Star Trek race
A mannequin of a Romulan, as they appeared in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation
Created byPaul Schneider
In-universe information
Home worldRomulus

The Romulans (/ˈrɒmjʊlənz, -jə-/) are an extraterrestrial race in the American science fiction franchise Star Trek. Their adopted home world is Romulus, and within the same star system they have settled a sister planet Remus. Their original home world, Vulcan, was renamed Ni'Var later in canon. They first appeared in the series Star Trek (1966–1969). They have appeared in most subsequent Star Trek releases, including The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, Strange New Worlds, and Lower Decks. They appear in the Star Trek feature films Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) and Star Trek (2009). They also appear in various other spin-off media, including books, comics, toys and games.

Writer Paul Schneider created the Romulans for the 1966 Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror". As a basis, he considered what the ancient Roman Empire might have looked like had it developed to the point of spaceflight. Physically, the Romulans were presented as humanoid, but the show's make-up department gave them pointed ears to distinguish them from humans. In the series, which is set in the 23rd century, the Romulans were speculated as having split from another alien species, the Vulcans, in the distant past. In contrast to the Vulcans, who were presented as peaceful and logic-oriented philosopher scientists, the Romulans were depicted as militaristic, having founded an interstellar empire. The Romulans were used as antagonists for the series' protagonists, the starship USS Enterprise, her crew, and their fictional government, the United Federation of Planets.

In 1987, the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation—set in the 24th century—again used the Romulans as antagonists of the Federation. The show's designers gave the Romulans new costumes and added a V-shaped ridge on the foreheads of most Romulan characters, though with indications that Romulans without the ridges also existed. In the series Star Trek: Enterprise, Romulans without ridges are depicted as passing for Vulcans (who do not have ridges either). The 2009 film Star Trek depicted the Romulan homeworld, Romulus, being destroyed by a supernova in the year 2387. This film featured Romulans without the head ridges. The impact of Romulus's destruction forms a plot-theme in the series Star Trek: Picard. Romulans in that series have included those with and without ridges, and a line about northern Romulans may have been intended to refer to these two groups.


Original development

The Romulans are a fictional extraterrestrial species in the Star Trek universe and were devised for the episode "Balance of Terror". In 2014, the episode was rated the best in the franchise by io9. They were reused for the second-season episode "The Deadly Years" and the third-season episode "The Enterprise Incident".[1]

They are humanoid beings originating from the planet Romulus and are known for their cunning, secrecy, and often adversarial relations with other civilizations, especially the United Federation of Planets. Physiologically, Romulans are similar to Vulcans, another species in the Star Trek universe. In fact, Romulans share a common ancestry with Vulcans and are considered an offshoot of the same species. They have pointed ears and arched eyebrows, and possess great strength, intelligence, and longevity.

The Romulans diverged from their Vulcan counterparts centuries ago due to ideological differences. While Vulcans embraced logic and the teachings of Surak, advocating emotional control and pacifism, the Romulans rejected these principles. They embraced their emotions and maintained a more militaristic and secretive society. Romulans are known for their cunning strategies, espionage, and manipulation in political affairs. They have a powerful and formidable military, with their signature warbird starships being a symbol of their might.

Throughout various Star Trek series and films, the Romulans have been portrayed as complex adversaries with deep-seated cultural traditions and a sense of superiority over other species. Their interactions with other factions in the Star Trek universe often involve political intrigue, espionage, and attempts to expand their influence in the galaxy.

While based on the Roman Empire, they took on the adversarial role of Cold War era Communist China, with the fictional government the United Federation of Planets playing the role of the United States, and the Klingons, based on the Mongol Empire, acting the role of the Soviet Union.[2] As a result, the Romulans were generally portrayed as mysterious, but also "highly militaristic, aggressive by nature, and ruthless in warfare".[2] The make-up required for an episode including Romulans in the Original Series became too expensive and time-consuming, so the Romulans became largely overshadowed by the Klingons.[3]

