Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Every Crash-Landing In The TV Shows & Movies

Starships crash-landing on a planet is a rare occurrence inStar Trekbut each time it has been shown in the various films and TV series has been memorable. Star Trek spans over 54 years of content consisting of nine TV series and 13 feature films, most of which have centered around the starships U.S.S. Enterprise, the U.S.S. Discovery, the U.S.S. Voyager, the U.S.S. Defiant, the U.S.S. Cerritos, and Star Trek: Picard's La Sirena. Plenty of starships have been destroyed throughout the franchise's history but only a handful of planetary crash landings have been depicted.

Star Trek's starships are built in outer space and generally aren't meant to operate within a planetary atmosphere (although J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies changed those rules). Before the budgets of the Star Trek films and TV series increased to compete with Peak TV shows and blockbuster feature films in recent years, Star Trek shows operated on a relatively limited budget that usually prohibited actually depicting a starship crashing into a planet. However, crash landings are a normal occurrence in many Star Trek stories, but they usually happen off-screen. Besides starships, many smaller Star Trek vessels like shuttles and Runabouts have also suffered crash landings.

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In 1984's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) auto-destructed the Starship Enterprise, but it was destroyed in outer space and its remains plummeted into the Genesis Planet so that doesn't count as a crash landing. Star Trek finally started actually showing starship crash landings in all of their eye-popping devastation in the 1990s and ever since the franchise has kept upping the ante each time Star Trek crashed a starship.

The U.S.S. Enterprise-D In Star Trek Generations (1994)

Easily the most famous starship crash landing in Star Trek history was the destruction of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations. In the film, the Enterprise under the command of Commander Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and it was locked in a battle with a Klingon Bird-of-prey. The Klingon twins Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwyneth Walsh) had found a way to lower the Enterprise's shields, which fatally damaged the Federation flagship's warp core. After destroying the Klingons, the Enterprise separated its saucer section from its doomed star drive section but the resulting shockwave sent the saucer crashing uncontrollably - and spectacularly - into the planet Veridian III.

The Galaxy-class Enterprise-D crash landing was somethingStar Trek: The Next Generation's producers wanted to show during TNG season 6 but the cost was prohibitive on the TV series' budget. Star Trek Generations' increased budget allowed the sequence to be filmed as the action centerpiece of the film. The Enterprise-D was also destroyed so that the TNG movies could feature a new starship, the Sovereign-class U.S.S. Enterprise-E, going forward. The Enterprise-D's crash landing is so well-known, it was later homaged in Star Trek: Lower Decks.

The U.S.S. Voyager in Star Trek: Voyager (1998)

In the Star Trek: Voyager season 5 episode "Timeless", the U.S.S. Voyager crash-landed on an L-class ice planet and all hands died except for Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang), who were aboard the Delta Flyer. The tragic accident was the result of a malfunction of Voyager's new quantum slipstream drive. When Voyager was thrown out of the slipstream, the Intrepid-class starship had no choice but to land or risk breaking apart. However, Voyager's landing was too fast and it crashed on the ice world, destroying the nacelles and killing everyone aboard.

Fifteen years later, Chakotay and Kim were able to reset the timeline and prevent the crash from happening by sending course corrections to Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) in the past. Seven was able to collapse the slipstream and save Voyager so that the crash landing never occurred.

The U.S.S. Vengeance in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness concluded with the U.S.S. Vengeance, which was piloted by Khan Noonien Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch), crash landing into San Francisco. Originally commanded by Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller), Khan took command of the Vengeance after he murdered Marcus. The massive Dreadnought-class U.S.S. Vengeance heavily damaged the outmatched U.S.S. Enterprise, but Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) tricked Khan by beaming over photon torpedoes that the genetically-engineered warlord believed contained his followers. Instead, the torpedoes were armed and crippled the Vengeance.

Khan deliberately piloted the Vengeance towards San Francisco with the intent of destroying Starfleet Headquarters. The Vengeance crashed into San Francisco Bay but its momentum sent the starship into the city itself, destroying Fisherman's Bay, Telegraph Hill, and stopping just short of the TransAmerica Pyramid. Khan survived the crash but was apprehended by Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana), while Khan's blood resurrected Captain Kirk, who died from radiation poisoning while saving the Enterprise.

The U.S.S. Enterprise In Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond, which was the third film from the J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek trilogy, was also the third time the U.S.S. Enterprise was destroyed in a movie. Star Trek Beyond followed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by destroying the Enterprise, although the starship's demise also reflected the Enterprise-D's crash landing in Star Trek Generations.

In Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise was unable to survive an attack by the swarm ships controlled by Krall (Idris Elba). The swarm immediately destroyed the Enterprise's phasers and deflector dish before severing its warp nacelles. Even after the Enterprise's saucer separation, Captain Kirk ordered the ship to be abandoned when the saucer was irrevocably caught in the planet Altamid's gravity. The saucer then crashed on the planet's surface.

However, Kirk and his crew managed to win the day when they commandeered another starship that crash-landed on Altamid years prior, the U.S.S. Franklin NX-326. With the help of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), the Enterprise crew launched the Franklin from Altamid and defeated Krall, saving the Federation starbaseYorktown.

The U.S.S. Cerritos In Star Trek: Lower Decks (2020)

The U.S.S. Cerritos crash landing on the planet Idlocana VI was a spot-on parody by Star Trek: Lower Decks of the Enterprise-D's crash landing in Star Trek Generations. However, the Cerritos' destruction was part of an elaborate holodeck movie created by Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), who was therapeutically working out her issues with her mother, Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis), by casting herself as the titular villain in her film, Crisis Point: The Rise of Vindicta.

In Crisis Point, Vindicta destroyed the warp core of her own Klingon vessel, and the resulting shockwave struck the Cerritos, sending the starship plummeting into the planet below. While the Cerritos' holodeck descent was similar to the Enterprise-D's, the comedy series took it one step further by having the Cerritos' saucer section spin on its side on the planet's surface before stopping dead by being wedged in a mountain. Later, the Cerritos was destroyed by the explosion caused by the ship's auto-destruct.

The U.S.S. Discovery in Star Trek: Discovery (2020)

Star Trek: Discovery's season 3 trailer teases that the titular U.S.S. Discovery also suffers a crash-landing at some point in the new season. At the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) became the time-traveling Red Angel and she led her starship through a wormhole into the 32nd century. Burnham arrived in the year 3188 but, from the trailer, it seems the Discovery may not have had a gentle arrival in the distant future. What actually happened to the starship will be revealed in Star Trek: Discovery season 3 but the vessel joins the list of Star Trek starships who have suffered crash landings.

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