Monster of the Week: Tribbles


This week marks the week of Thanksgiving in the US, and I—as an American—have thought long and hard about what monster to use to mark the occasion.

Should I choose a bird-like monster to celebrate the turkey? The cockatrice, perhaps?

Or maybe I should focus on the history of the holiday. I could write about a Native American legend or catalog the monstrosities the European settlers inflicted upon them—but no, I haven’t researched those topics well enough to do them justice.

Turkeys, history, family squabbles around the table, gratitude… which of these is Thanksgiving really about? There are as many answers to that question as there are folks who celebrate Thanksgiving, but there is one thing that everyone can agree on—

Thanksgiving means stuffing. Not just the kind you put in a turkey—I mean stuffing yourself until there’s more of you than you know what to do with. It’s about excess. Too much-ness.

That’s when it hit me:


Now, hold the damn phone—you say, and your next question will separate you into one of two camps:

  1. “What the hell is a tribble?”
  2. “How dare you suggest that the adorable, furry, rapidly multiplying creatures from Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” (season two, episode fifteen) are monsters?”


Those of you in camp one, I refer you to the nerds over in camp two. They summed it up pretty well. Nice going, nerds in group two!

Those of you in camp two, well, that’s a reasonable question.

*clears throat* *puts on rapidfire radio disclaimer voice*

First, I’d remind you that “Monster of the Week” is a catchy title I gave this series of blog posts that is not meant to imply that every creature covered is literally a monster; blog topics include but are not limited to fairy tale creatures, urban legends, mythical creatures, aliens, robots, other creatures with human or near-human sentience that are not literally humans, any fictional creations that are not literally humans, and any humans fictional or real who have engaged in monstrous behavior.

*deep breath*

Whoof. Never ask me to read that aloud in my “rapidfire radio disclaimer” voice, because it sounds an awful lot like my “oh god this tongue-twister went off the rails real fast” voice.

The second point is that—in spite of that disclaimer—I am going to argue that tribbles are monstrous.

Tribbles are completely harmless. They are cute, fuzzy, cooing creatures that love humans. They don’t bear anybody any ill will.

(Except Klingons. Sorry, Klingons.)

However, tribbles have two major flaws: they reproduce really fast, and they’re always hungry.

Can you see how this might cause a problem?

Fortunately for our heroes aboard the Enterprise, the tribble infestation never escalated to the point where they were competing for critical resources like food, water, or oxygen. In a darker show, though, that would be the inevitable confrontation. Just by sheer numbers and the need to eat, tribbles could threaten human survival.

One tribble isn’t a monster.

But even one tribble, given enough time and food to reproduce, could manufacture a monstrous situation—even make monsters of the humans around them. Most of us don’t bat an eye at pest extermination when the pest is a cockroach, but what about when it’s a cute purring fuzzball? Is that fuzzball so cute that you would rather starve than kill it?

Okay, fine. I went to a dark place there. This is a blog post about tribbles.

Let’s bring it back.

Tribbles are cute, they’re silly, and it’s fun to watch them bury William Shatner in a fuzzy tribble-lanche. Sure, taken to the logical extreme they can teach us some hard truths about resource management and population ecology, but really? They’re here to look cute.

If there’s one lesson we can learn from tribbles, it’s this: you can have too much of a good thing.

It’s an important lesson that all of us are going to forget around dinnertime tomorrow and then remember really well right afterward. That’s fine, that’s what all those hot New Year’s gym deals are for. Go ahead. Just take a moment to be thankful for all of that excess before you skip to regretting it.

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans—and happy Thursday, everybody else!

Prompt: Eat a feast. Or write about a feast. Not your grandma’s Thanksgiving, though—I’m talking full on George R.R. Martin style feasting. Just make sure you spend at least as much time talking about the action as you do about all that fantastic food.

2 Replies to “Monster of the Week: Tribbles

  1. This was a really great fit for Thanksgiving, especially well done juxtaposition of our somewhat gluttonous mentality of the holiday and the psychological impact caused by resource shortage. Kind of tangential but it has been an increasing trend to make cook books based off the cuisine from books and shows, including three cook books based around Song of Fire and Ice, which as you stated given Martin’s meticulous descriptions of feasts makes some sense. It is kind of ironic as many of these series have a dichotomy of some characters feasting in extreme splendor, while other characters in the same series are eating in squalor if at all. In fact last week I saw a cook book based on the Walking Dead, where the characters are frequently if not almost always on the verge of starvation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *