Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the fifth movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1989.
With a brand-new Enterprise, Kirk and crew set out to resolve a hostage situation only to discover that they've been suckered as part of a grander scheme by Spock's long-lost half-brother Sybok. Sybok commandeers the Enterprise, winning over most of the crew by using his Telepathic Epiphany Therapy on them. After gaining control of the Enterprise Sybok makes them set a course for the center of the galaxy, where he believes God is waiting. With the bulk of his crew now working against him, Kirk must work his way up the Enterprise to the bridge armed with his wits and a pair of rocket boots. Ultimately he fails to retake the ship in time to be of much use so he continues on to discover what lies at the heart of the galaxy.
The reputation of the end-result was as different as night and day, when compared to the preceding film. The Voyage Home had been a hit that enjoyed great commercial success and reignited the faith in Star Trek as a franchise, causing the green-lighting of The Next Generation. The Final Frontier, on the other hand, while starting out with the highest opening gross of any Star Trek film, quickly plummeted in its ticket sales, was received negatively both by fans and critics and, according to its producer, "nearly killed" Star Trek as a film franchise.
Now it should be noted the movie's failings aren't all Shatner's fault. We can also thank Executive Meddling for all the forced "humor" and the 1988 WGA strike for short-circuiting the screenwriting, and the infamous Special Effect Failure was due to ILM being too busy with a few other projects to work on the film.
Still, the basic concept was Shatner's idea (Although making Sybok Spock's brother was a Harve Bennett decision), and he knew about the studio's humor requirements before he even began work. Gene Roddenberry himself had expressed strong reservations about the pitch; he had good reason to be concerned, as he had previously written his own story about the crew meeting God and hated the result. (Though it should also be noted that Roddenberry's own counteroffered idea was, as it had been since the second movie, for the Enterprise crew to go back in time and either stop or commit the JFK assassination.) But Shatner persisted with the idea of Kirk coming up against God and winning. Star Trek and religious topics have always been uneasy bedfellows; Deep Space Nine is the only series to pull it off, and Trekkies are divided on even that. Nevertheless, fans prefer to ignore this entry entirely and simply go from the fourth movie directly to the sixth. Frontier is also the only one of the original films to have never been given a Director's Cut; Shatner has always wanted to do it, but Paramount refuses to let him.
This movie isn't a total write-off, though: Star Trek V also features plenty of Character Development scenes between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (the book ends with the three camping are quite enjoyable), an absolutely brilliant backstory scene involving McCoy and his father, and has a collection of well imagined individual sequences such as Coming In Hot with a shuttlecraft; general consensus is that while Shatner's storytelling abilities might be a bit on the weak side, he certainly had an eye for good setpieces.
Tropes seen in The Final Frontier include:
- Agent Mulder: Sybok is convinced that God is real and lives in the center of the galaxy, despite modern society having deemed that a myth.note
- Agent Scully: Kirk refuses to believe, first because Sybok appears crazy and then because "God" doesn't seem as powerful as advertised. McCoy goes from Scully to Mulder when they meet "God" and back to Scully when "God" starts being a dick.
- The Alcatraz: Spock proclaims the brig to be escape-proof. As in all things, however, rare is the Alcatraz that can stop escape attempts from both ends.
- The Alcoholic: Korrd is Drowning My Sorrows, though he's snapped out of it by Spock.
- All There in the Manual: The novelization by J.M. Dillard does a lot to redeem the movie's Idiot Plot, adding considerable backstory to Sybok and his mother, and explaining that "God" had telepathically sent Sybok a formula for configuring a starship's deflector shields to penetrate the Barrier. After Sybok orders Scotty to set up the Enterprise's shields in this way, Klaa's Bird-of-Prey copies the same shield configuration in order to follow the Enterprise.
- The Alleged Car: The "Lemonprise". Kirk is nonplussed by his squeaky chair, dodgy transporters, and the defective Log transcriber (which keeps popping open with ridiculous SPRONNG! noises).
- Amazonian Beauty: Vixis. As Chekov put it: "She has vonderful muscles" (by which he meant gluteus maximus).
- Anti-Villain: Sybok is the villain of the movie, but he really isn't a bad guy, just misguided and a little nutty. Klaa could qualify as well, as he isn't malicious, just bored.
- Armor-Piercing Question: 'What does God need with a starship?' Easily one of the most famous examples of this trope.
- Artists Are Not Architects: In one scene, the Enterprise is shown to have about twice as many decks as it could possibly contain, and they are numbered in reverse order for some reason. Somewhat explained in the Alternate Universe Star Trek: Myriad Universes story "The Chimes at Midnight"; Kirk was at one point forced to climb the turbolift-shafts and to count the decks as he passed them, "for they were not labeled on the interior of the shaft, although he noted with annoyance that the designers had elected to number the numerous individual turbolift landing decks—each level having several turbolift stops along its breadth—as he passed a sign misleadingly indicating 'Deck 52.'"
- Ass in Ambassador: Inverted, unusually for Star Trek. St. John Talbot and Korrd are not unreasonable people (just incredibly jaded), and Caithlin Dar is downright nice (a rarity for Romulans, actually...). This may be precisely why they are where they are (particularly Korrd, who is both disgraced and disgraceful in his drink): the planet is a dumping ground for anyone in the diplomatic corps of the three powers that the leadership wants to be rid of in a non-permanent way. If they hadn't gotten along, they would have died.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: Played with:Kirk: Stand by to execute Emergency Landing Plan... B.
(confused looks from everyone on the shuttle)
Chekov: What's Emergency Landing Plan B?
Scotty: I don't have a clue.
Kirk: "B," as in... "barricade."
Scotty: He can't be serious!
- Author Appeal: Why approach the hostage situation on horseback? Because Shatner is an avid equestrian.
- Behind the Black: Scotty, after claiming to know the ship like the back of his hand, concusses himself on a bit of bulkhead that sticks out from the wall. Whilst unseen by the audience before impact, Scotty was walking towards the bulkhead and, in fact, was looking right at it when he hit it.
- Beta Couple: St. John Talbot and Caithlin Dar. One Meaningful Background Event has them sadly comforting each other in a loving embrace.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Sybok and Klaa are an unusual example in that Sybok isn't really evil per se, and for the most part Klaa is more of an annoyance than anything else.
- Big Damn Gunship: Spock, commanding a Klingon Bird of Prey, opens fire on "God" in order to rescue Kirk.
- Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Sybok. Cruelly invoked by "God", who takes the form of Sybok and mocks, "What's the matter? Don't you like this face? I have so many, but this one suits you best."
- Book Ends: Camping with the Power Trio.
- Kirk states in the opening that men like himself, Bones and Spock had no families. He later admits he was wrong.
- His premonition that he'll die alone (and is therefore safe while Spock and McCoy are there) is also mentioned again.
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture had opened with a Klingon fleet getting destroyed by V'Ger, which is revealed to be the (fictitious) 20th century space probe Voyager 6. In this film, we're introduced to the Klingon captain Klaa destroying the 20th century space probe Pioneer 10.
- While flying to the Enterprise from shore leave, Kirk quotes John Masefield's line "All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by.", just like in the TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer".
- Cannot Tell a Lie: What Spock claims as proof that Kirk was not aboard the Enterprise. He was lying about not being able to lie, though he was telling the truth about Kirk's location.
- Canon Discontinuity:
- It's still technically part of the canon, but the events have never been directly referenced in another canonical Star Trek work again. Rumor has it the writers are specifically told not to as a matter of course. Gene Roddenberry said he considered some elements of the movie "apocryphal, at best", but he apparently never told anyone which ones. Ronald D. Moore, who was working on Star Trek: The Next Generation at the time, has said that while the writers of the show accepted the film as canon, they considered it such an embarrassment to the franchise as a whole that they agreed among themselves that they would never reference it on the show, to the extent where the ending of the episode "The Nth Degree" was heavily rewritten simply because they didn't want it to have have anything in common with this film.
- The novels, which are now vetted more thoroughly than they used to be, have featured Sybok exactly twice, both of them in the Myriad Universe novels, which take place entirely in alternate universes.
