The Tribbles of ‘Star Trek’ Fame Were Inspired By Rabbits Breeding ‘Like Crazy’ In Australia

In his 1973 book The Trouble With Tribbles: The Birth, Sale, and Final Production of One Episode, Star Trek: The Original Series writer David Gerrold tells how a silly story about a species of small, fuzzy aliens won him the chance to write a script for the science fiction television series. Of course I’m talking about the tribbles and the episode they first appeared in, “The Trouble With Tribbles,” which went on to become one of the show’s most popular and enduring entries.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Original Series premiere, Gerrold chatted about the episode and others in a short interview with Mass Appeal. The 72-year-old screenwriter doesn’t shed too much light on the subject, as he’s spoken about it countless times before, but it’s still fun to witness a science fiction star talk about European rabbits f*cking each others’ brains out in colonial Australia:

It was really about rabbits in Australia. My thinking was that not every alien we meet is going to be ugly and not every alien we meet is going to be immediately dangerous. We’re not going to recognize the danger to us until it might be too late. So, the rabbits in Australia were perfect. Little fuzzy creatures that are fun to pet and they purr, but they breed like crazy.

Just in case your Australian history isn’t up to date, Gerrold is referring to the historical idiom “rabbits in Australia.” According to Australia’s Office of Environment and Heritage, the First Fleet brought the initial batch over in 1788, and the first feral population established itself by 1827. From 1886 and onward, “rabbits invaded 4 million square kilometres of Australia, making it one of the fastest colonising mammals anywhere in the world.”

The tribbles/rabbits comparison is apt, to be sure, but the creatures’ popularity 50 years later is eerily similar as well. For as Gerrold put its, “the Tribbles have been seen by over a billion human beings, it’s one of the most popular episodes of one of the most popular TV series in history.” Seeing as how a toy tribble made its way onto the International Space Station (sans breeding), he’s not wrong.

(Via Mass Appeal)