The galaxy's greatest bromance
is the eleventh movie in the Star Trek
film series, released in 2009.The Film of the Series
creator J. J. Abrams
featuring the characters from Star Trek: The Original Series
played by a new cast and is set eight years before The Original Series
, but in an Alternate Reality
. Alternatively called J.J. Abrams' Star Trek
, Star Trek 2009
, and Star Trek XI/11
to keep confusion in check with the other Trek films.
In 2233, over 30 years before The Original Series
was supposed to take place, The Federation
comes across a "black hole"-like spatial phenomenon
near a distant sun. Emerging from it is a massive ship called the Narada
captained by a Romulan named Nero
. Deploying weaponry vastly superior to that of the Kelvin
, the Narada
forces the Federation crew to abandon ship, with many members lost. While the survivors flee the devastating battle, a young boy is born amongst them: James Tiberius Kirk
, son of the first officer (and extremely short-term captain) of the Kelvin
. Kirk grows up an angry teenager and a rebellious young adult until he is recruited to join Starfleet.
As Kirk makes waves at Starfleet Academy, the Narada
emerges again after years in hiding. The Federation scrambles its fleet to confront this menace, deploying the flagship Enterprise
for the first time. All the rest of the fleet is destroyed, with the Enterprise
only surviving due to a brief delay in getting to the battlefield and when they manage to do so their captain, Christopher Pike, is taken hostage. Learning that the Narada
is from the distant future and that they all had a major part in creating that future, it thus falls on Kirk
to overcome their initial mistrust of each other and the ship's cadetnote
crew (the young TOS characters
) to somehow save the day.
The first theatrical Trek film to feature any of the original characters in 15 years. Released 7 years after Star Trek: Nemesis
(the biggest gap between Trek films to date) from which it takes a major Tone Shift and, believe it or not, to which it is also a loose Stealth Sequel.
Is followed by the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness
This film provides examples of:
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- Abusive Parents: Kirk's stepfather, Frank, is implied to have been if not abusive, then at least obnoxious.
- Academy Award: The first Trek film to win one (for Makeup), although past films were nominated.
- Accidental Pervert: Kirk gets knocked onto Uhura during a fight, and accidentally puts his hands on her breasts to steady himself. He smirks; she pushes him off.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Quite a few, mostly involving Spock.
- Adorkable: Pavel Chekov, definitely.
- "I can do zat I can do zat I can do zat!"
- Alien Geometries:
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Subverted. Sulu has "advanced hand-to-hand combat training"... namely fencing. Which is European, not Asian.
- Considering it's also a Continuity Nod, it makes sense. (This time, he uses a telescopic Katana, though.)
- All There in the Manual: A major sticking point for fans is how you need to read the comic book tie-in to be able to make any sense of Nero's motivation for anything. It's also only in a deleted scene barely alluded to in the film that you learn the Romulans were actually in a Klingon prison during the 25 year Time Skip rather than just sitting on their asses waiting for Spock to show up.
- Alternate Reality Game: A bunch of Romulans attempting to warn the Vulcans are being pursued all across Europe by Nero's thugs while both sides are using the new Star Trek movie the humans are premiering as cover and oh God my brain hurts. It's chronicled here, see if you can figure it out...
- Alternate Timeline: The explanation behind the franchise's Continuity Reboot. Thanks to time-travel, the alternate universe in the film is now fundamentally changed. Word of God confirms that, because of this, the "prime" timeline encompassing the prior Trek canon still "exists". (This has led to the Fan Nickname for the new films' timeline as "The JJ-verse".)
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Safely parachuting from a planet's orbit wearing a space suit. It sounds like pure science fiction, but it's actually been done twice on our own planet. At the time of this film's release, the world record for highest parachute jump had been set in 1960 by American Air Force officer Joseph Kittinger, who parachuted from Earth's stratosphere in a manner almost exactly like that depicted in the movie. Then, three years after the movie came out, that record was broken by Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, who parachuted from the stratosphere about 24 miles from the ground (again, almost exactly like Kirk and Sulu did it).
- Always a Bigger Fish: Or bigger giant Delta Vega monster, in this case. Subverted, since instead of saving Kirk it just means that he's now being chased by something even worse.
- AM/FM Characterization: Our first encounter with a young James T. Kirk is him hanging up on his step-father in favor of blasting the Beastie Boys ovet the radio, establishing his disregard for authority even before the character says a single word.
- And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with the crew of the Enterprise warping off to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
- Apocalypse How: In the future, a solar system is annihilated; Spock Prime mentions a supernova that destroyed Romulus and Remus. In the present, planetary annihilation happens to Vulcan and almost happens to Earth, courtesy of Nero and his Red Matter. It was stated that, if not dealt with, the end result of the future disaster could have resulted in galactic annihilation.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Red Matter, among other things.
- Ax-Crazy: Nero. Nero.
- Badass: Kirk and Spock. As well as Sulu. And Pike. And definitely Robau. And Kirk's father. Almost everybody in the movie is a Starfleet officer or a Romulan miner: wimps and losers need not apply.
- Badass Crew: C'mon, you know it. Pretty much every significant member gets their own sparkling moment of badassery.
- Badass in Distress: Captain Pike
- Badass Grandpa: Spock Prime.
- The Bad Guy Wins Since the destruction of Vulcan as Revenge against Spock is his major motivation, Nero gets a lot of what he wants. Destroying the rest of the federation because he can is just a bonus.
- Bait and Switch: As we see Kirk making love to a woman, we're led to think it's Uhura, but when the lights turn on, we see it's Gaila, her Orion roommate.
- Bald of Awesome: Captain Robau
- Bald of Evil: Nero and his crew all have hairless heads. Except the solitary woman. She got to keep her hair, apparently.
- In the backstory, it's explained that Romulan men shave their heads when grieving. Nero and his crew are in permanent grief, so they're bald forever.
- Bash Brothers: When Kirk and Spock beam onto the Narada and start shooting up everything in sight.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: McCoy makes Kirk sick, then cites the prerogative of Starfleet physicians to transport their patients with them in order to get Kirk aboard the Enterprise.
- Beam Spam:
- The Beautiful Elite: No one in the galaxy is ugly save for a couple of Rubber-Forehead Aliens here and there, and apparently Starfleet-issue uniforms for female cadets and medical staff consist of sundresses and go-go boots.
- Then again, this was taking place in the Star Trek universe at the same time as The Original Series, where the Starfleet-issue uniforms for female cadets and medical staff did consist of sundresses and go-go boots. So it's a little more of a Continuity Nod.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Subverted. Uhura has no interest at all in Kirk, despite Kirk's attempts at flirting with her and her abject refusal to even give him her name. Three years later, we see why: she's in a relationship with Spock.
- Benevolent Boss: Captain Robau. And Captain Pike.
- Berserk Button:
- It is perfectly okay to talk shit about Commander Spock's Momma... as long as you do it while he's under heavy sedatives and has all four limbs tied down. Otherwise, you are going to get curb-stomped. Epically.
- Kirk was intentionally trying to find a Berserk Button on Spock to show that he was 'emotionally compromised'. He still probably didn't expect what he got when he found it.
- Nero is this when The Federation gets involved with his plans. Somewhat justified because he found out that Romulus blew up during a super nova that Spock didn't get to in time to deploy the Red Matter. And The Federation relied on Spock to deliver the Red Matter to stop said supernova in a specially-commissioned ship built for speed. It wasn't fast enough. Before the moments where he does gets angry and speak himself, he is silent and lets The Dragon speak for him.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Played for laughs during Kirk and Uhura's first meeting, when he proves he at least knows what "xeno-linguistics" means.
Uhura: I'm impressed...and here I thought you were just a dumb hick who only has sex with farm animals.
Kirk: Well, not only.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Spock-Prime gets one when he bails Kirk out on the ice planet Delta Vega.
- "Captain, I've picked up another ship!" Cue Enterprise.
- Big Damn Starship: Spock pilots the Jellyfish (Spock Prime's ship) on a collision course towards the Narada. The Narada retaliates with all the missiles she had. Things were looking bad for Spock at first... until the Enterprise warps in with phasers blazing.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows:
- Big Word Shout
- Bilingual Bonus: When Chekov (played by Russian-born Anton Yelchin) successfully transports falling Kirk and Sulu to safety, he exclaims a little something in Russian, "Ё-моё!" or "Yo-moyo!", the closest English equivalent being "holey-moley!" (both in meaning and outdatedness). On the commentary track, J. J. Abrams claims to have been at a screening in Russia where the audience went nuts at this part.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: See Tear Jerker.
- Bittersweet Ending: Nero and his crew are defeated, and Kirk gets promoted to captain of the Enterprise. The sad part however is that way before the ending, Nero succeeded in erasing Vulcan from existence and the Vulcans are now an endangered species.
- Body Horror: The Squicky four-faced alien in a Deleted Scene.
- Brick Joke: The novelization ends with Admiral Archer's beagle materializing in the transporter room.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Jim Kirk, despite having an "off-the-charts aptitude" initially never thought much about of a life outside of repeatedly getting into trouble with the law.
- Broad Strokes: Time travel does not quite explain all the stylistic differences in this movie, as it is technically in an Alternate Continuity and is not a complete Continuity Reboot. (Warp drive leaving a ship blind for example)
- It's implied that the Narada's attack (the one that killed Kirk's father) initiated a sort of "Cold War" for the Federation, leading to their design philosophies changing.
- Building Is Welding: The teaser trailer depicted the Enterprise under construction.
- Butt Monkey:
- Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. Many of the film's action sequences, and much of its humor, involve him getting owned in one way or another. He also gets stranded on planets and has freaky and potentially embarrassing reactions to vaccines.
- He gets choked by Spock at one point and by a Romulan at another. Both times with some pretty good acting by Pine. It hurts as you try to catch your breath afterwards. Pine actually mentioned in an interview that he admires Harrison Ford for his ability to take a beating like it really hurts, and that he considered that an underrated skill.
- Kirk getting repeatedly owned in hand-to-hand combat with Spock and the Romulans is somewhat justifiable, considering they're meant to be three times stronger than humans.
- Butterfly of Doom: Lampshaded with Spock.
"Nero's very presence has altered the flow of history, beginning on the attack of the USS Kelvin thereby creating an entire new chain of incidents that cannot be anticipated by either party. Whatever our lives were, if the time continuum was disrupted, our destinies have changed."
- The advanced technology as well as the many, many dramatic changes in the lives of the main characters all happened simply because Nero and Co. showed up.
- Call Back: Frequently, such as "Cupcake".
- And "I might throw up on you."
- There's also "That depends on your definition of winning."
- Also the Big Damn Gunship moment. The Enterprise destroys the Narada 's missiles just in time to save Spock's ship, just as Captain George Kirk's Kelvin had done for the escaping shuttles 25 years earlier.
- A small one with the soundtrack: When Spock rams the Jellyfish into the Narada, the background music is a modified version of the track that plays when George Kirk did the same with the Kelvin.
- Call to Adventure:
Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved 800 lives... including your mother's, and yours. I dare you to do better
- Canon Discontinuity: Subverted. Though this film and any sequels that follow revamp the TOS era of the Trek Verse in a divergent, parallel timeline, they still accept the previous shows and movies as canon as they're a loose continuation of that continuity. Contrary to popular belief, the timeline in the new movies is not the original timeline having been altered, but simply a new, separate timeline altogether that branches off the original one as a weird result of Time Travel. The creators were not going to disrespectfully erase 43 years of iconic sci-fi.
- The voyages of the NX-01 Enterprise remain as part of the history shared by both timelines ironically enough, given how divisive the show was to fans.
- Cannon Fodder: Chief Engineer Olson — yep, his jumpsuit armor was red.
- Captain Obvious:
Spock: (on intercom)
Dr. Puri, report? Leonard "Bones" McCoy:
It's McCoy. Dr. Puri was on Deck 6. He's dead
Then you have just inherited his responsibilities as Chief Medical Officer. (McCoy looks at a burning medical room full of casualties from the attack) Leonard "Bones" McCoy:
Yeah, tell me something I don't know!
- Casual Car Giveaway: When Kirk is leaving for Starfleet he hands his motorcycle over to one of the construction workers at the dock:
Construction Worker: Nice bike.
Kirk: (tossing the keys) It's yours.
- Catch Phrase: Almost every word that proceeds from Old Spock's mouth. The amount of original dialogue written for Leonard Nimoy was vanishingly low.
- Cavalier Consumption: Kirk during the Kobayashi Maru test is shown casually munching on an apple while destroying the simulated Klingon attackers with trivial ease thanks to hacking the sim computers. The gesture was added by Chris Pine because he heard once that eating an apple makes you look more cocky.
- Whether intentional or not, one of the many Continuity Nods, this time to Wrath of Khan, where Shatner!Kirk talks about the test while casually consuming an apple.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- A deleted scene shows Nero about to be interrogated by a Klingon on Rura Penthe using Centaurian slugs, who gloats about what the slugs will do to Nero. Nero escapes before this can happen. He later uses the same slugs to torture Pike.
- Also, the Klingon transmission that Uhura tells Gaila about, while Kirk is hiding under Gaila's bed, plays a small but vital part to Kirk's attempts to make Pike take him seriously.
- An early scene establishes that Spock as a kid is rather touchy about people disparaging his human mother. Later on, as soon as Kirk tries that route in trying to expose that Spock is "emotionally compromised", he flips out and beats the crap out of Kirk just like he did to his school bullies years earlier.
- The Chewtoy: While Kirk is still The Ace we all know and love, he's on the receiving end of most of the asskickings in the film, from the heroes and villains alike! Likewise, his tragic backstory, his reaction to the vaccine and being chased by not one, but two monsters within minutes of landing on Delta Vega, seem to suggest that the universe is actively conspiring to screw with him!
- Chewing the Scenery: Nero treats the set like a giant multi-course meal, chewing it with great gusto over many scenes.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: In order to escape his landing pod on Delta Vega, Kirk has to scale an ice cliff with minimal equipment. He later topples down a much larger cliff in order to escape a gigantic carnivore native to the planet.
- Comic Book Adaptation: By IDW Comics; the first Trek film to be adapted for comics since Star Trek: First Contact.
- Commanding Coolness: Commander Spock. He manages to keep his cool until Kirk mashes his Berserk Button.
- Composite Character: This universe's version of Uhura owes a bit her being a Cunning Linguist to Hoshi Sato, as well as Nichelle Nichols creating the character as a linguist originally (even if she never really spoke any alien language in the show and actually used a dictionary to speak Klingon in one of the tos movies)
- The re-imagined Enterprise is an elemental fusion of the original ship from The Original Series and the heavily-refit version from the first 6 Star Trek films.
- Continuity Nod:
- Continuity Reboot (alt-universe): One particularly troubled Romulan from Spock Prime's timeline wreaks utter havoc with the timeline to avenge the destruction of his homeworld, and take revenge on Spock.)
- The various comics and novels associated with the movie make Nero far more sympathetic and (emotionally) powerful as a villain than the above text implies.
- Continuity Rebooter: Spock Prime and Nero basically serve as this. Given the actions taken by Nero, it seems that the new Alternate Universe is going down a Darker and Edgier path.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Every single officer of higher rank than the main characters is killed or, in Captain Pike's case, incapacitated, resulting in the crew that we know from the original series. Justified in that it's the crew's origin story, but it can stretch Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
- Except Uhura's superior — she's just a much better linguist than he is.
- Scotty came on board after the previous Chief Engineer had already succumbed to stupidity, and he had just invented transwarp beaming. Sort of. Not that Old Spock had nothing to do with giving Scotty his own completed theory.
- A deleted line from Spock suggests there was the hand of fate in there.
- Maybe the biggest one. Spock gets annoyed with Kirk and drops him on the nearest planet after Vulcan is destroyed, which is also where Old Spock is hanging out, because Nero wanted him to bear witness. So far so good. Then Kirk just happens to land within running distance of Spock's cave, when he could have landed anywhere on the planet. That's... incredibly unlikely. And then Scotty just happens to be stationed in an outpost only a couple of miles away. It's possible that Kirk's pod was deliberately dropped nearby a Federation installation, but that doesn't explain what Spock is doing so close by.
- The film tries to lampshade this coincidence by having Old Spock ask Kirk, "How did you find me?" But, Kirk is too freaked out to answer that question.
- Convection Schmonvection: During the drill fight Sulu is almost sucked into the laser drill, but apparently is ok since he didn't actually touch it. In the same fight Sulu, Kirk, and two Romulans fight on top of the drill, which occasionally emits fire through some vents. The heat doesn't affect them unless they're standing on the vents when they're venting flame.
- Cool Bike: Kirk's motorbike and the Iowa Cop's hoverbike
- Cool Old Guy: Spock Prime
- Captain Pike definitely qualifies.
- Cool Starship: In tradition with all things Star Trek and in no particular order:
- The starship Enterprise is completely pimped-out like a 50s/60s hot-rod complete with interiors that could only be described as "an Apple Store on crack" and she never looked so good.
- The Romulan mining vessel Narada gets a special mention for not looking out of place if it was being flown by Mi-go. The fact that it's The Juggernaut with infinite Spikes of Doom pretty much cinches the fact. Heck, there's a reason that some fans call it, "Satan's Batmobile." Oh, and even better? The Narada also apparently had Borg tech integrated into it.
- Spock's Jellyfish is a nifty little Vulcan vessel (literally) packing some "Earth-shattering" heat. Bonus points for being built and designed by Geordi LaForge in the prime timeline.
- The Federation survey cruiser USS Kelvin.
- The Shuttles from the Original Series are back.
- Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Subverted yet played with as we see the young TOS crew at the beginning of their Starfleet careers albeit in a technologically advanced new timeline in which the events of The Original Series could never possibly occur.
