Series / Star Trek: Discovery

"The brand-new Star Trek will introduce new characters seeking imaginative new worlds and new civilizations, while exploring the dramatic contemporary themes that have been a signature of the franchise since its inception in 1966."
CBS press release

Star Trek: Discovery is the sixth live-action Star Trek television series. It premiered on September 24th, 2017 and has been renewed for a second season. It is produced by Alex Kurtzman, with a writing staff that includes Bryan Fuller and Nicholas Meyer. Developed by CBS, Discovery it airs in the United States on their streaming service CBS All Access as well as in Canada on Space Channel and CraveTV; the show is also broadcast to the rest of the world (bar Mainland China) on Netflix.

The show is set in the Prime Timeline of the Star Trek universe (as opposed to the reboot's timeline), about ten years before the five-year mission on the original Star Trek, that it will follow the voyages of the Federation starship Discovery, and that it will eschew episodic plots in favor of season-long serialized stories. The first season, at least so far, concerns the cold war with the Klingons breaking into open hostilities.

The cast includes Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca of the Discovery, Sonequa Martin-Green as First Officer Michael Burnham (a human raised by Vulcans), Doug Jones as Lt. Commander Saru (a science officer of a previously-unseen alien species), Mary Wiseman as Cadet Sylvia Tilly, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Paul Stamets (space fungus expert), Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber (a medical officer and Stamets' love interest), Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd (a Con Man), Shazad Latif as Lieutenant Ash Tyler, and Rekha Sharma as Commander Landry, Chief of Security. Also appearing are James Frain as Spock's father Sarek and Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou. Klingons include Chris Obi as T'Kuvma, a charismatic visionary who wants to unite the 24 warring clans into one cohesive empire; Mary Chieffo as L'Rell, a Battle Deck Commander on his ship; and Javid Iqbal as Voq, a clanless and albino Klingon who serves him.

Preceding the show's launch were five promo videos:


  • Anyone Can Die: Aside from Burnham and Voq, no characters new to this series appear to be safe from suddenly biting it. As of the fourth episode, three characters listed above (Georgiou, T'Kuvma and Landry) have already died.
  • As You Know: The show begins with Burnham explaining things to the Captain that she would surely know this deep into the away-mission.
  • Art Evolution: The Klingons have a more drastic, inhuman look compared to their original designs which, given the time period the series takes place, are supposed to be their contemporaries.
  • Author Appeal: Despite Bryan Fuller leaving before the start of production, Michael continues his trend of female characters with typically male names.
  • Batman Gambit: Captain Lorca pulls a very roundabout one on Michael Burnham. By this point, she's built up quite a negative reputation. So, when she's recruited in a sketchy way for a sketchy mission, she assumes pretty quickly that she was chosen because of her reputation and will jump at the chance to escape punishment. She specifically defies this, saying she wants to be punished, so he reveals that he picked her because of the real her and not the popular misconception of her, convincing her that above it all he does mean well. As it turns out, Lorca anticipated this outcome and set up the scenario so she would trust him, failing to realize he does have morally gray intentions which he intends for her to aid without realizing it).
  • Bling of War: The Klingon outfits have some incredibly intricate golden metalwork and jewels embedded in the armor.
  • Cassandra Truth: Burnham keeps telling everyone that the Klingons cannot be reasoned with and will attack. Captain Georgiu and Admiral Anderson, the two people who need to believe her the most, do not. This has fatal consequences for the both of them, and eight thousand others.
  • Catch-Phrase: T'Kuvma considers "We come in peace" to be the Federation's catchphrase. He also considers it a lie.
  • Commander Contrarian: Burnham initially plays this role as the aggressive, hawkish Number Two to the more patient and calculating Captain Georgiou aboard the USS Shenzhou.
  • Cool Starship: Par for the course in Star Trek, but special mention has to go to T'Kuvma's incredibly ornate flagship. The hull is decorated with coffins.
  • Cosmetically Advanced Prequel:
    • Computer screens and ship designs all look like they came from the Kelvin timeline, not the TOS era. Captain Georgiou mentions that the Shenzhou is an old ship, which could explain its resemblance to the ships of Star Trek: Enterprise, but this doesn't excuse the Discovery having terminals with holographic displays, which make the tech 200 years later look primitive by comparison.
