Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Janeway, Seven of Nine, and the Doctor. Archer, T'Pol, and Trip. (Deep Space Nine also has some characters.) Most Star Trek shows have a trio that dominates the narrative landscape. And in the case of Star Trek: The Next Generation, those characters are undoubtedly Picard, Data, and the oh-so-jolly fellow we'll be talking about today: Worf.
You were probably wondering if I'd ever get around to talking about any of the BIG characters from TNG. (Because Beverly, Guinan, and Lwaxana weren't enough? Jeez.) But, yes, I am. And, yes, that character has to be Worf. Because of the three main TNG characters, Worf is the one with the unmitigated gall, the guile, and the ... gumption? Sure. He never says that word but I wanted a third "g" word and gumption will do. Anyway, Worf's dope, so he gets a list.
Picking five quintessential Worf moments is actually impossible, so consider this more of a five personal Worf favorites. If any of these lists is ripe for your commentary, please let it be this one. Nothing is better than talking about the greatness of Klingons, and the even greater greatness of Worf's witty one-liners.
But this isn't about pithy retorts. No! This is about moments that help define who Worf is and how we perceive him. Also, yeah, though, there will be some jokes. No birthday pain sticks, though. Apologies, for they will not be on this list. Feel free to pain stick yourself on your birthday, though. And film it, obviously, or else it doesn't count.
(Please note: these are Worf's quintessential TNG moments, so don't @ me because I don't talk about that time Worf and Jadzia go to Risa and he messes with the weather controls because Worf hates fun. You were thinking about that moment. I know you. Well, squash it! It's TNG's time to shine.)
Worf's Drink of Choice
Yes, the prune juice is a quintessential moment. I bet you didn't even remember Guinan gives prune juice to Worf for the first time in "Yesterday's Enterprise" of all episodes. Yup. I bet you ain't even knew your favorite moment from one of the best TNG episodes of all time is Worf drinking juice from a prune. Welcome to your new reality. Also, consider: TNG did not hold on to much, episode-to-episode. Sometimes Picard's Borgness gets a mention or two, Data's got an evil twin, Geordi fell in love with a lady on the holodeck, Riker... also fell in love with a lady on the holodeck.
But Worf's legendary love of prune juice is the thing that Star Trek writers snuck into casual dialogue constantly. Ronald D. Moore originally wrote the idea into "Yesterday's Enterprise" because of a TNG novel called "The Final Reflection" where the writer, John M. Ford, revealed that Klingons love fruit juice. From those humble beginnings, there are no less than eight specific mentions of Worf's love of prune juice, not including all the times it's just sitting in his glass, thus making this the second most canonical drink-related character note (after Earl Grey, hot) concerning any Star Trek character ever.
Prune juice: savor the moment.
Worf: BDSM Queen
It feels like we keep coming back to bad TNG episodes, but damned if they don't tend to hide some of the best, most defining character moments. Case in point: "The Dauphin," better known as the one in which an old lady transforms into an alien bear. Oh, and also Wesley falls in love with a girl named Salia, who may or may not also be an alien bear. Salia is at least an alien bear part-timer. Fact.
But this list is not about alien bears (sadly), this is about Worf! And, oh, baby, do we get an important moment here. There is a cut where we hear Worf screaming, then the camera pans to him revealing he is screaming while the rest of him is at rest. And then he says "That is how a Klingon lures a mate." And he is talking with an actual child, Wesley Crusher! Wow, Worf. Just wow.
A lot of people love that moment, but they often forget that immediately after the screaming, Worf also clarifies that it's not the men, but the women who do the roaring before, "they hurl heavy objects... and claw at you." This, I feel, is the first time we really understand the extent to which Worf appreciates consensual violence in the bedroom. Which is to say, Worf likes getting beat up a lot. See also: birthday pain sticks. But, mostly, this is the set-up for the occasions when we see Worf and Jadzia actually bruised and bleeding, which is all the time, because their sex life is insane.
Once again, we don't get a lot of things repeatedly confirmed about TNG characters, but even early on, Worf's sado-masochism is epic, shady water cooler conversation. Also, don't let Worf give your kids "the talk" is a major takeaway here, I feel.
