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"How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth"

Episode 21

Written by: Russell Bates and David Wise

Directed by: Bill Reed

Airdate: Oct. 5, 1974

Stardate: 6063.4

The U.S.S. Enterprise encounters a ship in the shape of a winged serpent, which turns out to be Kukulkan, a god of ancient Mayan-Aztec legend. Kukulkan is actually a very long-lived benevolent entity who wants the humans to worship him just as the Mayans and Aztecs did.

Voice Credits:

Regular Characters:
Captain Kirk William Shatner
Mr. Spock Leonard Nimoy
Dr. McCoy DeForest Kelley
Scotty James Doohan
Lieutenent Uhura Nichelle Nichols
Lieutenent Arex James Doohan

Guest Characters:
Ensign Dawson Walking Bear James Doohan
Kukulkan James Doohan



  • This episode gets its title from a quote from Shakespeare: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child.", King Lear, Act I, Scene 4.
  • A Capellan power cat was seen in this episode. It presumably came from the planet Capella. That planet was the site of the original series episode "Friday's Child." (Also, in the episode, "The Counter-Clock Incident", Sarah April held a flower in her hand that was a native of Capella IV.)
  • This episode's plot of an ancient Earth god returning in the hopes of being once more revered by mankind was very similar to the storyline in the Original series episode "Who Mourns For Adonais?" This was an intentional homage by Russell Bates to Gene L. Coon, writer of "Who Mourns For Adonais?"
  • This episode was the first appearance of a Native American starship crewmember on STAR TREK, Ensign Dawson Walking Bear. As with the holodeck in "The Practical Joker", the Animated STAR TREK series was there first!
  • This episode's co-author Russell Bates is a Kiowa American Indian who began to write while hospitalized in the U.S. Air Force in the mid sixties. He later met Gene L. Coon and worked with him on The Name of the Game. Dorothy Fontana told him about the Animated Star Trek series being planned, and she asked him to submit a script. He submitted one entitled "The Patient Parasites" but it was rejected as being too close to a live film script. That script was later published in "STAR TREK: The New Voyages 2" (January 1978, Bantam Books). Russell Bates then collaborated with a young filmaker/animator David Wise on a second script. This second effort was approved and became "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth." The character of Ensign Dawson Walking Bear actually first appeared in one of Bates' earlier efforts, "The Patient Parasites." When converted into a short story for publication in "STAR TREK: The New Voyages 2", the character of Walking Bear was rewritten into Sulu.
  • This was one of two episodes not directed by Hal Sutherland, it was directed by Bill Reed.
  • This episode received top ratings for a children's show, got favorable comments and mail and went to The International TV Film Festival in Monte Carlo.
  • There is a page in this site that examines Kukulkan's Ship that was seen in this episode.
  • Kukulkan stated that he had visited the Mayan and Aztec cultures on Earth. Mayan culture lasted from 300-900 A.D., and Aztec civilization fluorished from 1100-1520. So Kukulkan must have stayed on Earth for several hundred years as he nurtured these civilizations. This conclusion was suggested by episode author Russell Bates.
  • This episode had a visual error: in an overview of the bridge, Uhura was shown as caucasian.
  • A Limited Edition Collectors Cel inspired by this episode was once available from Tuttle Enterprises. The cel was number ST-20.
    (Advertisement showing these cels, 142 KB gif).
  • A VHS video tape containing "How Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth" and "The Counter-Clock Incident" is available for purchase from, the online bookseller.
  • "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" was novelized by Alan Dean Foster in Star Trek Log Six published by Ballantine Books in March 1976. Also novelized in the book was "Albatross" and "The Practical Joker".


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