- The novels have also mentioned the God-like creature at the center of the Great Barrier; in the Q Continuum trilogy of novels, He referred to Himself as "The One", and was a contemporary of 0, the Beta XIII-A entity, and Gorgon. The four of them were responsible for the destruction of the Tkon Empire. It is mentioned that pretending to be God and then using the resulting influence to drive civilizations to self-destruction is his entire schtick. In fact, he was imprisoned in the center of the galaxy by the Q for his crimes, while 0 was punished by being thrown out of the galaxy (which was the reason for the galactic barrier as seen in the 2nd TOS pilot).
- The only real survivor, at least according to the Okudas in the Star Trek Encyclopedia, is Captain Klaa, who was apparently bumped down for his actions and assigned as a courtroom translator in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This was due to a coincidence in that the translator was played by Todd Bryant.
- The first time the film was referenced, directly or indirectly by any other canon Star Trek material didn't come until Star Trek Beyond, and even then didn't go any further than the Kelvin timeline's Spock looking at a photograph of the crew on this film's Enterprise-A bridge.note
- Kirk's autobiography says it's an in-universe movie made on Magna Roma.
- Captain's Log: Defied by the log recorder itself when it conks out."GOOD MORNING, CAPTAIN."
- Card-Carrying Villain: All of Klaa's actions are because... he's bored.
- Catch a Falling Star: Spock grabs Kirk by the ankle after he falls off El Capitan without so much as causing him a bruise.
- Cat Girl: With three breasts. Defeated by Kirk when he throws her into a literal pool table.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The "comedy" disappears and the movie becomes much more serious once they begin their trip to the Great Barrier.
- Chekhov's Gun: Early in the film Spock appears using Jet Boots to fly. Later in the film, when he, Kirk and McCoy need to travel up a long turbolift shaft he dons the same boots and uses them to fly the whole group up to the top of the shaft.
- Chewing the Scenery: In Universe, Chekov seemed to have a little too much fun pretending to be Captain of the Enterprise to distract Sybok while Kirk and Spock are attempting to rescue the hostages.
- Circle of Standing Stones: The meeting with "God" takes place in a circle of stones that rise up out of the ground as Kirk and company approach.
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: In the rock-climbing scene.
- Clueless Aesop: Contemplation about God's existence, or otherwise, would have been interesting if it was so overshadowed by slapstick comedy.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Written by Peter David and published by DC Comics, the adaptation served as a launching point for DC's second Star Trek monthly series.
- Coming In Hot: "Plan B... as in Barricade!"
- Continuity Nod:
- The last line in Star Trek IV was Kirk saying "Let's see what she's (the Enterprise -A) got." Scotty's opening log in this movie says as he complains about the shape the new ship is in, "The captain said 'Let's see what she's got', and we found out, now, didn't we!"
- When Kirk, Spock, and Bones are back at the campsite at the end of the movie, Spock can be seen playing a Vulcan harp, a nod to the original series where he played the instrument in several episodes.
- Crapsack World: The Planet of Galactic Peace. Nimbus III neatly scuttles Roddenbery's tenets regarding the future: the planet set aside for the mutual cooperation of three races has fallen into anarchy, the technology of the future has turned to rusted crap, and poverty is still rampant. Ironically, one could argue that it succeeded in establishing galactic peace... as the various ambassadors are either too drunk to bother fighting each other or have grown united in their shared hatred for their own governments for assigning them there!
- Creator Cameo: Harve Bennett sends Kirk off to investigate.
- Cultural Rebel: Sybok, who is definitely the most emotional Vulcan we've ever seen.
- Custom Uniform: Each of the Power Trio is given an alternative uniform, which looks not unlike a grey pullover/sweatshirt. Captain Kirk is also seen in a "Captain's Jacket" at one point, underneath which he wears a white t-shirt bearing the slogan "Go Climb A Rock".
- Darker and Edgier:
- Shatner wanted to depict an edgier future, so we got a desolate city named "Paradise", a barely functioning Enterprise, and the Star Trek Universe's first (but not the last, alas) fart joke. Wow.
- Shatner was also (reportedly) never thrilled with Roddenberry's idea of a perfect future, so he had those elements to show a more "realistic" future.
- Deadpan Snarker: McCoy is running on all cylinders in this film. For instance, he scoffs at Kirk's tirade at Spock being unable to shoot his own brother, and states that if he's that upset, he should toss Spock in the brig (the three of them are already in the brig) - Kirk takes his point.
