The tragic timeline of Worf from Star Trek

Star Trek is the original "cerebral" space opera, the juggernaut franchise with "Star" in the title that Disney doesn't own (yet). Developed by visionary Gene Roddenberry, StarTrek.com records that it began as a television show in 1966 but eventually branched out into feature films, spin-off shows, novels, websites, Las Vegas attractions, and fan conventions galore. 

Perhaps no one in the Trek universe has suffered as much as Lieutenant Commander Worf.  He is often mocked (the Q entity calls him "Micro-brain"), belittled (Lwaxana Troi calls him "Mister Woof"), and dunked on, sometimes literally — such as during his promotion ceremony when he was dropped into the drink during a sailing program on the holodeck. In fact, he gets his butt handed to him so often, he's the trope namer for when a show tells you how powerful a character is by having them defeat the Worf-type character.

But beginning with his tragic childhood and continuing throughout most of his life, the specter of real tragedy has loomed over Worf, son of Mogh, although much of it can be attributed to his being a Klingon, a member of an ancient, proud warrior race who find fighting as easy as breathing, surround themselves with rituals, and consider their personal and family honor to be more important than life itself.

Worf was orphaned as a child

Worf was the firstborn son of Mogh, an influential and respected Klingon. When he was only five years old, he and his parents left their homeworld of Qo'noS to live at the Klingon colony on Khitomer, a place made famous when the peace talks that ended hostilities between the Klingon Empire and the Federation were held there, according to Memory Alpha. Sadly, the planet would soon become even more infamous as the site of a sneak attack, a bloody massacre in which thousands of Klingons were brutally murdered by Romulans, a race as warlike as the Klingons but for whom deceit is as ingrained as logic is to Vulcans.

In the TNG episode "Heart of Glory," Worf revealed that his family were all killed during the massacre, but he was discovered among the destroyed buildings by Sergey Rozhenko, an officer from the USS Intrepid, the first ship to arrive after the attack. When a search through available records showed that Worf had no living family, Rozhenko took the young Klingon home with him, where he and his wife Helena fostered him alongside their own son, Nikolai.

Worf accidentally killed a human boy when he was a teen

Life with humans wasn't easy for Worf. The Rozhenkos (pictured) did as much research as they could to satisfy their young fosterling, who refused to eat "human" foods and insisted on learning Klingon ways and rituals as best as he could on his own. Worf did participate in competitive sports but didn't always find it easy to adapt to the foibles and frailties of his human playmates.

In the DS9 episode "Let He Who Is Without Sin," Worf revealed that when he was 13, he was playing soccer with some other children. A boy named Mikel tried to tackle him while Worf was trying to score, and in his excitement, Worf didn't realize that he'd injured Mikel with an accidental head-butt. In fact, Mikel's neck had been broken, and he died the next day. Worf realized exactly how much of an outsider he was, how different he was from humans, and the extent of their fragility compared to his own physical strength, and from that day forward, he developed a reserve and restraint around others, which was intended to protect them from further harm. Unfortunately, it also had the same effect on Worf himself, making it difficult for him to open himself up to personal relationships.

Worf's hatred for Romulans would prove to be detrimental

The manner in which he lost his parents marked Worf and created in him an inveterate loathing of anything Romulan for most of his career. While conducting himself within the bounds of honor as an officer of Starfleet, he still let his hatred get the better of him on more than one occasion.

As seen in TNG's "The Neutral Zone," during the Federation's first encounter with the Romulans in more than 50 years, Worf was unable to keep silent while Captain Picard was discussing the benefits of cooperation with the Romulan commander, who snapped, "Silence your dog, Captain!" Picard was forced to let Worf's breach in discipline as well as the insulting rejoinder go unacknowledged in the interest of maintaining his diplomatic facade.

During "The Enemy," the Enterprise rescued an injured Romulan after he crash-landed on a desolate planet during an electromagnetic storm. He needed treatment which Dr. Crusher was unable to replicate, and Worf was the only person on board with compatible body tissue that could save the Romulan's life. Worf was unable to put his hatred aside and refused to voluntarily donate it. Captain Picard would not order him to do it against his will, and the Romulan died.

In "Birthright", Worf was imprisoned in a community where Romulans and Klingons had learned to put their hostility aside. Given the choice between living peacefully with Romulans or being executed, Worf chose death.

Worf's father was scapegoated to save the Klingon Empire

Years after the Khitomer Massacre, according to Memory Alpha, the Klingon High Council discovered evidence that Ja'rod, a rival of Worf's father Mogh, had betrayed the colonists to the Romulans and was therefore directly responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000 of his own people. Ja'rod had also been killed in the attack, but his family, the House of Duras, had survived and subsequently amassed great wealth and power in the years since, thanks to Mogh no longer being an impediment to their affairs. 

It was shameful enough to admit that such a Klingon without honor existed, but if his true identity were to become known, it might plunge the empire into chaos. The council decided to pin the blame on Mogh instead, since they believed that as a member of Starfleet, Worf no longer cared about his reputation as a Klingon.

