[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tsfs1.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[LiteralMinded He's right over here!]]]]

->'''Sulu:''' The word, sir?\\
'''Kirk:''' The word is no. I am therefore going anyway.

''Star Trek III: The Search for Spock'' is the third movie in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' film series, released in 1984.

'''Incoming LateArrivalSpoiler''': in ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'', Spock was killed, meant to be KilledOffForReal. But Nimoy changed his mind and decided he didn't want to leave the series, as working on that film was such a great experience. Thus room was left at the very end of that film for him to come back, and this film was all about this. [[Creator/LeonardNimoy Spock himself]] sat in the director's chair this time and did so again for [[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome the fourth film]].

You see, Spock put his ''[[OurSoulsAreDifferent katra]]'' into [=McCoy=] before he died, so now the good doctor is SharingABody with the late Science Officer. Now, if only Spock's body could be raised as well. No wait, his body landed on the Genesis Planet, so now it's a living empty shell! The RapidAging down there means he has to repeatedly go through [[AllPeriodsArePMS Vulcan PMS]] and MateOrDie. Fortunately, Saavik happens to be there. Now, the obvious thing would be to reunite Spock's body and soul, but the {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s say no. The crew [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight sets off for Genesis anyway]], of course, where the Klingons are waiting, headed by [[Creator/ChristopherLloyd Commander Kruge]].

Not actually that bad considering the whole plot is just a vehicle for bringing Spock back. In particular, the scene where the crew steals the ''Enterprise'' from spacedock, leaving the newfangled ''Excelsior'' and its smug captain in the proverbial dust, is awesome. Overall it's probably best classified as SoOkayItsAverage, and about the only ''Star Trek'' film that no-one really admits to loving or hating.[[note]]Unless the people in question are the Kirk/Spock slashers, in which case the film is not only universally adored but solid proof that the SubText is actually just plain ''text''.[[/note]]

Oh yeah, and the ''Enterprise'' goes down in a ball of flames in her final "[[DoNotGoGentle F&#$]] [[TakingYouWithMe YOU]]" to the Klingons.
----
!!Tropes seen in ''The Search for Spock'' include:
* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: This is the first ''Star Trek'' production to feature the full Klingon language, and so a lot of the word pronunciations are different to how they would sound in TNG onwards--for example, listen to how Kruge says ''Qapla'' (with a more phonetic sound) just before Torg's boarding party leaves for the ''Enterprise''. The most common explanation for this among fans is that Kruge just has an odd regional accent.
* AliensSpeakingEnglish: Although the Klingons are shown speaking their own language at first, [[TranslationConvention for simplicity's sake they speak English to each other]] for the majority of the film. Only [[BigBad Kruge]] and [[MauveShirt Maltz]] are shown to actually be able to speak English though. [[spoiler: This becomes a brief plot point when the Klingon troopers board the Enterprise and don't recognise the computer counting down from 9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...]]
* AllThereInTheManual:
** Kruge's Bird of Prey has more in common style-wise with a Romulan ship (bird like) versus a Klingon ship (boxy and utilitarian). As a way to use PropRecycling in the original series an episode suggested a brief Klingon–Romulan treaty where they shared technology and ship designs; it allowed them to represent the Romulans by using a (previously made) Klingon D-7 cruiser. This brief alliance (the two factions are later very antagonistic to each other) is also the source of Klingon cloaking technology and the Bird of Prey ship design first seen in this movie. Incidentally, that ship style became far more recognizable as a Klingon vessel later in the franchise.
** The novelization reveals that Saavik and David became lovers after the events of ''Star Trek II'', [[spoiler: making his murder doubly tragic and his sacrifice even more meaningful (he gives his life to save the woman he loves when he realizes the Klingon is about to kill her)]].
** Sulu's comments about how awesome the ''Excelsior'' is, as well as Scotty calling her a piece of junk, are part of a subplot concerning Sulu being promoted to Captain of the ''Excelsior'' (Styles is in command temporarily until Sulu returns from the training mission). Scotty's comments are good-natured ribbing at Sulu, saying that the new ship is a lemon.