- The opening is set 32 years before TOS, however the starship Kelvin still looks like a major upgrade to the original Enterprise despite being it's forerunner.
- Crazy Enough to Work: From start to finish, almost every plan sounds patently ridiculous. Until it's put into action. Diving out of a shuttle? Hiding behind Saturn's rings? Transwarp beaming onto an enemy ship, hoping that you can rescue the captain, blow up the super advanced weapon, and make it back in time for dinner?
- Crusading Widower: Nero carries out his plot due to believing that the Federation let Romulus be destroyed, killing pretty much everyone he loved in the process.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Spock uses a Vulcan nerve pinch on Kirk and downs him in two seconds flat. Second one: Spock gives him the pinch. Second two: Kirk is on the floor. The best part is that Spock just looks annoyed; Kirk wasn't even a threat to him.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Although the Narada crew was held prisoner by the Klingon Emprire for 25 years, in deleted scenes, Nero still could have taken his ship to Romulus after escaping, even Spock Prime's ship after capturing him, and used all that future tech to help his race conquer their enemies. No wonder Spock decided Nero was crazy.
- Pike points this out to Nero during his interrogation. But Nero responds that it's not the Romulus he knows, and his loved ones would still be dead.
- Dare to Be Badass: "Your father was captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including yours. I dare you to do better."
- Dark and Troubled Past: Heavily alluded to with Kirk, who lost his father just minutes after his birth, was frequently abused by his stepfather while his mother was off-planet, his brother Johnny ran away when Jim was still young because he hated their stepfather so much, nearly killed himself by driving a car off a cliff when he was twelve, possibly survived Tarsus IV (if future movies keep with the original series), and was already a repeat offender long before enlisting in Starfleet.
- Darker and Edgier: Unquestionably so. Even during the Voyager years, the Federation and Starfleet were still mostly set up around peaceful missions. In the reboot, Pike described the federation as a "humanitarian and peacekeeping armada," and the rest of the film is spent fighting. Word of God states that this was due to the Kelvin's encounter with the Narada, which caused Starfleet to take on a much more militaristic turn.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- McCoy gets his share in, as Karl Urban is seemingly channeling the ghost of DeForrest Kelley.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Kirk and Spock.
- Determinator: James Kirk, who doesn't believe in no-win scenarios and is certainly one stubborn fellow once he sets his mind to accomplishing something, be it graduating from Starfleet Academy early, finding a way to beat the supposedly unbeatable Kobayashi Maru, or stopping Nero. He takes more beat-downs than any other character and is consistently degraded or doubted by those around him, but keeps coming back for more in order to protect his homeworld. He is certainly not too worried about getting himself killed in the process, either.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Kirk hits on Uhura at the beginning of the movie, but she turns him down. It is later revealed that she and Spock have an established relationship. Which is slightly disturbing, as Spock's not at the Academy as a student.
- The IDW tie-in comics show that he's actually quite supportive of Spock and Uhura's relationship.
- Disposable Woman: Straight example: Amanda, Spock's mother, died just to twist the knife of angst deeper for Spock.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Nero decides to wait 25 years for Spock to come through the same black hole that pulled him into the past, makes Spock watch Vulcan get destroyed, and then moves on to systematically destroy the other planets of the Federation. All of this is because Spock turned up mere minutes too late to save Romulus from a super nova. (Countdown's backstory doesn't count as the film's writers have established it as non-canon material).
- Distress Call: From Vulcan. Provides the impetus for the second act.
- Distressed Dude: Pike
- Doomed by Canon: Consciously averted. One of the stated reasons why the writers set the film in an Alternate Universe was so that events weren't necessarily a Foregone Conclusion. Things no longer need to turn out quite the way they did before, and Anyone Can Die.
- Doomed Hometown: Vulcan.
- Double Consciousness: Spock, very much so.
- The Dragon: Nero's second-in-command, Ayel.
- Dramatic Irony: Kirk and McCoy on meeting Spock for the first time:
Kirk: Who was that pointy-eared bastard?
McCoy: I don't know, but I like him!
- Drink Order: A Klabnian fire tea, three Budweiser Classics, two "Cardassian sunrises" and the Slusho mix. Uhura and her friends party hard.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: "Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes. He saved over 800 lives, including your mother's, and yours."
- For the record, that averages out to ten lives every nine seconds.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Nero's plan being to destroy every single planet in the Federation, just to get back at Spock for not being able to stop Romulus from being destroyed by a star going supernova in time. He actually gets as far as destroying Vulcan, and is in the process of trying to destroy Earth before he is stopped by Kirk and Spock. Technically, it's an implosion, rather than an explosion as the red matter is injected into the planet's core and ignites, setting off a black hole.
- Easter Egg:
- In the scene where the Enterprise first appears at Vulcan, after they come out of their slow barrel roll to avoid the debris, you can see R2-D2 in the bottom left corner of the screen.
- A menu in the bar Kirk and Uhura meet in has the "Slusho" drink from Cloverfield in it. The logo of the makers of the drink appears on a building in an establishing shot of San Francisco. The big red ball Abrams tries to get in most of his projects is the Red Matter.
- Speaking of Abrams' overall work, the name of the USS Kelvin is this film's use of the "Kelvin" mark he puts in most of his films and TV series.
- Speaking of Cloverfield, the giant red monster that attacked Kirk when he landed on the snow planet is reminiscent of the Cloverfield monster due to the shared bent-arm walking style and six limbed form. It appears Cloverfield has now unofficially become the earliest point in the Star Trek film timeline. Interesting....
- When Kirk and Spock first enter the bridge of the Jellyfish, the control chair and viewport◊ form the triangle-and-circle-within-a-circle symbol of IDIC◊, the Vulcan philosophy of "infinite diversity in infinite combinations".
- This is not surprising considering the ship was built by the Vulcan Science Academy.
- Embarrassing Nickname: McCoy is particularly fond of bestowing these upon people when frustrated or angry, especially in regards to Spock, whom he personally nicknames the 'pointy-eared bastard' or 'green-bloodied hobgoblin', to name a few.
- Establishing Character Moment: Kirk choosing to sabotage the Kobayashi Maru test rather than accept defeat. This has been his ECM ever since it was first discussed in The Wrath of Khan, but this was the first time we got to see it happen canonically.
- Young Kirk trashing his dad's antique corvette in Iowa while trying to evade a hoverbike cop in contrast to young Spock on a school day answering every single question given by a computer correctly.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Justified though, as A) everyone in Starfleet has to go there, B) technically, only three of the characters were seen on-screen attending said school, and C) Spock was actually an instructor.
- Regarding some of the age discrepancies among the students, it's also safe to assume that McCoy is a mature student (since he was already a medical doctor when he started at the academy) and that Chekov has skipped a few years of school (justifying why such a young academy ensign is in such a responsible position would seem to be the point of Pike's "whiz-kid" comment in his first scene). These might both be a result of the alternate time line, of course.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Spock's ship, the Jellyfish.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: According to Bones;
Bones: Space is disease and danger, wrapped in darkness and silence!
- Excessive Steam Syndrome: When Enterprise is getting sucked into a black hole near the end and they're running the warp engines at maximum power, Scotty is running around in Engineering trying to hold the ship together. A pipe cracks overhead and steam comes venting out.
- Expospeak Gag:
Pike: Is the parking brake on?
Sulu: Uh, no. I'll figure it out. I'm just...
Spock: Have you disengaged the external inertial dampener?
- Explosive Instrumentation: Justified in The Teaser, when an entire ship is exploding. Averted entirely otherwise, even when the Enterprise is visibly cracking under the stress of a black hole.
- Explosion Propulsion: When Scotty ejects and detonates the warp cores in order to free the Enterprise from the black hole that just consumed the Narada.
- Exposition Beam: Oh yeah, Spock Prime hits this one 'til it bleeds. Big time.
- Face Death with Dignity:
- Nero solemnly closes his eyes before the Narada is destroyed.
- Extra points for George Kirk. C'mon, the man didn't even see his son and was in the process of saying "I love you, I love you, I love..." to his wife during his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Faceless Goons: A deleted scene has the Klingon guards at Rura Penthe wearing face-concealing helmets. Word of God says this was because they weren't sure whether or not to give the Klingons their more popular TNG ridged foreheads, or go with TOS's dark skinned humanoid look. In the end they just decided to cover the front of their heads and not worry about it.
- Fail Safe Failure: The Kelvin's autopilot function gets destroyed at the wrong time, leaving George Kirk to ram it himself.
- Fantastic Racism: Deconstructed. The original series Played for Laughs or treated as semi-justified the You Are a Credit to Your Race attitude Spock would encounter from other Vulcans for his human blood. Here, the Vulcan kids, as well as the High Council (in a snootier fashion) really pile it on Spock, and it's treated in the same light real-world racism generally is.
- A Father to His Men: Pike is something of a father-figure to Kirk.
- Faux Affably Evil: "Hi, Christopher, I'm Nero." Eric Bana has a lot of fun swinging between this and a more general (if Genre Savvy) evilness.
- Field Promotion: Kirk goes from a Cadet up to acting Captain during the movie,
- Finger Gun: Kirk "fires" his gun in sync to the firing of photon torpedoes during the Kobayashi Maru.
- First Name Basis: How Nero treats his opponents.
Captain Pike:I'm Captain Christopher Pike. To whom am I speaking?
Nero: Hi, Christopher, I'm Nero.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The main crew, especially Kirk and Spock.
- Five-Man Band:
- Fix Fic: Slash Fic fans of the film who support Kirk/Spock tend to have Uhura a) end her relationship with Spock on amicable terms b) get dumped by Spock c) run off with Bones, Scotty, Chekov...any one else with a penis... or d) get eaten by the Gorn. It's starting to get a bit ridiculous.
- Five-Temperament Ensemble: Kirk (choleric), Sulu (melancholic/choleric), Spock (melancholic), Uhura (phlegmatic), "Bones" McCoy (sanguine), Chekhov (sanguine/choleric), and Scotty (leukine).
- Forced to Watch: Nero giving his nemesis a front-row seat to Vulcan's destruction.
- For Want of a Nail: Why everything is different in the new timeline. See also Butterfly Of Doom, above.
- Freudian Excuse: Nero, once a simple Romulan miner, had his life ruined when Ambassador Spock (and the Federation) failed to save his home planet from a supernova. Angry, he wants to kill nearly everyone (specifically, destroy Earth).
"When I lost her, I promised myself retribution; and for 25 years I planned my revenge against the Federation and forgot what it was like to live a normal life."
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Phasers, naturally.
- Frictionless Reentry: Kirk, Sulu & Security Officer Redshirt do a skydive from low orbit around Vulcan, with no sign of atmospheric burn. Granted, one can assume their spacesuits are specially constructed to allow safe re-entry.
- Justified as they are dropping through the atmosphere vertically, so their tangential speed (which would cause the friction) is basically zero.note
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Nero. His backstory is that, in the late 24th century, his home planet (with his pregnant wife on it) was destroyed in a supernova, which, for some reason means that he wants to destroy every planet in The Federation. To make matters worse, no one ever points out the fact that he's gone back in time a hundred and fifty years before the supernova took place and therefore has ample opportunity to, oh, I don't know... WARN HIS PEOPLE THAT THEIR PLANET IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED.
This is a bad case of All In The Manual, as reading the prequel comic reveals that Nero witnessed the beginning of the supernova, but the Romulan senate refused to listen to him even with concrete evidence. So once he goes back in time, he figures that if that senate wouldn't listen to him, the one he would now face sure as hell wouldn't. In the comic he also works closely with Spock on the Federation science project to prevent the disaster, hearing promises that everything will end up all right... only for it to go horribly wrong. That in turn makes Nero's desire to destroy Vulcan and the Federation more understandable. Spending a decade inside a Klingon Prison after going back into the past didn't help his sanity either.
- Genre Savvy:
- Nero and his crew, to an extent, due to having access to the Enterprise's battle record in his timeline. For example, when Nero is interrupted in his strangling of Kirk, he stops and leaves his Dragon standing guard. Said Dragon promptly tries to drop Kirk to his doom. He also has a tendency to avoid Evil Gloating. Every time he hails another ship, the communication basically amounts to "Hi. I'm Nero, and this is how far you're going to bend over."
- Spock. Kirk says something along the lines of "we should be unpredictable, if Nero knows what will happen" while Spock counters "Nero's existence has changed time, creating a new reality." Of course Spock Prime is pretty Genre Savvy too, but only because he already knows what's happened.
- Genre Shift: The film has a very different tone from every show and movie that came before it in the franchise — more of the fun, funny, ray gun action; the same World Building Space Opera; and less Technobabble or forced moral message.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Gaila, Uhura's Orion roommate, another Continuity Nod.
- Guile Hero: Kirk.
- Gunship Rescue:
- The Enterprise drops out of warp and fires its weapons to destroy the missiles from the Narada that are headed towards Spock's craft.
- The Kelvin gets a Gunship Rescue moment when Captain George Kirk destroys a whole volley of missiles from the Narada, including one that comes within meters of destroying the shuttle carrying his wife and the infant Jim.
- Handsome Lech: Kirk eyeballs every woman in the vicinity (even while being dragged through Sickbay by McCoy, sick as a dog from space flu) but the only woman he (visibly) scores with is Uhura's roommate.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- One of the finest and most moving in the entire Star Trek canon. The movie begins with George Kirk staying behind on the U.S.S. Kelvin to save the escaping crew, including his pregnant wife and her child. Kirk becomes a legendary hero for this action, given that in his extremely short time as Captain, he saved 800 lives. This is made all the more poignant considering that, when you look closely, you can actually see missiles from the Narada being intercepted just before they are about to impact on his wife's shuttle. There was, quite simply, no chance of survival without him.
- Captain Robau as well. "If I'm not back in 15 minutes, launch the shuttles." basically means Robau sacrificed himself to buy time for the evacuation of the Kelvin. He knew he was going to his death.
- And Pike too, after a fashion. He pulls a Robau, going off to sacrifice himself to Nero (and let's face it, Robau's fate had to have been in his head as he did all of this) while the crew mounts a counterattack. Though, it's also inverted a bit when Kirk shows up later to pull Pike off the Narada before it blows.
- The Hero's Journey: Near-perfect example, in double for both Spock and Kirk, including the Miraculous Birth: James Tiberius Kirk, born on the day of the destruction of the Kelvin, son of the hero George Kirk of the same battle; Spock, born the Half Human son of the Vulcan Ambassador Sarek. In fact, in the novelisation we learn that during Spock's birth, a star was going supernova elsewhere in the galaxy. The novelisation actually states that the birth of Spock and the death of an entire inhabited solar system are equal in magnitude according to the universe itself!
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kirk and Spock. Spock Prime goes to incredibly risky lengths in order to preserve the natural development of the galaxy's greatest bromance.
- Heel Face Door Slam: The Romulans were well on the way to becoming allies with the Federation as of Nemesis, only for their entire planet to get blown up by a supernova.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Heavily implied to be the case with George Kirk, judging by the Kelvin salt-shakers in the bar and Pike's gushing about how George Kirk was in his opinion, one of the finest Starfleet officers to have ever lived. While George's actions in saving the lives of everyone about the Kelvin and his sacrifice were undoubtedly heroic, one does have to wonder how Pike managed to turn those 12 minutes into a in-depth dissertation? It's implied that part of Kirk's cynicism derives from living in the shadow of what he initially believed to be a over-glorified kamekaze run.
- Homage: The lines and mannerisms of The Original Series cast.
- Hitler Cam: Used near the end of the film to compensate for the height difference between Spock and Spock.
- Humans Are White: The movie did pretty well at averting this. Though human extras are still predominantly white, there's a lot of color. Among named characters, Uhura is black and Sulu is Asian (naturally), and the head of the Starfleet Academy Board, Admiral Barnett, is black.
- Hurricane of Puns: Michael Giacchino certainly had fun naming the songs in the soundtrack. A few self-explanatory examples:
- "Nailin' the Kelvin"
- "Enterprising Young Men"
- "Nero Death Experience" arguably takes the cake as "Worst Pun".
- Unless it's "Nice to Meld You".
- "Nero Sighted". "Nero Fiddle, Narada Burns". Those Nero puns just don't get old, do they?
- "Labour of Love" as Kirk is being born. "Does It Still McFly" as something to do with time travel happens. Ouch.
- This is practically Michael Giacchino's calling card.
- Hella Bar Talk = Bela Bartok (Hungarian composer).
- "I've Fallen and I Can't Beam Up!"
- Hyperspeed Ambush:
- The Starfleet relief force on its way to Vulcan gets beaten into scrap metal immediately upon exiting warp. The Enterprise only narrowly escapes the same fate because they were Late to the Tragedy.
- The Enterprise pulls one off during the film's climax, saving Spock by tearing up Nero's Macross Missile Massacre via Beam Spam.
- Hypocrite / I Resemble That Remark: Many of the Vulcans who insult Spock for acting emotional, fail to realise that they are guilty of the same thing; showing clear irritation and even mild anger when he fails to respond to their vicious barbs about his mother! Likewise, when the bullies finally goad the young Spock into losing his temper, you can see they are utterly terrified when he proceeds to beat the crap out of one of them!
- When Kirk is on the bridge, trying to elicit an emotional response from Spock at Spock Prime's orders, Spock tells him "I will not allow you to lecture me on the merits of emotion", then gets violent when Kirk implies that Spock never loved his mother. This despite the fact that he lectured Kirk about the merits of fear, and brought up Kirk's father in the same speech, barely hours before. Of course, the circumstances were slightly different, but still...
- I Am Not My Father:
- Jim Kirk does not enjoy constantly being compared to his deceased father.
- Played directly for laughs as Spock Prime replies "I am not our father" when New Spock confuses him for his father Sarek towards the end.
- If I Do Not Return:
- George Kirk gets one from Captain Robau.
- James T. Kirk and Spock get one from Captain Pike.
- Spock says this to Kirk, and Kirk refuses to listen, subverting the Tell Her Yourself response by saying, simply, "It'll work."
- Ignorant of the Call: Due to the timeline incursion and the death of his father, Kirk grows up to be, according to Captain Pike, "the only genius-level repeat offender in the Midwest [U.S.]" Pike spurs Kirk to join Starfleet by succinctly summing up his father's Heroic Sacrifice, and daring Kirk to do better than that.
- I Got You Covered: When they invade Narada, Kirk stuns one of the Romulans so Spock can do a mind meld and find out where Spock Prime's ship is. While Spock is doing so, Kirk shoots another Romulan who was approaching from behind.
- Pike returns the favor when he shoots a Romulan while Kirk is freeing him from captivity.
- I Like Those Odds:
Cadet: Hey, farm-boy, maybe you can't count, but there are four of us and one of you.
Kirk: So, get two more guys and then it'll be an even fight.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Wouldn't be Star Trek without it.
"Dammit, man! I'm a doctor, not a physicist!"
- Also played with in the beginning.
"I don't need a doctor, dammit, I am a doctor!"
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Played with. Despite Kirk and Spock materializing in the middle of their bridge, Nero's crew is still good enough to miss them by inches and send them scrambling for cover. Our heroes get precious few hits themselves until they can get behind cover and aim properly.
- Nero's crew are all miners, with little arms training, have been in a Klingon prison for 25 years, were caught by surprise, and there are so many of them they were probably being careful in their firing to avoid hitting each other. Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock, as members of Star Fleet/members-in-training, have pretty fresh classes on firearms and practice at firing ranges or whatever Star Fleet has to keep the firearm training recent.
- Impossibly Tall Tower: Huge megastructures can be seen in the far distance in the Iowa scene.
- Incompletely Trained: The crew of cadets forced into Saving the World.
- Insane Troll Logic: Nero actually seems to believe that destroying Vulcan, Earth and the Federation will save Romulus, when it was destroyed due to a sun going supernova, and blames them for letting it happen when they tried to save Romulus and were simply too late. Made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Romulus still exists in the time period he is now in and he is doing nothing to warn them to evacuate or otherwise do something practical and obvious to avert the disaster.
- Part of it is implied that he doesn't care about Romulus anymore, that he just wants revenge on a Federation that helped cause the destruction of all that he knew and loved... and another part is that he's just insane.
- Considering how many setbacks the Roumlans went through directly at the Federation's hands, it's hard to argue with Nero's logic that Romulus would be better off without the Federation.
- Instant Sedation: Another Star Trek staple, here played for laughs. "How long will that ta-"
- In Spite of a Nail
- James T. Kirk's father dies thanks to Nero's meddling with the timestream, and Kirk grows up an angry, disaffected youth. Yet, against all odds, vastly different circumstances work out in the end with the core crew brought together, as if willed by Destiny itself. In fact, it seems to have happened several years sooner.
- It's some what justified though. In the original timeline Kirk's father inspired him to join Starfleet, in the new time line Captain Pike fulfills that role. Also it's Spock Prime's pushing that causes things such as Kirk and Spock becoming friends.
- The IDW comics are running through various Star Trek: The Original Series storylines. There are differences, because the characters are different, but Gary Mitchell still becomes a god when they cross the Galactic Barrier, and the "Galileo Seven" still end up trapped on Taurus II while studying a quasar.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: In the Comic Book Adaptation prequel, the Narada is a mining ship upgraded with reverse-engineered Borg technology.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: The other characters have no trouble understanding a word Chekov says, despite him having a "Russian" accent thicker than borscht. This is inverted, however, when the computer has no idea what a "nuclear wessel" is. And when the computer can't understand his passcode, because of his mangling of "Vwictor Vwictor". (Incidentally, Anton Yelchin really is Russian-born. The accent is still very, very fake, especially being that the quirks of it are actually Slovakian, and not Russian, as commented on in the DVD behind the scenes extras.)
- Interspecies Romance: Spock/Uhura (half human/Vulcan + human), Sarek/Amanda (Vulcan + human) and Gaila/Kirk (Orion + human).
- Ironic Echo: "I might throw up on you." and "You're captain now, Mr. Kirk."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kirk, Captain James T. At first, it's almost as if he wakes up in the morning and thinks of new ways to piss off any and every body he encounters. Wrecks his stepdad's car and stands up to the cop who tried to pull him over. Participates in a bar fight that some cadets start (they punched him first) because he kept hitting on Uhura (who's completely uninterested in him). Reprograms an unwinnable test, which is cheating, to prove that he can win it (by thinking outside the box). Shows no remorse when caught because he doesn't feel he's in the wrong. Indeed, Kirk demonstrates the same wheeling, dealing, and conniving traits of a Magnificent Bastard. The differences are — first, Kirk was never out to hurt anyone just for his own ends. Second, it is made clear he's only acting up because he lacks a challenge worthy of his smarts - once the adventure kicks off, Kirk repeatedly throws himself into danger to save people, despite inevitably ending up getting his ass kicked. Most importantly, he uses his cunning to save the universe. This movie states overtly what the series were more subtle about: Kirk's Jerk tendencies are also the qualities that make him The Captain we all know and love.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Sulu fights Romulans with a folding sword that looks a lot like a katana, though it could also be a saber. He describes his combat training as "fencing."
- Key Under the Doormat: According to a deleted scene, the young Kirk found the keys to his step-father's Corvette above the sun visor.
- Kill Sat: The drill.
- Kill All Humans: Nero, in addition to other species.
- Kirk's Rock: The landscape of Vulcan is a clear homage, with the distinctive shape of the rock formation appearing many times along the horizon.
- Lab Pet: Inverted. Admiral Archer allows his pet beagle to be used in a teleportation experiment... with unfortunate results. (Word of God has it that this will likely be a Brick Joke later in the film series.)
- Large Ham: Nero.
- Laser Cutter: Laser drill in this case.
- Last Minute Baby Naming: At the beginning of the movie, when Kirk's parents are naming him. He's named for his maternal grandfather, and his middle name is his paternal grandfather's.
- Lens Flare: Used multiple times throughout the movie during big flashy scenes to the exaggeration.
- Basically every scene on the Enterprise.
- Basically every scene. Goddammit JJ.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Sulu admits his "advanced combat training" is actually fencing, which earns a seemingly-justified Oh, Crap face from Kirk and a laugh from the audience. In the fight on the drill that immediately follows, Sulu defeats his opponent (while Kirk gets his ass kicked, no less, resulting in Sulu killing Kirk's opponent as well).
- Literal Cliffhanger: Kirk suffered this trope once when only a kid, giving him plenty of practice for the amount of times it happens to him as an adult (twice in this movie alone).
- Macross Missile Massacre: It's practically the Narada's Signature Style.
- Master Swordsman: Sulu.
- Meaningful Echo: To Star Trek II and Star Trek III, more than twenty years earlier:
Spock: I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
- Meaningful Name: When your parents name you Nero, they probably have a specific destiny in mind.
- The USS Kelvin is named after physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin (of whom the unit of temperature gets it's namesake) as well as JJ Abrmas' grandfather Harry Kelvin. The registry number (NCC-0514) is also Harry's birthday.
- Mildly Military: Starfleet is semi-militarized in response to the fate of the Kelvin, but has its female personnel in sundresses.
- Which is a Continuity Nod to the Original Series.
- Starfleet at it's core is more-or-less a diplomatic and exploratory organization, but their structure is based on a militaristic/naval defense framework, such as assigning their officers naval ranks (i.e. Ensign, Lieutenant, Commodore, Admiral, etc). They are, for the most part, a "peacekeeping and humanitarian armada", but that doesn't mean they won't defend themselves from any opposing force when the time calls for it.
- Military Maverick: Kirk and Spock (the latter because after learning that the Vulcan elders of the Vulcan Science Academy thought his parentage a disability, he joined Starfleet, and the former because... hey, he's Kirk (and he always was a bit of a cowboy)!
- Minored In Ass Kicking: Spock, very scarily. Helps that Vulcans cannonically have three times the strength and endurance of a human.
- Monumental Damage: Narrowly averted. The Narada's giant drill sure looks like it's going to crash into the Golden Gate Bridge, but just barely misses it.
- Mood Whiplash:
- More Dakka:
- My Future Self and Me: Spock and Spock Prime meet at the end of the film and they have a nice chat.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Captain Nero
- Necessary Fail: Interesting case. As pointed out in In Spite of a Nail, it seems that not only did history continue in spite of Nero's actions, it seems certain things happened only because of it. The destruction of Vulcan actually serves to bring Spock and Kirk together in common cause.
- Neck Lift: Romulans, being related to Vulcans, certainly aren't on the weak end of the alien spectrum, because Ayel necklifts Kirk. Bonus points for doing it over a huge pit inside the Romulan ship.
- Negative Space Wedgie: Red Matter's after effects.
- Never Tell Me the Odds: Kirk, who just plain doesn't care about statistical calculations and pretty much lives to defy them, as he informs Spock on multiple occasions.
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Spock Prime's reason why he couldn't go to the Enterprise with Kirk, although he was implying. As noted in Alternate Continuity, Spock Prime can meet himself and not disappear from the timeline, so this is an example of Playing with a Trope.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- The trailers seem to have been specifically edited to imply or outright lie about events. For example, Nero's line "Your father... was a great man. But that was another life." is from two lines. One about Kirk's father, and the second half about Kirk himself, from Nero's original timeline.
- They also imply a romance between Kirk and Uhura. In the actual movie, Kirk does show interest in Uhura, but she doesn't give him the time of day. Or her first name.
- The trailer also seems to imply that when Kirk assumes the captain's chair (when McCoy says "We have no captain and no first officer to replace him"), it is done in a dramatic fashion. It's actually more Played for Laughs, as McCoy and the crew are astonished that the trouble-making Kirk is now in charge, since they were unaware that Pike promoted him when they left the ship for their task.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Kirk is usually on the receiving end of these, one of which is delivered by Spock. Young Spock also gives one to a bully. See Berserk Button.
- No One Could Survive That: Averted. The Narada is caught in the midst of a black hole that has opened up from inside the ship. After their offer of rescue to the Romulan crew is refused, the Enterprise proceeds to open fire in order to make sure they don't survive that.
- No OSHA Compliance:
- The Narada has platforms suspended over huge drops, with no railings. Hundreds of them. Of course, this allows the Romulans to get around more quickly, so it may be a deliberate design feature. Yes, they jump off, but remember that like the Vulcans, they have three times the strength and endurance of a human. Also, the Narada is a refitted deep-space mining vessel, so we're seeing the massive cargo bays that would have normally carried mined materials. The platforms and walkways were mostly made from scrap when it was refitted into a warship and aren't part of the normal design.
- There are also scenes where power cables are seen in puddles of water.
- Perhaps some credit should be given to the engineering sections in this movie... this Enterprise may just be the nearest thing we'll get to an OSHA-compliant ship in the Trek Verse ("Gentlemen! I call my invention... a seatbelt."), although still far from perfect in that regard, like for example the lack of barriers to prevent entering the transporter pad when it's in operation.
- The Enterprise view screen is a glass (or transparent aluminium) window that leads directly out into space, but doesn't have any form of blast shield or emergency bulkhead in case it breaks. While you could argue that the ship has shields for that, they frequently go offline and aren't that reliable as a safeguard.
- Non Sequitur Thud: Played With. At the end of the bar fight, when Captain Pike breaks it up, Kirk says something to Pike that is lucid, but it's obvious he's dazed. It's probably one of the more accurate depictions of the effects of somebody getting repeatedly punched in the face.
Pike: You alright, son?
Kirk: You can whistle really loud, you know that?
- Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Narada, a mining vessel from the year 2387, can destroy most of Starfleet in 2233.
- No Such Thing as H.R.: Starfleet, where a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown is practically a recruiting tool.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
- For the characters, the events of this film are just another event, but for the fans with the benefit of oversight, it heavily alters Star Trek mythology.
- The destruction of Vulcan. The devastated look on the older Spock's face cements that until then, the changes could have simply turned this into a Close Enough Timeline. Now nothing will ever be the same.
- Word of God was that Vulcan was destroyed for exactly this reason- to show that things are not the same, and that this is deadly serious.
- Not So Stoic: Spock, as per usual.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: When Kirk and Sulu get plucked out of free-fall by the teleporter, they still have momentum and slam onto the teleporter floor... but then stand right up.
- Quickly Demoted Leader: Because it's not Captain Spock and Mr. Kirk we all remember. (Pike is Kicked Upstairs to admiral.)
- Race Against the Clock: A brief one, that gives the heroes a minor Idiot Ball.
- Rage Breaking Point: Spock hits this twice.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The main crew verges on this, especially as compared to their TOS counterparts. Kirk's a cadet under disciplinary review, Scotty gets pulled out of his reassignment to Antarctia, Uhura intimidates Spock into reassigning her to the Enterprise, and Sulu is a last-minute replacement for the real helmsman, who got sick.
- Ramming Always Works:
- In some deleted scenes, the Narada got severely crippled after the Kelvin rammed into it, the ship and its crew were captured by the Klingons. They were stuffed on Rura Penthe (the ice planet from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) and it took them twenty five years to escape. Needless to say once they got their ship back the Narada's crew proceeded to pay back the Klingons in full. The resulting battle is where the transmission Uhura picked up came from.
- The Narada gets a round two from the Jellyfish, which this time has the Red Matter to do most of the damage.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Pike; Robau.
- Looking at the movie again, it would appear Nero is one of these as well. Even when his plans get foiled, or his mooks get punked, he never hauls off and declares You Have Failed Me. When Kirk and Sulu damage the drill the first time, all he did was just retract it and order the red matter deployed.note
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Scotty gets sent to a Federation outpost on a remote ice world after one of his transporter experiments caused Admiral Archer's dog to be involved in a freak transporter accident.
Kirk: What ever happened to that dog?
Scotty: I'll let you know when it reappears.
- Recycled In Space: While it's based on the '60s TV series, where the show dealt with themes of exploration and asking universal questions, the film more-or-less becomes Top Gun... in space. Kirk is a maverick whose father died in an act of aerial heroism. He has an older, more tightly-wound buddy (McCoy), and a gruff superior officer (Pike) who appears to disapprove of him, but secretly thinks he has a certain untapped potential. There's also an "icy" rival (Spock), though he gets the hot/smart chick (Uhura) instead of our maverick. Spock kicks him off the Enterprise not because of his flying, but because of his attitude, but after he meets Spock's older self, he makes it back to the ship and proves he's the best of the best and by the end, he and Spock can be each others' wingman anytime - or rather, are and always shall be friends.
- Recycled Title: Star Trek is already the original name of the first series and the franchise as a whole. As of today, the 2009 film is currently the only work in the Star Trek franchise to be officially known as Star Trek with no subtitle, as the series was renamed Star Trek: The Original Series, and the first film had the full title of Star Trek The Motion Picture. Fans are calling it "Star Trek 11" or Star Trek: The Future Begins to differentiate it. It has also been labeled Star Trek '09 while TOS is alternatively referred to as Star Trek '66 nodding to their respective releases.
- Red Shirt: Knowingly used and subverted by J. J. Abrams, but it wouldn't be Star Trek without it. A poor fashion choice gets someone killed. Poor fashion choice and reckless stupidity from the Chief Engineer. This is the only "red shirt" who dies in the film, Unless you count all the Academy cadets who were wearing red uniforms.
- Technically Olson was wearing red armor so it still stands.
- In an amusing subversion, the actual Red Shirts — the "Cupcake" guy et al. — make it through the movie relatively unharmed.
- Red Shirt Army: All the ships heading out to Vulcan that weren't the Enterprise.
- Refuge in Audacity: Invoked when young James T. Kirk leads a police officer in a high-speed chase with his stepfather's classic car, which ultimately Kirk has to dive from when it starts falling into a ravine. Kirk pulls himself up from the quarry, dusts himself off, and as the officer confronts him, Kirk says:
James T. Kirk: Is there a problem, officer?
- Reimagining the Artifact: On Star Trek: The Original Series, Dr. McCoy's nickname "Bones" comes from the term "Sawbones", which was an old nickname for doctors. Since the term has fallen from the parlance, this film has Kirk call McCoy "Bones" because, in his introduction, he explains he's joining Starfleet because "The ex-wife took the whole damn planet in the divorce. All I've got left is my bones.".
- Relative Button: Don't insult Spock's mother.
- The Remake:
- Renegade Splinter Faction: The Narada for the Romulans:
Pike: You've declared war against the Federation. Withdraw. I'll agree to arrange a conference with Romulan leadership at a neutral location.
Nero: I do not speak for the Empire. We stand apart...
- Revenge Before Reason: Nero
- In a quieter example, Spock toward the end, when Kirk offers to rescue Nero ( who had previously destroyed Vulcan) from the singularity he created;
Spock: Captain, what are you doing?
Kirk: Showing them compassion may be the only way to earn peace with the Romulans. It's logic, Spock. I thought you'd like that.
Spock: No, not really. Not this time.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Zig Zagged as one may think Spock Prime would have new memories of what his younger self just experienced. Then again, he's the Prime Reality version of Spock◊ (hence his nickname), separate from the New Alternate One◊ formed by a new spacetime continuum branching off the original universe. Despite being a younger incarnation, whatever happens to New Spock would most likely not, in any way, physically affect Spock Prime whose only affected by the original timestream◊ (anything in the Star Trek franchise before the 2009 reboot).
- The same principle applies to anyone and anything that exists past the timeline diverging event in 2233.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Nero's entire motivation, after the destruction of the Romulan home system and death of his family. A whole lot of Starfleet, a whole lot of Klingons, Vulcan (both the planet and species) and the freaking TIMESTREAM are all casualties of it.
- Role Reprisal: Thanks to a loophole that the writers implemented, they were able to recast Leonard Nimoy as "Spock Prime," The same Spock from the original Star Trek timeline.
- Rule of Cool: Notably, the only entry in the entire series to forego it's allegoric and philosophical roots and solely run on this...and excel at it brilliantly.
- The Runaway: George Samuel Kirk, the older brother of James T. Kirk, ran away from home when the brothers were young to escape their stepfather's constant abuse.
- Running Gag: Chekov's accent. Seriously. And McCoy's injections. And Kirk trying to learn Uhura's first name, which itself is a Mythology Gag since Uhura never had a canon first name before now. ("Nyota" was Fanon. Though the fan in question was Nichelle Nichols...)
- Sacrificial Lamb: First, Captain Robau, and then the USS Kelvin itself in the film's opening. Later on, Spock's mother, Amanda Grayson dies just before Vulcan itself.
- Sacrificial Planet: The movie showed the planet Vulcan being destroyed, and then headed for Earth to do the same.
- Saved by the Awesome
- Save the Villain: Played with. When the Narada is crippled by the artificial black hole, Kirk offers assistance and fair accomodations for the crew as refugees. Even Spock gave a kind of inverted What the Hell, Hero? to Kirk. Nero venomously refuses any help and Kirk wastes no time in opening fire to make sure the ship doesn't survive.
- Scenery Gorn: When the Enterprise arrives at Vulcan, it finds the other ships that warped there destroyed, and had to dodge large pieces of debris. It didn't come out unscathed, either; a nacelle dragged against a destroyed saucer section.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Two main problems with the supernova scenario.
- First, the idea that a supernova could threaten to destroy the entire galaxy. The blast front would dissipate long before that from spreading out too far. The official novelization of the movie fixes this, saying the supernova had threatened everything in its vicinity.
- Second, the idea that a supernova could destroy the Romulus System before it could be evacuated. Having the shockwave travel at the required speed violates basic Einsteinian physics (i.e. it would have to travel faster than the speed of light, which is impossible). The only way this would make sense is if it was the sun of Romulus and Remus themselves that blew up. Otherwise the star systems in the vicinity would have, at minimum, years to evacuate, a daunting but hardly impossible task for a major warp-capable polity such as the Romulan Star Empire. Star Trek Online gives a non-canon explanation for this: The supernova was not a natural phenomenon, but rather caused by Romulan experiments with treaty-banned subspace weapons. Because of this the shockwave traveled through subspace at FTL speeds.
- Scotland: Montgomery Scott, obviously.
- Separated-at-Birth Casting: In the DVD commentary, director J. J. Abrams mentions that some viewers had thought James Kirk and his father George were both played by Chris Pine, when in fact Chris Hemsworth had played George. And of course, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy as Spock.
- Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Uhura and McCoy are all still Starfleet Academy cadets called to active duty when a catastrophe looms. Kirk should be in the equivalent of detention, facing suspension, and gets bumped up to first officer.
- The Red Matter ball looks identical to a couple that feature in Alias.
- During the beginning of the battle between the Kelvin and the Narada, one of the bridge staff says "All power to forward batteries." Star Wars, anyone?
- The Enterprise going into warp comes this close to looking like going into hyperspace in Star Wars.
- Kirk and McCoy fly to spacedock aboard the Shuttlecraft Gilliam.
- When young Kirk is joyriding to the tune of Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", it might have seemed like an odd song choice until one remembers when William Shatner voiced displeasure over being told how to pronounce said word during an audiobook recording.
- It's subtle, but when Spock stands up during the hearing after the Kobayashi Maru, he performs the Picard Maneuver.
- When the cadets muster in the hangar for their ship postings, Cadet Vader is assigned to the USS Hood.
- When Nero fires his drill at San Francisco Bay, he ends up drilling in the same spot the HMS Bounty crashed.
- Nero destroys 47 Klingon ships offscreen: the number 47 was a Running Gag in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- An arctic planet inhabited by multi-limbed-and-jawed creatures anyone?
- Single-Biome Planet: Vulcan and Delta Vega.
- Skyward Scream: SPOOOOOOCKKKK!! SPOOOOOCCCKKKK!!
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Slides a bit on down toward Cynicism from the bright and optimistic place Star Trek: The Original Series occupied near Idealism. But the scenery is a lot prettier.
- Smoke and Fire Factory: The bridge, medical bay, hallways and transporter room of the new Enterprise look all nice and spiffy. Of course, the engineering section had to look like it was powered by Miller Light... and those engineering scenes were actually filmed at a Budweiser Brewery.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Inverted:
Scotty: She is one well-endowed lady. I'd like to get my hands on her ample nacelles, if you'll pardon the engineering parlance.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: At the beginning of the movie, as George Kirk sends his ship on a collision course with the Narada, an extraordinarily beautiful musical piece plays. This puts the scene into Tear Jerker territory.
Kevin Murphy: And now the haunting, lyrical, kind of Samuel Barber-ish husband-killing theme. —Rifftrax
- Sour Supporter: McCoy.
- Space Cadet Academy: Any Star Trek series will probably reference Starfleet Academy at some point, and it featured prominently in this movie.
- Space Is Noisy: Subject to the Rule of Drama. When we're subject to a character POV, we either hear nothing or just the sound of their own breathing if they are in a space suit. If there are no character POVs to be subjected to, we can hear the explosions and jumps to warp just fine.
- Subverted when the Kelvin is being attacked. There's plenty of crashing and screaming before the hull ruptures and the woman is sucked into space, and then it goes completely silent.
- It goes completely silent while she is still flailing and trying to scream.
- Spanner in the Works: Sulu is a mild case early on. He fails to disable the space brakes delaying the Enterprises jump to warp which gives Kirk enough time to convince Pike to raise shields before arriving.
- Special Effect Branding: Phasers have red and blue emitters for Kill and Stun settings, respectively.
- Special Guest: Leonard Nimoy as Ambassador Spock, credited as "Spock Prime".
- Spikes of Villainy: Just look at the Romulan ship and the chain the drill is hanging from.
- Stealth Insult: Upon rejecting admission to the Vulcan Science Council after being told that his "disadvantage" hasn't slowed him down, Spock tells the elders to "Live long and prosper" in the most vitriolic way a Vulcan possibly could.
Chester A. Bum: Live long and SUCK IT!!
- Stealth Sequel: It was billed as a prequel, but turned out to be a prequel, sequel and a reboot all in one. In addition to seeing Kirk and co. as rookies, we get an aging Spock meeting his younger self, and we see how the Federation's conflict with the Romulans finally ends.
- Strong Family Resemblance: As a result of Separated-at-Birth Casting:
- James T. Kirk bears such a strong resemblance to his father that some viewers initially mistook George Kirk for his son.
- Spock also shares a few features with his mother. His eyes are commented on by other Vulcans as being extremely human.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The film features things exploding. Many things exploding. Explodily. Which were produced by Industrial Light and Magic. And it was awesome.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Spock's mother Amanda, unfortunately. It enrages one of the heroes almost to the point of no return.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Nero's ship, a 24th century civilian mining vessel that is capable of destroying 47 23rd century Klingon warships. Even considering the 150 year tech advance, that's still one hell of a mining vessel. In the comic book accompanying the movie, it's explained that Nero's ship is equipped with reverse-engineered Borg weapons that he took from a research base.
- Consider a 1945 cargo ship, with a 3" deck gun and a twin 20mm AA mount (not to mention an all-metal hull and diesel engines), transported back 155 years to 1790. It would be, hands down, the most powerful warship on the planet.
- Swirly Energy Thingy: Black holes, no less.
- Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: Starfleet ships favor Beam Spam, while the Narada employs Macross Missile Massacre. One hopes the Klingons employ More Dakka.
- Take That:
- Taking A Third Option: Kirk, in regards to the Kobayashi Maru, no-win scenarios, and life in general.
- Tastes Like Friendship: McCoy offering Jim a drink from his flask.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Spock and Uhura.
- Tell Me About My Father: Originally subverted, as Kirk couldn't have cared less but Pike told him anyways. Later the trope was played straight, when Kirk met up with Spock Prime and asked him about his father.
- Thanks for the Mammary: Kirk "accidentally" grabs Uhura's breasts during the bar fight scene. Cue a big smirk from Kirk and a sock on the jaw from Uhura.
- There Is No Kill Like Over Kill: Another Signature Style of the Narada.
- This Is My Chair: Kirk is doing his signature slouch in the Captain's Chair. Spock (still his superior) walks past and snaps "Out of the chair."
- This Is a Drill: The bad guys are futuristic miners, so Nero's is a drill that will crack a planet's crust.
- This Is as Far as I Go: Spock Prime tells Kirk and Scotty that he cannot join them on the Enterprise, "That is not my destiny."
- Timeshifted Actor: Leonard Nimoy as the elderly Spock and Zachary Quinto as the younger Spock.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Jim Kirk seems to have leveled up in between Starfleet courses.
