The Reason Why ‘Wrath of Khan’ Uniforms Didn’t Have Pockets Might Surprise You

Uhura, McCoy, and Sulu in “The Wrath of Khan”

Paramount Uhura, McCoy, and Sulu in “The Wrath of Khan”

For fans of “Star Trek,” Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future seems like something that might actually happen. Indeed, the advances in technology point in a direction foreshadowed by the various Trek shows are currently starting to happen. Gadgets like mobile phonestablet computersadvanced medical equipmenthologram technology were all seen on “Star Trek” long before they were introduced to consumers.  

There are quite a few folks working in science, technology, medicine, space travel, robotics, and other related fields, who credit “Star Trek” for inspiring them to work in those fields. A recent article by writer Teena Maddox for Tech Republic lists more than a dozen leaders in those fields who got interested after watching “Star Trek.” Among the companies represented are Ford, Qualcomm, Cisco, and Micron.

But one thing that “Star Trek” gave the world still has not caught on — clothes without pockets. Starting back on “The Original Series,” Roddenberry dictated that the crew of the Enterprise and the rest of humanity in the 23rd Century would not have pockets. 

In the “Star Trek” Writer/Director’s Guide 3rd Edition, Roddenberry (or possibly an assistant) details the following for the official dress for his crew:

“Except in exceptional circumstances necessary to a story, our crew is always dressed in ‘standard uniform’ or ‘dress uniform,’” wrote Roddenberry. “Unless an important story point, let us provide ‘fatigues’ and leisurewear as our budget permits.”

“Never have members of the crew putting things into pockets; there are no pockets,” wrote Roddenberry. “When equipment is needed, it is attached to special belts — as in the case of the communicator and phaser.”


Uniforms in Trek


Star Trek Uniforms Ranked Worst to BestOnce again doing an arbitrary ranking of something from the Star Trek universe. This time we take a look at the various Starfleet uniform designs which have appeared over the years. Patreon: patreon.com/rowanjcoleman​ Twitter: twitter.com/rowanjcoleman​ Discord: discord.gg/KBxKFQr​ Facebook: facebook.com/RJCFilms​ Special thanks to Patrons and Members :) #StarTrek #RowanJColeman2021-02-11T20:00:00Z

This is undoubtedly how “The Original Series” crew was treated. The pop culture site, The Take, detailed that “equipment was attached to Velcro belts worn at the waist. In the two seasons following, the belts disappeared, and Velcro patches were sewn directly into the actors’ pants, allowing the crew members to attach objects to their waists as if by some mystical, high-tech futuristic force; a cheap 1960s special effect.”

The Take also speculated that Roddenberry and the other Trek producers assumed that no pockets meant “a more futuristic look.” This was why the prequel series — “Star Trek: Enterprise” — allowed for pockets. 

According to Memory Alpha, crews active during this time had “several pockets, lining the legs, arms, and chest, with the pocket on the right bicep typically used to hold the wearer’s Communicator.”


Uniforms on ‘The Next Generation’


Star Trek: The Captains Summit (1 of 7)Join Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) as she hosts The Captains Summit. Whoopi sits down with Trek stars William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Patrick Stewart (Picard) and Jonathan Frakes. Whoopie Goldberg Interviews William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes. A Special Feature from the Blu Ray Movie Box Set. Buy Them Now. Join Whoopi…2018-02-11T16:38:21Z

But for “The Next Generation,” Roddenberry eliminated pockets again. While he didn’t specify that there would be no pockets in the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” writer/director’s guide, there were just a few occasions when fans saw pockets. One notable pocket wearer was Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and her lab coat. 

Thanks to a 2009 roundtable called “The Captain’s Summit,” host Whoopi Goldberg asked William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Patrick Stewart (Picard), and Jonathan Frakes (Riker) all about their different Trek experiences. 

Stewart and Frakes went on at length on their uniforms worked for Season 1 and 2.

“They designed these spandex suits,” said Stewart. “They were designed at least one size too small. Gene [Roddenberry] insisted that they were absolutely wrinkle-free and smooth. And the only way to achieve that was to have the thing too tight and too small.”

Frakes said they also had “stirrups” built into the uniforms to keep the fabric wrinkling. Nimoy noted that during the filming of “The Motion Picture,” the actors would receive a steam treatment to ensure smooth uniforms. 


Uniforms for ‘Wrath of Khan’


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Even though Roddenberry had created his vision of the future for live-action television, films, and even animation, director Nick Meyer was not a fan. In his director’s commentary, which is included in the 2009 Blu-ray release of “Wrath of Khan,” Meyer said that he never connected with “The Original Series” when it aired originally. 

He also mentioned that he was the one who caused the TMP uniforms to be redesigned and “made them more militaristic.” He said that he didn’t get Trek until he equated it with the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard, and then it made sense. 


Meyer Couldn’t Afford Pockets


Nicholas Meyers – Wrath of Khan Q & A (2014)Filmed at the Destination Star Trek 3 (2014) event, the writer/director of the Wrath of Khan held a Question and Answer session.2014-10-05T22:59:47Z

As detailed by Den of Geek, “Star Trek II” was made for a much smaller budget than “The Motion Picture” was. Many special effects sequences were recycled from the first film, and the production cut corners anywhere possible. That included pockets for Meyer’s uniforms. 

“God, I wanted them to have pockets in their trousers so that they could use them,” Meyer said. “But we didn’t have the money to put the pockets in. [It would] strike a certain attitude. It’s why cigarettes are in movies… so you have something to do with your hands.”

READ NEXT: The Canceled Sequel to ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’

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