* AccidentalAesop: Some have taken the mind meld scene with Spock and Valeris to be a message that TortureAlwaysWorks. Of course this is also a FantasticAesop, since mind melds read actual thoughts, something RealLife torture cannot do.
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: There's a faction of ''Franchise/StarTrek'' fandom, particularly in ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'''s playerbase, that views the destruction of Praxis as a missed opportunity for the Federation to deal with the Klingons permanently, that they should have taken the opportunity to launch a full-scale invasion because the peace, however well-intentioned, would not prove sustainable: "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS3E15YesterdaysEnterprise Yesterday's Enterprise]]" shows the Klingons and Federation at war despite the Khitomer Accords, with this only averted in the prime timeline through the loss of the ''Enterprise''-C against their mutual foe the Romulans. In 2372 the Klingons go off half-cocked against the newly democratic Cardassian Union, eventually driving them right into the hands of the Dominion, and declaring war on the Federation when their allies try to rein them in. The exact same thing as in 2372 happens in the backstory to ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'', only with the Undine instead of the Dominion as bogeyman du jour. In both of the latter two instances, the alliance was only restored by [[EnemyMine a mutual enemy]]. ''So what happens when the Federation runs out of mutual foes they can distract the Klingons with?'' But hey, we got an end-of-the-UsefulNotes/ColdWar allegory out of it, right? And as with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it didn't take so very long for the Klingon "allies" to fall back into their old habits. Exhibit A: Vladimir Putin.
** Subverted; they did so because they believed Undine had infiltrated all the major powers, tried to get the others to join in on rooting them out, yet were rebuffed. They were ''completely right''. And as soon as this menace is fully revealed, they go back to being friends like nothing happened. [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Also, the Federation isn't the type to launch invasions before a war starts.]]
** Not to mention that, by [=DS9=]'s time, we're talking 70-80 years of peace between the Federation and the Klingons, which isn't a bad run at all. Who's to say that a Federation conquest of the Klingon Empire wouldn't have resulted in something much darker by the mid-24th century?
** And don't forget that [[Series/StarTrekEnterprise by the 26th century, the Klingons have officially joined the Federation]]. EarnYourHappyEnding, right?
** Notably, one of those who had a serious problem with the script was '''Gene Roddenberry himself.''' He was particularly disturbed by the more militaristic scenes and treating Kirk's history distrust of Klingons as racism; the original series clearly used the Klingons as "alien Russians" who were guilty of serious ''ongoing'' violations of human rights, and he was disgusted with the main plot being ''defending'' them through military action without answering for those crimes - he especially disapproved of how the death of David Marcus was used. Luckily for Paramount, Roddenberry died two days after the movie was screened for him, before his lawyer could present his demands to the studio.
** Starfleet's decision to decommission the ''Enterprise''-A at the end of the movie. Was it because the ''Enterprise'' was simply too old to be worth repairing, as was the case of the original at the beginning of ''The Search for Spock'', or was it a vindictive punishment for all of crew's shenanigans in this movie? Kirk offhandedly mentioned earlier in the movie that the crew was due to stand down in six months, but whether this meant the ''Enterprise''-A itself was already set for decommissioning and it's just being done early is unclear.
* AuthorsSavingThrow: Finally seeing some payoff for the death of David Marcus in ''[[Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock The Search for Spock]]''.
* AwesomeMusic: Cliff Eidelman's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcTegz0Vh_Q score]].
* BetterOnDVD: When you watch the film again, you can see just when Spock slaps the patch on Kirk--and see the patch, too. The Klingons weren't very thorough, huh? Or perhaps just didn't recognize it as important?
* EvilIsCool: General Chang, no small part due to his actor Christopher Plummer ChewingTheScenery, being WickedCultured and how he views Kirk as a WorthyOpponent.
* EvilIsSexy: [[spoiler:Martia, given she's played by StatuesqueStunner supermodel and the late Music/DavidBowie's wife Iman and Valeris, played by Kim Cattrall.]]
** The film was written at the latest early in 1991 (to give time for filming and post-production for the December release date). The film was essentially about a dual coup attempt against both the Klingons and the Federation so that BloodKnight elements in both could continue their war. In August 1991, there was a coup attempt against Gorbachev in the USSR, by BloodKnight elements in the CPSU who wanted to continue the Cold War.
