'Star Trek' Characters - Harry Mudd
Created | Updated May 1, 2017
According to Star Trek, Space is the Final Frontier. The ultimate border. About as far away from it all as you can possibly get. With a whole galaxy in which to boldly go where no man has gone before, it is perhaps unsurprising under these circumstances that the crew of the Star Trek original series USS Enterprise did not bump into the same people time and time again. In fact, only one character not part of Kirk's crew was seen in more than one episode during the original series – Harcourt Fenton Mudd, known to one and all as 'Harry'. Mudd was portrayed onscreen by actor Roger C Carmel (1932-86).
A Muddling Meddler
Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Thief, swindler and con man, liar and rogue.
– Captain James T Kirk describing Mudd.
Harry Mudd was a balding, chubby conman with a large, curly moustache and much larger criminal record. He was first encountered by Captain Kirk on his five year mission to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilisations on stardate 1329.8. On this occasion, Mudd's ship had flown into an asteroid field where it crashed and disintegrated, proving that for all his bluster, Mudd was not much of ship's captain. Fortunately the Enterprise's transporter was able to save both Mudd and his 'cargo' – mail order brides for the males of a colony world.
His piloting skills do not seem to have improved by the next time that the Enterprise encounters this ignominious entrepreneur, having crash-landed on an uncharted planet which fortunately was populated by androids.
Little is known of his early life other than the fact that he was married. His wife, a constantly nagging woman called Stella, was the inspiration for him to go into space. He states she didn't mean to inspire him to go into space, he just fled to the final frontier to avoid her harassing criticisms. After all, in space, no-one can hear you scold.
According to his criminal record, Mudd's past offences include smuggling, transporting stolen goods and purchasing a space vessel with counterfeit currency. When he is encountered by Kirk he is charged with galaxy travel without flight plan, his ship's failure to broadcast an identification beam, and failure to answer a starship's signal – thus being a menace to navigation. This is summarised as illegal operation of a vessel, especially as Mudd's ship's master's licence had previously been revoked. He is later shown to be distributing an illegal substance called the Venus Drug. Fortunately, Kirk promises to be a character witness at Mudd's trial.
Later, Mudd sold unlicensed patents to different planets without paying royalties. After selling Denebians the rights to a Vulcan fuel synthesiser he was arrested and faced the death penalty on Deneb V for fraud. Although he escaped from gaol and stole a spaceship, he was fired at and his ship damaged. Eventually it crashed on an uncharted planet he later named Mudd.
Mudd then stole another spaceship to escape from androids and on Ilyra VI he fraudulently sold the natives the Starfleet Space Academy. This gave him enough credits to get to Sirius IX, where he discovered a love potion, although it caused serious illness in his customers there. At some point in his career he visited Omega Cygni, where he sold the natives their own oceans. He had also conned two miners on Ophiuchi VI out of a year's supply of dilithium crystals with fake Federation vouchers.
Mudd's biggest crime by far is the painful fake Irish accent he adopts when pretending to be Leo Walsh1. The experience can only be pictured by imagining Dick van Dyke attempting to impersonate a drawling leprechaun from deepest Mummerset2.
Harry Mudd has appeared in two episodes of Star Trek as well as one episode of Star Trek - The Animated Television Series. Please see episode descriptions below; these are as clear as Mudd:
'Mudd's Women' (1966)
The Enterprise encounters an unidentified Class J cargo ship flying erratically. When Kirk tries to contact it, the ship flees madly into an asteroid field, overloads its engines and is in danger of being destroyed by a collision. In order to save the ship from destruction, the Enterprise extends its deflector field around the rogue ship long enough to beam all on board. This act causes the ship's lithium crystals3 to crack, leaving the ship running on battery power only.
The captain of the cargo ship who claims to be Leo Walsh is accompanied by three beautiful women who wear the sort of low-cut sequinned dresses seen only in the future4, whom 'Walsh' calls his cargo. These women enchant all the men who see them. It is soon learnt that 'Walsh' is really Harcourt Fenton 'Harry' Mudd, who had planned to go to the frontier world of Ophiuchus III on the business of 'wiving settlers'. Mudd's plan is to recruit wives to marry lonely colonists, with his three female companions – Ruth also called Ruthie, Magda and Evie 'Eve' McHuron – all coming from frontier planets without men to marry. As they all only had machines and relatives for company they are eager for the opportunity of a new life elsewhere, even if that means marrying men they've never met.
As the Enterprise desperately needs new lithium crystals, they travel to the barren lithium mining world of Rigel XII, which is plagued by magnetic storms, to get more. Mudd is delighted as lithium is worth 300 times its weight in diamonds, and thousand of times its weight in gold. He believes the three miners who have been alone for three years – Ben Childress, Herm Gossett and Benton – would be ideal husbands. After all, it is a truth galactically acknowledged that a single miner in possession of good lithium crystals must be in want of a wife.
Soon Kirk is blackmailed into letting Mudd go free and the women marry the miners. Then the truth is revealed. The three women are not really the supermodel beauties they seemed; their appearance is an illusion caused by an illegal substance called the Venus Drug. This drug makes men more masculine and aggressive, but women become shapelier and irresistible. Meanwhile, Evie learns that her prospective prospector partner Ben wants a wife who isn't 'a wife to cook and sew and cry and need'5, but a selfish, vain useless wife. After he had seen her true appearance, Evie swallows what she believes to be the Venus Drug as part of a rant, but discovers that she has in fact become beautiful just by believing in herself.
'Mudd's Women' was one of the very first Star Trek scripts to be written, and was one of those considered to be made as the series' second pilot6. After the series was commissioned, 'Mudd's Women' became the second regular episode to be made after 'The Corbomite Maneuver'. The episode was written by Stephen Kandel based on a story by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Harvey Hart.
'I, Mudd' (1967)
Fed up with going where No Man has gone before, the Enterprise instead heads where Norman has gone before when the ship is commandeered by a strange being called Norman. It is soon revealed he is an android from Andromeda7, a galaxy far, far away.
Norman takes them to a Class K planet8 known as Mudd. Viewers are shocked to discover, mere moments after the episode title 'I, Mudd' appears in large, friendly letters in the opening credits, that the ruler of Planet Mudd is, in fact, Harry Mudd. Now calling himself Mudd the First and addressed as 'My Lord Mudd', he is the androids' apparent ruler.
Designed to serve their makers, since their creators' extinction the androids have been without purpose and so the 207,809 androids on the planet were quick to accept Mudd as their monarch. He ensured that the androids adopted the appearance of beautiful young women wearing impractical clothing, ordering the construction of 500 identical Alice androids along with numerous models of the Barbara, Maisie, Trudy and Annabelle series. Mudd reluctantly conceded that the male Oscar series did have a few uses. The androids were built with a self-renewing plastic skin over a beryllium-titanium alloy skeleton, giving a lifespan of approximately 500,000 years. As human brains could be transplanted into replica bodies, this potentially offered immortality.
The Enterprise is soon overrun with androids and the entire crew (in other words Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty and Chekov) transported down. It becomes apparent that they are up against paranoid androids, for though they wish to serve humanity, offering whatever is desired, this service will be used to create a sterile order and control mankind to stop them from spreading throughout the galaxy.
Determined to prevent this, the Enterprise personnel study the androids and, after noticing that there is only one Norman despite there being a plethora of all other makes and models, deduce that he is the androids' central control. Mudd works with Kirk and his entire crew (the other five) to confuse the androids through cabaret, overloading them with incoherent information. They give an impromptu variety show which, combined with a paradoxical game of 'truth or dare', leads to Norman all-but spontaneously combusting9.
With the androids tamed, Mudd is sentenced to stay on the planet in order to provide them with an example of a human failure and to encourage them to be productive. Kirk also leaves Mudd with 500 copies of his wife Stella to nag him constantly in revenge.
The episode was written by Stephen Kandel and directed by Marc Daniels.
'Mudd's Passion' (1973)
Mudd also appears in an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, still voiced by Roger C Carmel. His appearance has changed a bit since 'I, Mudd', with his hair and moustache now black, his bald-patch has grown and now Mudd is resorting to a comb-over look. Also, his chest is not as hirsute.
On the planet Motherlode in the Arcadian star system, Mudd is selling his love crystals to the miners there when Kirk and the Enterprise catch up with him. As Motherlode is outside the Federation, Kirk has no authority to arrest Mudd for the charges of fraud, illegal drug manufacture and swindling. Spock reveals that Mudd was using a reptilian creature called a Rigelian hypnoid to project an illusion of a beautiful woman under the influence of the crystals to make miners think the love potion works. The miners want revenge and start pelting Mudd with rocks, leading him to agree to surrender into Kirk's protective custody.
Back on the Enterprise and confined to a cell undergoing a medical examination, Mudd convinces nurse Christine Chapel to try out a sample of the love potion. While this allows Mudd to escape, Chapel is disappointed that the potion has no immediate effect on Spock. When she confronts Mudd, he takes her captive and escapes in a shuttle while the love crystals break and enter the Enterprise's air system. Mudd and Chapel land on an uncharted planet, where they are attacked by giant rock monsters, pursued by Kirk and Spock. The Vulcan has by now developed feelings for the nurse while the crew of the Enterprise are also affected by the potion; Bones boasts of his medical prowess to impress women and Scotty chats up feline female communications officer M'Ress. After Spock and Kirk put their arms around each other and tell each other how good it is to be such dear friends, they eventually rescue Mudd and Chapel.
Mudd is returned to the brig and is likely to undergo rehabilitation therapy for his crimes. It is discovered that his crystals do indeed create a few moments of love, but this leads to several hours of hatred, as well as other hangover-like symptoms. Mudd does say that he looks forward to encountering the crew of the Enterprise again, calling them his 'loved ones'. Like the two episodes of the Original Series, 'Mudd's Passion' was written by Stephen Kandel.
Harry Mudd appears in Star Trek short novelisations and novels. 'Mudd's Passion' was novelised by Alan Dean Foster. The adaptations of 'Mudd's Women' and 'I, Mudd' were started by James Blish and finished by his widow, JA Lawrence, who wrote a short sequel to these episodes entitled 'The Business As Usual During Altercations'. These three stories were collected and published under the title Mudd's Angels in 1977. The same anthology collection has also been retitled Mudd's Enterprise. A new novel, Mudd in Your Eye by Jerry Olton, was published in 1997.
No red-shirted extras were killed in the writing of this Entry.