Worf: Widower and Complicated Dad
A lot of people fixate on the fact that Worf lost his wife, Jadzia Dax, on DS9. Well, hold on there, because I think you are forgetting Worf's OG waifu: K'Ehleyr. First of all, let it be known that if K'Ehleyr had been in more than two episodes of Star Trek, she would 100% be getting one of these lists in Worf's stead. K'Ehleyr is a bomb queen, a true inspiration, and her outfits are always on point. However, we live in this dark timeline where two episodes is all K'Ehleyr gets, so let's talk about Worf some more, I guess ...
So K'Ehleyr hides the fact that she and Worf have a son, Alexander. Worf... does not know how to handle that. And I feel there is no more influential moment on Worf and Alexander's relationship than when K'Ehleyr gets straight murdered by Duras. Yeah, they fridged her, but that's an article for another time.
What Worf does when he disocvers K'Ehleyr moments before her death is so defining, it has to be on this list. He finds out Duras is the killer, K'Ehleyr dies, and then Worf forces Alexander to stare at this dead mother, saying, "You have never seen death. Now, look and always remember." I mean, damn, son of Mogh. That's therapy sessions for life GUARANTEED right there.
So much comes from that moment: Worf and Alexander's struggling connection as father and son, Worf struggling to trust Alexander can even be a Klingon Warrior at all, and eventually at least one version of Alexander travels back in time just to prove he is the man his father hoped he would be. There's another major development that comes from how Worf deals with K'Ehleyr's death, but we'll get to that in a moment.
Suffice to say, though, Worf's scream in this moment is legit and not remotely sexual because that would be weird.
Worf and Duras, Sitting in a Tree
The House of Mogh v House of Duras strife is maybe the most legendary thing in all of Star Trek. You could write some killer (literally) Klingon opera on the subject. Duras' father frames Worf's pops, Mogh, for betraying the Klingon Empire to the Romulans — when it was Big Poppa Duras who actually did it. That's just the appetizer, though. The main course is Duras trying to sell Worf's whole family even further down the river, trying to kill Worf's secret brother, Kurn, causing Worf to have to accept discommendation (which is worse than death for Klingons) and finally actually straight up, cold-blooded killing Klingon K'ween, K'Ehleyr.
None of those things are this moment, though. Although, a temporary aside is in order for when Worf says "It is a good day to die, Duras, but the day is not yet over," and also when Worf slaps Duras like he's a bad trick and says, "You are the son of a traitor."
The moment, though, comes straight after K'Ehleyr dies in "Reunion" when Worf gets his Klingon revenge. Worf confronts Duras, fights him, beats Duras, and then Duras whines that, if Worf kills him, then no one will ever be able to reveal the truth of Mogh's innocence. Understand: Worf spends a lot of time thinking about how he can get back in with Klingons. They are kind of his jam. But in that moment, Worf is like, nah, son, and just puts a Bat'leth right through Duras. BOOM. Riker's there, too, and he ain't stopped it, because Riker knows what's good.
Not only does that lead to Gowron becoming the Klingon chancellor, but also represents a subtle turn in Worf's dedications. It also reaffirms that Worf will always be an unknown x-factor. The man is honorable, yes, but don't mess with him.
Worf? Merry or Not Merry?
C'mon now, you knew I was not gonna end on murder. We gotta keep this Klingon biz light and fluffy. And, you know what, I do believe that "Qpid" contains... a moment. I don't know if it's quintessential yet as I'm typing this, but I love it so here we go...
Q rolls up, kidnaps one of Picard's many side pieces, Vash, and then creates an elaborate world wherein Picard is Robin Hood. Which makes Worf... Will Scarlet? I think? Worf's wearing red, and you know wardrobe people always getting basic when costuming for Robin Hood.
And then, I mean you know what happens: Worf says, "I must protest: I am not a Merry Man!" But, my dude, you must have at least seen the Robin Hood Disney joint, otherwise how else what you know what you are dressed as?
I find Worf's Robin Hood wokeness very revealing, but, look, I gotta give my top moment to Worf sliding up on Geordi, taking that wack lute out of Geordi's inept hands, and then smashing it into a tree. "Sorry," he is. No, you ain't, Worf! Don't act sheepish. Geordi is bad at the lute and we are all here PROUD OF YOU.
Is it a quintessential moment? I dunno, when a man proves himself to be a hero to ears everywhere for thirty years, is that not a defining moment for the ages? I believe it is.