Reintroduction in the 1980s and 1990s

After the launch of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, the show's writers introduced the Romulans in the final episode of the first season, "The Neutral Zone", which aired in the U.S. in May 1988.[4] The episode was written by Maurice Hurley, who later acknowledged rushing it, putting together a script in a day and a half.[4] In the episode, which is set in the year 2364, the Starfleet ship USS Enterprise-D—whose crew are the series' main protagonists—responds to the disappearance of Federation colonies along the Neutral Zone, fearing that it reflects growing Romulan activity in the region. Investigating, the Enterprise crew encounter a Romulan spaceship; it is stated that this is the first encounter between the two peoples for 53 years. The Romulans reveal that they have had colonies destroyed on their side of the border too, and the two species agree to share information on the issue in future.[5] In later episodes it is revealed that these colonies were destroyed by a previously unknown species, the Borg, whom the show's writers had devised as a new alien antagonist following dissatisfaction with their previous attempt, the Ferengi.[6] Initial thoughts by the script-writers had proposed a multi-episode storyline in which the Federation and Romulan governments would co-operate to fight the Borg; ultimately only certain elements of this idea entered "The Neutral Zone", and the Borg would be introduced not in the first season, but in the second-season episode "Q Who".[6]

New costumes were designed for the actors playing Romulans, created by the show's costume designer William Theiss.[7] The newly designed Romulan ship that appeared in "The Neutral Zone" was built as a miniature model by Greg Jein.[6] The ship featured a newly designed Romulan crest, featuring a stylised bird of prey clutching two planets, Romulus and Remus, in its claws.[6] Later in the series, this ship type would be explicitly referred to as a "warbird".[6] In 1989, AMT released a plastic kit of the vessel, alongside other kits for a Ferengi ship and a Klingon bird of prey vessel.[6]

The Romulans were re-used for the second-season episode "Contagion", written by Steve Gerber and Beth Woods and first aired in March 1989. In this episode, the Enterprise-D entered the Neutral Zone to answer a distress call and ends up in conflict with a Romulan vessel, with both spaceships being disabled by an alien computer virus.[8] "Contagion" was the first episode in the Star Trek franchise in which the Romulan ship was given a name, in this case the Haakona.[9] In the third-season episode "The Enemy", written by David Kemper and Michael Piller and first screened in November 1989, the Enterprise-D is depicted rescuing a crashed Romulan ship.[10] The episode introduced the Romulan character Tomalak, played by Andreas Katsulas, who would reappear in three further Next Generation episodes.[10] It also further established the idea of a significant enmity between the Romulans and the Klingons, with the Enterprise's Klingon officer, Worf (Michael Dorn), refusing to donate blood to save the life of an injured Romulan; the scriptwriters had debated whether to include this, with Dorn initially reticent.[10]

Three episodes later, in "The Defector", written by Ronald D. Moore and first screened in January 1990, a Romulan admiral is presented as seeking to defect to the Federation.[11] The episode is the first in the franchise to include images of Romulus itself and introduced the design of a Romulan scout vessel.[11] "The Defector" also includes a reference to the Battle of Cheron, an incident in the 22nd century Earth-Romulan War that was previously mentioned in "Balance of Terror".[11]

Deep Space Nine and Voyager

For "The Search", the opening two-part episode of the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a Romulan link was introduced. The episode, which was written by Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and Ronald D. Moore, featured the introduction of a new Starfleet ship, the USS Defiant; the scriptwriters included the idea that it had been equipped with a cloaking device by the Romulans in return for intelligence that the Federation gathered on another alien power, the Dominion. A Romulan character, T'Rul (Martha Hackett), was included to oversee the device's use aboard the Defiant.[12] The show's writers had initially planned on including T'Rul as a permanent fixture on the show but decided that she did not offer enough potential for new storylines.[13]

The Romulans were reused later that season in "Visionary", where they are presented as attempting to destroy the Deep Space Nine space station as part of their plan to collapse the nearby wormhole and thus prevent a Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, the region of space where both the Federation and Romulans reside.[14] Three episodes later, the follow-on episodes "Improbable Cause" and "The Die Is Cast" again featured the Romulans, in this case portraying a joint mission by the Romulan Tal Shiar and Cardassian Obsidian Order to fatally cripple the Dominion by eradicating its leaders, the Founders.[15] For these episodes, new Tal Shiar outfits were designed; Moore related that this was partly his decision, for he "hated, underline hated, the Romulan costumes [introduced in the first season of The Next Generation]. Big shoulder pads, the quilting, I just loathed it".[7] Costume designer Robert Blackman noted that his team created eight new Romulan uniforms, using the same fabric as the old ones but "dyed it down slightly, and we made them much sleeker and a little more menacing".[7]

Star Trek: Nemesis

A stylized version of the Romulan logo was created for the Star Trek: Nemesis publicity materials, but was never used in-universe.[16]

The Romulans were the major antagonists in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis, with much of the action set on Romulus. The film also introduced the Remans, inhabitants of the other planet in the Romulan system, who serve as a slave labor caste in Romulan society.