- Death from Above: Kirk calls down some Close Air Support from the Enterprise in order to try and cover his escape from "God". While a photon torpedo should have been quite a bit more powerful than shown, it was still cool.
- Demoted to Extra: Shatner has hand waved criticisms from his co-stars in the past, dismissing it as actors' egos run amok (“there was nothing to nick”), but scripting like this doesn't help his case much. Indeed, one section of the commentary has Shatner passive-aggressively blame his co-stars for the movie’s dodgy appearance ("A disproportionate amount of money is spent on talent as against production...") Not only are the characters in the film betraying Captain Kirk, the actors in the film are sabotaging Bill Shatner. It’s worth noting that his original outline for the film had both McCoy and Spock turning against Kirk — which would have left Kirk the only hero of the film. Both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley flat out refused to participate in a storyline where Spock and Bones respectively would betray Kirk.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Or, in this case, shoot a Sufficiently Advanced Alien posing as a deity with a torpedo and then a disruptor cannon. Yes, Spock did.
- Distracted by the Sexy: In-universe, anyway; clearly someone failed to point out viewers might not see it the same. Uhura does her infamous nude fan dance to distract some mooks so that the Starfleet team can capture them and steal their alien horses. (It was in the dark, and they spotted her from a distance, so it could be excusable in that context. Also, there is an apparent lack of women on the planet which certainly helps.)
- Don't Call Me "Sir": During the camping trip, Kirk asks Spock to call him Jim instead of Captain, reminding him that they're off duty.
- Eldritch Abomination: It's never explicitly stated just what exactly the "God" is, but it's clearly an example of this trope.
- Epiphany Therapy: Sybok uses this as part of his brainwashing, making people face their greatest pain.
- Everyone Knows Morse: Justified, as Starfleet is one part military, and Morse Code could be part of their training. Still it's clearly not used often as both Kirk and Spock are very rusty with it.
- Eye Beams: After Captain Kirk and Spock question the authenticity of "God", he fires beams of energy out of his eyes at them. He does it again while pursuing Kirk later on.
- Fake Static: Done twice, once for laughs when Chekov pretends that there is a blizzard to avoid admitting he's lost, and once for drama when the Enterprise broadcasts static to delay talking to Sybok.
- False Innocence Trick: The Enterprise passes through the barrier around the heart of the galaxy and finds the legendary planet Sha Ka Ree, believed to be the home of God. The protagonists do find an entity claiming to be God who is apparently imprisoned there and it tries to trick the crew into helping it escape. It's a subversion because Kirk figures out there's something funny going on and manages to get "God" to reveal its true evil nature before it gets away.
- Famous, Famous, Fictional: Sybok tries to spin his quest to Kirk as another attempt to do the impossible among the many Earth has achieved, such as proving the world is round (incorrectly credited to Columbus), breaking the sound barrier, and flying at warp speed.
- Fan Disservice: 57 year old Nichelle Nichols doing a nude fan dance. And bizarrely, all evidence is that Shatner genuinely thought this would be plain old Fanservice. To be fair, Nichelle Nichols looks damn good for 57.
- Fix Fic: Every adaptation of this film has made significant changes to the storyline in order to fix some of the more glaring plot holes. The novelization, for instance, has Sybok using his knowledge of engineering and spatial anomalies to make the trip to the galactic core possible. The comic book written by Peter David adds in a subplot that implies Kirk has never really gotten over the death of his elder brother George (one of the film's most glaring continuity errors is the implication that Kirk never had a brother), and also has Sybok's attempt at Epiphany Therapy on Spock fail because he'd already resolved the conflict between his Human and Vulcan halves.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: When they meet God, God cycles through a bunch of depictions of deities, eventually settling on bearded God as something he believes they'll be comfortable with. After his true nature is revealed, he takes the form of Sybok to mock him.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Sybok's forces break into Paradise City, you can see that someone has painted "LOST" next to "PARADISE".
- Fridge Logic: Invoked in-universe when Kirk asks, "What does God need with a starship?"
- Funny Background Event:
- As pointed out in the commentaries, when Kirk first reaches the bridge, he hands off his jacket to an unnamed yeoman portrayed by Shatner's daughter Melanie. Over the course of the scene the yeoman wanders in and out of frame, looking for a place to put the jacket.
- Additionally, during scenes at the bar, the TV screen/emergency communicator tends to display a Shady Real Estate Agent trying to describe the beauty and wonder of Nimbus III, complete with cheesy and obviously bluescreened exotic vistas, in order to scam people into buying land on the useless planet.
- Gave Up Too Soon: McCoy's greatest regret is reluctantly assisting the suicide of his father, who was suffering from an incurable disease and wanted to die. Mere months later, a cure was found.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Literally, and proving that the Enterprise DOES have toilets. Just before Scotty's jailbreak, look at the stencil on the "chair" Kirk is sitting on. "WARNING: DO NOT USE WHILE IN SPACEDOCK".
- Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Sybok's telepathy, which makes everyone he "treats" euphoric and immediately ready to join his cause.
- A God Am I: "One voice, many faces."
- God Is Evil: Well, it's not really our God as we know it but it's certainly evil.
- God Test: Kirk asks why God would have need of a starship. "God" zaps him and then Spock to prove his power, but abandons the pretense when this fails to sway them. Also serves to demonstrate McCoy's bravery: he's the oldest of himself, Spock and Kirk, and has just seen his two closest friends felled by energy blasts that were (judging from Kirk's reaction) incredibly painful, yet he faces "God" down without hesitation."God": Do you doubt me too?Bones: I doubt any god who inflicts pain for his own pleasure!
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: "God" has these when it's angry.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Sybok, when he tries to mind meld with "God" so Kirk, Spock and McCoy can escape.
- Hero of Another Story: St. John Talbot, Caithlin Dar, and even Sybok, as Roger Ebert points out in his review.Another irritation is the way in which we meet apparently major characters [...] who are introduced with fanfares of dialogue and then never developed or given anything to do. The entire movie seems crowded with loose ends, overlooked developments and forgotten characters, and there are little snatches of dialogue where some of these minor characters seem to be soldiering on in their original subplots as if unaware that they've been cut from the movie.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Of the three schlubs failing to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in sync, Kelley's singing got him into acting, Nimoy recorded a few albums, and... oh. Well, okay, one of them has an excuse. At least Spock is in tune. On the other hand, this may be one of the few times that Shatner actually tried to carry a tune instead of his typical spoken word "singing."
- Horse of a Different Color: The alien horses on Nimbus III have horns on their heads.
- Hurricane of Puns: "I do not believe you realize the gravity of your situation," "I've always wanted to play to a captive audience," etc.
- I Have Many Names: As the alien claims "One voice, many faces". The planet is supposedly a location common to all mythologies as well.
- Inventional Wisdom: The "System Failure" light on Kirk's logbook.
- It's All My Fault: Invoked verbatim by Sybok, leading to his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Jet Pack: Spock has rocket boots which allow him to hover or fly really fast with booster rockets, the latter lacking fine control.
- Kick the Dog: Klaa shoots down Earth's first deep space probe. Although, considering what happened with Voyager 6, Nomad, Friendship One, etc... it could be argued that he was performing a public service to the galaxy!
- Kill Him Already!: Kirk pulls this on Spock with Sybok, until he finds out that the two are half-brothers.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Surprisingly enough, after failing repeatedly to regain control of the ship, and having already arrived where Sybok was taking them anyway, Kirk basically gives up and willingly assists him in the last stage of his plan, taking him down to the surface of "Eden".
- The Last Title: The second part of the title.
- Living Prop: The Space Marines during the rescue attempt.
- Long-Lost Relative: Sybok. Spock doesn't like to speak of his past.
- Low Clearance:Scotty: I know this ship like the back of my hand. *bangs his head*
- Man Hug: Subverted. After Spock saves him from a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, Kirk is about to hug him when Spock says quietly, "Please, Captain, not in front of the Klingons."
- Mercy Kill: Bones relives one of his most painful moments, where his father is dying and suffering from an incurable disease. He begs Bones to stop treatment so that he can finally die. Bones does so, and mere months later a cure for his father's disease was discovered.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: A routine hostage situation turns out to be an attempt to hijack a starship.
- Misery Builds Character: Discussed by Kirk when he refuses Sybok's treatment, as he believes such traumatic experiences are integral to a person's being.
