* AccidentalAesop: Some have taken the mind meld scene with Spock and Valeris to be a message that TortureAlwaysWorks. Of course this is also a FantasticAesop, since mind melds read actual thoughts, something RealLife torture cannot do.
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: There's a faction of ''Franchise/StarTrek'' fandom, particularly in ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'''s playerbase, that views the destruction of Praxis as a missed opportunity for the Federation to deal with the Klingons permanently, that they should have taken the opportunity to launch a full-scale invasion because the peace, however well-intentioned, would not prove sustainable: "Yesterday's Enterprise" showed the Klingons and Federation at war despite the Khitomer Accords, with this only averted in the prime timeline through the loss of the ''Enterprise''-C against their mutual foe the Romulans. In 2372 the Klingons go off half-cocked against the newly democratic Cardassian Union, eventually driving them right into the hands of the Dominion, and declaring war on the Federation when their allies tried to rein them in. The exact same thing as in 2372 happened in the backstory to ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'', only with the Undine instead of the Dominion as bogeyman du jour. In both of the latter two instances, the alliance was only restored by [[EnemyMine a mutual enemy]]. ''So what happens when the Federation runs out of mutual foes they can distract the Klingons with?'' But hey, we got an end-of-the-UsefulNotes/ColdWar allegory out of it, right? And as with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it didn't take so very long for the Klingon "allies" to fall back into their old habits. Exhibit A: Vladimir Putin.
** Subverted; they did so because they believed Undine had infiltrated all the major powers, tried to get the others to join in on rooting them out, yet were rebuffed. They were ''completely right''. And as soon as this menace is fully revealed, they go back to being friends like nothing happened. [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Also, the Federation isn't the type to launch invasions before a war starts]].
* AuthorsSavingThrow: Finally seeing some payoff for the death of David Marcus in "The Search for Spock".
* AwesomeMusic: Cliff Eidelman's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcTegz0Vh_Q score]].
* BetterOnDVD: When you watch the film again, you can see just when Spock slaps the patch on Kirk - and see the patch, too. The Klingons weren't very thorough, huh? Or perhaps just didn't recognize it as important?
* HarsherInHindsight: The film was written at the latest early in 1991 (to give time for filming and post-production for the December release date). The film was essentially about a dual coup attempt against both the Klingons and the Federation so that BloodKnight elements in both could continue their war. In August 1991, there was a coup attempt against Gorbachev in the USSR, by BloodKnight elements in the CPSU who wanted to continue the Cold War.
** Federation and Klingon hardliners try to sabotage the peace talks between their leaders. In 2015, 47 Republican senators tried reaching Iranian hardliners to try and do the same thing between President Obama and the Iranian leadership.
* HilariousInHindsight: The Klingon Assassin is actually [[spoiler:Starfleet Colonel West]]. Rene Auberjonois, who played [[spoiler:West]] would also appear disguised as a Klingon in the ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' episode "Apocalypse Rising".
* HoYay: Kirk and Spock are in the same film, of course there is. There's one particular scene in a corridor that was a deep breath away from being a kiss.
* LifeImitatesArt: The plot of the film, whereby hardliners attempt a coup against the moderate leader in the hostile empire, was nearly repeated as the film was being edited: in form of the August coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, on whom Gorkon was based, by hardliners who wanted to go back to the good old Cold War days.
* MagnificentBastard: General Chang.
* MemeticMutation: "Only Nixon could go to China" gets used frequently in political discussions.
** This is OlderThanTheyThink. The phrase has been in use since at least 1971, before Nixon actually went to China.
* NightmareFuel: Spock's reaction to [[spoiler:Valeris' betrayal]]. It's chilling to think of how furious he must be to display that much emotion.
* OneSceneWonder: Christian Slater has a cameo as the crewman who wakes Sulu up in the middle of the night. The scene was originally written for Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand; Slater only got the part as a favor to his mother, the casting director. Also a case of PromotedFanboy.
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap: The ''Excelsior'', after its ButtMonkey status in ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock''.
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: This film addresses the fears many people had about the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar.
** When Chang's Lieutenant or Weapons Officer presses the button to fire torpedoes (installed in a box attached to a wall) you can clearly see the entire box shift position as if poorly glued down.
** When Chang is quoting Shakespeare as he watches the ''Enterprise'' fly past, the ''Enterprise'' looks like what it is: a model, right down to the scored detail lines and paint job. Especially jarring when compared to the other exterior shots of the ship in the movie.
*** Not all the exterior shots, in fact not many of them at all. This film's visuals of the Enterprise are completely different in style altogether to the other movies, and suffer by comparison. Despite using the same filming model. Especially rubbish is the "warp to camera shot" after Kirk says "Come on, I need you" to Spock.
*** There was also no background in the Bird-of-Prey's view of the ''Enterprise'', either, just a completely black space devoid of stars.
** The Klingon blood is depicted with early 1990s CGI in all of its imperfect glory. To be fair, it's been twenty years and the technique has yet to be perfected.
*** It's interesting to compare the blood effects in this film with "Barge of the Dead", an episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' which aired only 8 years later, to see how much CGI blood (and indeed, CGI liquids in general) had been improved.
*** The Zero-G blood drops were also one of the first uses of an at-the-time new CGI technology called "metaballs" - a new way to make smooth, blobby, and more organic objects. As much a tech demo proof-of-concept for the technology as a special effect.
* SurprisinglyImprovedSequel: Not only was it a major return to form after the horribly-received previous film, more than a few fans even regarded it as the best ''Trek'' film since ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''.
* TheUntwist: General Chang was behind the attack on Gorkon's ship. Given his attitude when he's first seen coupled with the fact that he had the recording of Kirk's statement he would never forgive Klingons, it's not much of a surprise.
** Chang is clearly the obvious villain of the piece, though - covering for the [[spoiler: real twist in the film that ''Starfleet officers'' are part of a conspiracy, and that ''they'' supplied Chang with the damning recording of Kirk]].
* WinBackTheCrowd: Doing so after the disappointing reception for ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier''. This is the one that really cemented the "evens good, odds bad" rule.