* HilariousInHindsight: The Klingon Assassin is actually [[spoiler:Starfleet's Colonel West]]. Rene Auberjonois, who played [[spoiler:West]], would also appear disguised as a Klingon in the ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineS05E01ApocalypseRising Apocalypse Rising]]". Amusingly, his characters have opposing motivations: [[spoiler:West]] was trying to start a war between the Klingons and the Federation, Odo was trying to stop the Klingon/Federation War going on at that point in the series.
** This won't be the last time [[Film/TomorrowNeverDies a general named Chang tries to start a war using a stealth ship]]. ''Star Trek VI'' director/co-writer Creator/NicholasMeyer was also a ghostwriter for ''Tomorrow Never Dies''.
** Nicholas Meyer wanted Saavik to be TheMole for this film, but for various reasons, notably Gene Roddenberry's objections, the character of Lt. Valeris was created instead. In the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' two-part episode "Gambit", Robin Curtis, who played Saavik in ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'' and ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'', played Tallera, a member of a Vulcan isolationist group, giving a glimpse at what a villainous Saavik might have been like.
* HoYay: Kirk and Spock are in the same film, of course there is. There's one particular scene in a corridor that's a deep breath away from being a kiss.
* LifeImitatesArt: The plot of the film, whereby hardliners attempt a coup against the moderate leader in the hostile empire, was nearly repeated as the film was being edited, in the form of the August coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, on whom Gorkon was based, by hardliners who wanted to go back to the good old Cold War days.
* MagnificentBastard: General Chang.
* MemeticMutation: "Only Nixon could go to China" gets used frequently in political discussions.
** This is OlderThanTheyThink. The phrase has been in use since at least 1971, before Nixon actually went to China.
* NightmareFuel: Spock's reaction to [[spoiler:Valeris's betrayal]]. It's chilling to think of how furious he must be to display that much emotion.
* OneSceneWonder: Christian Slater has a cameo as the crewman who wakes Sulu up in the middle of the night. The scene was originally written for Grace Lee Whitney as Janice Rand; Slater only got the part as a favor to his mother, the casting director. Also a case of PromotedFanboy.
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap: The ''Excelsior'', after its ButtMonkey status in ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock''.
** This film addresses the fears many people had about the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar.
** Admiral Cartwright, played by [[Film/ToKillAMockingBird Brock Peters]], is a stark and uncomfortable reminder that racism can come in any form.
** When Chang's Lieutenant or Weapons Officer presses the button to fire torpedoes (installed in a box attached to a wall) you can clearly see the entire box shift position as if poorly glued down.
** When Chang is quoting Shakespeare as he watches the ''Enterprise'' fly past, the ''Enterprise'' looks like what it is: a model, right down to the scored detail lines and paint job. Especially jarring when compared to the other exterior shots of the ship in the movie.
*** Not all the exterior shots, in fact not many of them at all. This film's visuals of the ''Enterprise'' are completely different in style altogether to the other movies, and suffer by comparison. Despite using the same filming model. Especially rubbish is the "warp to camera shot" after Kirk says, "Come on, I need you," to Spock.
*** There was also no background in the Bird-of-Prey's view of the ''Enterprise'', either, just a completely black space devoid of stars.
** The Klingon blood is depicted with early 1990s CGI in all of its imperfect glory. To be fair, it's been twenty years and the technique has yet to be perfected.
*** It's interesting to compare the blood effects in this film with "[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS6E3BargeOfTheDead Barge of the Dead]]", an episode of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' which aired only 8 years later, to see how much CGI blood (and indeed, CGI liquids in general) had been improved.
*** The Zero-G blood drops were also one of the first uses of an at-the-time new CGI technology called "metaballs"--a new way to make smooth, blobby, and more organic objects. As much a tech demo proof-of-concept for the technology as a special effect.
* SurprisinglyImprovedSequel: Not only was it a major return to form after the horribly-received previous film, more than a few fans even regarded it as the best ''Trek'' film since ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''.
* TheUntwist: General Chang was behind the attack on Gorkon's ship. Given his attitude when he's first seen coupled with the fact that he had the recording of Kirk's statement he would never forgive Klingons, it's not much of a surprise.
** Chang is clearly the obvious villain of the piece, though--covering for the [[spoiler: real twist in the film that ''Starfleet officers'' are part of a conspiracy, and that ''they'' supplied Chang with the damning recording of Kirk]].
* WinBackTheCrowd: Doing so after the disappointing reception for ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier''. This is the one that really cemented the "evens good, odds bad" rule.