These awkward 'Star Trek' moments might be its greatest legacy.

A celebration of the little things that make the future 'Star Trek' envisioned such an inspiration to us today, on the show's 50th anniversary.

One of my favorite things about "Star Trek: The Original Series" is how unashamedly awkward and goofy it was.

I don't mean campy, though I do love that about it too. I specifically mean those moments that are just straight up awkward and goofy. Those moments where the characters were supposed to look cool and badass, but — due to a combination of the technology of the time, the low budget, and the use of stage fighting techniques — they ended up looking silly.

Yes, the secondhand embarrassment when watching these scenes is real, and for some people those moments make it impossible to suspend disbelief enough to immerse themselves in the show. But, to me, those are some of the show's most human moments, and one of the things I love most about it.


Like, Kirk thinks he's a badass — and in the world of "Star Trek" he is a badass — but when he fights, he looks like pretty much any normal human would look while trying to be cool in a fight.

GIF by "Star Trek."

And when a mission calls for spontaneous dancing — to defeat a small army of android sexbots using illogic, as it were — dancing may not be Chekov's calling but dammit if he doesn't give it his best.

GIF from "Star Trek."

When McCoy finds himself in a gladiator game, he doesn't suddenly and miraculously become a master swordsman through the magic of TV editing. He just does his best!

GIF from "Star Trek."

In "Star Trek," when something urgent happens, there's NO TIME FOR COOL RUNNING. You just gotta haul ass. Like Spock.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And when you gotta get from point A to point B without being seen, sure, there's probably a way to make it look cool, but you know what? In real life, it'd be hella awkward too.

GIF from "Star Trek."

These awkward/goofy moments weren't always deliberate, but they make "Star Trek" feel more real.

A highly produced, crisply edited version of "Star Trek" would make these scenes look cool, coordinated, and well-choreographed. There would be more close-up shots, edits would cut on the action, and McCoy would be as skilled with a sword as he is with a hypo.

But I like these moments of awkwardness. Human beings are nothing if not generally awkward, and I find it incredibly reassuring to think that even in the 23rd century, there's no graceful way to get shot in the face with happiness pollen by an alien flower.

GIF from "Star Trek."

Capt. Kirk never seems more human than when he's fighting the Gorn. It's awkward af, but I love it. If you found yourself being forced to build a makeshift cannon while simultaneously fighting a lizard monster in the desert heat and wearing polyester pants, you'd be about this graceful too.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And if you ever found yourself trapped in a real-life Halloween house, being chased by a creature that is clearly a giant house cat (that also sometimes takes the form of a human woman, but is actually an insect-slash-bird-looking alien) while carrying a magic wand and jumping on a makeshift trampoline, yeah you'd wish you were anywhere near as graceful as Kirk is here. And he's not graceful at all.

The cat is the thing sticking it's head through the door. Blink and you'll miss it. GIF from "Star Trek."

There's a moment in one episode of the show where Spock almost gets hit in the head by one of those weird futuristic hexagonal door frames while exiting a scene. I can't find a GIF of it, but I LIVE FOR THOSE MOMENTS.

Call "Star Trek" low-budget, call it campy, call it bad acting — call it whatever you want. These are the little moments that, when coupled with a grand vision for the future, allowed a franchise launched five decades ago to still resonate today.

They aren't the big philosophical moments that "Star Trek" is known for. These are the relatable moments.

They're small, human moments — some scripted, some accidental — and they're one of the unsung heroes of what makes the world of "Star Trek" seem, to me at least, possible.

Sometimes you have a day where your job sucks and you end up like Sulu — holding a dog in a unicorn costume, staring out into nothingness wondering how this is your life.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And other times you find yourself doing busy work in the background of other people's lives, while they save the day.

GIF from "Star Trek."

It's relatable!

These moments were largely due to budget and special effects constraints of '60s sci-fi television, but even with a bigger budget, the "Star Trek" films kept those moments alive.

There was 100% a cooler-looking way to shoot this scene. Spock is wearing jet boots! Jet boots are awesome! But this scene is awkward af.

GIF from "Star Trek."

And they knew it. That's why it's there.

GIF from "Star Trek."

The first "Star Trek" reboot even had a scene that — unintentionally or not — paid homage to this classic awkwardness.

GIF from "Star Trek."

Sure, Kirk could've taken a hypo to the neck without missing a beat, but he didn't. He made a weird face. Because he's human.

50 years after "Star Trek" first aired, it's these moments that give me hope for our own 23rd century.

"Star Trek" presents a utopic vision of the future that is sleek and shiny and has jet boots and food replicators and transporters and phasers and intergalactic space travel and racial and gender equality (or '60s-era versions of it anyway), but it's also a future where people are still people (and, by "people," I'm including Trek's entire spectrum of nonhuman races) — and people are awkward, even while accomplishing great things and saving the universe time and time again.

A future in which everyone looks cool all the time might be fun to watch, but doesn't feel as tangible. The vulnerability of looking silly while achieving great things is incredibly human and makes it seem possible that we as individual people in 2016 can help bring the best parts of the future "Star Trek" envisioned to life.

GIF from "Star Trek."

One of the show's greatest legacies is the way it has inspired real change in the real world — from iPads and cell phones to saving the whales. To me, these small moments, more than anything else, make the grand vision of the future "Star Trek" presents — equality and justice for all — something that could happen, if we work hard enough to make it so.

Most Shared
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular