, we must first control the Enterprise. To control the ship, we first must control the crew. You know how to do that. That is your next task. And as you believe, so shall you do, so shall you do. As you believe, so shall you do, so shall you do. As you believe, so shall you do, so shall you do."

- Gorgan, to the children – Listen to this quote file info

"Friends, we have reached a moment of crisis. The enemy have discovered our operation, but they are too late. They no longer control the ship. We do. We shall prevail. They will take us any place we desire. So…back to your stations. Maintain your controls. If resistance mounts, call upon their beast. Their beast will serve us well. The fear in each one of them is the beast which will consume him. Remember how it was on Triacus? If they resist, so shall it be on the Enterprise. If you need me, call and I will appear. Our new goal is Marcos XII. It is our new beginning. We must not falter."

- Gorgan, to the children – Listen to this quote file info

"Evil does seek to maintain power by suppressing the truth."
"Or by misleading the innocent."

- Spock and McCoy, on what killed the Starnes Exploration Party

"But most legends have their basis in fact, Spock."

- Kirk, on the legend of Triacus

"Without followers, evil cannot spread."

- Spock to Kirk, on the dangers that the children pose

"Death to you all!"

- Gorgan's last words

Background information[]

Production timeline[]

Story and production[]

Filming And the Children Shall Lead

Filming a scene on the bridge

  • This episode borrows elements and concepts from several sources, including Greek mythology (Gorgon), the Old Testament, and puritanical/colonial witchery (the incantations). [1] It also has a similar plot to the first season episode "Charlie X".
  • It is never explained how Kirk knew to refer to the Friendly Angel as "Gorgan." Based on early drafts of the script, and in a bit of sloppy editing, episode writer Edward J. Lakso alternated between the various names, explaining why it appeared and stuck so late in the episode. A deleted scene had revealed that Tommy did tell Kirk the name, however, this scene took place in the script after Kirk had used the name. [2]


  • The idea to cast noted attorney Melvin Belli as Gorgan came when his son, Caesar Belli was cast as Steve. Producer Fred Freiberger hoped that the presence of Belli would boost ratings. This plan failed and Freiberger realized it would have been more appropriate to cast an actor in the role. [3]
  • Watching a first rough cut of the episode (without visual effects and music), Gene Roddenberry was appalled by Belli's stilted performance and lack of acting talent, and ordered the producers to distort Gorgan's voice and appearance (by covering him in green glow) as much as possible. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three)
  • Brian Tochi is one of a very few actors, along with Phil and Iona Morris in "Miri" and Clint Howard in "The Corbomite Maneuver", who appeared in TOS as a child and was later cast in one of the new series or movies. He appeared as Ensign Lin in TNG: "Night Terrors".
  • Tochi and Pamelyn Ferdin were later reunited on Space Academy, a live-action Saturday morning television series produced by Filmation which aired on CBS from 1977 to 1979.
  • All eight major regular performers of the second and third seasons – Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, Chapel, and Chekov – appear in this episode.

Sets and props[]

Constitution class arboretum

The arboretum

  • The mirror in which Uhura sees her aged reflection at the communications station is never used in any other episode. Of course, like Uhura's reflection, the mirror itself may have been an illusion created by the children.
  • During one scene on the bridge, Kirk tries to give orders to Leslie, but his words are garbled. If the audio for this scene is played in reverse, Kirk can be heard to say, "Remove Lieutenant Uhura and Mr. Spock from the bridge. Confine them to quarters. Did you hear me? Take Mr. Sulu to his quarters. He's relieved of duty. Remove Lieutenant Uhura and Mr. Spock from the bridge. Confine them to quarters. Take Mr. Sulu to his quarters, I said. (garbled) Mr. Spock from the bridge. Confine him to quarters. Mr. Leslie, take Mr. Sulu to his quarters. He's relieved of duty." Listen to Kirk's re-reversed orders file info
Starnes Exploration Party children

23rd century children's attire

Federation pennant on Triacus

UFP pennant

  • The dress worn by the one of the female members of the Starnes Exploration Party was also created by Theiss, and was previously worn by Janet Wallace in "The Deadly Years". (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 135) In fact, both costumes worn by Wallace can be seen in this episode, one worn by Don Linden's mother and the other worn by an unnamed woman (who commits suicide in the teaser).


