Vulcan (Star Trek)

From Academic Kids

Vulcans are a humanoid species in the fictional Star Trek universe who reside on the planet Vulcan and are noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic.

Though Spock is a half-Vulcan (his mother was human), his physical characteristics are representative of the Vulcan race and the character is the best-known representative of Vulcan.
Though Spock is a half-Vulcan (his mother was human), his physical characteristics are representative of the Vulcan race and the character is the best-known representative of Vulcan.


Physical and mental attributes

The main external characteristics that distinguish Vulcans from humans are arched eyebrows and pointed ears. Vulcan blood is copper-based and is green when oxygenated in the arteries and is copper or rust colored when deoxygenated in the veins. Vulcans, like humans, come in different races, with known Vulcans physically resembling humans of European, African, and Asian descent; however, most Vulcans have a vaguely Eurasian appearance.

Vulcans tend to be stronger and longer-lived than humans—Sarek lived just over two centuries and it has been suggested that Vulcans have a life expectancy of at least 250 Earth years. A Vulcan of less than a century in age is still considered young. The strength of Vulcans is often attributed to Vulcan's gravity being significantly greater than Earth's. It may also be attributed to their superior mental discipline. Vulcans can also tolerate higher temperatures than humans can. In the original series episode "The Deadly Years" when Spock was affected by rapid aging he noted how cold the ship seemed, and he responded by turning the temperature in his room up to well above 100 F (38 C). They are also able to breath a much thinner atmosphere than humans, due to the atmospheric conditions on the planet Vulcan.

Vulcan females have a strong sense of smell, and Vulcans serving on Earth vessels initially required medication to lessen the odor of humans. (It has not yet been established whether Vulcan males have the same sense of smell.)

Vulcans possess an inner eyelid, possibly analogous to a nictitating membrane, which protects their vision from bright lights, a physical adaptation that evolved due to the race's long-term exposure to desert conditions. In some circumstances the activation of the eyelid causes temporary blindness. Spock's inner eyelid was activated in the Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate!". It is also mentioned in the Enterprise episode "The Forge"; during a journey across desert terrain, T'Pol says her inner eyelid protects her eyes in lieu of wearing sunglasses.

The internal layout of Vulcan organs differs somewhat from that of humans, with the Vulcan heart located roughly where the human liver is situated.

A small minority of Vulcans have a small V-shaped ridge above the bridge of their nose, similar to Romulans (among whom this attribute is common). This may be a vestigial or atavistic characteristic from archaic generations of the Vulcan race. This facial feature is usually not viewed with any prejudice or suspicion.

Pon farr

Main article: Pon farr

Periodically (every seven years for males, an undisclosed interval for females), Vulcans experience an overpowering mating drive known as pon farr. Once triggered, Vulcans must have sexual contact with someone, preferably their mate, or else face insanity and death. If a mate is not available, there are two other options that will relieve the effects of the pon farr, the first being meditation, where the Vulcan must overcome the urge to mate through mental discipline. The other option is a ritual combat, usually fought over a potential mate, that can calm the rages of pon farr. However, both these methods are only used as a last resort. When he experienced pon farr in the Delta Quadrant, Tuvok of Voyager made use of a holodeck simulation of his wife to relieve his condition. Pon farr can be also triggered by infection.

It was originally thought that Vulcans could only mate with Vulcans, but Vorik of Voyager pursued B'Elanna Torres during his pon farr, and T'Pol said she simply needed to mate with someone - anyone. The birth of Mr. Spock to a Vulcan father and a human mother, as well as the existence of an offspring of T'Pol and Trip Tucker in an alternate timeline, indicates that it is possible for Vulcans to conceive children with non-Vulcans, although this was initially thought to be impossible.

When Vulcans first experience pon farr has not been revealed; T'Pol, who was in her 60s when she experienced her premature pon farr, told Dr. Phlox that "it wasn't time", but it is not known if this means she had never experienced it previously. It has been suggested that bonding triggers the pon farr cycle.

When Spock experienced pon farr, it was made clear that only contact with his mate, T'Pring, would be sufficient for him to survive the condition. It's possible that some bondings are more powerful than others, allowing for no substitution. In Spock's case, however, his pon farr condition evaporated after he supposedly killed James Kirk and T'Pring announced her intention to wed another man (in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time"). There is little canon reference to Vulcans having siblings, with the exception of Spock, who has a half-brother, Sybok, (introduced in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), and Tuvok from Voyager, who has four children, each seven years apart. Canon has never firmly established whether pon farr is a prerequisite for conceiving children. Until T'Pol underwent a virus-induced pon farr in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Bounty", it was not known for certain that Vulcan females actually experienced it; T'Pring showed no apparent signs of the condition in "Amok Time".

Although it has been mentioned several times in the canon that pon farr occurs every seven years, it has never been established if this is truly a recurring event or only happens a limited number of times. There is, for example, no canonical reference to Spock ever experiencing pon farr again after the events of "Amok Time".

Vulcan males and females are capable of engaging in sexual relations outside of pon farr.

Mental abilities

Many Vulcans are contact telepaths and have been observed taking part in a number of telepathy-related actions and rituals.

Mind Melds

A procedure known as a mind-meld involves physical contact with a subject (though instances of mind-melds without contact have been seen), making it possible to share thoughts, experience, memories, and knowledge with another individual. Vulcans can perform mind melds with members of most other species, most notably humans, with Captain Jonathan Archer being the first known human participant in such a ritual, in 2154. The Ferengi are one of the few races known to be impervious to the mind meld; mentally disciplined Cardassians may also be resistant to mind melds if properly trained (it is unknown if this potential ability is inherent to Cardassians, or if members of any race could be trained to resist a mind meld).

Mind melds have been used to erase memories (as Spock performed on Captain Kirk in the TOS episode "Requiem for Methuselah"). Mind melds can also allow more than one mind to experience memories and sensations and sometimes even interact with the memories (as seen in the Voyager episode "Flashback").

The use of the mind meld was taboo for a period of time, perhaps because by the time of Surak, Vulcans were using their telepathic abilities to kill, or because of the apparent transmission of the incurable condition Pan'aar Syndrome between mind-melders. However, it was later learned that Pan'aar is a condition passed on by melders who are improperly trained, and although the Vulcan government of the mid-22nd Century claimed it was incurable, in fact the condition can be remedied by an experienced melder. Within a week of the Kir'shara incident in 2154, the stigma against mind-melders was evaporating and sufferers of Pan'aar were being cured in large numbers. By the mid 23rd century, the mind meld had become a fully accepted part of Vulcan society, and was even used once to rejoin Spock's katra with his healed physical body (see below).

As originally depicted (in TOS), mind-melds were considered dangerous and potentially lethal. Over the course of the original series, however, this detail was quickly forgotten, although it was revived on Enterprise with the revelation that Pan'aar Syndrome can be transmitted this way.

For a number of years it was held that not all Vulcans are genetically capable of initiating a mind-meld, such as T'Pol of Enterprise. However, the overthrow of the Vulcan High Command in 2154 revealed that this is not the case, and T'Pol conducted her first mind meld soon after.

It is also not known if all Vulcans possess contact telepathy, since very few have been shown on screen demonstrating this ability. However, it has been stated (most recently in the Enterprise episode, "The Aenar") that Vulcans, on the whole, have some degree of telepathic ability.

Some Vulcans appear to have advanced mental abilities. Mr. Spock was once able to briefly control the mind of a prison guard, for example. He was also able to perform a limited mind meld with a Horta without actually making physical contact with the being (TOS episode "The Devil in the Dark"). It's possible that Spock's abilities may have been unique as no other Vulcan has to date demonstrated this ability.


When Vulcans mate, a form of psychic bond is created between the partners. The specifics of this have yet to be fully explained in canon.

In the fourth season of Enterprise, as she began to explore her newfound mental powers, T'Pol discovered that she was experiencing a psychic link with Charles Tucker, sometimes over a range of many light-years during Tucker's brief posting aboard Columbia. This link was so strong that it rendered Tucker the only male aboard Enterprise rendered immune to the mind-control powers of a group of Orion slave girls who tried to take over the ship. (Episode: "Bound") T'Pol deduced that she and Tucker established the link when they mated (as seen in "Harbinger"), however it is not known if the actual act of sexual coupling formed this link or if other factors (such as T'Pol's Trellium D-affected mental state at the time) came into play.


