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"The Cage" was the first pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. The episode was written by series creator Gene Roddenberry and directed by Robert Butler. After being filmed by Desilu Studios, the episode was rejected by the NBC television network, remaining unaired until a film print of the episode was found and specially aired in syndication on the week of 4 October 1988, during a gap in scheduling of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes created by a writer's strike. Despite being unaired during the initial decades of the Star Trek franchise, the story was familiar to fans as portions of the episode were included in the two-part TOS episode: "The Menagerie". A photomontage comic version of the story was adapted for Star Trek's 50th anniversary in a special unnumbered issue of New Visions by John Byrne.

"The Cage" depicts one of the earliest missions of the USS Enterprise comes in the aftermath of its visit to the planet Rigel VII. Under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, the Enterprise sets course for Vega colony to undergo repairs, but is contacted by a mysterious distress call.


A primitive radio wave distress signal emanating from the SS Columbia, a survey ship believed lost 18 years earlier, would normally persuade Captain Pike to alter course and investigate the signal. But the Enterprise's last mission has left him deeply troubled following the loss of three crewmen. He confides to the chief medical officer, Dr. Phillip Boyce, that he is contemplating resigning from Starfleet and return to his home town of Mojave on Earth, and possibly become a trader.

With the Enterprise having suffered losses, Pike's only concern is getting the starship to the Vega colony, but Lieutenant Spock speculates that there could be survivors from the Columbia still living on planet Talos IV. When a follow-up message confirms this as fact, Pike finally decides to alter course and head for the previously uncharted Talos star group.

After arrival in the system, Pike leads a landing party to the surface of Talos IV and discovers a group of old Human scientists from the American Continent Institute, led by Dr. Theodore Haskins, alive. Haskins then introduces Pike to a beautiful woman named Vina, who was born around the time of the crash on Talos. Vina offers to reveal their secrets to Pike, and she leads him away from the rest of the landing party. Unbeknown to Pike and his crew, they are being observed by the inhabitants of the planet, the Talosians.

Suddenly, Vina and the other crash survivors disappear, and Pike is rendered unconscious by a weapon. The Talosians appear from below the surface and take Pike underground. When he regains consciousness, he finds himself locked in a cage and being observed by three Talosians. The Talosians are a telepathic race who have created the elaborate illusion of the crash survivors and the distress signal to lure Pike and the Enterprise to the planet.

Using Pike's memories, the Talosians create two scenarios for Pike. In the first scenario, Pike is a trader who, while negotiating a deal, observes Vina performing an erotic dance as an Orion slave girl. The second scenario depicts Pike's battle with the Kaylar on Rigel VII, but this time Vina is with him as a princess that needs saving. Pike resists the illusions, and instead tries to obtain as much information from Vina as possible.

Eventually, Pike discovers that the Talosians can't read primitive emotions such as anger and hatred, so he builds up a state of intense anger at the Talosians to block their control of his mind and halt Vina's advances. However, the Talosians read this as a lack of interest in Vina, and so intercept the transporter beams of Number One and Yeoman Mia Colt to his cell as new candidates to be "Eve" to his "Adam".

Pike's mission to escape finally pays off when one of the Talosians enters the cage in order to obtain the landing party's laser pistols. Realizing that the Talosians have created the illusion that the pistols don't work, Pike holds a Talosian hostage and demands that his party is set free. However, Vina warns Pike that the Talosians have the ability to create illusions aboard the Enterprise which would lead the crew to destroy the ship.

Realizing that the Enterprise could be at risk, Spock, in temporary command, orders the starship to leave orbit and move out of range, but the Talosians create the illusion of complete power failure and the Enterprise is stuck in orbit. Meanwhile, on the surface the stand-off between Pike and the Talosians continue and they reveal that Vina is a disfigured woman who crashed on the surface and was treated by the Talosians. Having no template to work from, they reconstructed her in her present form, but grant her the illusion of remaining beautiful.

The stand-off ends after the Talosians scan the Enterprise's computer banks and discover that Humans would not be suitable as a race of slaves to help them rebuild their world, and that they would resist captivity. The Talosians allow Pike and his party to leave, but Vina must remain on the surface to maintain her image of beauty. Pike is at first concerned with leaving her alone, but the Talosians create an illusory Captain Pike to be her companion.

Returning to the Enterprise, Pike realizes that, although he has his dreams and fantasies, his place is being in command of a Federation starship.



