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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.


Gerd Oswald


Barry Trivers, Gene Roddenberry (created by)




Episode complete credited cast:
William Shatner ... Capt. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy ... Mr. Spock
Arnold Moss ... Anton Karidian
Barbara Anderson ... Lenore Karidian
DeForest Kelley ... Dr. Leonard McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney ... Yeoman Janice Rand
Nichelle Nichols ... Lt. Uhura
William Sargent William Sargent ... Dr. Thomas Leighton
Natalie Norwick ... Martha Leighton
David Somerville David Somerville ... Larry Matson (as David-Troy)
Karl Bruck Karl Bruck ... King Duncan
Marc Grady Adams Marc Grady Adams ... Hamlet (as Marc Adams)
Bruce Hyde ... Kevin Riley


Captain Kirk is informed by his old friend, Dr. Thomas Leighton, that the head of a Shakespearean acting troupe (known as Anton Karidian) was once known as "Kodos the Executioner". Having seized power as Governor of Tarsus IV, Kodos had 50% of his colony (4000+ people) killed when the food supply was destroy by an infestation, rather than have so many starve, not knowing that help was en route. Of the nine witnesses who could potentially identify Karidian as Kodos, only Kirk, Leighton, and a young crewman on the USS Enterprise, Kevin Riley (whose family was killed on Tarsus IV), survive. Kirk dismisses Leighton's accusations until the latter turns up murdered, and Riley almost dies of poisoning while alone in an engineering sector where no one else is present, which Riley and others view as some sort of punishment although it was really Kirk's misguided attempt to protect Riley. The other eyewitnesses have all died. Spock tells Bones that on each occasion the acting troupe was in ... Written by Tony-B4 (updated by Rms125a@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Both Arnold Moss and Barbara Anderson, despite their rich and dulcet tones so well-suited to the Shakespearean roles they play in this episode, were born in Brooklyn, New York. 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 prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise does make frequent references to DNA identification. See more »


Lenore Karidian: So, the captain of the Enterprise... Interesting.
Captain James T. Kirk: So, Lady Macbeth... Interesting. What's your next move?
See more »

Alternate Versions

One notable change is in the scene in which Kirk and Lenore are talking in a corridor with a window to outer space. In the original, when a camera on the left is facing right focused on Lenore there are stars outside the window. But when a camera stage right is facing left focused on Kirk, there are no stars. This is fixed in the remastered version in which there are now also stars outside the window behind Captain Kirk. See more »


Featured in Bring Back... Star Trek (2009) See more »


Beyond Antares
Music by Wilbur Hatch
Lyrics by Gene L. Coon
Performed by Nichelle Nichols
Harpsichord by Marl Young
Guitar played by Laurindo Almeida
See more »

User Reviews

Hamlet and Nazi war crimes
2 June 2009 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

I really wasn't sure what to call this review, so I figured I'd just call it what I thought the whole thing was about.

What we have here is a classic criminal investigation using a theatrical technique to recreate the theme of whatever crime it was that was committed. The idea is to get the suspect/perpetrator to emotionally connect with their alleged criminal act. The concept is an old one. The astute viewer, particularly one familiar with Shakespeare (Edward de Vere's works) will note Hamlet's "the play's the thing..." concept, and how said notion is cleverly injected into this episode.

Most of the episode is a murder mystery a-la a PBS episode with Diana Rigg. But, unlike WGBH's production, we're not given hints nor clues as to who is doing what. It's part of the ingenuity of this episode as the audience is shown apparent evidence for inferred correlation. As such the audience isn't really challenged to figure out who is doing what, but presented a twist without realizing it.

The theme is lifted from the criminal investigations that continue to this very day as of this writing, concerning the heinous acts of mass murder by the Nazi regime prior to the ending of the second world war. What is stronger? Peronsal ties or societal obligation? And what are the personal ramifications on a personal basis when two sets of right and wrong collide? Can anyone, so divided, exist and retain their sanity? This episode explores those themes, and offers a possible outcome. It is an interesting exploration, and an interesting writing exercise.

A respectable episode. Enjoy.

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Greek | English

Release Date:

8 December 1966 (USA) See more »

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Color | Color (Technicolor)

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