"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.
- Phillip Boyce • J. Mia Colt • Garrison • Theodore Haskins (illusion) • Number One • Christopher Pike • Nils Pitcairn • Spock • Tango (illusion) • José Tyler • Valdini • Vina • Sam Yamata • Talosian Magistrate • Anthropoid Ape • Kaylar (illusion) • unnamed 2250s USS Enterprise personnel
- Referenced only
- Adam • Buzz Aldrin • Montgomery Blair • Salmon P. Chase • Dwight D. Eisenhower • Eve • Stonewall Jackson • Lyndon Johnson • John F. Kennedy • Jacqueline Kennedy • Robert E. Lee • Abraham Lincoln • Moses • Sam Rayburn • William H. Seward • Caleb B. Smith • George Washington • Gideon Welles • Humans (illusory) • Starfleet personnel (illusory)
Comic adaptation characters
- Phillip Boyce • J. Mia Colt • Garrison • Theodore Haskins (illusion) • Number One • Christopher Pike • Nils Pitcairn • Spock • Tango (illusion) • José Tyler • Valdini • Vina • Sam Yamata • Talosian Magistrate • Anthropoid Ape • Kaylar (illusion)
Starships and vehicles
- Referenced only
- Apollo spacecraft • USS Baron de Kalb • USS Black Hawk • cadet ship • USS Cincinnati • SS Columbia (survey ship) • USS Louisville • USS Monitor • space shuttle • CSS Virginia • Wright Flyer
- Referenced only
- USS Enterprise
- bridge • briefing room • corridor • engine room • quarters (Captain Pike's) • transporter room
- Africa • Alaska • Aleutian Islands • Anchorage • Antarctica • Arabian Sea • Arctic Circle • Asia • Atlanta • Atlantic Ocean • Australia • Beijing • Bering Sea • Bering Strait • Bikini Atoll • Bristol Bay • Canada • Central America • Delaware • Europe • Fairbanks • Fort Hindman • Gulf of Alaska • Hawaii • Himalayas • Hokkaido • Hong Kong • Honshu • Houston • International Date Line • Japan • Juneau • Korea • Kyoto • Kyushu • Los Angeles • Maryland • Mexico • Midway Island • New Orleans • North America • North Pole • Osaka • Pacific Ocean • Point Barrow • Portland • San Francisco • Seattle • Mojave • South America • South Pole • Tokyo • Tropic of Cancer • Virginia • Wake Island • Washington, DC • Whitehorse • Yosemite Falls • Yukon River • Albania • Tirana • Andorra • Austria • Vienna • Belarus • Minsk • Homyel • Belgium • Brussels • Bosnia and Herzegovina • Sarajevo • Bulgaria • Sofia • Croatia • Zagreb • Czech Republic • Prague • Denmark • Copenhagen • Estonia • Tallinn • Faroe Islands • Tórshavn • Denmark • Finland • Helsinki • France • Paris • Bordeaux • Lille • Lyon • Marseille • Toulouse • Germany • Berlin • Cologne • Frankfurt • Hamburg • Munich • Gibraltar • United Kingdom • Spain • Greece • Athens • Guernsey • France • Hungary • Budapest • Iceland • Reykjavik • Ireland • Dublin • Isle of Man • Italy • Rome • Genoa • Milan • Naples • Palermo • Turin • Jersey • Latvia • Riga • Liechtenstein • Lithuania • Vilnius • Luxembourg • Macedonia • Skopje • Malta • Valletta • Moldova • Chişinău • Monaco • Montenegro • Podgorica • Netherlands • Amsterdam • Norway • Oslo • Poland • Warsaw • Kraków • Łódź • Portugal • Lisbon • Porto • Romania • Bucharest • Russia • Moscow • Anadyr' • Arkhangel'sk • Astrakhan' • Barnaul • Chelyabinsk • Cherskly • Chita • Irkutsk • Izhevsk • Kazan' • Khabarovsk • Krasnoyarsk • Magadan • Murmansk • Nizhnly Novgorod • Noril'sk • Novosibirsk • Omsk • Orenburg • Perm' • Petrapavlovsk-Kamchatsky • Pevek • Providenya • Rostov • Saint Petersburg • Samara • Saratov • Tiksi • Tomsk • Tyumen' • Ufa • Ul'yanovsk • Vladivostok • Volgograd • Voronezh • Yakutsk • Yaroslavl' • Yekterinburg • San Marino • Serbia • Belgrade • Slovakia • Bratislava • Slovenia • Ljubljana • Madrid • Barcelona • Bilbao • Málaga • Seville • Valencia • Svalbard • Longyearbyen • Arctic Ocean • Norway • Sweden • Stockholm • Switzerland • Berne • Ukraine • Kyev • Donets'k • Kharkiv • L'viv • Odesa • London • Belfast • Birmingham • Glasgow • Leeds • Vatican City
- Rigel VII
- Zemtar Fortress
Planets and planetoids
Stars and systems
Races and cultures
States and organizations
