What’s The Deal With ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Klingons And Fire?

The Klingons of Star Trek: Discovery are clearly a new take on the classic Trek race. One thread running through everything that’s been revealed so far about them is the use of fire, which appears to be a significant part of Klingon symbolism in Discovery.

Light the fire

Fire was mentioned as early as December 2016 when Chris Obi (T’Kuvma) and Marry Chieffo (L’Rell) were announced as new cast members. The press release featured a few phrases in Klingon, and then the text teased us to “discover what it really means.”

Text from CBS press release in December 2016

This ‘light the fire’ phrase wasn’t just buried in the press release; the Klingon version of it was teased out on the official Discovery Instagram and on the official website.

Star Trek: Discovery with Klingon

“Light the fire” in Klingon was the lead image on StarTrek.com Klingon casting announcement in December

And “light the fire” came back again when the first image of Chris Obi as the Klingon T’Kuvma was revealed during the upfronts in May.

Fire on the sarcophagus ship

When you look at the trailer released in May, you can see multiple sources of open flames on the Klingon sarcophagus ship, including a particularly prominent one next to the sarcophagus itself. The Klingons here seem less like bloodthirsty warriors and more like a religious cult.




and even more fire

We’ve rarely, if ever, seen fire on a Klingon ship before, and in general open flames are not generally a good thing on any spaceship.

T’Kuvma’s torch

Then, as we reported last week, the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con 2017 preview issue featured an image of T’Kuvma and L’Rell that showed T’Kuvma holding a torch. He may be preparing to “light the fire,” as the 2016 press release hints.

Pictured (l-r): Mary Chieffo as L’Rell; Chris Obi as T’Kuvma

We learned a little bit more about T’Kumva this week thanks to the exhibit at Comic-Con. He seeks to unite the 24 great Klingon houses, and his house honors the ancient Klingon ways and Kahless. 


The Torchbearer

The latest piece of evidence came from Comic-Con this week where a 3D printed scale model of the Klingon suit seen in the trailer was labeled as the “Torchbearer suit.” We saw the suit in even more detail yesterday at the Discovery SDCC gallery.

Klingon Torchbearer armor from Star Trek: Discovery exhibit at SDCC

Torchbearer armor

Official description

Putting it all together

It’s a reasonable guess that T’Kuvma could be the “Torchbearer,” given what we see from the EW image. It also appears that fire holds an important part of these Klingons’ lore, as opposed to, say, TNG-era Klingons. Fire is an old symbol; it’s important to most cultures and it symbolizes power, survival, warmth, and so forth. So this seems to lend more support to the rumored idea that these are ancient Klingons.

In the non-canon video game universe of Klingon Honor Guard, the Hand of Flame was an ancient honor guard who fought against Molor. When word of their deeds reached Kahless, he recruited them into his own army to fight Molor. Established Klingon lore is that Kahless defeated Molor, united the Klingons, and formed the Empire. It seems T’Kuvma may be trying to do something similar in the present day of Discovery, to “sound the call to unite the houses” as the plaque says above.

All of this raises some interesting questions about Klingons in the new series:

  • Is there a fractured leadership in the Klingon Empire during the time of Discovery?
  • Does T’Kuvma see himself as the rightful leader of the Empire? Perhaps he has a direct bloodline to Kahless?
  • While the fire is literal, it may also be symbolic; could it represent the beginning of a drastic shift that fundamentally affects the Klingon Empire and the changes we see in later series, especially The Original Series?

Thanks to Laurie Ulster and John Duchak for their assistance with this analysis.

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Don’t beat around the bush.

“What’s The Deal With ‘Star Trek: Discovery’” period.

I have yet to see or hear a single shred of news aimed toward the 90% of the fandom who couldn’t care less about TOS garbage. We can’t even make fan movies anymore. You either take TOS being shoved down your throat, or you walk away from the whole outfit.

Please walk away, then. Don’t let the….well,, you know.

Here come the TOS trolls to point out the errors of our ways..

Your statement that 90% of fandom couldn’t care less about TOS shows you are the troll, sir, and delusional.

I agree. It’s not a statement, it’s a fact. Your overgrown manchild bretherin in media positions of influence is how the franchise has been driven in to the dirt time and time again, with money and financial returns the driving force behind your trip down memory lane we’re all supposed to pay to watch.


So let’s make the diminishing fan base pay directly for the show?
Its not going to work. Some of the Klingonish designs look plain clumsy.
The Klingonian starship looks a bit unpractical. How can’t you love the D-7 design? Why is that ship design not EVER featured? Discovery has a close resemblance to other Federation designs. Where is the good old D-7, I want to see its engineering section, hanger deck and assault spaceships!!!

I think the point is to excise the hardcore TOS fans who have done nothing but ruin the franchise, wasting millions of dollars in this TOS obsession you cant seem to let go of. Do you know just how hated you are by people who don’t care for TOS? You’re the reason it keeps crashing, over and over again.

Get over yourselves, and will you please let go once STD dives? You’re a nightmare.

The fact that you would say that TOS fans are hated by other fans shows you have significant issues far deeper than a TV show and that you apparently associate with others that do as well. The bile you spew is laughable when Trek wouldnt even EXIST if it wasnt for the hardcore ORIGINAL fans that fought for it since back in the day. If we constitute a nightmare for you go get your mommy to tuck you in. you insufferable D-Bag. You dont speak for anyone but yourself and thats a good thing because youve painted a fairly clear picture of your own lack of mental and emotional stability.

Jim definately does not “get” Star Trek and does not live up to it’s spirit or it’s values. Sad for him and I’m guessing he lives a pretty sad, hateful life.

“The fact that you would say that TOS fans are hated by other fans shows you have significant issues.”

I think it shows he’s trying to stir up a “war” between the various “factions.”

He fails to see that there are (with the possible exception of himself) no such “factions” at all.

I hate TOS and am very excited for Discovery.

Actually the error of your way Is not how wrong you or. It’s your attitude in general and this mistaken belief that only 10% of fandom cares about tos. That shows an ignorance

But it’s moot anyway since this series is not tos. So I’m not sure what people like you want? Did you expect something tng related? You’re 80+ years too early kid

Let’s make three more Voyager incarnations and see you can keep a smile…

I’d actually believe you’re serious about wanting another voyager.

What a Sook you are. Like all the rest of the haters, don’t waste your time here posting anymore. That will solve your problem.

Yes, that’s how valid opinions work.

If you want to have a discussion, start one. But coming into a forum to discuss this, a show that has been clearly not your cup of tea for over a year, just to regurgitate the same “this sucks I hate it, CBS is ruining Trek” is just plain stupid.

Architecting a bubble of ignorance around you is how we have all been forced here in the first place.
Enough TOS please, we’re all sick of you ruining our prospects.

But going to the past was the only option left. TNG-era shows painted themselves into the corner. There was nowhere else to go. The future holds no potential for interesting stories. Everything meaningful has been discovered and explored, short of venturing into another galaxy (which was already done by Stargate franchise, and it didn’t go well). In TNG era, there’s no sense of wonder left. Nothing to surprise.

Say what you will about TOS era, but there’s one important thing that speaks for it: the universe is still big and full of wonders. It’s the era of rapid expansion and discovery (pun intended). That’s quintessential Star Trek. Danger and unknown, not a bunch of middle-age people sitting in a warp-propelled hotel room. :-P

Youre a troll without anything constructive to contribute. Im guessing your sitter fell asleep and left you alone with the laptop.


What an odd and narrow view.

What exactly do you want, something directed to tng fans specifically?

This is Star Trek. It’s not TOs centric at all.

You’ve got so many whiners going on about how it’s not TOS enough and now people like “Jim” droning on about how it’s too tos. Lol

Do you like Star Trek? Then sit back and shut up and wait til it airs. My goodness

There was a Counting? Damn… I missed it, were can I sign up? Do you have the forms to declare which series I belong to? I mean, you must have given that you know the exact Number…

“I have yet to see or hear a single shred of news aimed toward the 90% of the fandom who couldn’t care less about TOS garbage. We can’t even make fan movies anymore. You either take TOS being shoved down your throat, or you walk away from the whole outfit.”