Star Trek: Enterprise

In season 4, the Romulans played a pivotal role in the episodes "Kir'Shara", "Babel One", United", and "The Aenar". In "Kir'Shara", it's revealed that Administrator V'Las of the Vulcan High Command is actually conspiring with a Romulan agent to "reunify" their two peoples through force. The agent, Major Talok, chases Captain Archer, T'Pol and T'Pau through the area of Vulcan known as The Forge throughout the episode, although his true nature isn't revealed until the end. In addition, in the previous episode "Awakening", Archer learned from Surak that during the "Time of Awakening", a Vulcan schism of those who "sought a return to savage ways" and "marched beneath the raptor's wings" (later the symbol of the Romulan people) perpetrate a cataclysmic nuclear attack upon Surak and his enlightened society. Soon after Surak's death, these Vulcan recidivists abandoned their homeworld to colonize the planets Romulus and Remus.

In "Babel One", "United", and "The Aenar", the Romulans plot to destabilize their sector of space by using drone ships disguised as vessels from various cultures to turn their enemies against each other. These drone ships are piloted remotely through telepresence by Gareb, a young Aenar kidnapped by the Romulans who had lied to him that he was the last of his people. The plot was exposed by the efforts of the Enterprise crew and instead resulted in the humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites uniting to defeat the Romulan threat, bringing them closer together than ever. The Enterprise then enlists the help of Gareb's sister Jhamel who telepathically contacts her brother and informs him of the truth. Gareb turns on the Romulans, destroying one drone ship and allowing the Enterprise to destroy the other, foiling the Romulan plot. In retaliation, Romulan Admiral Valdore kills Gareb for his betrayal.

Reboot: 2009–present

For the 2009 Star Trek reboot film, the design of the Romulans was significantly altered; although keeping the pointed ears, the V-shaped forehead ridges were removed and various tattoos were added.

After Star Trek: Nemesis proved a financial failure and Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled, the franchise's executive producer Rick Berman and screenwriter Erik Jendresen began developing a new film entitled Star Trek: The Beginning, which was to be set during the 22nd century Earth–Romulan War. The project never materialised.[17] Instead, the decision was made to reboot the series by creating a film using the characters of the original Star Trek series but played by new actors. Putting together a script for the new film, the director J. J. Abrams stated that he wanted Romulans to be the antagonists because they had featured less than the Klingons in the original Star Trek series.[18] The film's writers, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, thought that it would feel backward to demonize the Klingons as villains again after they had been presented heroically in later Star Trek series; they also wanted to use Spock as a central character in the film and believed that the Romulan presence would continue Spock's story from his last chronological appearance in "Unification".[19]

In the 2009 Abrams reboot film, titled Star Trek, the planet Romulus is destroyed by a supernova in the year 2387. A Romulan mining ship, the Narada, survives and travels back in time to the 23rd century; its commander, Nero (Eric Bana), is committed to destroying the planet Vulcan to punish Spock for failing to save Romulus. The actors playing Romulans in this film wore three prosthetics applied to their ears and foreheads, while Bana had a fourth prosthetic for the bitemark on his ear that extends to the back of his character's head.[20] The film's Romulans lacked the V-shaped ridges on the foreheads, which had been present in all of their depictions outside the original series. Neville Page wanted to honor that by having Nero's crew ritually scar themselves too, forming keloids reminiscent of the "V"-ridges. It was abandoned as they did not pursue the idea enough.[21]

Picard's reaction to the destruction of Romulus is the backstory and central premise of Star Trek: Picard. The series begins with Picard in self-imposed exile at his French vineyard following his resignation in protest to Starfleet's handling of Romulans and androids. Picard has two live-in Romulans at his estate.[22] At least two groups of Romulans survived: one group formed the Romulan Free State, while the other group was evacuated to the planet of Vashti.

In the Star Trek: Discovery episode "Unification III", Ambassador Spock's dream of Vulcan/Romulan reunification has been achieved. The Romulans have returned to their ancestral homeworld (since renamed Ni'Var) and reunified with their Vulcan cousins. When the Vulcans decided to pull out of the Federation due to the apocalyptic event known as the Burn, it was actually the Romulans who wished to remain, according to Starfleet Admiral Vance. In the episode "All Is Possible", Ni'Var rejoins the Federation.

