In Search of Spock’s Beard: The Origin of Multiverse Memes

Ever wonder what the origin was of some of your favorite multiverse (or alternate Universe) memes? For instance, doppelgängers in an alternate universe often have facial hair. The most famous example is Spock’s beard in the Star Trek Original Series episode, ” Mirror, Mirror.” This particular image has its origin with Jerome Bixby’s short story, “One Way Street,” which was the inspiration for the “Mirror, Mirror” episode for which Bixby wrote the screenplay. Around that time, in the Lost in Space episode, “The Antimatter Man” the counterpart of Don West in the alternate “shadow world”universe has a beard and mustache ( and appears to be even more irascible than Don).

And while we’re mentioning mirrors… mirrors themselves are often used in science fiction to act as a symbol or metaphor for alternate reality, such as in the title “Mirror, Mirror” discussed above or as in the final scene of the 1968 film “Journey to the Farside of The Sun.” Here, Jason Webb, the director of Eurosec (the international space agency of the future) has discovered that one of his astronauts,  Glen Ross, is really a doppelgänger from the newly discovered planet occupying the exact opposite side of Earths orbit. Without further going into details, Webb plans for Ross to return to space in order to prove that there are two Earths, each a duplicate of the other, save for them being mirror opposites. The results end up being calamitous, with a huge crash that destroys Eurosec. Some years later, Jason Webb is seen to be in an old age home bound to a wheel chair and pondering the fate of Ross and everyone else, and whether anyone will ever believe him regarding the nature of the other planet. In the final scene, he sees his image in a mirror that is apparently covering an old window.He reaches for it, as if reaching for his counterpart, as he wheels toward it faster and faster, and then crashes through the window to his demise. A very similar scene ends the  “Tales of Tomorrow” episode, “The Duplicates.” Furthermore,mirrors can literally act as doorways to alternate realities such as in the classic Lewis Carol novel, Through the Looking a Glass,  and  in the Lost in Space episode “The Magic Mirror”

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