Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)

The Tholians were a crystalline-based non-humanoid species from the Alpha Quadrant. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")


"Tholians have rather extreme life-support requirements."
Tholian pilot

A Tholian pilot from the mirror universe (2155)

Tholians were a crystalline species. They had a hard carapace that was chiefly mineral. There were six thin legs that made it possible for the being to move in any direction quickly; the legs were articulated with joints roughly corresponding to the knee and ankle of humanoid species. Each leg ended in a multi-toed foot. The legs were attached at the base of the torso and were radially symmetric. There were two arms; each had joints analogous to the humanoid elbow and wrist, and each arm ended in a multi-fingered hand. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

There was a slightly visible neck that was covered by a semitransparent dome membrane that shielded the head. Tholians had two glowing spots near the top of their torso. They turned these to face individuals with whom they interacted, which suggested they were some sort of information-gathering organ(s) or receptacles. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

In the revised final draft script of "In a Mirror, Darkly", the sensory organs near the top of a Tholian's torso are referred to as "a pair of glowing jewel-like eyes."

Tholian biology required high temperatures around 480 Kelvin (207 °C, 404 °F). They could tolerate lower temperatures for a brief period of time; if they were exposed to temperatures around 380 Kelvin or less, their carapace would fracture. This was painful or distressing; a Tholian subjected to such a temperature regime could be coerced to cooperate. In temperatures even lower, a Tholian would freeze solid and shatter. (ENT: "Future Tense", "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Before it was canonically established that Tholians lived in extremely hot environments, there was long-time fan speculation that they did. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 62) Michael Sussman, who co-wrote "Future Tense" with Phyllis Strong, explained, "One of the ideas [from semi-professional publications] was looking back on what little we saw of them in 'The Tholian Web' and how the viewscreen seemed to ripple. People suggested that those were heat ripples." Sussman and Strong therefore established in "Future Tense" that the species usually resides in incredibly hot areas. "In all the years of Star Trek," continued Sussman, "we had never really run into an alien that lived in that kind of environment, so it was another way to keep them mysterious." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, pp. 15 & 16) Sussman was proud of having made canon the notion of Tholians being "a hot-planet species." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 62)

Tholians communicated primarily through a series of clicks and chirps. They were also naturally able to emit various forms of radiation, which they could modulate. Tholians could communicate over short distances in this fashion. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Mike Sussman recalled, "It ended up becoming a little plot point that the Tholian sent out a distress call. I thought if I ended up going with an exotic alien physiology for the Tholian then it could have a crystalline structure that acted like a natural radio transmitter. It really helped that this alien had bizarre physiology and justified that story point." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, pp. 16-17)

A typical Tholian possesses both male and female sex organs. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Tholians had something analogous to biochemical processes. Phlox from the mirror universe was able to devise a sedative; however, this compound eventually lost effectiveness. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") In 2372, Kasidy Yates claimed she was meeting with a Tholian freighter to deliver medical supplies to treat a viral infection on one of their colonies. (DS9: "For the Cause")

A mirror universe Tholian encountered in 2155 by the ISS Enterprise was approximately the same height as a Human. This person's carapace was principally a reddish color, in varying shades, and there was the suggestion of fluid or field motion within their body. This person was able to call for help from their fellow Tholians by communicating through their body's emission of radiation. Dr. Phlox retaliated by lowering the temperature until their carapace shattered. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Society and culture[]

"Be correct; we do not tolerate deceit."
– Loskene, 2268 ("The Tholian Web")
Kasidy Yates with Tholian silk

Kasidy Yates holding Tholian silk

Tholian culture placed a high value on punctuality. (TOS: "The Tholian Web"; DS9: "For the Cause") Tholians also prized honesty and accuracy in their relationships. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

Dialogue cut from "Defiant" suggested that Tholians practice weddings, which involve a dowry.

According to the non-canon Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual, "the Tholians are members of a hive culture and possess a hive mind," and have a caste society – those depicted on the show are members of the warrior caste.