Some Vulcans appear able to "cheat the grave" by implanting their katra -- essentially their living essence or spirit -- into an object or another person, via a form of mind-meld, just prior to death. The history and mechanics of the katra have never been discussed in great detail in canon. It was known at the time of Surak, and Surak successfully transferred his essence into a "katric ark" which remained hidden for 1,800 years until it was recovered by a Vulcan named Syrran in the 22nd century (Earth time). Syrran melded with the ark and received Surak's katra, which guided him into creating the Syrrannite movement which fought to restore Surak's teachings to Vulcan but was labelled a terrorist group by the Vulcan High Command.

Syrran was fatally wounded by a lightning strike while escorting Jonathan Archer and T'Pol of the Earth Starfleet vessel Enterprise across a desert region called The Forge in 2154 prior to a short-lived conflict between Vulcan and Andoria. Syrran conducted a forced mind-meld on Archer and implanted the katra of Surak into Archer's mind before he died.

For a brief time, Archer found himself communicating with the long-dead Surak, and Surak began controlling - or at least strongly influencing - Archer's actions. Surak's katra was so strong that it resisted efforts to be transferred into T'Pau, but once the Syrrannites overthrew the Vulcan High Command, the katra allowed itself to be transferred into a Vulcan elder. The ultimate fate of the katra (and Surak's spirit) remains unknown.

Katras have been referenced several other times in Star Trek lore, and it is indicated that even by the 24th Century not all Vulcans believe in them. It appears that only Vulcans of strong mental abilities are able to transfer their katra.

Katras can, on rare occasions, be returned to the body, effectively bringing an individual back from the dead. Such was the case with Mr. Spock who (in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) implanted his katra into the mind of Leonard McCoy prior to sacrificing his life to save the U.S.S. Enterprise. (Such was the strength of Spock's mental abilities that he was in fact able to function normally for several minutes despite depositing his "soul" elsewhere. This is actually very similar to a base premise of the later TV series Dead Like Me which shows people acting normally for a time despite their souls already having been removed.) Following Spock's death, McCoy began exhibiting Vulcan-like behavior and was, briefly, institutionalized. It was later discovered that Spock's body came to a rest on the Genesis Planet after his burial and space, and was regenerated. He was recovered and was taken with McCoy to Mount Seleya on Vulcan where a Vulcan elder performed a ritual which removed the katra from McCoy and implanted it into Spock's regenerated body.

Subsequently, Spock recovered, although it took some time to retrain his mind to the point where it was prior to his "death". Eventually Spock's original memories apparently reasserted themselves and he resumed his duties in Starfleet.

According to the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy comic book, (which isn't considered canon) if a katra stays in a foreign mind for too long, the personality of the host will start to merge with that of the katra, causing insanity. When the two personalities become intertwined, the katra cannot be removed, as happened to T'Prell, who died and gave her katra to her Romulan friend Selke, who was then captured and used as a spy for the Tal Shiar before she could return T'Prell's katra to Vulcan. There is some canonical support to this notion, however, as both McCoy and Archer experienced negative reactions to carrying their respective katras, and McCoy's sanity was at issue during his experience.


When Vulcans experience extreme emotional trauma, a ritual known as the Fullara can be performed by elders. The mechanics of the Fullara have yet to be fully explored in canon. T'Pol of Enterprise underwent the procedure at the P'Jem sanctuary c.2136 following a mission for Vulcan Intelligence in which she was forced to shoot and kill a fleeing prisoner. The act of killing face-to-face caused T'Pol to experience a nervous breakdown and the only way for her to remedy this was to undergo the Fullara, which restored her emotional balance, but left her with no memory of the killing or her emotional state thereafter. Years later, the effects of the Fullara were undone when T'Pol was reminded of these events (in the episode "The Seventh"), resulting in a near-emotional collapse that was prevented in part by the presence of a trusted friend (Jonathan Archer). It has been noted that T'Pol's increased emotional state, noted in many later episodes of the series, began in earnest from this point. The ritual is considered to be obsolete, but it has not been made clear what, if anything, took its place. The fact that the benefits of a Fullara can be compromised as illustrated with T'Pol suggests a possible reason why the ritual is no longer practiced.