* AndStarring: Leonard Nimoy's name doesn't appear in the opening credits, to preserve what surprise there might be about his return; to balance it, the roll of stars at the head of the closing credits ends with "And, as Spock:" followed by the names of all the actors who played the revived Spock and finishing with Nimoy.
* AndTheAdventureContinues: The end caption is exactly these words.
* AssholeVictim: The ''Excelsior'' and her crew suffer rightly for treating Scotty like crap when he sabotages her experimental transwarp drive and the ''Enterprise'' leaves her in the dust.
* AvengersAssemble: The scene where the crew get back together and beam aboard the ''Enterprise''.
* AwLookTheyReallyDoLoveEachOther:
** Spock and Sarek were always at odds with each other, but when T'Lar questions Sarek's logic in resurrecting Spock through fal-tor-pan, Sarek answers, "Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned."
** The same goes for Bones and Spock, but the former gives a quiet little speech to Spock's body that he missed him while the latter was dead.
* BackFromTheDead: Spock. What, did you think they ''weren't'' going to find him?
* BattleAmongstTheFlames: Kirk vs. Kruge as [[spoiler: Genesis rapidly collapses]] during the film's climax.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Uhura says this word-for-word to her adventure-seeking co-worker in the transporter room, moments before shoving him in a closet at phaser-point while she beams the crew to the ''Enterprise''.
* BittersweetEnding: Yeah, they get Spock back, but [[spoiler:Kirk loses his son David and destroys the ''Enterprise'' in the process, leaving the fate of himself and his immediate crew in serious doubt]].
* BlownAcrossTheRoom: On the Genesis planet, when Kirk shoots a Klingon with a phaser.
* BodyHorror: Spock's RapidAging is not a pleasant thing to watch. And the screams he yells out adds more to the effect of what is happening to him.
* BrokenAesop: But replaced in a ''good'' way. [[spoiler: Sometimes the needs of the one actually outweigh the needs of the many.]]
* CallBack: Several:
** The destruct sequence used is the same one mentioned in the TOS episode "[[Recap/StarTrekS3E15LetThatBeYourLastBattlefield Let That Be Your Last Battlefield]]".
** And of course Spock at the end repeating his dying words from the end of ''Film/{{Star Trek II|The Wrath of Khan}}''.
** A bit of a BrickJoke also: in ''Wrath of Khan'', after the ''Kobayashi Maru'' scenario, Kirk asserts that Klingons do not take prisoners. In this film, Kruge ordered the attack on the ''Grissom'' with the specific aim of taking prisoners.
** In ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'', Bones growled at Spock, "You green-blooded, ''inhuman''..." In ''III'', he gets to complete the insult.
--->'''Bones:''' ...Son of a bitch!
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Where did Carol Marcus go between ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'' and this movie?
* CasualDangerDialogue: While Kirk and Kruge are fighting hand to hand on the rapidly disintegrating Genesis planet, Kirk shouts that they'll both die if they don't help each other to escape. Kruge eagerly agrees and calls it exhilarating (since dying while fighting a worthy foe is the most awesome thing a Klingon could ever wish for).
* ComicBookAdaptation: DCComics adapted the film, though fans would have to wait until the 2010s for the first part of the trilogy (''Wrath of Khan'') to be made into a comic book.
* ContinuityNod:
** Saavik is left hanging on the Genesis planet because Captain Esteban (of the ''Grissom'') wants to do things "by the book". Having learned that lesson last movie, she's almost a PhraseCatcher, there.
** Some of the patrons at the bar have tribbles.
* CoolStarship:
** Subverted with the cool-looking, but utterly useless science vessel ''Grissom'', and the ''Excelsior'', which is intended to be an obnoxious too-modern contrast to the good old ''Enterprise''. She gets RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap a few movies later when [[Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry Sulu is in the center seat]].
** Played straight with the utterly badass Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, and the ''Enterprise'', of course (battle damage be damned).
