We have nothing against writers (much of this very website is written by them), but we can't pretend that every iconic TV and movie character or moment is carefully crafted by expert scribes hunched over a desk. Often the writer comes up with only a vague idea (or a specific yet terrible one) and the actor has to think up something better on the spot. In fact, some of the most iconic scenes of all time come about this way ...
5 The Vulcan Nerve Pinch Was Originally a Punch in the Face
Star Trek's Vulcan nerve pinch (called the Vulcan neck pinch by people who like it when Trekkie heads explode) is the type of thing that sci-fi is all about: It looks awesome, it fits the Spock character perfectly, and even a child could learn how to do it.
Any stealthy, oddly tall child.
So, of course it wasn't intended to exist at all. Gene Roddenberry's vision of how Spock should deal with his enemies was far simpler: He'd punch them square in the jaw.
That's right, just a big ol' sock to the teeth. In an episode titled "The Enemy Within," an evil Captain Kirk terrorizes the Enterprise, and Spock is tasked with subduing him. He was supposed to do this by throwing a haymaker and knocking Kirk straight out. Despite being given a golden opportunity to punch William Shatner right in his enormous head, Spock declined, saying it was out of character. And here is where, in fact, Leonard Nimoy proved that he understood the character of Spock better than the people who wrote for him. Of course Vulcans would have a more restrained, logical way to subdue a man rather than giving him a flailing knuckle sandwich.
Plus, fight scenes need such complex choreography.
Instead, Nimoy suggested that Vulcans should have the power to shoot energy from their fingertips, and that placing said fingers on a prominent nerve would cause the enemy to receive a moderate shock and be knocked harmlessly unconscious. OK, it's not very scientific (although lightning fingers would certainly make masturbation more interesting), but it adheres to the central rule of sci-fi: Nobody will care as long as it's awesome.
The director was less than enthused, but Shatner loved the idea, presumably because he suddenly didn't have to risk getting cold-cocked into next week. They played out the scene for the director, who came around and decided he loved it. It immediately became one of the show's trademarks, right behind male aliens with walnuts for foreheads and female aliens who automatically want to have sex with humans, no matter what planet they're from.