It has been speculated that Spock might be shown performing a form of Fullara on Captain Kirk at the end of the TOS episode "Requiem for Methuslah" when his friend is in a state of emotional devastation and Spock conducts some form of mind-meld (the results of which are not revealed).


Vulcans practice a form of acupressure known as neuropressure, which involves massaging and manipulating muscles and nerve centres on the body in order to relieve stress. Neuropressure is considered an intimate act, as some of the postures involved are pseudo-sexual in nature and can elicit responses similar to sexual arousal and even climax (as demonstrated by T'Pol in the episode "The Xindi" when Trip Tucker inadvertently triggers such a response). Specialized training is required in order to properly administer neuropressure, otherwise injury to the recipient can result.


Emotion and maturity

Vulcans, as a matter of custom and policy, suppress all emotional influence by living lives of rigid emotional self-control through meditative techniques and training of mental discipline. It is incorrect to say that Vulcans have no emotions; although they themselves make this claim, Vulcans are in fact a very emotional people and have learned to suppress these emotions because of the damage they can cause if unchecked. The advanced ritual of Kolinahr is intended to purge all emotion. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Spock was unable to complete this ritual. Some Vulcans, such as T'Pol, Ambassador Sarek, and Ambassador Soval, carry their emotions close to the surface and are prone to emotional outbursts, even without outside influences or illness; there is some evidence to support the hypothesis that Vulcans in close contact with humans for an extended period of time may become more emotional than Vulcans who do not (i.e. T'Pol and Soval), but established canon has yet to make a definitive case for this.

Some Vulcans have chosen not to follow the path of pure logic, and have instead chosen to embrace emotions. A group of renegade Vulcans who believed in this was encountered in the Enterprise episode "Fusion", while Spock's half-brother, Sybok (seen in the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) was also fully emotional. An episode of Enterprise entitled "E2" featured an elderly T'Pol in an alternate timeline who had embraced emotion and allowed her half-human son, Lorian, to do likewise.

Many Vulcan children have pets, most notably domesticated sehlats, which are ferocious man-eaters in the wild. Both T'Pol and Spock had sehlats as children. Although one might consider keeping pets an emotional or even sentimental practice, it isn't viewed as such on Vulcan, and may instead be viewed as a practice to instill a sense of responsibility and maturity.

The speed at which a Vulcan matures "emotionally" (for lack of a better term) seems to vary. It has been established that, with a lifespan of more than two centuries, a Vulcan as old as 100 Earth years will still appear, and be considered, relatively young. Vulcans as young as their 30s and even 20s have been shown in mature roles in their society and acting older than their apparent ages (i.e. T'Pau, Mr. Spock). T'Pol, a Vulcan in her 60s, on the other hand, is still somewhat nave and innocent compared to other Vulcans and acts very much like a rational woman in her 20s.

Family and rituals

Traditionally, Vulcans place high importance on family, placing the will of their family above their own.

Vulcans practice arranged marriage, in which a male and a female are usually matched as children, only to officially marry at a later date. Following the marriage, it is customary for the female to remain on Vulcan for at least one Vulcan year before conducting off-world travel (presumably in order to sire offspring), though it is possible for the female to defer this requirement until a later date, upon negotiation with the male's family. The state of pon farr is not required for marriage to occur.

A Vulcan female can challenge the proposed bonding by calling for koon-ut-kalifee (spellings vary), in which a challenger for marriage engages the bonded male in a fight to the death. Alternately, the bonded male has the option of rejecting his intended bride and choosing another. It is acceptable for a male to "release" his mate from marriage (effectively the same as a divorce). It isn't known yet whether females have the same option.

The canon has not firmly established a timeline for Vulcan marriages. Spock was in his 30s (at least) before he was called to Vulcan for his marriage ceremony ("Amok Time"), while T'Pol was in her late 60s by the time her own marriage occurred, which she had put off for several years in order to remain aboard Enterprise.