History and politics[]

Tholian emblem

Emblem of the Tholian Assembly

The government of the Tholians was known as the Tholian Assembly. Until the mid-22nd century, the Vulcan High Command had only limited contact with the Assembly. (ENT: "Future Tense")

During several confrontations between the Tholian Assembly and the United Federation of Planets, Starfleet officers perceived the behavior of their Tholian counterparts as aggressive and territorial. (TOS: "The Tholian Web") The Tholian government was known to kill outsiders caught entering Tholian space without their consent. The Assembly was also known to annex systems outside Tholian space, to further isolate their territory. (ENT: "Future Tense", "In a Mirror, Darkly"; TOS: "The Tholian Web"; TNG: "Captain's Holiday")

First contact with United Earth[]

In 2152, the Tholian Assembly made an unusual move; they traveled far beyond their territory and actively sought to possess a 31st century Earth vessel discovered by the United Earth starship Enterprise NX-01. Four Tholian ships intercepted and disabled the combat cruiser Tal'Kir, while it waited to rendezvous with Enterprise. They, in turn, attacked and defeated a Suliban Cabal fleet that was in pursuit of the arriving Earth ship. They then successfully removed the pod from Enterprise's possession, only to have the pod return to its proper time moments later. (ENT: "Future Tense")

Tholian knowledge about the location of the vessel and their active interest in it might suggest the Assembly was a client faction in the Temporal Cold War, probably opposed to the Suliban Cabal and their benefactor.

Conflict with the Federation[]

Occasional conflicts between the Tholian Assembly and the Federation continued over the next century. In the 2250s, Tholians attacked Berellium, leaving Thira Sidhu and her husband as the only survivors. A few years later, Starfleet simulated a Tholian attack on Starbase 28 as part of a test of Cadet Sidhu. (ST: "Ask Not")

The Defiant incident[]

In 2155, the mirror universe Tholians detonated a tri-cobalt warhead inside the gravity well of a dead star. The explosion created an interphasic rift which acted as a doorway to a "parallel universe" to them. Because of its instability, the Tholians reasoned that it was too dangerous to send one of their own ships through, so they transmitted a distress call into the opening, hoping to lure a ship from the other side. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Tholian web, remastered

The Tholians attack the USS Enterprise

In the year 2268 of the Prime Universe, the Federation starship USS Defiant responded to that false distress signal and entered this region of space, which had just been annexed by the Prime Universe Tholians. Three weeks later, the starship USS Enterprise discovered the Defiant trapped in a spatial interphase, only to observe the starship, and consequently landing party leader James T. Kirk, cross over into the mirror universe.

Shortly thereafter, a Tholian ship intercepted the Enterprise, demanding that it leave Tholian territory. At the request of First Officer Spock to be allowed to rescue Kirk from the Defiant, Tholian Commander Loskene allowed the Enterprise and its crew a small timeframe before they were required to withdraw. Because the Enterprise crew was unable to rescue Kirk in the time provided, though, the Tholians opened fire, damaging the Enterprise. A second Tholian starship soon arrived and the Tholians then attempted to trap the Enterprise in their web. The Enterprise, however, was able to recover Kirk and escape successfully, without actually falling victim to the web. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

In the conclusion of "In Essence Nothing" (a story outline that became "The Tholian Web"), the Tholians followed the Enterprise, once Captain Kirk was rescued, into the parallel dimension and approached the starship for another attack. Outmatched by the Enterprise in this strange alternate dimension, the Tholians accepted peaceful overtures initiated by the retrieved Kirk and finally returned to normal space with the Enterprise. (The Star Trek Compendium, 4th ed., p. 116; [1])

Tholian web, mirror universe

The Tholians attack the ISS Enterprise

Unknown at the time, the Defiant had traveled back in time to the mirror universe, where, when fully clear of the interphase, it was towed by the Tholians of that universe to a small moon drydock in the Vintaak system, deep in Tholian space. There, they employed several humanoids to gut the ship. Commander Jonathan Archer of Starfleet learned of the vessel's presence in his universe. He commandeered ISS Enterprise and flew it deep into Tholian space, while cloaked, to steal the Defiant. After Archer sent a boarding party to the Defiant, the Tholians spun a tractor web around Enterprise and destroyed it. The boarding party managed to activate the Defiant's systems, but not before the Tholians spun a tractor web over the entrance of the drydock. The Defiant then destroyed three Tholian ships and the moon's drydock, before escaping the system. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