    • The props, however, such as the phasers, tricorders, communicators, etc., seem very close to the original designs while still looking futuristic.
  • Darker and Edgier: Discovery follows the example set by the rebooted Star Trek movies in being more action-oriented, cynical, and violent than the previous TV shows in the franchise. More literally, even the lighting aboard Starfleet ships is darker than ever before.
  • Decoy Protagonist:
    • Though Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Georgiou of the Shenzhou, and Jason Isaacs plays Captain Lorca of the eponymous USS Discovery, this is the first Star Trek series in which The Captain is not the Main Character. Instead, it's Cmdr. Michael Burnham, who starts off as Number Two to Capt. Georgiou.
    • Also, Captain Georgiou dies in the second episode.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • T'Kuvma engages in a lot of Fantastic Racism against the Federation and finds the idea of forging a common union of multiple species to be disgusting. He also strongly dislikes the idea they claim to come in peace and absorbing other nations through means other than combat. Part of this may also be him being Entertainingly Wrong as he believes their claims of being peaceful explorers are lies.
    • Sarek highlights the issue by pointing out the Klingons only would be willing to discuss peace with a race which has shown itself to be violent and ruthless like themselves.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The opening titles.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: T'Kuvma is built up as the ultimate villain of the series, but Michael kills him at the end of the second episode.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The Klingons' movement is reminiscent of both far right-wing American groups and Middle-Eastern terror groups. Additionally, T'Kuvma's plan to unify barbaric warring aliens in order to overthrow the Federation resembles Fu Manchu's plan to unify The East in order to destroy The West.
    • The way they're portrayed is almost like the Klingon version of the The Fundamentalist. They're a splinter religious group that no one on the (supposedly diverse) High Council takes seriously, no matter what problems they have with each other, until the House of T'Kuvma activates the ancient Beacon. After that, most are pissed because his House is bound by faith and not by blood or marriage, and he basically calls himself the Klingon Messiah— but a few are intrigued.
  • Doomed by Canon: Discovery's propulsion experiments will either end in failure or Starfleet won't adopt them for some reason. Horrible mutilations and monsters are two possible reasons why.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Georgiou is crushed that her first officer who she thought was ready for her own command would try to mutiny against her.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • We knew Burnham wouldn't stay imprisoned for her mutiny, but would eventually be given a place on Discovery. The question was over who would have the muscle to pull those strings for her. It turns out that it was Captain Lorca apparently arranging her presence on his ship.
    • The new biological propulsion system won't have any wide-ranging effect on interstellar travel, given what we know about the state of warp drive for the next century or so in the Prime continuity.
    • Either the Klingons will lose the war or both sides will be forced to peace after heavy losses, or else the Federation wouldn't continue to exist ten years later.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Burnham is a woman named Michael, which is an homage to Bryan Fuller's tendency to use these. Lampshaded by Tilly in the third episode.
  • Genghis Gambit: The premise of the show is T'Kuvma is attempting to unite the 24 houses of the Klingon Empire together by getting them into a war with the Federation. He effectively does this by Shaming the Mob and showing he's willing to take on the Federation by himself. The fact he shows he's capable of taking the Federation on by himself and stalemating them shows they're not undefeatable either. Then T'Kuvma is martyred by being shot in the back by a Federation officer too.
  • Ghost Ship:
    • The USS Glenn, in "Context is for Kings". For extra creepiness, it's Discovery's sister ship and has the same internal layout.
    • The derelict USS Shenzhou is boarded and pillaged by the Klingons in episode four.
  • Interquel: The series begins in 2256, ten years before TOS and a full century after Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The Series. Unlike previous versions of Star Trek where the main characters were The Captain and their senior staff, the focus in this series is on the busted-down Burnham who mostly hangs around with Lt. Stamets in the science division and Cadet Tilly. Aside from Lorca, Saru, and Landry, it's not even mentioned who the other senior officers on the ship are — and of them, Saru is a supporting character, and Landry is killed in episode 4. Of the other characters who have played significant roles thus far, Culber is a doctor (not Chief Medical Officer), and Tyler is just a lieutenant although he's given the job of Chief of Security by Lorca.
  • Ludicrous Precision:
    • Due to her actions on the Shenzhou, Burnham understandably foregoes the approximations relating to the war's death toll in "Context is for Kings". It also serves as a callback (though, chronologically, a call forward) to Spock's numerical precision.
