Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Eleven “The Terratin Incident”

Stardate: 5577.3 (2269)
Original Air Date: November 17, 1973
Writer: Paul Schneider
Director: Hal Sutherland       

“We’ve got twenty-nine minutes before we’re too small to operate ship controls!”

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Enterprise approaches the burnt out remains of the supernova Arachna, with the goal of surveying and measuring its radiation and volume expansion. As Uhura informs Starbase 23 that the Enterprise has arrived at the gas cloud and is beginning mapping activities, a strange radio transmission (an intersat code which has been out of use for centuries) and it comes from the satellite Cepheus, a place which does not have any documented life forms. Kirk decides to investigate the situation.  

As they approach Cepheus, there is a sudden “spiroid radiation” event that damages the dilithium crystals as the entire crew begins physically shrinking. Soon, the crew will be too small to operate ship’s controls. Sulu falls from his station and breaks his leg. With time running out and panic running high, Kirk beams down to the planet to find a tiny city. And much to his surprise, the use of the transporter has allowed his body to return to its normal form.

They meet the small leader of this Lilliputian city: Mendant of the Terratins. Mendant explains that the Terratins are descendants of a long-lost earth colony which was once called “Terra Ten.” And they have now shrunk to the size of Lilliputians due to the planet’s plethora of Spiroid epsilon waves. The Enterprise takes as many dilithium crystals as it can, before rescuing the city of the Terratins. The Enterprise plans to transport them to Verdanis, a beautiful planet with a fertile well-watered plain, which is located 10 days distance away.

My Thoughts on “The Terratin Incident”

“The Terratin Incident” has a few interesting ideas –a rapidly shrinking crew and an abandoned Federation outpost on a remote planet—however this is also a bit of a dreary episode. “The Terratin Incident” is one of a few episodes of TAS in which the transporter is used to successfully reconfigure characters following a crisis –“The Lorelei Signal” is another episode that comes to mind. Anyway, as a reader of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, I just didn’t find much of substance here.


Paul Schneider (1923-2008) was the writer of TOS classics “Balance of Terror” and “The Squire of Gothos.” The idea for this story came from a one-paragraph idea Gene Roddenberry created based on Gulliver’s Travels.

Star Trek Trivia:

  • The Enterprise crew have been technically shrunk two other times in TOS: “Catspaw” and “Requiem for Methuselah.”
  • Aside from voicing his usual crewmen for the Animated Series, James Doohan also voiced Mendant of the Terratins.
  • In addition to Uhura, Nichelle Nichols also briefly voiced another Starfleet officer named Briel.  
  • Director Hal Sutherland (1929-2014) directed all episodes of the first season of TAS. He gained early career recognition working on large Disney animation movies before switching to Filmation where he worked on TAS, as well as Flash Gordon, Batman, and Superman animated shows. Notably, pink is a recurring color in TAS. This is because Sutherland was colorblind and thought he was actually selecting the color grey.

Click here to return to my survey of the Star Trek series.

1 thought on “Star Trek TAS: Season 1, Episode Eleven “The Terratin Incident”

  1. Even if an animated episode may have been easier for Trek to do for this kind of story, seeing how they could have done it in live action would have been interesting. With all the CGI achievements of today it would of course be easier. For any sci-fi story to make us consider that size does matter and certainly for what we’ve becoming adaptively dependent on, this one made a good impression on me when I was a kid. Thank you for your review and trivia.

    Liked by 2 people

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