* CriticalStaffingShortage: Scotty has Jerry-rigged the ship to operate with only five crew. The ''Enterprise'' is supposed to have a crew of hundreds. At least the automation breaks down later. Scotty says, "The automation system's overloaded. I didn't expect to take us into combat, ya know...!" It's understandable that simply moving in a straight line could be done with a far smaller crew than usually necessary.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The chief reason, according to Harve Bennett, that [[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome the next film]] had to be LighterAndSofter.
* DavidVersusGoliath:
** The undermanned, still-battle-damaged ''Enterprise'' is basically The Little Starship That Could compared to the big, menacing ''Excelsior''.
** This is Kruge's gambit when firing upon the ''Enterprise'' when they first meet over the Genesis planet. He is convinced that he is outgunned "ten to one" and is flabbergasted that the ''Enterprise'' didn't finish him off after the opening salvo. He doesn't realize that one shot was enough to disable her completely.
* TheDayTheMusicLied: The Transwarp sequence has all of these awesome, booming drums and trumpets as it's getting ready to pull off the maneuver and the second the order is given to "execute", it dies out except for the sounds of strings that you can barely hear under the malfunctioning computer.
* DeathIsCheap: Undoubtedly the filmmakers must have known that once they decided to bring back Spock that it would undermine the emotion of his HeroicSacrifice from the previous film, and with it the theme of how despite his greatness Kirk can't always save everyone, which would probably explain why [[spoiler:they killed off Kirk's son David, in order to balance out Spock's return and retain the theme of Kirk's fallibility]].
* DemotedToExtra: Uhura, for most of the film. Mind you, her big scene in the transporter room is [[Awesome/StarTrekIIITheSearchforSpock pretty awesome]], but there is literally no reason for it ending with her being left behind other then that they didn't need her character for the rest of the film. The previous film, when everyone beams from Regula I to the caves inside Regula while leaving no one behind, shows that transporters can be operated on a time delay. This very film later also shows this, as none of the ''Enterprise'' crew remain behind when they beam off (while simultaneously beaming the Klingons aboard) before ''Enterprise's'' self-destruct. So there is ''no'' reason Uhura couldn't have put a short time delay on the transporter and joined everyone else on their mission to Genesis. (Fortunately, she rejoins them just before the end of this film, so that she can be along for [[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome the next one]].) The film's novelization gives Uhura a little more to do, as she scrambles Starfleet's communication channels during the ''Enterprise'' theft, hightails it to the Vulcan embassy on Terra, and joins Sarek in convincing the Vulcan government to pre-emptively grant Kirk and crew asylum there, instead of just handing them over to Starfleet authorities when they arrive.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Kirk and Kruge end up fighting on the edge of an abyss opened up in the surface of the dying planet. Kruge goes over the edge and falls to his death.
* DramaticSitDown: Kirk stumbles backward in shock when his son is killed, missing the command chair.
-->'''Kirk:''' You Klingon bastards, you killed my son. ''[tries to sit, [[PeopleFallOffChairs missing the command chair entirely]]]'' You Klingon bastards, you killed my son!
* EarthShatteringKaboom: Genesis Planet–shattering kaboom, anyway. Turns out the planet is unstable, and shatters itself within weeks of its creation.
* EightiesHair: Robin Curtis's (Saavik) bouffant-like perm/mullet hairstyle.
* EmptyChairMemorial: During Kirk's log entry, he paces the bridge, briefly stopping to pat the empty science station chair Spock previously occupied.
* FaceDeathWithDignity:
** Valkris makes no attempt to beg for her life or flee when she realizes Kruge is going to kill her for seeing the Genesis data.
** Saavik, knowing that the Klingons are going to execute her, doesn't even blink [[spoiler:until David performs his HeroicSacrifice and dies in her place]].
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: David getting stabbed in the throat has a NothingIsScarier feel because of the GoryDiscretionShot.
** While not human, the snake-like creature which attacks Kruge gets crushed to pulp by his hands
* FanserviceExtra: All the female Vulcan acolytes during the Fal-Tor-Pan ritual are wearing... somewhat sheer outfits, and apparently no bra from the looks of it.