It is customary for Vulcan children to undertake the kahs-wan ritual (sometimes spelled kaswahn), in which they are left to fend for themselves in the desert. Not all children survive the ordeal. T'Pol of the Enterprise NX-01 underwent the ritual, while Tuvok of Voyager experienced a variation known as the tal'oth. The kahs-wan was first introduced in the animated series episode "Yesteryear" in which Spock's experience as a child was detailed; however, as the animated series is not considered canon, it has yet to be "officially" stated that Spock experienced the ritual.

Contrary to the Vulcan image of expressing no emotion, family bonds can be strong and affectionate just as they are for humans. Tuvok expressed his love for his wife on a few occasions (without actually using the term), Sarek openly expressed affection for both his human wives, and a clear bond of love existed between T'Pol and her mother, T'Les. In addition, Vulcans also value close friendships, even with more emotional beings as attested to by the relationship of Spock and James T. Kirk, and others.


The treatment of Vulcan names has been erratic throughout Trek's history. Originally, the original series established that male Vulcans had names beginning with "S" and ending with "k"; some non-canon sources have suggested that the rule was the names had to be five letters long and one syllable, though such a rule was never made canon. Female Vulcans, meanwhile, were said to have names beginning with "T" followed by an apostrophe. The earliest reference to Vulcan names following a set pattern dates back to a May 3, 1966 memo from Original Series producer Robert Justman to Gene Roddenberry (later reprinted in the book The Making of Star Trek) in which Justman recommended that all Vulcan names begin with SP and end with K and have exactly five letters.

Beginning with the Star Trek movies of the 1980s and continuing to today, a greater variety of names have been given to Vulcans beginning with other letters of the alphabet, such as Tuvok, Koss, Mestral, Valeris, and Xon to name a few (Xon being a Vulcan character created by Gene Roddenberry for his aborted Star Trek: Phase II series in the 1970s). There have also been numerous examples of female Vulcans possessing S...k formatted names or variations thereof, such as Saavik and Sakonna. There has been at least one case of a male Vulcan with a T' name. It has been suggested that the S...k and T' form of naming might reflect class distinctions.

Vulcans have only ever been identified in the Trek canon by one name, however the Original Series episode "This Side of Paradise" has a scene in which Leila Kolomi says to Spock, "You never told me if you had another name." Spock replies: "You couldn't pronounce it." This suggests that Vulcans do have second names, though to date none have been revealed in canon.


Vulcans are vegetarians. They do not like to touch their food with their hands, preferring to use utensils whenever possible. It is a Vulcan custom for guests in the home to prepare meals for their hosts. Vulcans generally do not drink alcoholic beverages, though they will "indulge" on special occasions.

Vulcans in Starfleet

Missing image
T'Pol, following her resignation from the Vulcan High Command and before joining Starfleet

The first Vulcan to serve in Starfleet was former Subcommander T'Pol, who received the rank of Commander and served aboard Enterprise NX-01 during the mid-22nd Century, following her resignation from the Vulcan High Command. After spending a decade aboard Enterprise, she apparently continued to serve in Starfleet following the decommissioning of the NX-01 in 2161, coinciding with the founding of the United Federation of Planets and the introduction of Warp 7-capable starships (episode: "These Are the Voyages...").

In an alternate timeline (seen in the episode "Twilight"), she was promoted to Captain and commanded Enterprise for several years, although it has yet to be established whether a similar promotion occurs in the real timeline.

The best-known Vulcan to serve in Starfleet was Mr. Spock, who served aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-A under Captains Captain Christopher Pike and James T. Kirk. Spock eventually rose to the rank of Captain, briefly commanding the NCC-1701 when it was used as a training vessel.

There is a misconception that Spock was the first Vulcan to serve in Starfleet (a fact seemingly contradicted by T'Pol's appointment). In fact, an examination of all Star Trek: The Original Series episodes and films failed to uncover any such reference, though Spock may have been the first to attend Starfleet Academy. During the time of The Original Series, an entire Federation starship of Vulcans, the Intrepid, was destroyed.