- Chekov manages to level up, relative to his counterpart in the original continuity, by saving Kirk and Sulu through some very skilled transporter use.
- Starfleet in response to the attack on the Kelvin. Part of the reason the Enterprise is more advanced than it's counterpart from the Prime Universe is due to Starfleet's rapid realisation that there were things out there that had them severely outgunned. Pike even states that instead of just exploration, Starfleet has become a "Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Armada".
- Too Dumb to Live:
- The whole race of Romulans. Their whole sun goes supernova thus destroying Romulus in the process? Sorry, but you must be plain dumb in order to let that happen (according to Star Trek Online, they caused it by testing weapons that were banned due to this specific reason). Not only do they possess a whole star empire, which means they have more planets then just the one being threatened by the super nova, they should also have the technological possibilities to detect super novas in time. It's not like they happen as a total surprise. It shouldn't have been a problem at all to evacuate a planet in time. And to let Spock as the only person in the goddamned empire try to prevent it because they were too busy arguing. That's beyond dumb. Maybe more so, since the ship and technology Spock uses were built on Vulcan, which means somebody had sufficient advance notice and time to prepare a response.
- Due to his wanting to show up the rookies, Olson waits until the absolute last moment before popping his parachute. Kirk and Sulu pull their chutes at a safe distance above the platform, but Olson turns out to have waited too long, and winds up dropping right into the path of the mining laser beam, completely vaporizing him and the explosives he was carrying for destroying the drill.
- We also have the Vulcan bullies picking on Young Spock. It was clear from their reaction to Spock delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to one of them that none of them considered the possibility of their trying to "elicit an emotional response" in Spock might result in violence.
- Token Romance: Spock and Uhura. Actually subverted in the sequel too: the romance allows the writers to remind the audience that Spock does in fact have feelings but just chooses to not show them. Roberto Orci said that they serve as a parallel to Spock's parents that were an interracial and interspecies couple as well and thus it's quite plausible for Spock to fall for a human the way his father did and it challenges his character in ways his counterpart never was. The romance also subverts the strong independent black woman who doesn't need no man racist trope for Uhura as well as the the hero always gets the girl trope (as Kirk doesn't get the girl that is in fact the already established girlfriend of The Nerdy Friend of Hero
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot:
- The distance from Earth to Vulcan takes exactly as long as is required by the plot. The initial journey seems to take only a few minutes but the return trip takes the second half of the movie.40 Eridani (the triple-star system identified in canon as Vulcan's system) is only about 16.5 light years from Sol. This means that crossing the galaxy would take less than 9 days.
- There's an instance of "turbolift rides only last as long as the conversation contained within." Duing the buildup to the Enterprise's departure, Spock takes a turbolift from the shuttlebay to the bridge, 80% of the total length of the ship, within seconds. Later Spock is joined by Uhura in the turbolift. Even after stopping and restarting the lift, the lift travels for at least 20 seconds.
- Ultimate Universe: With it usage of Broad Strokes, the movie could be seen as a simplified version of the whole franchise packed into "one neat little starter-kit for new fans".
- Understatement: Spock Prime is king of these.
- Unnamed Parent: Spock's mother's name is never said or shown in the film until the credits. (It's Amanda Grayson.)
- Unobtainium: Red Matter.
- Unrealistic Black Hole: As is common in science fiction, black holes are treated here as being almost infinitely powerful space vacuums that suck in everything around them almost instantaneously.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Kirk's final plan for defeating Nero.
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: This time it has Kirk doing it, naturally. Thing is, he's taking it for the third time, and reprograms the computer so the Klingons have no shields, and does it with the finesse expected of the James T. Kirk original. Weapons... target-the-Klingon-Warbirds (sorry, battlecruisers. No such thing as Klingon Warbirds).
- Villainous Breakdown: Nero's call to "FIRE EVERYTHING!" when he realizes Spock is doing a suicide run. He also has one when we first see him, upon realizing he's arrived in the past.
- Visual Pun: Jim Kirk literally walks into a bar.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Bones is constantly bitching and Kirk is constantly giving him reasons to, but they definitely have each other's backs.
- Vulcan Has No Moon: Apparently Delta Vega is close enough for Spock Prime to witness the destruction of Vulcan without a telescope. This ends up Handwaved as a psychic vision.
- Walk and Talk: Happens twice.
- Watching Troy Burn:
- Nero saw Romulus be destroyed.
- Weaponized Headgear: Kirk uses his dropsuit helmet as a bludgeoning weapon when he loses his phaser on the Narada's drill.
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Implied by Dr. McCoy, who boasts that he has a cure for everything that ails Kirk. Then again, McCoy infected Kirk in the first place. It stands to reason allergic reactions would be easily treatable.
- Also somewhat averted, as McCoy states that space is full of death and disease.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It's unknown whether Gaila was assigned to any of the Federation starships that were destroyed in the battle with Nero at Vulcan.
- Deleted Scenes show she was also assigned to the Enterprise. There was, in fact an also-deleted subplot about how she and Kirk are now awkward around each other once she realizes he only slept with her to get her to reprogram the Kobayashi Maru.
- Also, in the novelization, Admiral Archer's dog that Scotty lost in a Transwarp Beaming accident appears on the pad at the very end, after every other event in the movie has transpired. So somewhat averted?
- What the Hell, Hero?: Inverted when Kirk offers surrender terms to Nero.
Spock: Captain, what are you doing?
Kirk: Showing them compassion. It may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus. It's logic, Spock, I thought you'd like that.
Spock: No, not really. Not this time.
- What Year Is This?: When Robau doesn't recognize images of "our" Spock or his craft, the Romulans ask him what the current Stardate is. He tells them - and Nero leaps out of his chair and impales him.
- When Things Spin, Science Happens: Ambassador Spock's ship, with three separately-rotating... things which are obviously scientific and important because they have a glowy thing in the middle.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: When the baby Kirk is born, his parents discuss the name while Papa Wolf is making his Heroic Sacrifice. It really drives home the Tear Jerking poignancy of the scene in a way that more dramatic theatrics probably would not.
George: What are we gonna call him?
Winona: We could name him after your father.
George: <laughing> Tiberius? You kidding me? No, that's the worst. Let's name him after your dad. Let's call him Jim.
Winona: Jim. OK, Jim it is.
- With Due Respect: Young Spock saluting the Vulcan Council. See Parenthetic Swearing.
- The Worf Effect:
- Nero's awesome (mining) ship wiped out a fleet of 47 Klingon Warbirds, conveniently off-screen, of course. Apparently getting your ass whooped to demonstrate someone else's badassery is genetic.
- Countdown, the prequel comic, has the trope namer doing what he does best, getting his ass kicked.
- Wrong Time-Travel Savvy: Spock Prime allows Kirk to infer that universe-ending paradoxes will ensue if he and his younger self interact. He just wants them to work together without using him as a crutch.
- You All Meet in an Inn: And have a roaring barfight.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: The Vulcan Council congratulate Spock on overcoming the "disadvantage" of a human mother. Big mistake.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Despite how much events change due to Nero's interference in the timeline, the crew of the Enterprise end up together anyway.
- You Have to Believe Me: Kirk runs into the bridge, claiming they're heading towards a trap and Romulans who had attacked his dad twenty-something years ago are back. Thankfully Uhura was there to confirm it and Spock believed her.
- You Killed My Father: Nero is responsible for the death of Jim Kirk's father, George Kirk, only minutes after Jim's birth. Ironically, revenge for his father's death is never a main motive in Kirk's defeat of Nero.
- Younger and Hipper: HAH! The entire freaking crew! Even if Pike can't be classified as "younger", he's certainly "hipper". The man actually has a sense of humor, not something ever seen with Pike Prime.
- Keep in mind that a lot of scenes with Pike Prime were either him as a very tired, very experienced captain... or as a Davros-like man in a life support unit.
- Your Size May Vary:
- The Constitution-class of this continuity is bigger than it originally was (partially explained by an In-Universe redesign). Shatner's was around 280 meters long. Pine's was designed to be closer to 360 meters (which was largely a result of a sleeker design and longer nacelles), although it was upscaled in the movie proper, because Abrams wanted an oversized shuttle bay, to be over 700 meters long. For reference... that's around the same length as the Sovereign class of the TNG movie era! Here◊ is a quick comparison chart, outlining the size descrepencies, and here is the main article.
- In addition, Daddy Kirk "saved 800 lives" on the Kelvin (pre-time change) when the original Enterprise (newer and larger than the Kelvin) had a crew of about 450. Assuming a great deal of casualties in that battle, that puts the Kelvin crew compliment closer to the Enterprise-D of 1,000.
- You Should Know This Already: By this point we really might as well not bother spoiler-tagging Spock Prime; even anyone who's seen the trailer and not the movie knows he's in it.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: Believe me, when you get Spock "emotionally compromised", it's not pretty.
- Zeerust: Averted. Word of God is that reverse-engineered technology based on the Kelvin's scans of the Narada is why everything appears more advanced than in the Prime Universe.
The Future Begins.