The Tholians are one of Star Trek’s most underrated species, and the franchise has confirmed they are virtually indestructible.

The Tholians are one of the most underrated species in the Star Trek universe, so fans may be shocked to discover they are virtually indestructible. Although their on-screen time has been scant, the Tholians have proven to be irresistible to other creators, and through the entirety of IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Year Five, were one of the primary antagonists. In issue one, the Enterprise encounters a group of Tholians, and fans quickly learn it will take more than a phaser blast to take them out.


In its original run, Star Trek introduced a number of antagonistic races, such as the Klingons and the Romulans; the show also featured a number of more exotic adversaries, including the reptilian Gorn – and the Tholians. Debuting in the third season episode “The Tholian Web,” the enigmatic species possessed technology that allowed them to spin energy-draining “webs” around starships. This would be the only live-action appearance of the race until the fourth season Enterprise two-parter “In a Mirror Darkly.” Despite a handful of appearances on television, the Tholians have proven popular with writers of licensed media, such as novels and comics, and when Star Trek: Year Five “show runners” Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly needed an overarching antagonist for the series, they chose the Tholians.

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Star Trek’s Tholians Are a Fan-Favorite Species For a Reason

star trek tholians

In Star Trek: Year Five #1 – written by Lanzing and Kelly and drawn by Stephen Thompson – the Enterprise is entering the final phase of their Five-Year Mission and as Kirk and company contemplate their future, they receive a distress call from what appears to be a Tholian colony. Upon arrival, an away team finds the colony in ruins, with many Tholians severely wounded – but no signs of phaser fire. Spock reminds Kirk that, thanks to their unique biology, the Tholians are virtually immune to phasers, and have skin with the density of “Andorian diamond.” Shortly after, Kirk and company encounter a lone Tholian, who charges them. As it does, Spock deals it a blow that would have stopped other creatures, but only breaks his hand.

The Tholians Deserve a Comeback

star trek spock punches tholian

The Tholians received hardly any development in the original Star Trek series, and were only mentioned in dialogue until Enterprise – and yet thanks to their unique appearance and weaponry, they have become a fan-favorite species. This lack of on-screen development has actually been a blessing to later writers, as it gave them free rein to let their imaginations run wild, extrapolating an entire culture based on one single 50-minute episode. In this issue, Lanzing, Kelly and Thompson take this a step further by revealing that the Tholians are one of the sturdiest species in the galaxy, capable of not only withstanding phaser fire, but extreme heat as well. Not content to simply make the Tholians invincible, the story explores their culture, revealing it is not the monolithic entity the Federation assumes it to be. Instead, readers learn that, much like all societies, there are nuances and shades of gray with the Tholians.

Newer Star Trek shows, such as Discovery or Strange New Worlds, have yet to utilize the Tholians. However, Strange New Worlds revitalized the aforementioned Gorn, making them genuinely scary and a galactic-level threat. It stands to reason, then, that the Tholians could receive a similar treatment, one that will realize their full potential as Star Trek’s indestructible species.

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