Vulcans appear many times in later series, including Voyager's Chief Tactical Officer Tuvok and Engineer Vorik. Both served under Captain Kathryn Janeway during her seven years in the Delta Quadrant. In other references, Dr. Selar, a Vulcan female, served as a physician aboard the Enterprise-D, while several Vulcan Starfleet officers appeared on Deep Space Nine. At least two Vulcan Starfleet admirals have appeared in TNG and DS9.

Martial Arts

Although generally adhering to a philosophy of non-violence, Vulcans have developed their own martial arts and techniques of hand-to-hand combat. Vulcan martial arts are highly ritualistic, and based on philosophy, similar to Terran counterparts such as Karate. The most extreme example is the "koon-ut-kalifee" or fight to the death, described earlier.

Many Vulcans are skilled in a self-defense technique known as the "Vulcan nerve pinch" or "neck pinch", which targets a precise location on the neck, rendering the victim unconscious (sometimes instantly, sometimes after a short delay depending on the subject). Although the mechanics of the pinch have never been explained in on-screen canon, it has been speculated that it can be done by applying pressure over baroreceptors of the carotid sinus at the base of the humanoid neck though other fanon speculations exist involving Vulcan mental abilities. While practiced mainly by Vulcans, it is not exclusive to their race; for example, Data and Jean-Luc Picard have also mastered the technique, the latter probably acquiring it during his mind-meld with Sarek. Likewise, Jonathan Archer learned the technique as a result of receiving the katra of Surak though it remains to be seen whether his knowledge of it will continue following the removal of the katra.

The "Vulcan Death Grip," referred to in the original series, was a lie concocted by James Kirk and Spock and doesn't really exist.


By the 23rd century, Vulcans had adopted strong ethics that included a taboo on telling falsehoods. There are numerous examples of this taboo being broken by the likes of Mr. Spock (who characterized it as "an exaggeration" in Star Trek II) and by Lt. Valeris who willingly deceived her superiors in Star Trek VI.

In the 22nd Century, Vulcans, as a rule, also lived by the ethic of telling the truth, however were very willing to lie when necessary. Early in the fourth season of Enterprise, Captain Archer says "Vulcans can lie with the best of them", with the Vulcan High Command's cover-up regarding a secret listening post at P'Jem often cited as a prime example. T'Pol, although initially hesitant to tell falsehoods, eventually began to embrace the idea that telling lies was sometimes necessary, though she also began to lie to her captain regarding her Trellium-D addiction. Following the "kir'shara" incident, T'Pol began to adopt more of Surak's teachings, presumably including the prohibition on lying, though it has yet to be seen whether this will be the case.

Views by non-Vulcans

  • Tom Paris of the U.S.S. Voyager once said that Vulcans are "all a bunch of hypochondriacs".
  • Vulcans are the subject of a popular 24th century Ferengi holosuite program called Vulcan Love Slave. The possibility that the program might have been inspired by an encounter between a Ferengi and T'Pol in the 22nd century (in the Enterprise episode "Acquisition") is, at the moment, speculation. In that incident (which occurred prior to the official first contact between Earth and the Ferengi), a group of Ferengi hijacked the NX-01 and T'Pol pretended to be a seductive slave of Captain Archer's in order to trick a Ferengi pirate into dropping his guard long enough to be rendered unconscious by a nerve pinch.
  • Vulcans are also the subject of a popular children's story, "The Laughing Vulcan".
  • In the 22nd century, Humans resented Vulcans for being reluctant to share their superior technology. The Human terrorist group Terra Prime particularly resented Vulcans' lack of intervention in World War III and the Xindi crisis.
  • 'Vulky' was 24th century slang for anything only a Vulcan would find interesting. The term has only been used to date by a holographic human teenager who associated with (holographic) Klingons, making it uncertain whether the term is of human or Klingon origin or an artifact of a holoprogram.



The Vulcan race are thought to be the descendents of a colony from Sargon's planet, with settlement of Vulcan occurring in approximately 500,000 BCE. At some point, the settlers seem to have lost their technology and reverted to barbarism.

It is speculated on the official website ( that a species that was known on Earth as the gods of ancient Rome or the gods of ancient Greece traveled to ancient Vulcan, thus influencing both those that would later become Romulans as well as those who remained on Vulcan. Vulcans subsequently practiced a form of paganism; this can be seen in gods of war, peace, and death depicted on the Stone of Gol, as well as the celebration of Rumarie. (The DVD commentary for "Amok Time" says that TOS writer D.C. Fontana named the Vulcan god of death "Shariel"; a bust of whom is seen in Spock's quarters.)