Later conflicts[]

The Tholians' contact with the Federation over the next century was sporadic but characterized by intermittent conflict. In 2353, Kyle Riker was a civilian strategist advising Starfleet in an ongoing conflict with the Tholians. The starbase he was operating out of was attacked, resulting in the death of the entire base crew except for Kyle, who survived his injuries. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

"The Icarus Factor" gives no further details beyond mentioning "[…] Starfleet in its conflict with the Tholians." Kyle Riker's posting afer his recovery at Tokyo Base to work out the Fuurinkazan battle strategies, as well as his following work as a tactical advisor to Starfleet at Starbase Montgomery may or may not be related to this "Tholian conflict." In the script of DS9: "Homefront", it is stated that Admiral Leyton is "a veteran of conflicts with the Romulans, Cardassians, Borg, and the Tholians."

The Federation Starfleet considered the Tholians sufficiently dangerous as to warrant the development of Tholian-based battle simulations in the mid-24th Century. In 2355, during one such simulation, William T. Riker used a notable strategy to calculate a sensory blind spot on a Tholian vessel. (TNG: "Peak Performance") In 2367, Federation Special Emissary K'Ehleyr believed that the Tholians might eventually become involved if a Klingon Civil War were to break out. (TNG: "Reunion")


MA 2009 Warning! This section may contain spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.

By the late 32nd century, a government known as the Tholian Republic was in place. It was considered adversarial to the Federation. (DIS: "Red Directive")

Trade and diplomacy[]

Tholian silk was highly prized and a difficult commodity to obtain. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

The Tholians conducted business with Bajoran trader Razka Karn in the early 2370s. They pursued him because of unscrupulous "business" practices, so he took refuge in the Badlands. (DS9: "Indiscretion")

In 2372, a Tholian observer was killed in the bombing of the Antwerp Conference on Earth by a Dominion infiltrator. (DS9: "Homefront") Despite this, the Tholians signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion the next year, prior to the outbreak of the Dominion War, remaining neutral throughout the conflict. (DS9: "Call to Arms")

In 2379, Romulan Senator Tal'aura claimed to have an appointment with the Tholian ambassador to the Romulan Star Empire, conveniently allowing her to leave the Senate chambers only moments before the assassination of the entire Senate. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Diplomatic Mission Aboard DS9[]

In the 2370s, the Tholian Assembly maintained a diplomatic presence aboard Federation Starbase Deep Space 9. In 2371, DS9 Security Chief Odo accused station resident Nog of stealing from the Tholian ambassador and arrested Nog and Jake Sisko for the deed. However, this was actually part of a plan Jake Sisko had formulated in an attempt to repair his friendship with Nog. Nog maintained his innocence, claiming not even to know what a Tholian looked like. (DS9: "Life Support")

According to dialogue in the deleted scene 2 of the episode "Defiant", a Tholian ambassador aboard Deep Space 9 reported that someone broke into his quarters during the night and stole three cases of latinum which was meant to be the dowry for his wedding. [2]

A Tholian ambassador was also mentioned in the first draft script of "Our Man Bashir". In that teleplay, Elim Garak claimed to Julian Bashir, while they were having lunch together at DS9's replimat, that the Tholian ambassador had remarked positively on how Garak had used some Tholian silk.

At one point, the Tholian ambassador on DS9 owed a favor to the station commander, Federation Starfleet Captain Benjamin Sisko, and obtained Tholian silk for him. Captain Sisko then gave the Tholian silk to his girlfriend, Kasidy Yates. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

It is unclear to whom the Tholian Ambassador was accredited. They may have been serving as Tholian Ambassador to the Bajoran Republic, and their extreme environmental requirements may have necessitated residency aboard the station rather than on the surface of Bajor.