* ForegoneConclusion: Let's face it, when your movie is called ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Search for Spock]]'', it's not going to end with Admiral Kirk turning to the viewers and saying ''"Sorry folks, we didn't find him."'' As William Shatner put it, if they had done so, "people would have thrown rocks at the screen."
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Sulu seems to admire ''Excelsior''. He would eventually become its Captain in ''Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry''.
* GiveMeAReason: After Kruge executes a mook [[YouHaveFailedMe for failing him]], his first officer asks for his attention while he's still in full bloodlust mode.
-->'''Kruge:''' ''Say the wrong thing,'' Torg!!
** Kruge quickly cools off when Torg points out there are people on the planet that could be taken prisoner. This appeases Kruge and prevents him from killing his apparently only competent crew member.
* GoryDiscretionShot:
** [[spoiler:David is]] stabbed to death behind a bush.
** Averted to hell and back with the gunner who destroyed the ''Grissom''. While there is no gore, we see him ''burn to death from the inside out''.
* GroinAttack: Kirk pulls one on Kruge when Kruge pushes him against a rock and starts to choke him
* HamToHamCombat: [[Creator/WilliamShatner Shatner]] versus [[Creator/ChristopherLloyd Lloyd]], figuratively, literally, and [[UpToEleven Taken to Eleven]]. The acting and fight choreography are so over the top that an entire planet is destroyed.
* HellBentForLeather: The uniforms worn by Kruge and his men look like they were designed by Gene Simmons.
* HeroicBSOD:
** Kirk when [[spoiler:his son David is killed]] and arguably again with a literal MyGodWhatHaveIDone while watching [[spoiler:the wreck of the ''Enterprise'' burning up in the Genesis planet's atmosphere]]
** This entire movie is a long string of {{Heroic BSOD}}s for Kirk. He starts the movie with the one he suffered from Spock's death in ''Wrath of Khan'', has a short one when he hears the ''Enterprise'' is due for decommission, and the above mentioned two. Kirk's really [[EarnYourHappyEnding earning the happy ending]], and facing down situations he's so used to cheating his way out of.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler:David Marcus]] jumps in the way of a Klingon about to execute Saavik. She is spared because one dead hostage is as good as another, to them.
* HeyThatsMyLine: Bones encounters an alien in a bar with an unusual speaking pattern.
-->'''Big-Eared Alien:''' To your planet, welcome!\\
'''Bones:''' I believe that's ''my'' line, stranger.
* HowManyFingers: Kirk asks [=McCoy=] this as he gives him the Vulcan salute.
-->'''[=McCoy=]:''' That's not very damn funny.
* IAmXSonOfY: During the fal-tor-pan ritual, Sarek is addressed as "Sarek, child of Skon". When it comes time for [=McCoy=] to step forward and do his bit, he introduces himself as "[=McCoy=], Leonard H., son of David."
* IAmYourOpponent: Kruge, to Kirk. Literally a line in the movie: "Admiral Kirk. This is your opponent speaking!"
* ILied: When the captured Maltz declares he doesn't deserve to live, Kirk promises to kill him later (let's get away from the exploding planet first). When Maltz demands he make good on it, Kirk has him taken away.
* InvisibilityCloak: While cloaking technology was used in the Original Series, this movie gave it the ripple effect that has greatly influenced the way VisibleInvisibility is portrayed in media. Although here it is a plot point, as Kirk recognizes something is wrong when they reach the Genesis Planet and is able to visually point out where the ship is.
* IWillFindYou: Once Kirk and company hear that Spock could be brought BackFromTheDead, they spend the rest of the film endeavoring to do just that.
* JustBetweenYouAndMe:
-->'''Kruge:''' ''(whispering in Maltz's ear)'' Share this with ''no one''.
-->'''Maltz:''' ''(whispiering)'' ''Yes'', my lord!
* LittleNo: Echoed from [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan the previous movie]], when Sarek leads Kirk (or vice versa) through the memory of Spock's death.
* MagicCountdown: The ''Enterprise'''s 60-second countdown to self-destruct lasts 100 seconds on-screen, and even that is compressed to exclude people moving around.
