Star Trek (1966–1969)
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The Conscience of the King 

While Captain Kirk investigates whether an actor is actually a presumed dead mass murderer, a mysterious assailant is killing the people who could identify the fugitive.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Arnold Moss ...
Barbara Anderson ...
William Sargent ...
Dr. Tom Leighton
Natalie Norwick ...
Martha Leighton
David Somerville ...
Larry Matson (as David-Troy)
Karl Bruck ...
Marc Grady Adams ...
Hamlet (as Marc Adams)
Bruce Hyde ...


Captain Kirk is informed by his old friend, Dr. Thomas Leighton, that the head of a Shakespearean acting troupe on his world was once known as Kodos the Executioner. As Governor of Tarsus IV, Kodos had most of his colony killed when food supplies ran short rather than have so many starve. The only surviving witnesses to his actual appearance are Kirk, Leighton, and a young crewman on the Enterprise. Kirk dismisses Leighton's accusations until he turns up murdered, and his young crewman nearly so. The head of the Shakespearean acting troupe, Anton Karidian denies that he's Kodos. Is he telling the truth? If so, who's behind the murders? Written by Tony-B4

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

8 December 1966 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This takes place in 2266. See more »


The drama hinges on the idea that if "the last few eyewitnesses" die, then the knowledge of what Kodos looked like will be lost. But Kirk easily orders up Kodos' mug shots and voice prints to compare with Anton Karidian. See more »


Enterprise Computer: Kodos the Executioner. Summary: Governor of Tarsis IV twenty Earth years ago. Invoked martial law. Slaughtered 50% of population Earth colony that planet. Burned body found when Earth forces arrived. No positive identification. Case closed.
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Beyond Antares
Music by Wilbur Hatch
Lyrics by Gene L. Coon
Performed by Nichelle Nichols
Harpsichord by Marl Young
Guitar played by Laurindo Almeida
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User Reviews

Kodos or Karidian?
6 May 2009 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

While not one of the strongest episodes (the plot's developments are fairly obvious from the start), The Conscience of the King is an intriguing little mystery tale, with good work from William Shatner and guest star Arnold Moss.

The episode begins with Kirk and his crew being summoned by the captain's old friend, Dr. Charles Leighton (William Sargent), who is, along with Kirk, the last survivor of a massacre perpetrated years ago by Kodos the Executioner. The reason he has requested Kirk's presence is that he believes Kodos has returned, posing as a Shakespearean actor named Anton Karidian (Moss). While Karidian's company performs in front of the Enterprise crew, someone sets out to kill Leighton and Kirk, leading the latter to grow suspicions of his own and discovering there is no record of Karidian's existence prior to Kodos' alleged death. The question is: will he do the right thing and, most important, will he be able to do so before it's too late?

The story is a pretty straightforward one, with no genuine surprises, but it allows the writers to show us one of Kirk's primary characteristics, namely his great sense of duty and everlasting determination to do the right thing. Despite the lack of subtlety in how the mystery plays out, Moss is also an interesting presence as Karidian, particularly since his role and the numerous references to Shakespeare (including the show's title) allow for a quite witty and postmodern examination of what it means to be an actor, a term which has a sinister double meaning this time around.

Oh, and last but not least, this episode is another sign of how Star Trek has influenced American popular culture: the green, slimy alien Kodos, well known to fans of The Simpsons, was named after Kodos the Executioner. What's not to love?

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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