Additional references[]

Background information[]


The Tholians were one of the earliest elements of "The Tholian Web" that was devised for the episode, which was written by Judy Burns and Chet Richards. Referring obliquely to the species, Burns later said, "We […] had villains out there who were lurking." (Star Trek Monthly issue 43, p. 38) In fact, the Tholians were created due to Burns fearing that "The Tholian Web" was otherwise merely an average ghost story and was proving to be unworkable. Richards elaborated, "She wanted something to cause greater jeopardy so that everyone in the story gets real anxious as to whether they are going to be able to recover Kirk. That is when we brought in the Tholians. The name came from an expedition that an acquaintance of mine had actually been on – a geologist named Jack Green, who had gone to the Aegean islands and, after some digging, had discovered a collapsed Tholos tomb, complete with its contents. So Tholos became Tholian." (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three, p. 257) The "renowned Tholian punctuality" was not in any version of the script, as it was ad-libbed by Leonard Nimoy during filming. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three, p. 273)

Loskene effects footage

Raw footage of the Tholian in TOS: "The Tholian Web"

In "The Tholian Web", the appearance of a Tholian was briefly established, with only a few shots of one on the Enterprise viewscreen. To describe the Tholian in the first of those shots, the final draft of the episode's script commented, "We see the upper half of an alien creature, humanoid in build only. In composition it is almost jewel-like in appearance. Its surface is multifaceted and crystaline, magenta in hue. Two lights shining from the interior of its head might be eyes. A similar glow emanates where its mouth could be expected. This glow pulsates very rapidly and irregularly. It is not in sync with the sound translation."

The footage of a Tholian in "The Tholian Web" used visual effects and a puppet designed by Mike Minor. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 508) He recollected, "I built a Plexiglas entity on a camera stand, lit internally against a field of tin foil […] [The Tholian] was supposed to be a crystalline structure, silicon based, whatever that means, but he's not carbon based. I think there was a script mention about that, but I'm not sure. But I took that to mean that he was prismatic, with a rigid exoskeleton body scan." Special effects changed the way in which the bust of the creature was colored, enhancing the alien's strangeness. "In a sense by pulling a black and white matte, positive and negative (a positive image of the creature and a negative image of the background), you could do separations and therefore throw […] less color into the figure," continued Minor, "or let color seep into it as frames went on and let it dissolve into colors in the optical printer so that the character went through various sheens of color and harmonies which didn't really exist." (Enterprise Incidents, issue #14, p. 45) The Tholian was voiced by Barbara Babcock. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 11/12, p. 97) The Tholian head was the last shot filmed for the episode on the sixth and final day of shooting, Monday 12 August 1968. Two versions were filmed, one with a simple dark background and one with the tin foil. Eventually, the latter was used for the episode. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three, p. 274)

Not much information about the Tholians was presented in "The Tholian Web". Those who viewed that episode without the insight of later installments couldn't even be sure about the true physical appearance of Tholians. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 294) The footage of one therein apparently showed the faceted head of a Tholian but it was not made clear if that was indeed a head or simply a helmet. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 508) It could also have been a mask or even an artificial projection, such as that of Balok in "The Corbomite Maneuver". (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 294) Moreover, it was unclear whether the Tholian's body below the viewscreen was humanoid or something more unusual. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 508)

Following the single view of a Tholian on Star Trek: The Original Series, the species proved extremely popular with fans. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 14) One such individual was Michael Sussman. "What was so cool was that we knew so little about the Tholians," he remarked. "To me they were like the Bobba Fett of the Star Trek universe. The Tholians were so mysterious." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 15) Another fan of the species was Manny Coto, who imagined the Tholians as being crab-like. "Tholians were always a fascinating race to me," he commented, "'cause they were one of the more inhuman, you know, non-humanoid races." ("Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise, Part Two: Memorable Voyages", ENT Season 4 Blu-ray special features)

Initial return[]

Bringing the Tholians back to Star Trek was a long-term aim of Ronald D. Moore. (AOL chat, 1997) As a casual tribute to TOS in the fourth season Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "For the Cause", Moore included a line of dialogue referencing Tholian punctuality. In fact, the writing staff of DS9 loved to mention the Tholians, but kept becoming unable to show them. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 341 & 260-261) Midway through the initial broadcast run of DS9 Season 5, Moore referred to the Tholians as having "real support" around the writing staff of DS9. He went on to say, "I'd like to see them again and maybe we'll do one next year." (AOL chat, 1997) One issue was that, even by the end of that season, Moore didn't feel he had a good enough story to warrant the financial expenditure needed to portray CGI Tholians. (AOL chat, 1997) On the other hand, the Tholians were one of several TOS races which Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore imagined updating for DS9, at least as early as November 1998. (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 83) Eventually, though, Moore cautioned fans not to expect to see Tholians in the series. (Star Trek Monthly issue 47, p. 11)