This is the strangest position about STD I have ever seen, and it is not even logically consistent. The complaint about fanfilms being nerfed nowadays contradicts the claim that no one cares about TOS, since most every notable fanfilm series was… you guessed it… TOS.

Further, the issue that folks like me have against STD is that it *isn’t* TOS. Other than handheld props resembling later TOS-era ones (which doesn’t make sense, since even in the second pilot WNMHGB Starfleet the sidearms looked like the Pike-era weapons), this looks nothing like TOS or the Pike era preceding it but for organization nomenclature (“Starfleet”, “Federation”) and the presence of an antagonist species named “Klingon”. It is even called a “visual reboot”, a nonsense term that simply means “reboot”. This is another universe, one which will date as badly as they consider TOS to have dated. (As I’ve said at the Flare forum, touchscreens and handheld devices? How quaint and iPhoney. Why not modernize TOS to show reconfigurable buttons and switches, morphing as if 3-D printed on the fly? That’s how you respect the past, not discard it.)

I have hundreds of hours of real Star Trek to re-enjoy. I’ll keep trying to give STD a chance, but the more I see the less interested I get.

Really Jim?
90%? lol
Thats why all the other incarnations of star trek have done so well? Hahaha.
You think the General Public/non fans are the audience for Star Trek???
TOS Fans support Star Trek- that’s why most of the licensing merchandise is TOS orientated.
The Majority of Star Trek fans are TOS fans or JJ’s TOS reboot fans.
People want to see Kirk, Spock & the Enterprise & that’s STAR TREK, they want “To Boldly Go” not go to war with the Klingon’s again.
That’s why all the other shows (Bar Next Gen which was true to the TOS ideals) were less Successful as they went along & they moved away from TOS.

Get a Grip.

trouble is with all these changes, that watching it validates it. My love for Trek doesn’t extend to rewriting things I have prevously enjoyed. It feels like they don’t care, and I won’t be giving a single care in return.

Then post somewhere where you can care. The rest of us would like to discuss and speculate in a positive manner while we wait to see if it is a quality story or not. Obviously, the cinematic experience is theatrical quality. I hope the story is just as good and incorporates the values and spirit of all Star Trek incarnations.

This and other sites used to be more than TOS reboot garbage every other damned article.

It is you who should leave, not us.

Be gone.

Imagine being this personally offended that a new series isn’t exactly what you want. Lol.

Some deep mental issues on display here.

You’ve made your point and opinion known. You can go away now. While true fans gladly support a favorite franchise with their $10/month. If the show is no good, they will lose my subscription. I don’t think I will go broke either way. And I won’t be committing a crime.

Is everyone else wrong and you’re right? How did you come to this conclusion?


Yes, only 83% want to see it. Disappointing it’s not over 95%

Of course obscure sites with zero viewer metrics pull in idiots. That’s why you’re frequenting it, right?

Try some Netflix, Nielsen or CBS ratings, ya know, the place it’s actually going to be torrented from. I mean, watched on. You’ve seen the backlash on every single YouTube trailer upload, right?

Have you even seen the Netflix trailer ratings yet?!

I’ll make a deal with you. If STD gets a second season, I’ll leave you to watch it in peace. However if it ends up in the gutter where it belongs, you’ll make every effort to withdraw yourself and your lunatic opinions from the fanbase completely, yes?

Have a good night, Jim, I’m done arguing with a bitter fool. Sometimes listeners can’t tell who is who….

This kind of disgruntled fan is getting out of hand around here. Think I may be done visiting this site.

Then leave, you said you hate Star Trek anyway- go watch Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica.

Just curious, “Jim”; if you like any Star Trek at all (and I’m simply assuming you do, thus explaining your presence here – – only guessing, mind you), what exactly do you like about it and in what iteration?