* MagicalSecurityCam: When Kirk watches security footage of Spock's final moments to figure out who he might have given his katra to, it's footage taken from the previous movie, complete with dramatic pans and camera angles.
* MateOrDie: Vulcan ''pon farr'' is normally a once-every-seven-years deal, but Spock experiences it multiple times as he undergoes RapidAging. Saavik has to make sure it's "mate" and not "die."
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: A number of aspects of the movie play with this, even though this is science fiction.
** Spock's ''katra'' (speaking through [=McCoy=]) asks why Kirk left him on Genesis. The ''katra'' has no obvious way of knowing that Spock's body is there, as he was given a standard space burial. That the torpedo casing soft-landed, and that Genesis regenerated Spock's body, come as a surprise even to David and Saavik when they are investigating the planet. This implies that the ''katra'' is not merely a bunch of transferred memories, but an actual ''soul'' with awareness that its body is still alive.
** When the Vulcan priestess T'Lar begins the ''fal-tor-pan'' ritual, lightning dramatically flashes. This could just be a coincidence of timing and the volatile Vulcan weather, or representative of her doing something with larger metaphysical impact than a simple mind meld.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Kirk despairs when he has to sacrifice the ''Enterprise''.
-->'''Kirk:''' My God, Bones, what have I done?\\
'''[=McCoy=]:''' [[YouDidTheRightThing What you had to do. What you always do... turn death into a fighting chance to live.]]
* MyGreatestFailure: David feels this, on using protomatter for the Genesis matrix.
* NervesOfSteel: In the GiveMeAReason moment above, Torg calmly explains to Kruge that there are lifesigns on the planet that could mean potential prisoners, placating Kruge. You get the impression he's dealt with such mood swings before.
* NeuroVault: It turns out Spock implanted his soul/essence/memories in [=McCoy=] at the end of the previous film, just before his HeroicSacrifice.
* NeverTrustATrailer: "The final voyage of the Starship ''Enterprise''" indeed. True, for [[ExactWords some values of "Starship Enterprise,"]] but more pointedly, a huge TrailersAlwaysSpoil.
* NoNameGiven:
** The lieutenant who Uhura drives into the closet is just called "Mr. Adventure" in the credits.
** [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] by Kruge, whose name is never actually spoken in the film, when he refuses to give his name to Kirk.
* NoSell: Immediately after being almost strangled to death by a mutated snake-like creature, Kruge calmly reports to the ship that they haven't found anything significant as of yet.
* NotNamedInOpeningCredits: William Shatner. [[spoiler: Leonard Nimoy.]] [=DeForest=] Kelley. Rest of the cast. ([[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by a slightly longer than normal gap between when Shatner's name fades and Kelly's appears.)
* NotSoStoic: Sarek. Despite his differences with Spock, and his own strict Vulcan beliefs, he is still a grieving and anguished father who just lost his son. When he goes to pay Kirk a visit, he checks logic at the door and demands answers. He confesses to the High Priestess of Mount Seleya herself that his logic is "uncertain" where his son is concerned.
* NowYouTellMe:
-->'''[=McCoy=]:''' Hell of a time to ask.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Admiral Morrow. It's established that he and Kirk are old friends, but Morrow still refuses to help. Kirk is "therefore going anyway".
* OhCrap:
** When Kruge hears the SelfDestructMechanism on the ''Enterprise'' counting down, he yells at his men, '''"GET OUT! GET OUT OF THERE! GET OUT!"''' Too late, though.
** When Kruge's pet growls loudly as he's walking away, Kruge spins and tells one of the crewmembers, "Feed him!" Cue a frightened look on the crewmember.
** The looks on Scotty and Checkov's faces when Kirk starts up the self-destruct sequence.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted, which might confuse casually watching viewers who see a character named David and identified as Kirk's son die, then 20 minutes later hear Bones identify himself as '[=McCoy=], Leonard; son of David'.
* OutlivingOnesOffspring: Kirk, after David's murder.