In about 850 BCE, Vulcans established a monastery on the planet P'Jem.

In about the 4th century CE, Vulcans emerged under a philosopher named Surak from their violent tendencies and civil wars. Surak advocated the suppressing of emotion in favor of logic. This period was known as the Great Awakening and much of present-day Vulcan philosophy emerged from this period. This lifestyle was not universally accepted, and a portion of society left Vulcan for the stars. These would eventually become known as the Romulans. Knowledge of the common ancestry of Romulans and Vulcans would obscure into myth over the millennia, and while some Vulcans had direct dealings with the Romulans in the 22nd Century, the common ancestry would not become widely known until the mid-23rd Century.

According to the Star Trek: New Frontier book series (which is not considered canon), the Great Awakening caused many wars and conflicts to occur amongst various Vulcan tribes; those who supported Surak's cause would become separated from friends and even close family members who did not. For cases in which parents were separated by this, a ritual was created called the ku'nit ka'fa'ar, a battle to determine which parent would maintain their child.

Despite the acceptance of Surak's teachings, generations of imperfect copies of his writings, combined with changes in the Vulcan language over time resulted in a diluted form of the culture he instituted.

Pre-Federation interstellar activity

Vulcans did not recover from the effects of barbarism and turn much of their attention to space travel for 1500 years. What would later become known as the Vulcan High Command was formed to orchestrate space exploration, but it ended up seizing control of Vulcan government. The Vulcans fought a hundred-year war with the Romulans at some point, and it was possibly at this time that the High Command assumed sovereignty over Vulcan affairs. (The date for the war is unrevealed, but it was over by 2044.)

In 1930, Spock of Vulcan was one of three Starfleet officers from the 23rd Century who travelled back in time to Chicago, Illinois. To date, this is the earliest confirmed contact between humans and Vulcans, although in the Vulcan timeline it occurred long after First Contact. Spock would also briefly travel to earth c.1968-69 on a mission, and again in 1986. (Technically speaking, these three events occurred after the founding of the Federation, but are included here as they constitute pre-First Contact encounters with contemporary humans.)(Episodes: "City on the Edge of Forever" and "Assignment: Earth")

Vulcan first contact with the Andorian race was promising, but relations soured in time. The threat of mutual annihilation existed as early as the 1950s.

In 1957, the launch of Sputnik I, Earth's first artificial satellite, was observed by a Vulcan vessel that subsequently crashed on the planet, marooning several crewmembers for a number of months; this constituted the first true contact between humans and Vulcans; however it was never recorded as such as the humans were unaware of the alien nature of their guests. One Vulcan, Mestral, chose to stay on Earth; his fate has yet to be revealed.

In 2044 the Romulans and Vulcans suspended hostilities in their hundred-year war. It is unclear whether the two groups knew they were fighting their kinsmen.

In 2053 the Vulcans made first contact with the Arkonians.

On April 5, 2063 Vulcans and Humans made official first contact following the successful test of Earth's first warp-powered starship. See Star Trek: First Contact.

In 2097 the Vulcans annexed the Andorian planetoid Weytahn and renamed it Pan Mokar.

In 2105 The Vulcans and Andorians agreed to a compromise over the planet Weytahn/Pan Mokar. Still, tensions continued due to the threat of mutual annihilation.

In 2151, Subcommander T'Pol joined the crew of the Earth Starfleet vessel Enterprise NX-01, within a couple of weeks setting a Vulcan endurance record for serving aboard a human vessel. In 2154, T'Pol became a commissioned officer with Starfleet.

Return to Surak's teachings

In May of 2154, the Vulcan High Command considered a proposal for Vulcans and humans to conduct joint space exploration missions. V'Las, head of the High Command and undercover agent for the Romulans, bombed the United Earth Embassy on Vulcan and attempted an invasion of Andoria. He was foiled by the crew of the Enterprise NX-01. During these events, the Kir'Shara, a device containing the original writings of Surak, was discovered by Jonathan Archer. This led to the prompt dissolution of the High Command and a reevaluation of traditional values. It also resulted in Vulcan agreeing to stop "looking over Earth's shoulder" in space exploration matters.