@Alan — you’re right … Rottentomatoes is one of the most powerful influence sites on the web.


If “true fans” are what you are, I’m glad I’m not a party to your TOS cult.

It’s not TOS Fans Vs Everyone else. Where do you get this idea?
The fanbase has divided many times over the years.

You Have:

“Purists” who only watch Star Trek TOS & maybe the Fan Films
True Star Trek fans- Prime Universe TOS/Movies/TNG/VOY/ENT/Fan Films
General Fans who like everything including DS9
DS9 Fans/Anti Star Trek fans who only like DS9
& JJ reboot Fans who only like the new films & maybe discovery as it is a Reboot

I’ll continue to make “my point and opinion known” until you TOS hardcore stop hijacking the franchise. I’m not prepared to waste 40-50 years until you’re out of the way in some old folks home.
Leave why you still have.. well, nothing really, just leave.

“I’m not prepared to waste 40-50 years until you’re out of the way in some old folks home.”

Yeah, what are you gonna do, Jim?

How are TOS Fans “Hijacking the series- it has gone further away from TOS with every production until the reboot which was still a reboot & not a true return.

Here’s the deal:

Star Trek Discovery is the latest series in the “Star Trek” franchise from CBS. It is set in what is known colloquially as the “Prime Timeline”– that is, the universe that the previous TV series are set in, not the films from Bad Robot.

Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaac, and Doug Jones, and will feature a new ship and new crew exploring strange new worlds, coming into conflict with familiar adversaries the Klingons, and introducing Trek to a whole new generation of fans!

The premiere episode will debut on CBS, while the remaining 14 episodes will be seen exclusively on CBS All Access, an online streaming service, in the USA– and on Netflix outside of the UK.

No, ST:D is a vehicle to promote CBS AA at the expense of any Star Trek intellectual property they can get their greedy hands on.

Rather than giving the fans what they want, they have instead fallen into the repeating trap of creating more prequel, reboot and origin stories which are really only of interest to people who like watching the show it’s a prequel to. Of course, the fans of the series it’s a prequel to can’t understand why everyone else is wrong, and won’t accept that everyone else is right.

Since then the majority of the fanbase have lost interest, yet the continual ramming TOS down everyone’s faces has turned all but the hard core into having an active interest in this garbage falling flat on it’s face.

To put it in to simple terms:

You can’t entrap non-TOS fans into the latest spin, particularly after having burned through any and all goodwill extended through the Enterprise disaster, and subsequent Star Trek: The Force Awakens movies.

Right on. If CBS dare to force feed another Original Series show at me I’ll fight back and wont stop until it’s dead and they have gotten the message that we wont stand for it any more. I don’t care if there is never any more Star Trek, it’s preferable to keep getting this rinse, wash, repeat Original Series stuff again and again and again until people won’t take it any more, no matter how steampunk tricorders with iphones inside.

Please won’t someone think of the children? Specifically, the children who wont be able to watch it and draw inspiration from it because they don’t have credit cards to get through the paywall of a show which traditionally was family friendly. I have never wanted something to fail so much in all my life, it’s offensive!

Your actually disconnected from reality- The Prime Original Star Trek Universe hasn’t been touched on since Generations & The “In a Mirror Darkly 2 parter.
So How can TOS be responsibel for its decline?
It’s the EXACT OPPOSIT- each series has gone further away from TOS, not attracted NEW audiences & failed, even the TOS reboots/JJ verse which stated off successful due to the promise of Rebooting TOS & Boldly going failed because it tried to distance itself from the Original Series particuarly in promotion & was unrecognisable (no Uniforms, planet based terrorism stories with standard villains, dirtbikes & Beastie Boys)

The JJ films arguably failed due to STID and the one-sided and lame War on Terror plot that presented a very weird perspective. And that film had all sorts of TOS references.

The film series didnt fail with Beyond. It was already on life support. Despite STID generating a lot of money, it turned off viewers, confused a lot of “newcomers” and scared the studio enough to reject three stories by Orci and fire him as writer and director.