** Subverted for Sarek, when he gets his son back.
* ThePasswordIsAlwaysSwordfish: The final password for the self-destruct is 0-0-0-Destruct-0. Granted, it's the fourth password of a set of four, but still.
* PeopleFallOffChairs: Kirk, a moment after he's blindsided with notification that his son David is dead. The script called for him to slump into his chair, but after a misstep caused Shatner to miss, [[ThrowItIn they changed it]] for the extra pathos of the normally unflappable Kirk being devastated.
* PrecisionFStrike:
** The scene [[spoiler:where David dies.]]
** See SharingABody, and you'll see [=McCoy=]'s always had a pretty foul mouth.
* PunctuatedPounding: "I... have had... enough of YOU!"
* RapidAging: Said word-for-word by [=McCoy=], about Spock, on the Genesis planet.
* RealityEnsues:
** Turns out however awesome the act itself is, stealing a twenty-year-old spaceship that's just suffered major battle damage with less than a skeleton crew is a horrible position to put yourself in when you have a fight on your hands.
** The fate of David Marcus is a chilling reminder that just because you're the son of one of the most {{Badass}} officers in the history of Starfleet, that doesn't mean that you'll inherit those great qualities that, with training and experience, helped make your famous father the badass he is.
* RecycledSoundtrack: In a particularly shameless example even for Music/JamesHorner, the movie's end credits music is ''exactly the same'' as [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan the previous one's]].
* RewindReplayRepeat: How Kirk realizes Spock mind-melded with [=McCoy=].
* ScottyTime: Lampshaded when Scotty tells Kirk that refit will take "eight weeks, sir. But you don't have eight weeks, so I'll do it for you in two." Kirk asks if he multiplies all estimates by four. Scott says he has to, "how else would I keep up my reputation as a miracle worker?"
* ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight:
** Kirk and friends steal the ''Enterprise'' and defy Starfleet orders to not return to the Genesis planet in order to rescue Spock.
--->'''Sulu:''' The word, sir?\\
'''Kirk:''' The word is "no." I am therefore going anyway.
** This becomes an ongoing plot thread. The moment in Spacedock where Chekov says "Commander Starfleet on emergency channel. He orders you to surrender this vessel," and Kirk scoffs, "No reply, Chekov," is the sole reason Kirk ends up being [[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome demoted later on,]] and one of the key elements Chang uses against him at a trial, [[Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry many years after the fact.]]
* SelfDestructMechanism: Once again, the ''Enterprise'''s is activated. This time, however, it's not cancelled at the last second.
-->'''Kirk:''' [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone My God, Bones, what have I done?]]
* SentimentalSacrifice: A doozy of one; the ''Enterprise'' herself is self-destructed so that the Klingons can't get her. This is the same ship that, on multiple occasions, has been treated [[CargoShip almost the same]] as a LoveInterest for Kirk.
* SharingABody: Having Spock's ''katra'' in [=McCoy=]'s head amounts to this, until Spock can get it back.
-->'''[=McCoy=]:''' That green-blooded sonuvabitch. It's his revenge for all those arguments he lost.
* SheKnowsTooMuch: Kruge clearly doesn't want to kill Valkris, but doesn't hesitate. Neither does she.
-->'''Valkris:''' Transmission completed... You will find it useful.\\
'''Kruge:''' ''[shocked]'' Then you have seen it?\\
'''Valkris:''' I have, my lord.\\
'''Kruge:''' Unfortunate.\\
'''Valkris:''' ''[{{beat}}]'' Understood.
* ShoutOut: The seedy bar [=McCoy=] goes to is pretty clearly inspired by the [[Film/ANewHope Mos Eisley Cantina]], complete with a smuggler for hire (who [[StrangeSyntaxSpeaker talks like]] a bad Yoda impression).
* SmugSnake: The [[JerkAss dick-ish]] Captain of the ''Excelsior''.
* SpaceClothes: Mostly averted, continuing from the previous film, but there are some glaring exceptions, such as the bar waitress's "Space leotard", and the security guards have outfits so ridiculous they look like intentional parodies of this trope.
* SpaceFriction: When the ''Excelsior'' breaks down, it grinds to a halt relative to Spacedock.