      Prisoner: My cousin was on the Europa when it went down. She and eight thousand others are dead because of you.
      Burnham: Eight thousand, one hundred and eighty-six.
    • Also Played for Laughs in the prologue: Burnham calculates, down to the second, how much time they have before a nearby storm overtakes them. Then it turns out she was off by a pretty significant factor when the storm is suddenly bearing down on them.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything:
    • The Shenzhou beams a raiding party onto a Klingon vessel that consists solely of Captain Georgiou and First Officer Burnham. They're rather quickly overwhelmed, and Georgiou gets killed.
    • In "Context is for Kings", the away team sent to the USS Glenn consists of four main characters and a Red Shirt, but all four are justified in their presence on the mission. Burnham, Stamets, and Tilly are all scientists, the latter two specifically experts in the accident they're been sent to investigate while Burnham works in the same field and is a quick study, and Landry is Chief of Security and naturally brought along the Red Shirt because he's part of her security staff. And as Burnham deduced, the away team mission is also a secret test by Captain Lorca.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Captain Georgiou is stabbed in the heart during a duel with T'Kuvma.
  • Mercy Kill: Lorca reveals in "Choose Your Pain" that when his old command was captured by the Klingons six months prior, he blew it up and killed his entire crew to spare them the torture and humiliation they'd receive as prisoners.
  • The Mutiny: When Captain Georgiou refuses to fire on the Klingons to prove that they are willing to defend themselves, Michael nerve-pinches her and takes over the ship. Georgiou manages to get back up and stop Michael before she can do anything though.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Discovery's design is based on concept art from the cancelled Made-for-TV Movie Star Trek: Planet of the Titans which evolved into the defunct Star Trek: Phase II, a canned sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series that was turned into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
    • The Shenzhou and her crew end up in serious trouble at the hands of the Klingons near the territory of the Klingon Empire. At the start of 2009's Star Trek, the USS Kelvin is patrolling the Klingon border when it encounters Nero and the Narada and comes under assault.
    • The design of the USS Shenzhou seems remarkably similar to NX-class and Akira-class ships from other Trek series, and has the same basic layout as the seldom-seen Centaur-class; not to mention non-canon depictions of the Luna-class. The main difference from other previously-seen Starfleet ships is that the bridge appears to be on the underside of the Shenzhou's primary hull.
    • The USS Discovery, meanwhile, has gaps in its primary hull that, while smaller and understated, mirror the design of the USS Vengeance from Star Trek Into Darkness.
    • The captain of the ship is killed, the first officer survives to do great things, a villain uses the abandoned ship against the Federation. Aside from the reputation gained, not too different from Picard's background.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: The USS Glenn was apparently named for American astronaut John Glenn.
    • Lieutenant Paul Stamets was named after a mycologist (fungus expert).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Michael Burnham has this from the entire Federation who believe she started the war with the Klingon Empire. They're Entertainingly Wrong as T'Kuvma always intended to start the war. However, they're also right that Michael could have stopped the war outright by taking T'Kuvma prisoner instead of killing him in a moment of anger.
  • Organic Technology: Discovery is equipped with a displacement-activated spore hub drive, which allows it to jump to any location using a network of spores that are scattered throughout the universe. For bonus points, the central navigation computer for the drive is a giant tardigrade creature that lives in symbiosis with the spores.
  • Power Trio: For the Shenzou's command staff: Captain Georgiou is calm and calculating, Commander Burnham is aggressive and adventurous, and Lt. Commander Saru is cautious bordering on paranoid. When Burnham and Saru both agree on something, Georgiou considers it noteworthy enough to comment on to her bridge crew.
  • Precision F-Strike: The show introduces F bombs to the Trek universe, but uses them very sparingly. The first two appear in the fifth episode:
    Cadet Tilly: You guys, this is so fucking cool!
    Cadet Tilly: I'm sorry.
    Lt. Stamets: No, cadet. It is fucking cool.
  • Ramming Always Works: The Europa is doomed when it's rammed by a cloaked Klingon vessel, though the Europa detonated its warp core to make sure the Klingons wouldn't live to brag about it.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • What happens when an officer assaults her commanding officer, attempts a mutiny in an incipient combat situation, and tries to launch an unauthorized, unprovoked attack in direct violation of her standing orders? She's sentenced to life in prison. For a main character in a Trek series, where the various crews have defied the admiralty with frequency, that's actually pretty startling.
