PAVEL CHEKOV’s 13 GREATEST HITS: A Walter Koenig Birthday Salute


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By JIM BEARD, Editor of the Upcoming Star Trek book Galloping Around the Cosmos

To my mind, Walter Koenig had a thankless task in 1967. He stepped onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as the newbie, an addition to a cast that already had an entire season of Star Trek under its collective belt. To make matters even more stressful, he was portraying a Russian at a time when the Cold War was raging, and he was expected to cinch the accent… as well as appeal to the young kids in the audience. How? With a Beatle wig, of course! How else?

I was never truly a Chekov fan, but in more recent times have discovered Koeing and his character have their ardent Trek fans, and I love that. The more I thought about it, Chekov has become such an integral part of our Original Series heroes, it’s almost like he was there from Day One.

Well, at least Khan Noonien Singh thought so.

Regardless, I’m here to celebrate Walter Koenig’s birthday — he was born 87 years ago on Sept. 14, 1936 — with a phaser-focused list of what I see as Pavel Chekov’s best moments on both the small and big screens.


Mirror, Mirror. I love the fact that little ol’ Pavel is a scheming assassin in the Mirror Universe—and that his attempt to commit captain-icide gifts us with one of his earliest, best screams.

The Apple. One of the sexiest Trek episodes, it’s filled with all sorts of thinly veiled references to, ahem, personal interactions. Is it any wonder Chekov is grooving with his then-current lady love Yeoman Martha Landon in the middle of it all?

I, Mudd. The situation’s dire! Trapped on a world with an army of androids, cut off forever from the Enterprise with no hope of rescue! Chekov? He’s digging the lovely mechanical lasses he’s surrounded by. You go, Pavel.

The Deadly Years. The ship’s newest, youngest star escapes the deadly disease that ages his superiors into old, decrepit cronies… and all because Chekov got a nice little adrenalin rush from seeing a corpse.

The Gamesters of Triskelion. Why should Kirk and Uhura have all the fun of being assigned drill Thralls? Pavel gets his own, but she may be far more than he—or we—can handle.

Spectre of the Gun. Another romance for Pavel spells doom for the young ensign, placing him on the short list of Original Series characters who actually died and came back.

Day of the Dove. Pity poor Pavel in this one: Not only is he implanted with painful memories of a brother he never had by a bodyless alien entity, but, while possessed, he tries to commit a heinous assault on the one and only female Klingon in the Original Series, who had to endure his animalistic attack.

The Way to Eden. Somehow it makes sense that Chekov would have an old space-hippie girlfriend in his past.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Scream, Chekov, scream!

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. One of the greatest advancements for the character, but Chekov had to suffer one of those pesky earworms.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Little-Known Fun Fact: With Spock out of commission and believed dead, Chekov was acting Science Officer on the Enterprise. That’s fitting since Spock was supposed to be his mentor back in the day.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Thank you, Walter, for giving us one of the greatest Chekov sound bites of all time: “nuclear wessels.”

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Like Ralph Dibny and Scooby-Doo before him (or after?), Chekov followed his nose to sniff out a mystery, and makes one of the biggest blunders ever for human-alien relations in Starfleet history.


— The TOP 13 STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES Episodes — RANKED! Click here.

— 13 THINGS I Loved About CLASSIC STAR TREK as a Kid. Click here.

13th Dimension columnist Jim Beard’s new book of essays, by a typically stellar selection of experts and superfans, is all about growing up Trek. Galloping Around the Cosmos: Memories of TV’s Wagon Train to the Stars From Today’s Grown-Up Kids is out soon.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I think Koenig is the correct spelling

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