The blue-skinned Andorians are one of the most distinctive species in the “Star Trek” universe. Though the appearance of the species has changed significantly from show to show, a few characteristics have remained consistent. Andorians have small forehead ridges, a pair of antennae, white hair and bright blue skin.
The Andorians were first introduced in the episode “Journey to Babel” from “Star Trek: The Original Series.” Veteran “Star Trek” writer Dorothy Fontana created the species specifically for the episode.
Her original notes revealed little about the species, though they did reveal why they were blue. However, her explanation is very different than the reason that became part of the “Star Trek” canon.
The Behind the Scenes Reason
When “Star Trek” was brand new in the 1960s, the writers got the opportunity to create new species all the time. Each of the different species that fans are familiar with today was created from scratch by the writers. In fact, many of them were created by Fontana herself.
Often, these new species were born from an interesting concept or makeup idea. This was the case with the Andorians.
A makeup and costume memo Fontana wrote for “Journey to Babel” stated, “Andorians are pale blue. Because.”
Fontana didn’t include much more information about the Andorian physiology, other than their antennae, or provide a further reason for their distinctive appearance. Few details were included about their culture either, with the exception of the fact that they were fierce warriors.
The Canon Reason
For decades, the Andorians were rarely seen in “Star Trek” shows. They made a couple of appearances in “Star Trek: The Animated Series” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” but were completely absent from both “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” One likely reason for the lack of Andorians was the complicated makeup, which was both costly and time-consuming.
Because the Andorians appeared so rarely, there weren’t any opportunities to learn about their physiology or culture until “Star Trek: Enterprise.” Showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga decided that they wanted to bring the Andorians back in the prequel show and make them a major part of the series. They worked with the visual effects department to completely redesign the makeup and antennae. The result was a much more believable and striking species.
Bringing the Andorians back also meant expanding their backstory and making them a more complex species. According to “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” the “Enterprise” writing staff, with Fred Dekker taking the creative lead, was tasked with creating all the details about the Andorians that were left out of the previous series. They fleshed out the Andorian physiology, psychology, and culture episode by episode.
In one of the Andorian-centric episodes, “United,” the Andorian’s blue skin was finally given a canonical explanation. During that episode, Lieutenant Talas was fatally wounded. The blood from her wounds was the same shade of blue as her skin. This suggests that the Andorians’ skin is somewhat translucent, allowing the pigment of the blood to show through.
This canonical explanation doesn’t fit with the physiology of other alien species in the Trekverse. The Vulcans and Romulans have green blood, but their skin doesn’t reflect the color of their blood. Klingons usually have red blood, though in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” they inexplicably have pink blood. Klingon skin color is almost always brown, with the exception of the Albino in DS9 and the albinos in “Star Trek: Discovery.” So, their skin doesn’t reflect their blood color either.
In humans, skin color has nothing to do with the color of the blood. According to the Smithsonian, human pigmentation is the result of melanin. The more melanin, the darker the skin, the less melanin the lighter the skin. Since Vulcans, Romulans, and Klingons all have skin colors that have nothing to do with the color of their blood, it follows that their skin color is the result of an alien equivalent of melanin. If the Andorians really do get the color of their skin from their blood, it follows that their skin doesn’t have its own pigmentation.
However, this explanation doesn’t even make sense within the canon created by “Enterprise.” In the episode “The Aenar,” a subspecies of Andorians called Aenar were discovered by Shran and Archer. They were considered a myth by most Andorians since they were isolated to the harshest environments of the planet.
The Aenar have white skin with just a hint of blue in it. They were described as “albino Andorians,” which implies that their skin lacked pigmentation entirely. Since the Aenar evolved from the Andorians, this suggests that the Andorians do, in fact, have pigmented skin. So, the color of their blood shouldn’t impact the color of their skin.
Whether it makes sense or not, the established in world canon is that Andorians’ blue blood makes their skin blue. Of course, the real reason is that Fontana just felt like making a blue alien.
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