Episode characters

Phillip BoyceJ. Mia ColtGarrisonTheodore Haskins (illusion)Number OneChristopher PikeNils PitcairnSpockTango (illusion)José TylerValdiniVinaSam YamataTalosian MagistrateAnthropoid ApeKaylar (illusion)unnamed 2250s USS Enterprise personnel
Referenced only 
AdamBuzz AldrinMontgomery BlairSalmon P. ChaseDwight D. EisenhowerEveStonewall JacksonLyndon B. JohnsonJohn F. KennedyJacqueline KennedyRobert E. LeeAbraham LincolnMosesSam RayburnWilliam H. SewardCaleb B. SmithGeorge WashingtonGideon WellesHumans (illusory)Starfleet personnel (illusory)

Comic adaptation characters

Phillip BoyceJ. Mia ColtGarrisonTheodore Haskins (illusion)Number OneChristopher PikeNils PitcairnSpockTango (illusion)José TylerValdiniVinaSam YamataTalosian MagistrateAnthropoid ApeKaylar (illusion)

Starships and vehicles

USS Enterprise (Constitution-class heavy cruiser)
Referenced only 
Apollo spacecraftUSS Baron de KalbUSS Black Hawkcadet shipUSS CincinnatiSS Columbia (survey ship) • USS LouisvilleUSS Monitorspace shuttleCSS VirginiaWright Flyer


Referenced only 

Shipboard areas

USS Enterprise 
bridgebriefing roomcorridorengine roomquarters (Captain Pike's) • transporter room

Planetary locales

AfricaAlaskaAleutian IslandsAnchorageAntarcticaArabian SeaArctic CircleAsiaAtlantaAtlantic OceanAustraliaBeijingBering SeaBering StraitBikini AtollBristol BayCanadaCentral AmericaDelawareEuropeFairbanksFort HindmanGulf of AlaskaHawaiiHimalayasHokkaidoHong KongHonshuHoustonInternational Date LineJapanJuneauKoreaKyotoKyushuLos AngelesMarylandMexicoMidway IslandNew OrleansNorth AmericaNorth PoleOsakaPacific OceanPoint BarrowPortlandSan FranciscoSeattleMojaveSouth AmericaSouth PoleTokyoTropic of CancerVirginiaWake IslandWashington, DCWhitehorseYosemite FallsYukon RiverAlbaniaTiranaAndorraAustriaViennaBelarusMinskHomyelBelgiumBrusselsBosnia and HerzegovinaSarajevoBulgariaSofiaCroatiaZagrebCzech RepublicPragueDenmarkCopenhagenEstoniaTallinnFaroe IslandsTórshavnDenmarkFinlandHelsinkiFranceParisBordeauxLilleLyonMarseilleToulouseGermanyBerlinCologneFrankfurtHamburgMunichGibraltarUnited KingdomSpainGreeceAthensGuernseyFranceHungaryBudapestIcelandReykjavikIrelandDublinIsle of ManItalyRomeGenoaMilanNaplesPalermoTurinJerseyLatviaRigaLiechtensteinLithuaniaVilniusLuxembourgMacedoniaSkopjeMaltaVallettaMoldovaChişinăuMonacoMontenegroPodgoricaNetherlandsAmsterdamNorwayOsloPolandWarsawKrakówŁódźPortugalLisbonPortoRomaniaBucharestRussiaMoscowAnadyr'Arkhangel'skAstrakhan'BarnaulChelyabinskChersklyChitaIrkutskIzhevskKazan'KhabarovskKrasnoyarskMagadanMurmanskNizhnly NovgorodNoril'skNovosibirskOmskOrenburgPerm'Petrapavlovsk-KamchatskyPevekProvidenyaRostovSaint PetersburgSamaraSaratovTiksiTomskTyumen'UfaUl'yanovskVladivostokVolgogradVoronezhYakutskYaroslavl'YekterinburgSan MarinoSerbiaBelgradeSlovakiaBratislavaSloveniaLjubljanaMadridBarcelonaBilbaoMálagaSevilleValenciaSvalbardLongyearbyenArctic OceanNorwaySwedenStockholmSwitzerlandBerneUkraineKyevDonets'kKharkivL'vivOdesaLondonBelfastBirminghamGlasgowLeedsVatican City
Rigel VII 
Zemtar Fortress

Planets and planetoids

Talos IV
Referenced only 
EarthLunaMarsMercuryRigel VIIJupiterSaturnVega colonyVenus

Stars and systems

Talos Prime
Referenced only 
NGC 602RegulusRigelSolVegaV838 Monocerotis

Astronomical regions

Alpha QuadrantMilky Way GalaxyTalos star group
Referenced only 
Andromeda GalaxyPleiades ClusterSmall Magellanic Cloud

Races and cultures

HumanOrion (Orion slave girl) • Rigellian (Kaylar) • TalosianVulcan

States and organizations

American Continent InstituteConfederate States of AmericaFederationOrion ColoniesStarfleetSoviet UnionUnited States of America



anthropoidavianchickenflyfox squirrelgnugreat egrethorsekudulionfishtunawildebeest


daisyflowermapleroseTalosian singing plantviola

Technology and weapons

altimeterarmoratomic bombbatterycannoncircuitcommunicationscommunicatorcomputercomputer bankdeflector shieldgamma-ray spectrometerhyperdrivelaserlaser cannonlaser pistollaser weaponmacemeteoroid beammicrorecordnuclear weaponpenpistolpower generatorradioradio-interference distress callreflex hammerrocketswordstarshiptapetelevisiontransporterviewscreenwristwatchUSS Enterprise (NCC-1701) library computerwarp drive

Space probes and satellites

Atlas-AgenaExplorer S-55Mariner 2Nimbus 1Orbiting Geophysical ObservatoryOrbiting Solar ObservatoryPioneer 5RangerRanger 5Ranger Block IRanger Block IIInternational Space StationSaturn VSoyuzVostok 1