There were originally no grand plans to feature the Tholians on Star Trek: Enterprise. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 14) Though Mike Sussman believed many viewers wanted to see first contact with the Tholians, he felt it would be challenging and dangerous to establish too much about the species. "As soon as we start filling in the blanks, there's a risk they'll become a little less appealing," he reckoned, at the end of the show's first season. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 50)

The reintroduction of the Tholians in the Season 2 episode "Future Tense" came about because Mike Sussman, by then a writer and producer on the series, planned for the Tholians of the 22nd century to be one group in pursuit of the USS Defiant, which Sussman imagined as having recently emerged from the 23rd century via spatial interphase. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 14) "The Tholians came along," he recalled, "as a logical part of the story involving the Defiant." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 15) In a story pitch submitted by Sussman, he suggested the Tholians had somehow deliberately weakened the fabric of space, in hope of trapping a ship from the future. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 14) "The Tholians would then try to reverse engineer the ship," he speculated, "and get all sorts of cool futuristic technology." [3](X) After substituting the Defiant with a 31st century time-travel pod, Sussman initially feared that the exclusion of the Defiant from the script might mean losing the Tholians from it as well, though he chose to keep them in the episode. "I realized I still needed an alien adversary who was going to fight Archer and the Suliban for the ship," he related. "I thought, 'Why not make it the Tholians?'" (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 15)

Mike Sussman thoroughly researched the Tholians in preparation for writing "Future Tense". "I was diving into all sorts of semi-professional publications over the years that speculated what the Tholians were really like," he remembered. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 16)

The depiction of the Tholians in "Future Tense" was popular with production personnel. Critiquing their appearance in that outing, Executive Producer Brannon Braga enthused, "The Tholians were wonderful." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, p. 28) Mike Sussman noted, "It was just cool to feature them again." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 16) He elaborated, "We didn't see them [Tholians], but it was really great when they [officers from Enterprise] were knocking on the door [of the time-travel pod]. I thought all the fans were gonna love it, 'cause in your mind's eye, behind this door you're going to see these guys. But again – once you finally show them, it's like, 'Ohhh – is that it? Is that all?'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 149, p. 62)

Whether the Tholians were to reappear after "Future Tense" was at first unclear. At the end of the second season, Brannon Braga declared, "I'm hoping we'll see them again next season. If we choose to develop them, they'll be major players in every way." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, p. 28) However, Mike Sussman – having re-established the Tholians in "Future Tense" – had no immediate plans to return the species to Enterprise. "I would have been happy to use the Tholians again," he specified, "but they were difficult to do, particularly if you wanted to show them, as I'd set them up as something exotic. They could have been very boring-looking aliens that wore helmets, but I didn't want to do that. So I think in some ways I boxed myself into a corner." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 16)


The idea of returning the Tholians to Star Trek: Enterprise wasn't, in fact, foreseeable until Mike Sussman and Executive Producer Manny Coto were looking for a mirror universe story for the series' fourth season. Realizing his original story pitch for the Defiant plot line could be resurrected, Sussman once again considered the Tholians. He later commented, "I needed a character that the crew of the I.S.S. Enterprise capture early on in the show who would lead us to the hiding place where we would find the Defiant. I thought, 'OK, we'll make it a Tholian.'" (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 16)

In the final draft script of "In a Mirror, Darkly", the Tholians were referred to merely as a crystalline species and little information about their other physical characteristics was given, apart from each Tholian having "a pair of glowing jewel-like eyes." Despite the scarcity of scripted details, Mike Sussman was determined for the Tholians to be well depicted. "I felt if we were going to show them, we had to do them right," he reasoned. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 17)

The process of modernizing the appearance of a Tholian for "In a Mirror, Darkly" was supervised by Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry. (ENT Season 4 DVD audio commentary) Visual Effects Supervisor Ronald B. Moore was pleased to be provided with the opportunity of working on designing the Tholians for Enterprise, having not been given that chance when working on "Future Tense" (due to the fact that the Tholians themselves are never seen in that episode). (Visual Effects Magic, ENT Season 4 DVD special features)