- American Continent Institute • Confederate States of America • Federation • Orion Colonies • Starfleet • Soviet Union • United States of America
- anthropoid • avian • chicken • fly • fox squirrel • gnu • great egret • horse • kudu • lionfish • tuna • wildebeest
Technology and weapons
- altimeter • armor • atomic bomb • battery • cannon • circuit • communications • communicator • computer • computer bank • deflector shield • gamma-ray spectrometer • hyperdrive • laser • laser cannon • laser pistol • laser weapon • mace • meteoroid beam • microrecord • nuclear weapon • pen • pistol • power generator • radio • radio-interference distress call • reflex hammer • rocket • sword • starship • tape • television • transporter • viewscreen • wristwatch • USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) library computer • warp drive
Space probes and satellites
- Atlas-Agena • Explorer S-55 • Mariner 2 • Nimbus 1 • Orbiting Geophysical Observatory • Orbiting Solar Observatory • Pioneer 5 • Ranger • Ranger 5 • Ranger Block I • Ranger Block II • International Space Station • Saturn V • Soyuz • Vostok 1
Substances and phenomena
- alcohol • element • gas • ice • light • liquid • metal • nitrogen • oxygen • radio wave • magnetic field
Food and beverages
Ranks and titles
- cadet • captain • chief medical officer • chief petty officer • commanding officer • crewman • doctor • enlisted • helmsman • lieutenant • navigator • officer • president • President of the United States of America • science officer • technician • transporter chief • yeoman
- 2236 • 2254 • Adam and Eve • alien • animal • Apollo program • assassination • astronomy • atmosphere • bartender • The Blue Marble • brain • canyon • cave • class M planet • clipboard • clothing • colony • diaphragm • distress call • drink • Earthrise • Emancipation Proclamation • emotion • evasive maneuvers • eye • Federation Starfleet ranks • Federation Starfleet ranks (2240s-2260s) • first contact • First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln • food • forced landing • gall bladder • geology • geological lab report • geologist • glasses • government • Gray's Anatomy • hat • hate • headache • heart • helm • hull • humanoid • intestine • landing party • The Last Meeting of Lee and Jackson at Chancellorsville • lifeform • liver • lung • lunch • meteoroid • mile • Moses Showing the Tables of the Law to the People • muscles • nation-state • optic nerve • picnic • planet • planetary classification • plant • polar orbit • probe • races and cultures • rank • red alert • report • registry • rib • science • scientist • shore leave • skull • speed of light • spectrography • star • star chart • satellite • star group • star system • Starfleet uniform • Starfleet uniform (2240s-2265) • stomach • suicide • Tango • telepathy • technology • Ten Commandments • time barrier • time-warp speed • time warp factor • title • uniform • USS • universe • warp factor • weapon
- TOS episode: "The Menagerie": Pike is returned to Talos IV to live out a life of illusion.
- TOS novel: Burning Dreams: The life story of Captain Pike, explaining the long-lasting effects of Pike's encounter with the Talosians and Vina.
- TOS novel: The Rift
- TOS comic: "To Walk the Night"
- Star Trek: Early Voyages: A comic series set on the Enterprise under Pike. In addition to the general setting a number of issues make specific references to this episode:
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 character images
Episode location images
Episode technology and weapon images
Episode display images
first episode (pilot)
|TOS episode produced||Next episode:|
Where No Man Has Gone Before
|TOS episode aired||Next episode:|
last episode aired
The Final Frontier
Chapter 14 - McCoy flashback
Chapter 15, Sections 10-12; Chapter 7, Section 10; Chapter 15, Section 13
Nor Iron Bars a Cage
|The Early Voyages of the |
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)