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:
William Sargent ...
Dr. 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

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8 December 1966 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Lenore Karidian was born in 2247. See more »


While Star Trek anticipated a number of technological and scientific innovations, it apparently failed to predict DNA testing, which could have resolved the question if the body burned beyond recognition found on Tarsus IV was indeed that of Kodos the Executioner. The precursor series, Star Trek: Enterprise, does make frequent references to DNA and DNA identification. See more »


Mr. Spock: You've got to pull him through.
Dr. McCoy: I'm not sure I can.
Mr. Spock: If he dies, the only one who'll able to identify Kodos is the captain, and he'll be the next target.
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Theme From Star Trek
Written by Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

Is He Kodos the Executioner or just an Actor?
1 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is another example of a Trek episode where Capt. Kirk temporarily abandons his usual mission (exploring) and goes off on a personal vendetta (see the recent "Dagger of the Mind" and the much later "Obsession") - but it's very personal in this one. On the surface, it may seem trivial because larger questions concerning the galaxy are placed aside, but we become very involved in Kirk's private quest here. The episode is basically a mystery: is a traveling Shakespearean actor just what he seems to be or is he really the ex-governor of a failed colony, where, 20 years earlier, 4000 people had been put to death on his orders? We are left guessing for most of the episode. Will this turn out to be a false quest, a morality tale on the pitfalls of revenge? Or will this suspect truly be revealed as a mass murderer, causing Kirk to phaser him into oblivion? This episode also has an interesting set design for a futuristic house on another planet and a nice rendition of a song 'Beyond Antares' by Uhura (Nichols).

I would think guest star Moss had a field day with his role in this one; his specialty in real life were Shakespearean plays. He acts out Macbeth here, the story of which carries eerie parallels to the character he plays in this episode, and Hamlet, which parallels scenes in the actual episode. His voice is magnetic and his confrontation scene with Kirk as they parry verbally remains one of the better ones during this Trek season. Anderson, as his daughter, also holds her own in a strangely beautiful role. The episode is filled with nice touches

  • catch the very brief one as Yeoman Rand (Whitney) passes Anderson's
character in the turbolift. It's also telling that Spock, for all his usual annoyance with McCoy, runs to him when he notices the captain being edgy again. There's a key scene with Kirk, Spock and McCoy which sums up this trinity's relationship. Finally, we have Riley (Hyde) back again in his second and last appearance (after "The Naked Time"). It's an ironic form of justice that Riley ends up demoted to the lower decks in the engine room, where he caused all that trouble in his previous appearance. A rather haunting conclusion caps this foray into space intrigue.

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