In "Sins of the Father," Worf learned about this and challenged the ruling to save his father's honor. Chancellor K'mpec (pictured) wouldn't risk the empire to placate one man, but Captain Picard was willing to risk the Klingon alliance with the Federation should his officer be harmed by the council. Ultimately, Worf submitted to discommendation as a compromise to keep the empire together. Effectively making him a pariah, this resulted in his being shunned or physically reviled by nearly every Klingon he met for years, adding further to his status as an outsider.

Worf's relationship with his brother was ruined

What nobody knew at the time the scandal originally broke was that Mogh had another son, Kurn (pictured), who'd been left with Lorgh, a family friend on Qo'noS, since he'd been too young to travel to Khitomer. Worf had forgotten about him thanks to his own trauma, and Kurn was raised by Lorgh as his own, to protect his identity. When the council made their decision to posthumously condemn Mogh, Kurn sought Worf out to see if he was still Klingon enough to challenge the lies told about their father. Worf agreed to the challenge but refused to let Kurn reveal his true identity, in order to protect him should the challenge fail.

Memory Alpha records that Kurn was convinced to go along with Worf's discommendation in order to preserve his own standing in the empire, which meant that a few short days after rediscovering his brother, Worf was forced to lose him all over again. Later events unfolded which allowed the brothers to serve together once again, but they were fated to never be a real family. Circumstances surrounding later political machinations required that Kurn be given a new identity and have his memory wiped, and the sons of Mogh were parted from each other permanently.

Worf's first attempt at romance didn't go very well

According to Memory Alpha, when Worf was attending Starfleet Academy, he was in a relationship with K'Ehleyr, a half-Klingon half-Human woman. K'Ehleyr identified as human, and while she respected her Klingon heritage at face value, she feared how hot-tempered it made her, and she used to mock the Klingon idea of "honor above all" as a way to repress that side of her. Worf felt that they were too young, and she agreed, believing that perhaps they lacked the courage to form a permanent relationship at that stage in their lives, so they went their separate ways — Worf to become an officer on the Enterprise and K'Ehleyr to join the Ambassador Corps. 

Years later, as seen in the TNG episode "The Emissary," they crossed paths again, and while they were still attracted to each other, K'Ehleyr made fun of Worf for being such a traditionalist that he expected her to marry him after sharing one intimate encounter. She insisted that she still wasn't ready to settle down and that the night they'd spent together had been enjoyable but lacked a deeper meaning. Worf was heartbroken, but he could not admit that more than tradition motivated his desire to marry. The best he could do, when they said their goodbyes after the mission, was to confess that he would always be incomplete without her.  

Worf got a second chance and it went even worse

A few years later, as seen in "Reunion," K'Ehleyr and Worf met again when she accompanied Chancellor K'mpec to the Enterprise to meet with Captain Picard over the matter of choosing K'mpec's successor as ruler of the Klingon High Council. K'mpec wanted Picard to discover which candidate had poisoned him: the outsider Gowron, or Duras, the Klingon whose father had been responsible for the Khitomer Massacre. 

K'Ehleyr chose this reunion to surprise Worf by introducing him to his son, Alexander. K'Ehleyr had discovered she loved Worf after all, but to her disappointment, Worf refused to renew their association, to spare her the stain on her honor that his discommendation (which he'd accepted since they'd last met) would inflict. He was unwilling to acknowledge that Alexander was his son for the same reason. K'Ehleyr had known about Worf's challenge to the council, but not why he withdrew it, and began conducting her own investigation into the matter. Duras discovered her attempts to uncover the truth, and he confronted her. When his threats failed to make her back down, Duras stabbed K'Ehleyr multiple times and fled.

Worf discovered K'Ehleyr in her quarters, mortally injured and covered in blood, but he was too late to save her. She died in his arms, and Worf lost his last chance to build a family with the mother of his son. 

Worf earned a reprimand for avenging his mate's death

After K'Ehleyr's death, Worf stopped in his own quarters only long enough to pick up his bat'leth and discard his comm badge before storming over to Duras' ship to confront him. Claiming the Right of Vengeance as K'Ehleyr's mate, he challenged Duras to a duel. Duras was a skilled fighter, in peak physical shape, with the added psychological advantage of, as he told Worf, being the only person who could prove that Mogh had been innocent of the charges against him.

Nonetheless, Worf decided that avenging K'Ehleyr's death was too important to let Duras live, regardless of his father's honor hanging in the balance. He got the better of Duras and pinned him to the deck with a bat'leth through his chest.

The slaying of a contender for leadership of the Klingon High Council could have caused a major diplomatic incident, especially having been done by a dishonored Klingon. Not even the discovery that Duras had been responsible for an assassination attempt on his rival Gowron prevented Captain Picard from entering a formal reprimand into Worf's service record, since Starfleet officers were sworn to live by Starfleet rules, not their own personal traditions. Memory Alpha notes that this was the first reprimand Worf ever received while serving in Starfleet.  