Beyond would have had to be a GREAT film to over-come all that. They were practically starting from scratch after STID pissed away all the goodwill 2009 had earned. And Beyond wasnt great.

Jim if that’s what you’ve decided DSC is, then why did you ask? Obvious troll is obvious. Go punch yourself in the face you’re probably used to it.

I suggest that you find your front door as quickly as you can and get some fresh air for the first time in what I can only imagine is years.

Get a grip, get a life and get over it.

Yes, looks similar to reaction TNG received before it went on the air, and even into the first second and third seasons. The 15 episode run will determine it’s fate, not Axanar loving trolls or female-lead hating bigots. Nice try, though. Now, please go away and let the adults talk.

Yeah, more TOS fanboys trying to get their way.

Well your logic says TOS fans love this so that means they already got their way. Time to jump off a cliff because clearly this show not being to your liking has made you depressed and suicidal.

Just a friendly piece of advice…you may want to express your opinion without encouraging suicide. It’s bad form, and, though rare, people have been prosecuted for that sort of thing.

Trying to compare fans reaction to the first departure from TOS & fans reacting to a series that appears to be abandoning the Prime universe & disrespecting the fans they want to support it (as they always have) by trying to sell us on a Prime series & instead hand us a reboot after paying.

So redundent, haters vs fans, who are the real fans bla bla bla. If you like Trek you are supposed to be excited by anything new coming out of this universe which has changed so much since TOS. Change can be better. Have you “haters” thought of that. I beleive Discovery will make all other trek look like cheap fan movies. We are so lucky to have some new trek.

How can people judge something and be so opinionated when its hasen’t come out yet. If ever you haters don’t like Discovery you have 3 seasons of TOS or 700 hours of trek to rewatched.

I wonder what will the haters who say they will boycott this so called bullshit do if the show is good afterall? Will they continu their bashing or will they watch the show and admit they were wrong?

Funny that the same people who accuse Discovery to be a prequel or rehash Trek are those who want another TOS. There ares o many untold stories, who cares if its set between Arthur and Kirk. I would love to watch something on the romulan wars. Who cares if it would be before Picard.

I beleive that if you are a true fan, you should keep an open mind. Isn’t what Star Trek is all about?

Set phasers to fun and enjoy. Pretty sure it’s going to be fascinating!

Nice article! Maybe we will see a batleth forged in fire.

Sadly, the obnoxious comments here are out of hand and more than a little bonkers. Id urge people not to feed the trolls.

Wow… sci-fi fans are a strange breed aren’t we? By our very nature we should embrace difference, whether that be in appearance or opinion. Sadly this modern day obsession with depression, naysaying and “keyboard warriorism” has taken over and trolling people (even to the extreme of telling them to commit suicide) is now socially acceptable and considered normal. How sad, hypocritical and frustrating we are as a group. Personally I’m very excited about Discovery, yes it isn’t ticking every box for me but it is Star Trek so I will be grateful that it is being made and try to embrace it; as I will also try to embrace a female Dr Who.

The future will only get better if we better ourselves and learn to embrace difference positively and I urge everyone reading this to research the law of attraction…

I know at this point, it’s maybe foolish to try to discuss the article, but I found this a fascinating piece. Of course, Klingon legend has it that Kahless forged the first Bat’leth by dipping a lock of his own hair into fiery lava, then as it cooled worked it into its now-legendary shape. The Bat’leth we’ve seen in the DSC props article sure looks like something crafted from a lava-encrusted lock of hair. I wonder if it’s Kahless’s Bat’leth? I wonder if these Klingons are bald from endless traditional Bat’leth making?

As the great Klingon philosopher, cH’eff Prob’st was known for saying, “Fire represents your life…” Maybe T’Kuvma’s bag is to tell heretical Klingons, “the tribe has spoken. It’s time for you to go.”

I can’t wait for the Klingon Earth War Star Trek is great When there is War, that is why DS9 is the Best Trek.