- Mood Whiplash: Executive Meddling insisted that the film include more comedy after that worked so well in the previous film. Unfortunately, the story here is rather less appropriate for it, resulting in the mood careening wildly between Big Important Events and broad slapstick.
- More Than Mind Control: Anyone who is "helped" by Sybok tends to follow him around like a puppet.
- Multiboobage: The Cat Dancer.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Only an actor of Leonard Nimoy's caliber could turn the line "Damn you, sir; you will try" from a fairly standard Precision F-Strike into one of Spock's greatest lines in the franchise. Guess he got the hang of those "colorful metaphors" after all.
- Mythology Gag: The shuttle's name Galileo as well the script it is written by on the ship.
- Nobody Poops: Averted, at very least whenever the Enterprise is not in spacedock.
- No Infantile Amnesia: Spock remembers his own birth. The novels explain that this is a product of a mind meld with his father, who let slip the memory by mistakenote .
- No One Gets Left Behind: Kirk orders McCoy and Spock to beam out first when the transporter conveniently can only beam up two at a time. McCoy calls BS on this mid-beam.
- The Nose Knows: In the turbolift as Kirk and crew return from their camping trip.Kirk: I could use a shower.
- No-Sell: When Sybok tries to take away Spock's pain, Spock calmly explains that he has already dealt with that pain, so Sybok cannot use it against him. Kirk just outright refuses, while Bones holds greater loyalty to his friends than Sybok even after Sybok does it to him.
- No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Kirk quickly debunks "God" as a fraud. After all, God should be all-knowing and all-powerful, yet this one is neither.
- Not So Different: For all his talk of rejecting the Vulcan way, Sybok essentially brainwashes people into suppressing their traumatic memories, denying them the chance to deal with their pain. Overall, how this any different than Vulcans suppressing their emotions?!
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Kirk falls several thousand feet down El Capitan only to be caught by Spock about a foot away from the ground. Cue to Kirk humorously trying to shield himself with his hands against the rocks that are mere inches below him.
- Oh, Crap!: In the Everyone Knows Morse scene, the protagonists realize what's going to happen just in time."Stand back?" *beat* "Stand back!" *BOOM*
- One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: After viewing Sybok's hostage demands, Kirk sees the look on Spock's face.Kirk: What is it? You look like you've just seen a ghost.
Spock: Perhaps I have, Captain. Perhaps I have.
- The Only One: Kirk is supposedly the best person to send in for hostage negotiations. It is acknowledged that there are other available ships, but the admiral doesn't think their captains can handle the negotiations.
- Ordered Apology: Just after "God" has been destroyed and Kirk beamed aboard the bird-of-prey, Korrd makes Klaa apologize to him for attacking the Enterprise.Korrd: Kirk, my junior officer has something he wants to say to you. (turns to Klaa and shouts the Klingon equivalent of "Get on with it!")
Klaa: (sheepishly) I... apologize.
(Kirk looks absolutely stunned.)
Korrd: (adds the Klingon equivalent of "And...?")
Klaa: (still sheepish) The attack upon your vessel was not authorized by my government.
- Path of Inspiration: Sybok's offer of internal peace.
- Pillar of Light: How "God" first appears.
- Plot-Induced Stupidity:
- Sending a barely functioning, untested ship with "less than a skeleton crew" into a hostage situation when it doesn't even have functioning transporters. This is so the Enterprise-A doesn't simply beam up the hostages and end the movie in five minutes. A hand wave was attempted by saying there were other ships around, but only Kirk had the experience. By that logic, they could have just sent a working ship to meet Kirk. Starfleet could have simply assumed that a hostage situation wouldn't need a fully functioning ship, but, as the admiral giving the assignment admits, the Klingons are likely to send their men, too. They consider Kirk their mortal enemy and, as it turns out, Klaa is going there solely so he can start a fight with a Federation ship. Even Kirk thinks the reasoning is bullshit.
- Likewise, Sybok's plan to get a starship. It wouldn't have worked at all if not for Starfleet's incompetence. This one can be excused by his limited options: Sybok and everyone else is stuck on Nimbus III. There are no ships and only a few settlements. It's likely that he'd been living on the planet for some time (given he's a Technical Pacifist, he probably went there when it was first made into a "neutral planet" that was supposed to bring the Romulans, the Klingons and the Federation together), and he only started having his visions from "God" after he was already stuck there. So getting off the planet would be just as tricky as getting an advanced ship, so he might as well kill two birds with one stone.