  • The title is taken from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament: " The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6) [5]



  • The Agony Booth website included this episode on their list of "The Worst of Trek". They even named "And the Children Shall Lead" as the worst episode of The Original Series. They write that the episode "has a script that offers virtually nothing: No suspense, no character development, no intriguing sci-fi premises, and not one memorable line of dialogue. The director of this episode, Marvin J. Chomsky, is generally regarded as a skilled TV director (he also helmed Billionaire Boys Club and several installments of Roots), but there's really nothing he could have done with this script. Considering the guy who wrote it, Edward J. Lakso, also went on to write some pretty lousy episodes of Charlie's Angels, The Fall Guy, and Airwolf, need I say any more?" [6]
    • The reviewer is also harsh on William Shatner's acting, which he sarcastically describes as being "renowned and imitated the world over." [7] Describing Kirk's breakdown in the turbolift, he concludes, "There's no denying it: This is 100% grade-A pure Shatner here. We have now reached ShatNervana. The Shat goes through his entire range of grotesque, buffoonish facial expressions until Spock finally moves towards him, prompting Kirk to wildly grab him by the throat." [8]

Remastered information[]

"And the Children Shall Lead" was the twenty-sixth remastered episode of the The Original Series to air. It premiered in syndication the weekend of 14 April 2007 and aside from the standard CGI replacement footage of the Enterprise, this episode most notably featured new effects shots of the planet Triacus.

The next remastered episode to air was "All Our Yesterdays".


  • In James Blish's novelization of this episode, Sulu is terrified by the sight of missiles on the viewscreen, not swords as in the televised version. More interestingly, the children sing spells to cause havoc among the crew rather than making the fist-pumping gesture as shown on-screen.
  • Gorgan also played a feature role in Greg Cox's Q Continuum trilogy of Next Generation novels published in 1998. He is part of a powerful gang of interstellar evil-doers which includes the "God"-imposter from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and the entity from "Day of the Dove". Not much is really added to Gorgan's origin and motivations, as Cox is content to emphasize Gorgan's modus operandi of using children to cause chaos, though Gorgan's placement on Triacus is explained.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]




Uncredited co-stars[]


ability; adult; adventure; alien; angel; answer; anxiety; army; arrest; assailant; associate; assumption; astrogator; auxiliary control; bacteria; banana; beast; bee; behavior; biochemical substance; blindness; bridge control monitor; bridge monitor screen; bridge navigation system; card; carrier; cave; century; chant; cherry; child (children); child specialist; chocolate; chocolate wobble; civilization; coconut; computer; contact; coordinates; course; crisis; cyalodin; danger; day; death; detention section; destination; devil; diagnosis; dinner; disease; distress call; Epsilon Indi system; enemy; evaluation laboratory; evidence; evil; excavation; expedition; experience; explanation; fact; family; favorite; fear; fear of punishment; Federation; Federation records; Federation settlement; feeling; fire; flavor; freeze tag; friend; Friendly Angel; food synthesizer; foreign substance; fun; general; gentleness; God; grieving; hail (meteorology); home video; hospital; hour; Human; humanoid; hypothesis; ice cream; idea; identification; information; lacunar amnesia; Latin language; leader; legend; lie; lifeform; Marcos XII; maraud; marauder; mass suicide; medical officer; mental depression; Milky Way Galaxy; mind; mission; "opinion; order; pain; parent; patrol area; peach; picnic; picture; pistachio; place; population; power; professor; promise; punishment; quarters; question; questioning; reality; recreation room; relief duty; rest; "Ring Around the Rosie"; scientific colony; scientist; screen; security team (aka security detachment); sensor; snow; spaceship; speed; standard orbit; Starbase 4; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starnes Exploration Party; Starnes' relatives; sting; stowaway; suicidal anxiety; sundae dish; swarm; sympathetic vibration; tape; tension; term; thing; tour of duty; transport; transporter room; traumatic shock; Triacus; Triacus marauders; tricorder; truth; "under arrest"; United Federation of Planets (UFP); universe; unscientific; vanilla ice cream; Vulcan; white; Wilkins

External links[]

Previous episode produced:
"The Enterprise Incident"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3
Next episode produced:
"Spock's Brain"
Previous episode aired:
"The Paradise Syndrome"
Next episode aired:
"Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"The Immunity Syndrome"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"All Our Yesterdays"