DS9 is not Star Trek- Star Trek is not Star Wars- it’s not about War- if you want war go watch the news or every other Dystopiian Sci-Fi series, why are you intent on destroying Star Trek- go watch something else & let us Explore Space & humanity.

Star Trek is about whatever the writers say its about. What silliness that you think its about what YOU say it is.

Go write some fan fiction that no one will read.

Is the sarcophagus a funeral pyre? Does somebody have to willingly sacrifice himself/herself by fire as a symbol? Is that what the suit is for?

How long will T’Kuvma be in the series? Will he be one of the sacrificed, i.e. ‘Don’t get too attached to the characters’?

There are some seriously deranged people in the conversation below.

OMG…..as the saying goes, that’s effin ten minutes of my life wasted that I will never get back….sheeeeeeeeeeeesh…..

It all looks good, but, when DS9 focused for weeks on the Klingons (as a race of head-bashing lunk-headed drunks), it got long in the tooth pretty fast. I would like to see something other than the Klingons, even if they are now more “spiritual” and “mystical.” I think fans will be a bit worried if we are hit over the head with what is an already over-exposed Trek frenemy for all 15 episodes. They are not the Lannisters or the Starks, so they can take a break every once and awhile and we can “see what’s out there” beyond more Klingon houses having endless arguments with one another. I say this because some the latest press says we’re about to get a LOT of Klingon stuff shoved our way with the new show.


Everything we have heard so far about the show clearly indicates that ‘Discovery’ will focus a lot on the Klingons. We will find out for sure in September but I can’t say that I’m excited about a series focusing too much on them.

I liked the Klingons when they threatened to take over planets and turn them into occupied police-states. The Kor/Koloth/Kang classic TOS stuff. They were so much like us, but not that much, but maybe just enough (the old “Klingons are the Chinese and Romulans are the Soviets” analogy). TNG and the latter series gave the Klingons a lot more complexity and history (and drinking/yelling problems), and, once again, some good recurring characters. BUT, here we go again, but now with an all-new shiny Game-of-Thrones-ey looking sheen and visual complexity that may actually take something away from them as a storied Star Trek race. I have seen nothing in the newly revealed designs that comes close to the beautiful bad-assedness of a D7 battle cruiser, and I can’t see that adding all the expensive decor and costumes will make them any more complex or compelling. And if it’s episode-after-episode, we may need to visit some other planets for a break from time to time.

Agreed Ahmed. I’m excited for the show but I just don’t care about yet another Klingon arc. Take a chance, give us a new villain. My guess is they will, they just keeping them secret (at least my hope) but its kind of depressing to me we have ONLY heard about the Klingons and literally no one else. We seen other aliens but it seems like its just going to be focus will be the Klingons. And IF true would be a first since every Trek show has had a wide variety of dealing with other species every season, good and bad. So again, my hope is they are just holding back to surprise us and we are going to get stories with other aliens this season.

The negativity of some of you people is mindboggling.
I’m stoked to see this new take on Trek, it looks amazing, fascinating, and about every other superlative that I can think of. Really anxious for Sept. to roll around. Bring it on!

Hmmm….since we know his group cherishes the old ways, maybe their look is a deliberate attempt for them to try to look like their ancestors….since the cranial ridges would only just be starting to reappear in Klingon children.

I really dig the Torchbearer suit.

Wow… Jim here is REALLY working to start a flame-war, isn’t he?

Sorry, “Jim,” but there is no such thing as “TOS trolls” and there is no such thing as “Star Trek” without recognizing the original series.

I’m sorry. But there really isn’t. Any more than you can describe European culture while rejecting Roman influence and calling those who identify Roman influences as “history-trolls.”

We get it. “Jim” hates Star Trek. And yet he’s posting here, trying to stir up animosity and hatred.

Anyone who’s watched this year’s South Park episodes can easily identify what he’s trying to do. He, clearly, is the online, real-world equivalent of Gerald Broslovski.

Don’t let him get what he wants. Don’t let him troll you guys into a fight.

He’s irrelevant. Let him grump around as much as he wants.