- The Pollyanna: You just get that vibe from Caithlin Dar. She's young, sweet natured, and extremely naive. She contrasts her Human and Klingon counterparts, who are older, more cynical and really stopped giving a damn.
- The Power of Friendship: McCoy refuses to desert Kirk even though he's been brainwashed by Sybok. Likewise for Spock, who just flat-out rejects the attempt.
- Power Trio: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, obviously. Notable as, while an important part of all of the movies and the show, this movie focuses on them as a trio more than any of the other movies.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The comic book cuts a number of the more embarrassing moments from the storyline.
- Precision F-Strike:
- For all that the movie gets wrong, it pulls one of the best of these in the franchise's history. One of the only times that Spock gets genuinely angry (even if only momentarily), and also goes to show the depth of his feelings toward Kirk.Spock: General, I require your assistance.
General Korrd: My assistance?
Spock: You are his superior officer.
Korrd: I am a... foolish old man.
Spock: Damn you, sir; you will try.
- McCoy on his greatest pain: "Not long after, they found a cure. A goddamn cure!"
- For all that the movie gets wrong, it pulls one of the best of these in the franchise's history. One of the only times that Spock gets genuinely angry (even if only momentarily), and also goes to show the depth of his feelings toward Kirk.
- Pulled from Your Day Off: The opening has the main characters called back from their vacation in order to deal with a hostage situation on another planet.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: The three ambassadors on Nimbus III. The reasons for are noted in the novelization — St. John Talbot severely screwed up while trying to negotiate an Andorian hostage situation, which rapidly turned into a massacre; Korrd fell out of favor with the Klingon High Command after he advocated pursuing peace with the Federation; and Caithlin Dar couldn't get any better position than Nimbus III due to her facing discrimination for having a human grandfather.
- Redemption Equals Death: Sybok's remaining lifespan goes down to about 15 seconds once he realizes the error of his ways.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: Captain Klaa and his crew are just flying around looking for a fight under no orders of any sort. He decides to go Nimbus III not to save the hostages, but to fight the rescue ship the Federation is sending. When he learns it's Kirk being sent, it only makes him more eager to attack. It's only when General Koord steps in that Klaa apologizes for his unauthorized aggression.
- Retired Badass: Kirk is in awe of Korrd. Unfortunately, these days he's Drowning His Sorrows.
- Retcon: At the end of the previous film, the Enterprise-A is bright and clean and in 100% working order. When he see her in this one, she's falling apart and most of the systems are barely functioning or offline, and the implication is that immediately after we see her warp away she just turned to garbage.
- Rushed Into Service: The Enterprise-A is sent into action despite being barely operational to investigate a Hostage Situation.
- Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale:
- At least they didn't go with Shatner's original idea of going to the center of the universe.
- Near the beginning of the film Klaa shoots up Pioneer 10 probe. Provided it has been drifting through space normally, this is happening only about 1/100th of a light year from Earth.
- Scotty Time: Inverted. When Kirk beams up to an Enterprise falling apart, Scotty says "You may have given me too much time, Captain."
- Sealed Evil in a Can: "God". It claimed to have been imprisoned on the planet in the center of the galaxy and wanted to "join" with the Enterprise so it could escape.
- Sexy Cat Person: A female feline humanoid of some kind turns up as a stripper in a couple of scenes.
- Shout-Out: One of the names of the planet where they find "God", Sha Kaa Ree, comes from Sean Connery's name. It's also a Development Gag (see What Could Have Been).
- Show Some Leg: Uhura doing the previously mentioned fan dance.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: As some pointed out, "Star Trek as a franchise had, up to this point, been entirely devoted to an optimistic future of interplanetary peace, technological advancement, and human brotherhood. Star Trek V, on the other hand, is a deeply cynical movie," with the Crapsack World on which it begins, the unreliable technology and the phony God that emerges at the ending as examples of this.
- Space Clothes: Still Averted by the Starfleeters, and not just because of the "monster maroon" uniforms. During the attack on Paradise City, they wear darker uniforms that are more practical for nighttime and desert operations. And while on shore leave, they wear civilian clothes that wouldn't raise any late 20th or early 21st century eyebrows.
