The blue-skinned Andorians are one of the oldest non-human species in both Star Trek history and the history of the Federation. The Andorians were introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series second season episode “Journey to Babel.” The script for the episode was written by Star Trek veteran D.C. Fontana.
In that script, Fontana described the Andorians for the first time.
“They are humanoids, tall and quite slim. If at all possible, the ears will be played down (taped back?), but there are two delicately tapered antennae curling from the head. Despite their almost fragile bodies, Andorians are a fierce warrior breed. Their dress indicates this to some extent, and will include a vicious looking bladed weap, which is carried for use and not ceremony. Andorians are pale blue. Because.”
Though this general description of the Andorians holds true through all of the Star Trek series, significant changes were made to the Andorians when they reappeared in Star Trek: Enterprise.
Andorians in TOS
Even in TOS, the Andorians had several different looks. In “Journey to Babel,” their appearance was relatively simple. All visible skin was covered in pale blue makeup. Two antennae protruded from the head, toward the back of the crown. A white hairpiece with very distinctive V-shaped bangs covered the head. The short bob of the hairpiece was similar to the hairstyle of the Romulans.
In the TOS movies, the Andorians changed with each appearance. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Andorians had very long antennae that protruded from the center of the crown instead of the back. Their skin tone was a darker shade of blue. The distinctive hairstyle was gone, though the hair was still white. The forehead was fully visible with small but distinct forehead ridges that weren’t present in “Journey to Babel.”
In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Andorians changed yet again. The antennae were short again and they’d moved farther back on the crown of the head. The forehead ridges were more prominent and ridges on the bridge of the nose were added. The skin tone was lightened but was still darker than the Andorians in TOS. The hair was still white, but long instead of the characteristic cut of TOS. Though these Andorians made it to the makeup tests, they weren’t included in the movie.
Why were the Andorians constantly changing? Essentially it came down to logistics.
For “Journey to Babel” the Andorians were a completely new species, which meant that makeup designer Fred Phillips had to make something up on his own. Unfortunately, he wasn’t given very long to do that. As he told Cinefantastique Magazine in 1970, the short timeline forced him to “pull it outta [his] hat.”
According to the book Star Trek Aliens and Artifacts, Phillips hand-sculpted the Andorian antennae from modeling clay, which was wrapped around more rigid material. He used thread spools covered in clay for the end of each antenna. The antennae were attached directly to the unique wig. It was definitely a very DIY character design.
By the time Star Trek: The Motion Picture was in production, Phillips had much more time to design the look of the Andorians and try out different makeup applications. As revealed in the book The Making of Star Trek The Motion Picture, Phillips spent quite a bit of time testing new Andorian looks on his daughter, who was also his apprentice. These new makeup designs likely helped inform the makeup tests for the Andorian God in Star Trek V.
Andorians in ‘Enterprise’
The species didn’t reappear in the Star Trek universe until the prequel show, Star Trek: Enterprise. According to the book The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, Enterprise writer Fred Dekker was the driving force behind bringing back the Andorians. He wanted to lean into the prequel element of the show by calling back to the first interactions between Starfleet and familiar TOS species.
However, showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga didn’t like the idea. They didn’t want to bring in too many elements from TOS. Additionally, both Berman and Braga hated the way the Andorians looked.
Braga was the first to have a change of heart. He began to view bringing them back as a fun challenge. As he put it in Star Trek: Communicator, he wanted to “take the goofiest aliens from The Original Series and make them a real culture that’s cool and believable.”
Updating the Andorians with a brand new look became was very important to the Enterprise showrunners and makeup artists. Everyone was very aware of the fact that the Andorians had multiple looks, all of them a bit silly because the makeup and prosthetics weren’t as advanced in the earlier shows and movies.
Veteran Star Trek makeup designer and artist Michael Westmore took on the task of redesigning the Andorians. He told Star Trek: The Magazine in 2002 that his goal was to “modernize” the Andorians to make them more “believable” than the Andorians of TOS. The access to better quality makeup and prosthetics and updated makeup techniques was a key factor in achieving his goals.
Westmore’s Andorians had much more prominent forehead ridges which came down to their eyebrows. The eyebrows themselves were slightly turned up, almost Vulcan or Romulan-esque. Westmore hinted at the TOS Andorians by giving his Andorians slightly V-cut bangs, though the cut wasn’t as prominent. The antennae on Westmore’s Andorians protruded from the sides of the forehead rather than the crown of the head.
One of the brilliant choices Westmore made was the movable antennae. In the special features on the Enterprise season one Blu-Ray, the writers and producers credited Westmore with the idea and praised the choice. They also expressed how delighted they were with Westmore’s Adorian redesign.
In an interview with Trek Web in 2003, Jeffrey Combs, the actor who played General Shran of the Andorian Imperial Guard, explained how the antennae worked. They were actually mechanical devices that could be remote-controlled by a puppeteer. Combs said that the puppeteer consulted with him about each scene and together they decided how the antennae should move. They came up with distinctive movements for each emotion and action. This added incredible nuance to the Andorians and gave the actors a new way to express their characters.
Westmore succeeded in taking a silly-looking species from the 60s and updating it for the new Trek of the 2000s, which is exactly what Berman and Braga wanted.