Worf's family honor was stripped away again

It was never proven who had poisoned Chancellor K'mpec, but as the only remaining contender for his place on the Klingon High Council, Gowron (pictured) was selected as Chancellor after Duras' death. Since Worf was directly responsible for that, Gowron obliged him by reinstating the honor of the House of Mogh and ending Worf's discommendation. 

According to Memory Alpha, Worf went on extended leave at the Monastery on Boreth after the Enterprise was destroyed in the Battle of Veridian III, as seen in the film Star Trek: Generations, but when Klingon warships began acting suspiciously near Deep Space Nine, Captain Sisko arranged for Worf to be temporarily assigned there. As seen in "The Way of the Warrior," Worf discovered the Klingons' secret plans to invade Cardassia over fears that their government had been overrun by Changelings, and he informed Captain Sisko. Sisko saw to it that the endangered Cardassians were secretly notified in time to defend themselves. 

As a result, Gowron cut diplomatic ties with the Federation over what he considered a betrayal and tried to recruit Worf to leave Starfleet and serve him instead. Worf refused to betray his oath to Starfleet, and Gowron effectively cast him out of the empire, saying that as long as Gowron lived, Worf would not be welcome there. Worf's loyalty to the empire had cost his family their honor. Now, his loyalty to Starfleet had cost him his homeland.

Worf tried to commit suicide more than once

Part of being a Klingon means being stronger than everybody else and never showing weakness of any kind, and Worf felt this keenly. As the sole representative of his people on the Enterprise, he felt enormous pressure to exemplify all the Klingon virtues, and he was his own worst critic if he made the slightest mistake.

In the TNG episode "Night Terrors," while trapped in a region of space, the Enterprise crew became unwitting targets of telepathic aliens trying to communicate with them. This had the unfortunate effect of disrupting the crew's sleep patterns to such an extent that they were unable to dream. After his plan to break the ship free failed, Worf, deprived like everyone else of a critical part of sleep, began to fear whatever was trapping them and resolved to commit suicide to alleviate his shame. Fortunately, Counselor Troi was able to stop him in time. 

In "Ethics," Worf became paralyzed by a spinal injury. Unwilling to suffer the ignominious fate of dying as an invalid, he tried to enlist Commander Riker to assist him in ritual suicide. Riker was opposed to the idea and instead insisted that Worf's son Alexander should be the one, per Klingon tradition, rightfully assuming that Worf would never traumatize Alexander in such a way. Ultimately, Worf resolved to undergo an experimental surgical procedure instead, which, fortunately, was completely successful. 

Worf was always unlucky in love

In the TNG episode "Birthright", Worf discovered a community where former Romulan guards and the Klingons who had once been their prisoners had learned to put their hostility aside. There, he met Ba'el (left), a Klingon in her twenties who became infatuated with him. Worf was prepared to return her affections until he discovered that she was half-Romulan, which repelled him. His feelings for her did return, but not strongly enough to choose to live with the other Romulans.

Worf became good friends with Counselor Troi (center) as she helped him navigate parenthood when Alexander joined him on the Enterprise, and after Worf experienced several alternate realities in which they were married, as seen in "Parallels," he became romantically interested in Troi for real. But ultimately, her feelings for Commander Riker resurfaced, and Troi and Worf ended their relationship.

In DS9's "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places," Worf became infatuated with Grilka (right), a Klingon woman visiting the station, as soon as he laid eyes on her. Unfortunately, he was still regarded as an outcast by other Klingons, and she summarily rejected him. The Ferengi Quark was also trying to win her love, so Worf put his own feelings aside in order to help Quark woo her. Ultimately, he was successful, resulting in the bittersweet feeling of helping someone succeed at gaining a prize, even though it meant giving up on it himself.

Worf's last love ended tragically, too

Worf was consoled after losing Grilka by Jadzia, who was uniquely equipped to understand Klingons due to an extremely long and varied career joined with the symbiont Dax, who had served as a Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire, according to Memory Alpha. After a tumultuous courtship, the pair were wed, and Worf was finally able to settle down and live hap ... just kidding!

As seen in the DS9 episode "Change of Heart," while on a secret mission to extract a defector with intelligence on the Dominion, Jadzia was seriously wounded. Instead of leaving her behind, Worf aborted the mission to get her medical attention, and the agent they'd been sent to meet was captured and killed. Worf received another permanent mark on his record and probably lost any chance of ever getting a ship of his own.

Worf's best chance at happiness came crashing down in "Tears of the Prophets." Jadzia was murdered by an evil spirit who had possessed the Cardassian Gul Dukat in an attempt to destroy the Prophets within the wormhole, and Worf wasn't even there, being off fighting the Dominion War. The Dax symbiont survived, but the new host, Ezri, was not bound by Jadzia's relationship with Worf and refused to consider a new one. Thus, Worf was faced with the bitter reminder of what he'd had, and lost, every single day.