10 Best Unused Ideas From Star Trek Movies
Before the cameras start rolling on a Star Trek movie (and sometimes even after the cameras have started rolling), the story will go through dozens of changes. From the first draft of the script to the final cut of the edit, scenes, plot threads, and even entire characters can come and go from the project.
Some Trek movies have been the result of pitches by writers that intrigued executives; others have been pieced together by the executives themselves based on market research and industry trends. So, here are the 10 best unused concepts from the development stages of Star Trek films.
10 Sulu Bumps Into His Ancestor On Earth (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the crew of the Enterprise travels back in time to present-day San Francisco. There was originally going to be a scene in which Sulu met a little boy who turned out to be one of his ancestors.
However, the child actor who was hired got upset on the day of filming and couldn’t be calmed down. It was too late to recast, so the scene was cut. The scene does appear in the movie’s novelization, but that’s not the same.
9 Apocalypse Now Homage Plot (Star Trek: Insurrection)
The plot of an early draft of Star Trek: Insurrection was an homage to the plot of Apocalypse Now — which, in turn, was an homage to the plot of Joseph Campbell’s Heart of Darkness. Picard would’ve taken on the role of Captain Willard, tracking down an old friend who’s become dangerously unstable.
Starfleet would’ve filled the role that the U.S. government filled in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic. This storyline would’ve given more justification for Picard’s titular “insurrection.”
8 Nichelle Nichols Cameoing As Uhura’s Grandmother (Star Trek)
When J.J. Abrams was developing his 2009 Trek reboot, Nichelle Nichols approached him with an idea to briefly appear as Uhura's grandmother in the movie.
Alas, at the time there was a writers’ strike going on, which prevented Abrams from writing the scene Nichols had suggested. If Nichols had made an appearance, it would’ve been a joy for Trekkies, as well as a poignant passing-of-the-torch to her successor in the role, Zoe Saldana.
7 A Shapeshifting Alien That Impersonates Biblical Figures (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
In early versions of the script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the crew of the Enterprise would’ve faced a shapeshifting alien that impersonated biblical figures. The climactic set piece would’ve seen Kirk fighting the alien in the form of Jesus Christ.
The Enterprise crew would go on to encounter God himself in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which may have grown out of this scrapped concept.
6 Kirk’s Son Working For Khan (Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan)
In Harve Bennett’s initial draft of the second Star Trek movie, which was subtitled The War of the Generations before it was subtitled The Wrath of Khan, Kirk would go to a distant planet and discover a band of rebels working for Khan.
Among these rebels would be Kirk’s son, who would eventually defect from the rebellion and team up with his long-lost dad to take down the bad guy.
5 God Turns Out To Be Satan (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Despite the infinite potential for thought-provoking sci-fi in a movie about the Enterprise crew encountering God in deep space, a lot of Trekkies were disappointed by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In the final cut, God turns out to just be some alien pulling a fast one.
In an early draft, God turned out to be Satan in a shocking plot twist. The Devil would’ve dragged Bones to Hell, and Kirk and Spock would’ve dived in to save him. It would have been spectacular.
4 Picard Recreates Kirk In The Holodeck (Star Trek: Generations)
When Star Trek: Generations was in development, Paramount wanted to have two scripts to choose from, so Maurice Hurley (who had previously worked as a writer and producer on The Next Generation) was hired to write a script alongside the one that ended up being used.
In Hurley’s version, Picard recreated Kirk on the Holodeck to help him stop a militant invasion from an alternate dimension. This would’ve tied in with Kirk’s experiences from The Original Series episode “The Tholian Web.”
3 Eddie Murphy’s Role As A Conspiracy Theorist/Radio Personality (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Lifelong Trekkie Eddie Murphy was originally going to be given a role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He would’ve played a conspiracy theorist with a radio show who got swept up in the Enterprise crew’s time-traveling antics.
The producers feared that Murphy’s comic relief role would be too similar to Richard Pryor’s role in Superman III, which turned out horribly, so they retooled the character to be a love interest for Kirk called Dr. Taylor.
2 The Borg Travels Back In Time To The Renaissance Era (Star Trek: First Contact)
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg travels back in time to the “past” of the Star Trek universe, but the future of the real world. Originally, the script had the Borg traveling back to the Renaissance era.
The producers got cold feet about presenting the movie as a period piece and changed their minds, but bringing real history into a sci-fi storyline would’ve made for some engrossing visuals.
1 Spock’s Sacrifice At The Midpoint (Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan)
One of the most heartbreaking moments in Star Trek history is Spock’s sacrifice at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Originally, this sacrifice was going to take place at the middle of the movie, as a staggering midpoint twist in the mold of Psycho’s shower murder.
Instead, the producers decided to make Spock’s death the climax of the movie. It would’ve been more unexpected at the midpoint, and raised the stakes with plenty of movie left to go.