- Space Marine: A squad is seen on the shuttle. They do nothing and say nothing.
- Stealth Pun: During the infamous Cat Girl bar scene, a Klingon, a Romulan and a Human walk into a bar...
- Stock Footage: Several shots of the Enterprise and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey are taken from the previous film (and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock in the case of the latter), and they're rather jarring when compared to the generally poor new effects shots in this film.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: From the DVD bonus features — "Captain Kirk is climbing the mountain, why is he climbing the mountain?"
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The being they meet on the other side of the barrier.
- Surprise Vehicle: On the planet where "God" is imprisoned, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey rises up over a hill to rescue Kirk.
- That Was Not a Dream: "I dreamt that a madman had taken over the Enterprise!"
- They Don't Make Them Like They Used To: Scotty says of Enterprise-A.
- Time for Plan B: The normal docking procedure is a no go, so it's time for plan B: barricade. Like a crash landing on an aircraft carrier, Sulu flies the shuttle at full speed into the docking bay, where a net is thrown up to stop them from slamming into the wall.
- Trashcan Bonfire: During the Federation attack on Paradise City, a number of oil drums with flames inside can be seen on the city's streets, providing light and heat.
- Traveling at the Speed of Plot: We're told that no ship can survive the journey through the barrier, which lies at the center of the galaxy. Not that the laws of physics apply to ships with awesome names, like Enterprise.
- Truce Zone: Nimbus III is supposed to be this. It's proven to be a failure.
- True Companions: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, are this, naturally, but the movie takes it Up to Eleven. A redeeming quality of the movie is the focus on this trope, and the bond between these three.McCoy: I thought you said men like us didn't have families.
Kirk: I was wrong.
- Understatement: "I imagine the Klingons will be quite angry." Pointed out as such by Chekov, who estimates that they will be irritated enough to level the whole planet.
- Undying Loyalty: Even after McCoy has been hit with Sybok's pain removal technique, he refuses to part ways with Kirk and Spock when they refuse to go along with Sybok's plan.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Implied to be between Uhura and Scotty.
- Villainous Breakdown: After having been blasted with a photon torpedo, "God" comes out of it as this rather goofy distorted face exclaiming "YOOOOOUUUUU!" while floating after Kirk. This is because the ending had to be radically changed, and they couldn't afford to get the actor back to record any new material.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Probably the saddest thing about Sybok is that he's sincere. He honestly wants to help people, he honestly wants to do good, and he actually stands up to what he believes is God to demand to know why his "friends" are being hurt. He also avoids taking lives if possible, and (in his own estimation) helps others by making them confront their pain. And while he is endangering lives, he isn't aware of that, and tries to minimize damage where he can.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Caithlin Dar actually wants to realize the dream of the Planet of Galactic Peace. A year or two there probably would have left her as jaded as her counterparts.
- Wretched Hive: Nimbus III is a godawful hellhole.
- What the Hell, Hero?: McCoy, of all people, defends Spock when Kirk chews him out for not shooting Sybok. This, of course, comes after he jokingly offers to "hold him" when Kirk threatens to knock him on his ass.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Klaa feels this way about Kirk, since of course Kirk's battles with the Klingon Empire are legendary. He's not even vindictive about it. He's more excited at facing off against such a foe. When Kirk outsmarts him by getting the shuttle into the Enterprise and then it going to warp right under Klaa's nose, after giving the order to track the ship, a wide-eyed Klaa murmurs "He's good."
- Kirk on Korrd. He acts like a military cadet discovering General Rommel is slinging drinks in some backwater.
- You Are Not Alone: During the campfire scene, Kirk tells Spock and McCoy that he knows he'll die alone, leading to the following heartwarming moment near the end of the film.Kirk: Spock? I thought I was going to die.
Spock: Not possible. You were never alone.
- You're Insane!: Kirk tells this to Sybok, when Sybok says God told him to traverse the Great Barrier. Sybok actually seems to consider it.Kirk: You're mad.
Sybok: Am I? [long beat] We shall see.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Spock holds Sybok at gunpoint once they reach the Enterprise, but Sybok refuses to surrender, instead just walking up and taking the gun. He does admit to being worried that Spock might actually have done it, though.