Sure, Tribbles are cute, but they’re also terrifying. They’re rabid consumers, they make Klingons jumpy, they constantly multiply, and they enslave us with their cuteness and incessant trilling. As Spock observed, “They remind me of the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. But they seem to eat a great deal.” But are they the apex consumer? Here are six voracious Star Trek aliens to challenge those greedy Tribbles.
The Borg first arrive in the Star Trek universe in The Next Generation episode “Q Who?” They are cybernetic humanoids that share a hive mind known as the Collective. They consume technology, biology, and individualism in an aggressive quest for perfection. Unlike Tribbles, who enslave humans with cuteness, the Borg assimilate you and take all the best toys for themselves.
Yes, the Borg are the stuff of Federation nightmares. They travel the universe in giant silver cubes of intimidation, while the Tribbles traveled in Cyrano Jones‘ linty (and probably sticky) jacket pocket. Consumption makes a bigger and fluffier Tribble, but assimilation makes a better, more advanced Borg, making the Borg the more successful consumer.
In The Original Series‘ (TOS) two-part episode “The Menagerie,” the Talosians are on the edge of extinction after a nuclear war. Unable to use their former technology, the surviving Talosians use their godlike psychic powers to satisfy their appetite for entertainment. They capture travelers, read their thoughts to create illusionary worlds for their “guests,” and then consume the drama. The Talosians see themselves as benevolent jailers providing their captives a life of illusionary pleasure, but they’re basically telepathic reality show fans.
Kind, but misguided, the Talosians’ possess terrifying psychic and telekinetic powers. Realizing Earthlings abhor captivity, the Talosians release Captain Pike. Though they show compassion to Pike, their captivating illusions and sophisticated palate set the Talosians above the clueless Tribbles.
The Crystalline Entity
In TNG episode “Datalore,” the crew find Lore, Data’s formerly unknown brother. Once aboard the Enterprise, Lore betrays the crew by contacting the Crystalline Entity, an enormous twinkling snowflake that lives in space. It consumes all organic life, and Lore has rung the dinner bell.
The Entity seems unsurpassable in both quantity and variety of consumption. It’s able to live in the harsh vacuum of space. Tribbles can consume shocking amounts of valuable grain, but they cannot live in space or devour all life on a planet. In an eating contest, the Crystalline Entity would have to be the favorite.
Captain Kirk, Bones, Spock, and some surplus redshirts investigate the deaths of 50 miners on Janus VI in TOS episode, “The Devil in the Darkness.” They discover the Horta, a silicon-based organism resembling a Rock-type Pokémon. It’s responsible for the miners’ deaths, but things don’t add up — the Horta consumes rock, not miners.
After a mind meld with the Horta, Spock uncovers the truth: the Horta killed the miners to protect its young. The Horta consumes solid rock quickly, creating large, smooth tunnels, which the Janus VI miners can use. The miners and the Horta come to a mutually beneficial agreement to live and work peacefully together. Unlike the lazy Tribble, this unusual consumer works for its supper.
Species 8472 can consume you from the inside out. Their devouring process starts on a cellular level. Once their DNA invades an organism, it consumes the victim’s cells transforming them into Species 8472. In Voyager’s two-part episode “Scorpion,” the Borg are losing ships and homeworlds to Species 8472s’ superior organic technology and imperviousness to Borg assimilation.
Poor CG quality failed to bring this alien to life visually, but Species 8472 was a consumer so fierce that it forced the Federation and the Borg into an uneasy alliance. Like the Tribbles, Species 8472’s consumption multiplies their numbers. However, when Tribbles multiply, you just get more Tribbles. When Species 8472 does it, it furthers their plans for domination.
Creature M-113, nicknamed the “salt vampire” by fans, consumes the salt from other organisms causing their deaths. M-113 is able to read minds and use a person’s memories to appear as someone they know. In TOS episode “The Man Trap,” the creature, desperate for salt, uses its unique ability to appear as a face familiar to its victim to make the Enterprise its hunting ground. As the redshirts pile up, suspicion falls on the salt vampire.
Hunter or hunted? It’s a matter of perspective; M-113 is the last of its kind and consumes to survive. When Dr. McCoy destroys the creature, we feel an emptiness at the loss of this siren-like consumer who lured its prey with a friendly and familiar face. Creature M-113’s skills of deception make it a far more formidable consumer than the simple Tribble.