* SpoilerOpening: Averted. In the opening credits, there's an extra long pause between Creator/WilliamShatner and Creator/DeForestKelley's names, where Creator/LeonardNimoy's name usually appears.
* StaffOfAuthority: Captain Styles of the USS ''Excelsior'' is often seen carrying a swagger stick.
* StealthPun: ''Excelsior'' is a dubious technology prototype--in other words, a [[https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Excelsior_%28Longfellow%29 strange device]].
* StockFootage:
** To a much lesser extent than most of the other 80's ''Trek'' movies, natch; all the special effects shots are new for this film, and the stock footage from the previous movie is actually justified somewhat, since Kirk is watching it on a security log.
** A few shots of the Bird of Prey flying towards or away from the viewer are re-used within the movie itself. The shots are not particularly noticable, except for one where the ship's wings are clearly in attack configuration when in the previous shot they were not.
** The 2002 DVD release has a rather odd example. For some reason they were apparently unable to get anyone to record an actual DVDCommentary for the film, and so resorted to taking audio clips of Leonard Nimoy, Robin Curtis, writer/producer Harve Bennett and cinematographer Charles Correll from the "making of" documentaries and stitching them together in such a way as to make them sound like a real commentary. If you listen carefully, you'll notice that at no point does anyone in the "commentary" directly reference what's happening on-screen.
* StolenMacGuffinReveal: The bits and pieces that Scotty pulled out of the ''Excelsior'' computer to cripple its transwarp drive.
* StrangeSyntaxSpeaker: The alien whom [=McCoy=] attempts to hire to take him to the Genesis planet.
* TakeAThirdOption: Kirk and [=McCoy=] on the surface, watching the ''Enterprise'' explode and burn up with all the Klingons:
-->'''Kirk:''' My God, Bones, what have I done?\\
'''[=McCoy=]:''' [[IDidWhatIHadToDo What you had to do]]. What you always do. Turn death into a fighting chance to live.
* TakeMyHand: Kirk to Kruge, after kicking him off a cliff. Kruge refuses.
* TimeshiftedActor: All the young Spocks.
* ToAbsentFriends: Kirk's toast in his apartment.
* TookALevelInBadass:
** Uhura. Holy ''crap''.
---> "...I'm glad you're on OUR side!"
** Sulu as well. A towering security guard, who takes exception to Sulu's sarcastic remark about his work ethic (or lack thereof) menacingly growls, "Don't get smart, Tiny." Cut to Sulu easily kicking his ass. "Don't call me 'Tiny'."
* TooDumbToLive:
** Maltz is SO dumb that even HE realises he deserves to die for his stupidity.
--->'''Maltz:''' I do not deserve to live.\\
'''Kirk:''' Fine, I'll kill you later.
** {{Deconstructed}} in that, [[IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim while Kruge very well might have killed Maltz, Kirk has no intention to]], [[PapaWolf even though he has every reason to]].
--->'''Maltz:''' Wait! You said you would kill me!\\
'''Kirk:''' ILied.
*** In the ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'' {{Novelization}}, it's revealed Maltz did manage to commit suicide.
** We get that the Klingons on the ''Enterprise'' don't understand English, but it doesn't take much to realize that there's a ''countdown'' going on purely from ''contextual'' clues: abandoned ship, computer speaking slowly and methodically. For example, Dutch (and the audience) knew what a countdown in an alien's language looked like in ''Film/{{Predator}}''.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil:
** If you listen to the DVD commentary, Harve Bennett mentions that he really wanted the ''Enterprise'' getting blown up to be a total [[{{HSQ}} shock to the audience]], so he asked the people cutting the trailer together to please, ''please'' omit it from the trailers. What's the first trailer they come back with? "The last voyage of the ''Enterprise''." the FacePalm must have registered on the Richter scale, though it did increase interest in the film from fans who wondered [[LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt if they'd actually do it]].
** '''Titles''' Spoil, as remarked upon by Creator/RogerEbert: "It's called ''The Search for Spock''. What, do you think they ''don't'' find him?
