Star Trek: Season 1, Episode 18

Arena (19 Jan. 1967)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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Reviews: 15 user | 9 critic

For bringing hostility into their solar system, a superior alien race pits Captain Kirk in single combat against the murderous reptilian captain of an alien ship he was pursuing.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Jerry Ayres ...
Lieutenant Kelowitz
Tom Troupe ...
James Farley ...
Lt. Commander Lang
Carolyne Barry ...
Metron (as Carole Shelyne)


When an alien race known as the Gorn destroys an Earth colony, the Enterprise pursues the fleeing Gorn vessel until another race of powerful aliens called the Metrons intervenes and forces Captain Kirk and the Gorn captain to face off in one-on-one combat in which the winner will be released and the loser destroyed along with his ship and crew. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Official Sites:



Release Date:

19 January 1967 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Metrons (Carolyne Barry) were named after Metatron. God's other high-ranking soldier in Michael's army of angels. Hence, their cherubic, spiritual appearance. See more »


The supposedly heavy boulder Kirk struggles to roll onto the Gorn shakes quite a bit. See more »


[first lines]
Captain James T. Kirk: You'll enjoy Commodore Travers. He sets a good table.
Dr. McCoy: I wonder if he brought his personal chef along with him to Cestus III.
Captain James T. Kirk: Probably. Rank hath its privileges.
Dr. McCoy: [they both chuckle] How well we both know that!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are set against a combination background of stills from that episode and previous episodes. See more »


Referenced in The Big Bang Theory: The Transporter Malfunction (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Kirk's instinctive revulsion to Reptiles
10 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is the one with Kirk battling a captain of an enemy ship; this other captain happens to resemble a man-like lizard. He or it hisses at Kirk and even speaks, promising a quick, merciful death - it certainly feels cold-blooded. It's based on a fairly famous short story by sf author Fredric Brown, though Gene Coon conceived the piece thinking it was original. That's because it's such a primal, simple plot which almost any writer could come up with: the essence of warfare is distilled down to the most basics of just two individuals, who go at it mano-a-mano (see also the TV Movie from 1970, "The Challenge"). Though this episode is one of Trek's best action stories, it's also a commentary on the needlessly huge casualties which occur during a war: why sacrifice thousands of individuals when an issue could be solved by the death of just one? This story kind of points out that maybe our nations, instead of engaging in traditional war, should just send our best soldiers or leaders; let them fight it out, thereby saving many other lives. It sounds pragmatic, or maybe too clinical; either way, when it becomes as personal as it does here, the results may not be as expected.

The episode begins at a shattered Federation outpost. The Enterprise was called over to the planet by a bogus call. There's some impressive set design here for a TV show; the outpost, though wrecked, still looks neat, with vaguely Roman-like architecture (catch those two globules at the entrance, representing symbols of the Federation). This episode also touches on a concept not addressed much in all the Trek shows: the possible intrusion by the expanding Federation into another civilization's space. Suppose we find a planet with no intelligent life; we begin colonization; then, several months later, we find out another society has laid claim to this region of space a year earlier. What happens now? The answer suggested here by Spock is - bring on the diplomats. In the 3rd act, everything shifts to an asteroid, where Kirk meets his deadly-looking opponent - the sudden shot introducing the Gorn still sends shivers down my spine, even if it is a man in a suit. The Gorn was revamped much later on the "Enterprise" show with computer FX, but I still prefer this slow-moving version. Kirk can outrun the Gorn, but the lizard-man is much stronger; it's an interesting contest. Kirk's solution in finding a method of killing the stronger enemy is a bit too pat, but nonetheless exciting.

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