The visual effects team watched "The Tholian Web" a couple of times to prepare for updating the Tholians in Enterprise. (Visual Effects Magic, ENT Season 4 DVD special features) The team's design process included early sketches, some of which were seen by Mike Sussman. (ENT Season 4 DVD audio commentary) He remarked, "There were a lot of different designs tossed around. They were all crystalline, but some of them didn't quite stand upright. They were cool designs, but I was looking at them with Manny (Coto) and our concern was that many of them didn't have the head that we saw in The Original Series episode. We wanted a creature where everything above the neck would be recognizable from before, but everything below the neck could be new." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 17)

Ronald B. Moore was at first stumped as to how to approach the task of designing the new Tholian. Even though he thought the Tholian in "The Tholian Web" (Commander Loskene) looks like it was wearing a helmet, Moore instead wanted the new Tholian to have a crystalline structure. (Visual Effects Magic, ENT Season 4 DVD special features) The producers were particularly eager for the Tholians to not be revealed as a humanoid species in masks, but rather something much more exotic. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 14) Dan Curry explained, "We're looking at the Tholian that we saw before as if it might have been wearing a helmet so we can get into greater detail as to the physiognomy. We're looking at crystal structure and color schemes, contrast ratios so when I do my renderings they'll have a degree of verisimilitude. We're not going to make it a bipedal axiomally symmetrical quadroped." (CFQ, Vol. 37, No. 2, p. 69)

David Anderson, Tholian stand-in Tholian, 2155
Stand-in performer Anderson acting in his Tholian motion capture suit, which ultimately resulted in the scene on the right

The filming of the modernized Tholian was accomplished using motion-control and required stand-in David Anderson to wear an intricate, black bodysuit, aka motion capture suit, that enabled him to be tracked. The Tholian, represented with CGI, was then made to duplicate his movements, which were subsequently slightly modified. (Visual Effects Magic, ENT Season 4 DVD special features) The expense of digital visual effects, however, meant the fully CG Tholian couldn't be featured too heavily. (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 17)

Although the spider-like appearance of the Tholian's modernized exterior might suggest that the Tholians are personally capable of spinning webs like their ships are, Mike Sussman had not considered this until it was pointed out to him by a friend. (ENT Season 4 DVD audio commentary) Sussman was nonetheless thrilled by the opportunity to feature the Tholians and reveal somewhat more about them in "In a Mirror, Darkly", believing their reappearance therein might lead to more. "I hope we get to see the Tholians again in a future Star Trek production," he admitted, "but it was great to finally revisit them. What was so cool was that we kept them pretty mysterious. There's still a lot we don't know and I don't think we revealed too much, so I think there's still plenty of areas to explore in future series or movies." (Star Trek: The Official Starships Collection, issue 26, p. 17) Manny Coto felt likewise, remarking, "Yeah, it was fun to do a Tholian." ("Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise, Part Two: Memorable Voyages", ENT Season 4 Blu-ray special features)

Regarding the future of the Tholians, comics writer Mike Johnson predicted, "At some point, maybe not soon, but inevitably, the Tholians are going to cause major trouble for the Federation. Maybe in the next TV series?" ("Top 50 Alien Species!", Star Trek: Ongoing issue #50, "Live Evil, Part 1")


According to The Worlds of the Federation (p. 150), Tholia was the home planet of the Tholian species. It was the second planet in the Tholian system, a planet with a searing hot methane environment. Legends of the Ferengi gives the homeworld of the Tholians as Tholis.

An emblem representing the Tholian Assembly was created for the book Star Trek: Star Charts (p. 35) but has never been seen on camera. Furthermore, according to this book, Tholia, the homeworld of the Tholians, was a class Y planet governed by the Tholian Assembly. The Tholians had established diplomatic relations with the Federation in 2271, two years after first contact with the starship USS Enterprise.

Writer Andy Lane once characterized the Tholians as "possibly the most intriguing race ever to be seen in Star Trek." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 92)



An example of a 'Pillar' Tholian, as portrayed in the Star Fleet Universe

The Tholians played roles in a number of comics including DC Comics' War and Madness, which covered issues 71 through 75 in their second TNG series. They also made an appearance in the "Captain's Log: Sulu" comic from IDW Publishing, set sometime between 2288 and 2290.