* TranslationConvention: Bizarrely, the scenes with the Klingons only use it on about half the lines.
* TrueCompanions: The senior crew of the ''Enterprise''. While Scotty rigs the ''Enterprise'' so that Kirk can man it himself, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov insist on continuing on with Kirk and Bones. This loyalty, while not surprising, visibly moves Kirk.
* TurnOutLikeHisFather: "So like your father, you changed the rules."
* {{Understatement}}: As befits a [[PlanetOfHats race who habitually understates]], Sarek's line, when asked about his intentions to reunite Spock's mind and body, is to say that his "logic is uncertain where [his] son is concerned". Mark Lenard's subtle body language gets the point across that Sarek is grief stricken to the point he is grasping at straws.
* VehicularSabotage: Scotty "performing surgery" on the USS ''Excelsior'''s transwarp drive.
* VulcanHasNoMoon: In an early episode of ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'', Spock tells Uhura this in response to her flirting. However, ''Star Trek III'' shows a massive "moon" in the Vulcan sky. {{Justified|Trope}} in that it's so big, in fact, that [[FridgeBrilliance Vulcan does not technically have a moon;]] Vulcan is a binary planet. [[ExactWords This specificity]] is quite within [[LiteralMinded Vulcan character.]]
* WackySoundEffect: Several, when the ''Excelsior'''s transwarp drive fails.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: And Maltz was never seen again.
** He committed suicide, according to the {{Novelization}}.
** However, in the Expanded Universe he's still around in the 24th century, ninety years later, having spent some time as a Federation prisoner before being released, and atones for his past failure by helping out when someone gains control of the Genesis information. See ''Literature/StarTrekTheGenesisWave''.
** ''[[AllThereInTheManual The Klingon Dictionary]]'' credits Maltz for assisting in the Federation efforts to translate and to understand the Klingon language.
** The ''VideoGame/StarTrekKlingonAcademy'' PC game has an entry on Maltz in the library computer. It insists that Maltz died heroically and that [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial there is absolutely no truth to the rumors]] that he survived and is currently assisting Starfleet with Klingon language translation.
* WhatTheHellHero: Saavik's reaction to David when he reveals he used [[AppliedPhlebotinum protomatter]] in the Genesis torpedo, in order to solve problems that might not otherwise have made the project possible. This comes out as a result of their discussion as to why the planet is so unstable (disregarding the fact that the planet was created from the Genesis torpedo detonating [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan inside a starship, within a nebula, and created that planet and its star from said nebula]], but that doesn't change the impact of this trope).
%%* WhyIsntItAttacking: See Genre Savvy above.
* WorfHadTheFlu: The jury-rigged ''Enterprise'' is still badly damaged after the last film, and Scotty didn't anticipate being in a combat situation, thus the ship is disabled by Kruge's bird-of-prey after its circuits overload. Kruge is surprised when he wins, since the ''Enterprise'' outguns him ten-to-one.
* YouFool: Kirk calls Kruge this for fighting him on a burning planet instead of trying to escape. This makes an interesting CallBack to the original series, given that [[Recap/StarTrekS3E7DayOfTheDove Kang never told him that "only a fool fights in a burning house."]]
* YouHaveFailedMe: Kruge shoots his gunner for destroying [[spoiler: the USS ''Grissom'']] because he wanted prisoners.
* YouWouldDoTheSameForMe: Between Kirk and the newly resurrected Spock.
-->'''Spock''': My father says you have been my friend. You came back for me.
-->'''Kirk''': You would have done the same for me.
* {{Zeerust}}:
** When viewing the footage of the engine room, Kirk rewinds the recording, and it looks like a VHS tape rewinding instead of instantly jumping back.
** Another example is the fighter plane computer game played by the human and the alien in the bar [=McCoy=] goes to.
*** How many holographic arcade games do ''you'' play?
** The screens, largely (though not entirely) starting with this film, are clearly [=CRTs=]. Great for making screens feature motion, but they look less like modern screens than the still-image projections and backlit photos that came before.
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->''[-"Jim... Your name is Jim."-]''