- For other uses, see Tristan.
- See Adams for other articles with titles that contain, either by relationship or by coincidence, this character's surname.
- For the mirror universe counterpart, see Tristan Adams (mirror).
- "Bones, are you aware that in the last twenty years, Dr. Adams has done more to revolutionize, to humanize prisons and the treatment of prisoners than all the rest of humanity had done in forty centuries?"
- —James T. Kirk, 2266[src]
In the mid-2240s, Adams set out to revolutionize the Federation's prison system and the way the prisoners were treated inside penal institutions. By the 2260s, his theories had transformed prisons from mere cages into clean, decent hospitals which helped to rehabilitate criminals, instead of merely locking them up.
By 2266, Adams had risen to become director of the penal colony on Tantalus V, at which time, Dr. Simon Van Gelder, joined him as an associate. Merely six months later, Van Gelder had become severely ill and had trouble remembering his own name. Van Gelder managed to escape the colony by hiding in a supply crate which was beamed up to the USS Enterprise. After subduing Van Gelder, Captain James T. Kirk contacted Dr. Adams and informed him of Van Gelder's escape, Adams gave Kirk a false diagnosis of Van Gelder's illness which didn't convince Enterprise CMO, Dr. Leonard McCoy.
With McCoy's suspicions and regulations stipulating that Kirk investigate, he transported to the surface with Dr. Helen Noel, to meet Adams and learn about what had happened to Van Gelder. On the Enterprise, Lieutenant Commander Spock and Dr. McCoy were able to determine (via mind meld) that Adams had inflicted the condition on Van Gelder through the use of unauthorized and unethical experiments on all partients, which turned them into mindless Zombies, with Van Gelder being the only exception. By the time they had learned this, Adams had already imprisoned Kirk and Noel and had subjected the captain to his neural neutralizer.
However, Noel was able to briefly shut down the colony's power systems during an escape attempt. During the attempt, Kirk was able to overpower Adams and escape the neural neutralizer room, just as Spock restored the power. As he was lying stunned on the floor of the neutralizer room, Adams was subjected to unsupervised exposure to the beam which emptied his mind and killed him. (TOS episode & Star Trek 1 novelization: Dagger of the Mind)
In the 2370s, a Tristan Adams received cargo and other medical supplies from Van Gelder at the Central Bureau of Rehabilitation in Stockholm via the Planet 10 Shipping company. These cargo items were often routed through Deep Space 9. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine set decoration; ST reference: Star Trek Encyclopedia)
- Given Dr. Adams's death in 2266, this Adams must be either a descendent or share the name by coincidence.