    • It turns out that a Nigh Invulnerable alien creature that can shrug off full-power phaser blasts like nothing also can't be easily sedated. Burnham is the only one who theorizes this might be the case, but Commander Landry doesn't listen to her, and promptly gets killed as a result.
  • Remember the New Guy: Michael is Spock's never-before-referred-to foster sister. She wouldn't be the first sibling he never spoke of, however.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Burnham's red to Saru's blue. Georgiou seems to enjoy seeing them play off each other.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Both Federation and Klingon vessels have holographic communicators which allow a fully voiced and mobile projection of the speaker on the other end. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, similar holographic communicators were introduced for a brief period and treated as a new technology. They were also less advanced, limited to a single projector on the floor, though with a clearer image at least. The Scimitar in Star Trek: Nemesis had a similar technology that could project a hologram onto another ship, which may be where this series got the idea.
    • In the original Star Trek series, the iconic emblem on the uniform was only worn by the crew of the Enterprise. Other starships had different emblems. One of the novels stated that Starfleet later adopted that symbol for all its ships in honor of the Starship Enterprise, explaining its presence among all of Starfleet in later series. However, Discovery was set ten years before, yet all of the crew wear that emblem, and it is a major point in the the second scene of the series. Of course, audiences have identified that symbol with Star Trek in general and not just the USS Enterprise for nearly 40 years now.
      • A memo from the production of the Original Series reveals that crews of other starships having different emblems was a continuity error itself due to a mistake in costuming, and that Roddenberry's original intent was that the arrowhead/delta was to be common to all Starfleet ship crews (other personnel not assigned to ships having different emblems). The bodies shown on the USS Defiant in "The Tholian Web" are wearing the correct symbol, identical to those on the Enterprise.
  • Shout-Out: The Discovery's spore drive has a lot in common with Andromeda slipstream drive. Both use an existing network of corridors through space that require a living being to properly navigate them.
  • Sigil Spam: The Starfleet delta/arrowhead symbol is used in the metallic pattern on their uniforms, and even is the shape of the clasps on the boots they wear.
  • Stealth in Space: Both Starfleet and the other Klingon factions are taken aback that T'Kuvma's ships have cloaking devices. It's not stated where T'Kuvma got this tech from, although it's generally assumed that he got it from the Romulans, who had it back in Enterprise (which in and of itself is inconsistently portrayed).
  • Stern Teacher: Seems to be Sarek's role in Burnham's life. He seems to be giving motivation, but when she floats the idea of learning Vulcan so that she can better respond to the learning curriculum he says that problem isn't her language, but her heart.
  • Time Skip:
    • "Context is for Kings" takes place six months after the previous episode.
    • "Choose Your Pain" is two episodes later in the series but seven months after the "Battle at the Binary Stars", since Lt. Tyler claims to have been kept prisoner for that period of time since the war started.
  • Translation Convention: Averted. All scenes that feature only Klingons are conducted entirely in the Klingon language with subtitles. The only phrase spoke in English is T'Kuvma quoting the standard Federation greeting "We come in peace."
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Landry bites it in the fourth episode, courtesy of a very pissed-off tardigrade.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • T'Kuvma is clearly of the opinion that the Klingon Empire is rotting and on the verge of falling apart. Given the way other Klingons quickly rally to his cause to restore unity, it seems to be a common opinion. Even Starfleet seems to believe this, with senior officers dismissing Burnham's warnings with comments about how the Klingons are disorganized and factionalized.
    • Kol wants T'Kuvma's ship (with it's cloaking technology) under his control, because once the war with the Federation is over, he expects the Klingon houses will start infighting again and he wants the advantage.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye:
    • Captain Georgiou and Admiral Anderson are both offed in the second episode.
    • Commander Landry, due to being played by Rekha Sharma, was almost expected to be a Klingon spy in disguise or otherwise a traitor given two of her previous roles. She's killed off very quickly in the fourth episode of the series.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: When Lorca shows Michael the capabilities of the spore drive, her gives her a lightning tour of all the wondrous places they can travel to.