Romulan Warbird

Romulan Warbird

The Warbird was developed by Andrew Probert with the model built by Greg Jein.[23] In the series it was introduced in the episode "The Neutral Zone" and seen on a recurring basis in the franchise from then on.[23] In the Star Trek universe, it is twice as big as Picard's Enterprise D and is powered by an artificial quantum singularity.[23] It is noted for its size and power in Star Trek by Picard and his crew.[24] In 2017, said the Warbird was the 9th best spacecraft in the Star Trek franchise.[25] In 2020, CNET ranked the Romulan Warbird the 16th most powerful spacecraft in Star Trek.[24]

Romulan language

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Romulan" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (June 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Two fictional languages have been constructed for the Romulans and Remans of the Star Trek franchise.

The first was created by Diane Duane for her non-canon series of novels called Rihannsu. In this imagining, it was an intentional creation, based on Old High Vulcan when the Romulans left Vulcan and established their own society. Duane describes it as sounding somewhat like Latin and Welsh.[26][27]

The second was created for the television series Star Trek: Picard. Its script is distinct from occasional glimpses of Romulan writing in earlier series. As of 2021, little information has been released about the language, though it is developed enough to be used for dialog in the show.[citation needed]


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2021)

In 2017, Den of Geek ranked Romulans the seventh best aliens out of 50 species from the Star Trek franchise, ahead of the Ferengi but behind the Q, and in first and second place respectively were the Vulcans and the Klingons.[28]

Other media

The Romulans have been the focus of a number of non-canon books, and have appeared or been mentioned in other non-canon media. Among their key appearances have been:

See also



  1. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (October 2, 2014). "The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes Of All Time!". io9. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Creating the Romulans — Forgotten Trek". Retrieved 2023-06-02.
  3. ^ Reeves-Stevens, 35.
  4. ^ a b Nemecek 1995, pp. 59–60.
  5. ^ Nemecek 1995, p. 59.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Nemecek 1995, p. 60.
  7. ^ a b c Erdmann & Block 2000, p. 227.
  8. ^ Nemecek 1995, pp. 79–80.
  9. ^ Nemecek 1995, p. 80.
  10. ^ a b c Nemecek 1995, p. 107.
  11. ^ a b c Nemecek 1995, p. 110.
  12. ^ Erdmann & Block 2000, pp. 160–161.
  13. ^ Erdmann & Block 2000, p. 163.
  14. ^ Erdmann & Block 2000, pp. 216–217.
  15. ^ Erdmann & Block 2000, pp. 224–225, 231–232.
  16. ^ Hillebrand, Jörg; Schneider, Bernd. "The Evolution of the Romulan Emblem". Ex Astris Scientia. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  17. ^ Hughes, David (July 15, 2008). The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made (Revised ed.). Titan Books. pp. 35, 37, 44–46. ISBN 978-1-84576-755-6.
  18. ^ O'Hara, Helen (November 14, 2008). "Klingon Subplot Revealed". Empire. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
  19. ^ Pascale, Anthony (April 30, 2009). "Star Trek Writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci". Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  20. ^ Nazzaro, Joe (April 6, 2009). "FX artists create new aesthetic for 'Star Trek' franchise". Makeup Mag. Archived from the original on April 12, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2009.
  21. ^ Desowitz, Bill (May 15, 2009). "Creature Designer Neville Page Talks Star Trek". Animation World Network. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  22. ^ Couch, Aaron; Goldberg, Lesley (January 8, 2019). "'Star Trek' Boss: Picard Leads "Radically Altered" Life in CBS All Access Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 9, 2019. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (2011-05-17). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-4688-7.
  24. ^ a b Ryan, Joal. "From TOS to Picard: 40 most powerful Star Trek spacecraft, ranked". CNET. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  25. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (September 22, 2017). "The 15 Best Ships on Star Trek, from V-ger to the Vengeance". Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  26. ^ Central Institute of the Romulan Language, a repository of information on the language
  27. ^ On Inventing a Romulan Language... by Diane Duane, archived on the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "Star Trek: The 50 Best Alien Races". Den of Geek. 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  29. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (2010-02-11). "What Did Diane Duane Think Of Star Trek: Nemesis?". io9. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  30. ^ Gunther, Dan (2011-12-30). "The Empty Chair". Retrieved 2019-01-05.


Further reading