On August 12, 2161, Vulcan became one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets.

Separate Vulcan societies

  • The inhabitants of Mintaka III (seen in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation) have been described as a 'proto-Vulcan race'. What their relation is to Vulcans is not clear, though they seem to have similar physical attributes.
  • In the Star Trek: Early Voyages comic book series (which is not considered canon by Paramount, along with all other comic books), a colony of Vulcans exists which was settled before the teachings of Surak and has since lost contact with the Vulcan homeworld. These Vulcans had built gigantic weapons into the crust of their planet, weapons of amazing destructive power which had been conceived of on Vulcan, but never came to fruition there due to Surak's teachings.
  • As mentioned earlier in this article, the Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcan race. They left Vulcan and started their own society rather than adhere to Surak's teachings.


The Vulcan language has developed so much over time that writings from the era of Surak required translation to be understood upon discovery in 2154.

The Vulcans appear to have three written languages; two of which which can be used separately or in combination with each other:

  • The most common script on Vulcan resembles a vertically-written chromatic scale, having a central staff line on which vertical spirals and horizontal dashes are written, along with dots in various combinations. While no official translations for these symbols exist, it is assumed that the dots and dashes represent consonants and the spirals are the vowels. The script is written in vertical columns from top to bottom, left to right (like Mongolian).
  • The second script written in the same direction consists of swirly curved symbols (like Japanese hiragana). It is assumed that these symbols are also phonetic, perhaps syllabic or consonantal. The first two scripts can be used separately or in combination with each other. When this is the case, the swirl symbols accompany the staff writing symbols as annotation written to the right of the staff.
  • A third script consists of rectangular blocks cut into geometric shapes. They have only ever been seen on the hulls of some Vulcan ships and bear no relation to the first two scripts.

Vulcans are fluent in English, usually speaking it with an American-like accent, though occasionally British and Slavic accents have been heard. There is some debate among fans, however, as to whether the accent heard isn't a creation of the universal translator used at the time. The character of T'Pau, for example, speaks with only a faint accent as a young woman (as seen in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Awakening"), yet by the time she is an elder (as seen in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time"), she speaks with a thick accent. It has been pointed out that humans have been known to change accents over the course of a lifetime, so the same may hold true for Vulcans; although the difference in accents may just have been the result of a different model of Universal Translator.


Missing image
Blessing Gesture that was Inspiration for Vulcan hand gesture
  • Leonard Nimoy felt that the Vulcans represented the Jewish people (to which he belongs), and he invented the famous "live long and prosper" Vulcan hand gesture (palm forward, fingers pointing up, separate the middle finger and the ring finger) based on the hand symbol used by kohanim.
  • Green Lantern - In an issue of DC Comics' Green Lantern series, an obviously Vulcan character appeared as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He had pointed ears, spoke 'logically', and he had a brief conversation with Hal Jordan (Main character of the series) which ended with a "live long and prosper" and the famous hand gesture.
  • Over the years, writers and fans have created their own ideas about Vulcan culture, which have not always been supported by canonical sources (the TV series and movies). One of the more unusual is a suggestion which originated in the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home that Vulcans are immune to the effects of alcohol, but instead can become inebriated by ingesting chocolate. Until a TV series or movie confirms this, however, this quirk is considered fanon only.
  • One element of Vulcan physiology for which no canonical explanation has yet been offered is the change of appearance some Vulcans were seen to undertake, particularly with relation to their arched eyebrows. In "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Spock is seen with sharply arched eyebrows, yet for the remainder of The Original Series, the arch was far more subtle and in later film appearances was virtually nonexistent. Similarly, both Saavik and T'Pol were seen to have human-like eyebrows in their early appearances, yet in later adventures were seen with more traditionally arched eyebrows. It has also been noted that the appearance of Spock's ears also changed slightly at times during TOS.

See also




it:Vulcaniani ja:バルカン (スタートレック) nl:Vulcan (Star Trek) pt:Vulcano (Star Trek)


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