In IDW's alternate reality comic book two-parter "The Tholian Webs, Part 1" and "The Tholian Webs, Part 2", a Tholian fleet referred to as "the Tholian armada" and supervised by Commander Loskene entrap the USS Enterprise in a Tholian web and try to tow the ship to the Tholian homeworld, to answer for supposedly committing crimes against the Tholian Assembly by inadvertently intruding on Tholian space. Once the Enterprise manages to escape, though, Loskene promises war between the Tholians and the Federation, upon their next encounter.

The Tholians appear in the alternate Star Fleet Universe as a significant race. In this universe, they are not native to this galaxy, originating in Messier 81, or Bode's Galaxy. The Tholian Holdfast in the Milky Way is a remnant of the once-mighty Tholian Will, an empire that once ruled their entire Home Galaxy. However, one of their subject races, the insectoid Seltorians, developed the technology to break Tholian webs, and used it to overthrow their masters. Some of the surviving Tholians fled to this galaxy, and upon arriving in Y79 (Y1 being the date of first contact between Earth and Vulcan, in that universe) claimed an area of Klingon territory rimward of Federation space. (This area had originally been used as the staging post for a planned Klingon invasion of Romulan space – but the Tholian arrival thwarted these efforts.) The Tholians fiercely defended their enclave, repelling all Klingon attempts to retake it. Their "home planet" in this galaxy is a miniature Dyson sphere (wrapped around a relatively small artificial "star") that, in a remarkable feat of engineering, they managed to bring with them from M81. They are officially neutral, but Klingon hostility sometimes forces them into co-belligerence with the Federation.

The Tholians join the Typhon Pact (β), an alliance of non-Federation powers, in the novel A Singular Destiny, set in 2381.

In Star Trek Online, Tholians play an antagonistic power with designs on exploring alternate dimensions. Tholians captured a Terran Empire Odyssey-class starship and hold it in a subterranean cavern on Demon-class planet Nukara Prime. Starfleet and the Klingon Defense Force must work together to stop the Tholians' operations and destroy the captured ship before they can harvest its technology. Tholians also capture vessels from the Romulan Republic, holding them in the Azure Nebula until they can be rescued by players.

In "Temporal Ambassador", a mission which was released to celebrate Star Trek Online's third anniversary, the Tholians – either by design or chance – are able to capture the USS Enterprise-C. Whereas the conclusion of TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise" establishes that ship made a successful attempt to escape a battle with the Klingons, the game depicts the Enterprise-C as time traveling to 2409, even though the crew instead intended to journey to 2344. In an alternate timeline created by the Enterprise-C's arrival in 2409, the Tholians control much of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, including a collapsed Federation, as well as the Romulan and Klingon Empires. The Tholians are defeated by the player, Natasha Yar, Richard Castillo, and several alternate versions of Star Trek Online characters, and the victors are able to restore the timeline, aided by a captain of a 29th century ship.

Tholian vessels also appear in the game, both as playable starships and enemy vessels. The Tholians return in Season 11, where they ambush Kal Dano and steal the Tox Uthat, using it to kill the star warming the Na'kuhl homeworld. This is revealed in the "Agents of Yesterday" expansion to be due to revenge for the massacre of a Tholian colony caused by time-traveling Na'kuhl in 2268. Individual Tholians are primarily encountered on the planets Nukara and New Romulus, and are able to survive in colder (to them) environments using EV suits.

A senior developer of the game said Cryptic considers the Tholians to be drawn to anomalies in space and time like moths are to flame and that they are not fully able to tell the difference between the mirror universe and the timeline of the prime universe. (citation needededit) Quotes in the game indicate that Tholians are able to transfer memories from past generations to future generations, but suggest that not all Tholians possess every past memory.

External links[]

This is a featured article. At the time it was featured (June 2005), it was considered one of the best examples of the Memory Alpha community's work. This article was featured more than five years ago though, and its status should be reviewed. You can use the links below to see how the article has changed since it was last featured.
Featured revision (125110)Diff to currentBlurb