Substances and phenomena

alcoholelementgasicelightliquidmetalnitrogenoxygenradio wavemagnetic field

Food and beverages

alcoholdaisymartinisugarcoffeesandwichchickentunachicken tuna sandwich


American Civil WarAmerican RevolutionBattle of Fort HindmanBattle of Hampton Roads

Ranks and titles

cadetcaptainchief medical officerchief petty officercommanding officercrewmandoctorenlistedhelmsmanlieutenantnavigatorofficerpresidentPresident of the United States of Americascience officertechniciantransporter chiefyeoman

Other references

22362254Adam and EvealienanimalApollo programassassinationastronomyatmospherebartenderThe Blue Marblebraincanyoncaveclass M planetclipboardclothingcolonydiaphragmdistress calldrinkEarthriseEmancipation Proclamationemotionevasive maneuverseyeFederation Starfleet ranksFederation Starfleet ranks (2240s-2260s)first contactFirst Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincolnfoodforced landinggall bladdergeologygeological lab reportgeologistglassesgovernmentGray's Anatomyhathateheadachehearthelmhullhumanoidintestinelanding partyThe Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson at ChancellorsvillelifeformliverlunglunchmeteoroidmileMoses Showing the Tables of the Law to the Peoplemusclesnation-stateoptic nervepicnicplanetplanetary classificationplantpolar orbitproberaces and culturesrankred alertreportregistryribsciencescientistshore leaveskullspeed of lightspectrographystarstar chartsatellitestar groupstar systemStarfleet uniformStarfleet uniform (2240s-2265)stomachsuicideTangotelepathytechnologyTen Commandmentstime barriertime-warp speedtime warp factortitleuniformUSSuniversewarp factorweapon


Related media


Video releases


Because of the color print of the episode being edited as footage for TOS episode: "The Menagerie", it was long assumed that the original was lost in its entirety, and when it came time to release the episode in home-video formats such as the burgeoning VHS market, a 20th anniversary hybrid print was created in 1986, combining the color material included in the master cut of "The Menagerie" with lower-grade black-and-white material that was part of an exhibition copy of the episode. A movie poster style painting was created for the home market release, unusual among the episodes which usually only had generic artwork on the covers. This was thought to be the only version of "The Cage" that would ever be seen until full-color footage was recovered from the studio and a complete print was transferred for release. Because of the writers' strike of 1988, the cut of the episode was broadcast for the first time in that year to fill empty timeslots during the hiatus of Star Trek: The Next Generation, making this first pilot film the last true TOS episode to air, over 20 years after the premiere of the series. Along with the special presentation airing, a new all-color video release was made on VHS and LaserDisc.


Episode images

Episode character images
Episode location images
Episode technology and weapon images
Episode display images

Adaptation images


Media featuring Christopher Pike
Episodes and movies The Original Series The CageThe Menagerie
Movies Star TrekkStar Trek Into Darknessk
Discovery Will You Take My Hand?BrotherNew EdenPoint of LightAn Obol for CharonSaints of ImperfectionThe Sound of ThunderLight and ShadowsIf Memory ServesProject DaedalusThe Red AngelPerpetual InfinityThrough the Valley of ShadowsSuch Sweet Sorrow
Short Treks Q&AThe Trouble with EdwardAsk Not
Novels Killing TimeaEnterprise: The First AdventureVulcan's GloryLegacyThe RiftWhere Sea Meets SkyBurning DreamsA Less Perfect UnionaThe Children of KingsChild of Two WorldsDesperate HoursThe Enterprise War
Short stories "Conflicting Natures" • "A Private Anecdote" • "Sins of the Mother" • "The Greater Good"m
Comics Early Voyages "Flesh of My Flesh" • "The Fires of Pharos" • "Our Dearest Blood" • "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" • Cloak and Dagger (12) • "The Flat, Gold Forever" • "Immortal Wounds" • "One of a Kind" • The Fallen (12) • "Futures, Part One" • "Future Tense" • "Futures" • "Now and Then" • "Thanatos" • "Nemesis"
Starfleet Academy "Return to the Forbidden Planet" • "A Prelude to War"
Crew "Shadows of the Past" • "The Ends of Eternity"
other "All Those Years Ago..." • "To Walk the Night" • "Door in the Cage" • Alien Spotlight Alien Spotlight, Volume I (VulcansOrions) • Mirror Imagesm (1245) • Spock: Reflections, Issue 2Star Trek Movie Adaptationk (23456) • Captain's Log: PikeAftermath (123)
k : Kelvin timelinem : Mirror Universea : alternate reality


published order
Previous episode:
first episode (pilot)
TOS episode produced Next episode:
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Previous episode:
Turnabout Intruder
TOS episode aired Next episode:
last episode aired
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Final Frontier
Chapter 14 - McCoy flashback
Pocket Next Adventure:
Burning Dreams
Chapter 15, Sections 10-12; Chapter 7, Section 10; Chapter 15, Section 13
Previous Adventure:
Nor Iron Bars a Cage
The Early Voyages of the
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
Next Adventure:
The Rift

External links