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Film / Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

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"What does God need with a starship?"
Captain Kirk

The one where Spock’s ''never-before seen or mentioned'' Vulcan half-brother hijacks the Enterprise to look for God...(?)

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is the fifth movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1989. They've stared at V'Ger, defeated the vengeful Khan, found Spock, and rescued the whales. But can the Enterprise crew survive their greatest challenge yet? William Shatner ... in ... The director's seat!

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 most 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.

Tropes seen in The Final Frontier include:

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    Tropes A-L 
  • 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.
  • The Alleged Car: Kirk is nonplussed by his squeaky chair, dodgy transporters, and the defective Log transcriber (which keeps popping open with ridiculous SPRONNG! noises).
    Kirk: With All Due Respect, the Enterprise is a disaster.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The book makes it clear that Kirk is trying to make this movie a Breather Episode for himself and failing, distracting himself by mountain climbing, feeling like he’s ruined his own life and trying to see how close he can get to Dying Alone.
    • The novelization by J.M. Dillard 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 Blu-Ray releases include the Library Computer, an interactive database that will appear on screen as the movie plays offering entries on characters, ships, places, etc. with additional information on them. There is one case of the movie defying the Library's logic; the entry on Deck 78 (on a 21-deck starship) simply reads, "Don't ask us!"
  • 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 by Klingon standards he isn't malicious, just bored.
  • Arc Words:
    Sybok: Each man hides a secret pain.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "What does God need with a starship?" Easily one of the most famous examples of this trope.
  • Artistic License – History: Sybok claims that Columbus proved the Earth was round, which is incorrect. The Ancient Greeks determined the Earth was round, and even accurately measured its circumference. Columbus meant to find a faster sea route to Asia and got into the Caribbean because he miscalculated the circumference.
  • 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.
  • Bad Liar: Onshore leave, Sulu and Chekov try to extend their hike by saying they've been caught in a blizzard at Yosemite ... when Uhura reports "clear skies and seventy degrees" there. They give up the charade immediately.
  • 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 examples in that Sybok isn't evil per se, and for the most part Klaa is more of an annoyance than anything else. "God" eventually turns out to be the film's Greater-Scope Villain, but doesn't show up until the very end.
  • 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 at Yosemite National Park with the Power Trio.
  • Call-Back:
    • 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", as in the TOS episode "The Ultimate Computer".
    • When Kirk gives a captain's log, his log breaks down and reads "Good morning, Captain", instead, like how in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Excelsior's computer read "Good morning, Captain" when it broke down.
  • 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 consideredinvoked some elements of the movie "apocryphal, at best", but he apparently never told anyone which ones.note  Ronald D. Moore, who was working on Star Trek: The Next Generation at the time, has said that while the show's writers 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 cite or reference its events on the show, to the extent that they heavily rewrote the ending of "The Nth Degree" simply because they didn't want it to 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 in the Myriad Universe novels, which take place entirely in alternate universes.
    • The TOS novel "Child of Two Worlds" had Spock mentioning the existence of his half-brother, but not Sybok's name to a Cyprian teenager named Merata - who was raised by Klingons - in 2255. Spock told Merata that he had not seen his brother in almost a decade and wasn't even sure if Sybok was still alive or not.
    • 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 second TOS pilot).
    • The only real survivor, at least according to the Okudas in the Star Trek Encyclopedia, is Captain Klaa, who was apparently demoted for his actions and assigned as a courtroom translator in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This was due to the coincidence that Todd Bryant played the translator.
    • The first time the film got so much as an indirect reference from 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, and gives credit to the trio (him, Bones and Spock) being spot on, but nothing else.
    • The Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "Crisis Point" had a ton of references, both subtle and overt, to all the Star Trek films to have been released until that point... except for this one, which was the only film in the series to be completely ignored. However, the following season's "we Duj" would finally make the franchise's first explicit on-screen reference to this film, after a whole thirty-two years.
    • Star Trek: Discovery shows Spock's family in detail including his Remember the New Guy? sister being the protagonist but there's no mention of them having a brother.
    • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, though set well before the events of the films, acknowledges Sybok's existence as Spock's half-brother.
  • Captain's Log:
    • Scotty records a "shakedown cruise report" for the Enterprise-A.
      "I think this new ship was put together by monkeys. Oh, she's got a fine engine, but half the doors won't open, and guess whose job it is to make it right."
    • Defied by the log recorder itself when it conks out.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Klaa does what he does 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 alleged 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.
    • Klingon Captain Klaa shoots an old Earth space probe with one of the cannons of his Bird of Prey. Late in the movie, Spock uses the same weapon to shoot "God" and save Captain Kirk from an early grave.
  • 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 out of the ground as Kirk and company approach.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: In the rock-climbing scene.
  • Clueless Aesop: Contemplation of God's existence, or otherwise, would have been interesting were it not 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.
    • This isn't the first time McCoy has expressed concern to himself that he may end up talking to himself.
    • Captain Klaa refers to Kirk as the "great renegade", echoing the Klingon Chancellors' beliefs that Kirk was escaping justice for his killing of Klingons in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The death of Kirk's son David at the hands of a Klingon, though not explicitly referenced, is also alluded to when Kirk is reminded that the Klingons don't like him and he responds, "Well, the feeling's mutual."
  • Contrived Coincidence: Kirk and company in the shuttlecraft just happen to land near horses when they arrive on Nimbus III. (It's clear they expected to have to walk to Paradise City because on the planet itself Spock refers to taking "1.2 hours" to walk there.)
  • Crapsack World: "The Planet of Galactic Peace." Nimbus III neatly scuttles Roddenberry's tenets regarding the future: the planet set aside for the cooperation of three powers 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.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: That the Enterprise has "less than a skeleton crew" is just one of her problems.
  • 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 a bit like 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."
  • Danger in the Galactic Core: The galactic core is an area of intense radiation that makes life unlikely. The planet of Sha Ka Ree located there is also the prison of a powerful alien that lured Sybok and the Enterprise there in an effort to escape.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Shatner wanted to depict an edgier future, so we got a desolate city named "Paradise", a malfunctioning Enterprise, and the Star Trek universe's first fart joke.
    • Shatner was also (reportedly) never thrilled with Roddenberry's idea of a utopian future, so he introduced those elements to show a more "realistic" future.
    • Not having the same “this must have slapstick” restriction the movie did, the book does this genuinely, having Kirk confirmed as Death Seeker after… everything (where the film could only imply it), more angst with Sybok and Spock, Uhura being a Stepford Smiler even before being brainwashed, and Sulu’s pain including a terrorist attack as a child.
  • 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 (stated while 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 to try to 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 handwaved 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, but the actors in the film are also 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 simply refused to participate in a storyline where Spock and Bones respectively would betray Kirk, for which most people who've seen the film have probably thanked them.
  • 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 that viewers might not see it the same. Uhura does her infamous nude fan dance to distract some mooks so the Starfleet team can capture them and steal their alien horses. (It was in the dark, they spotted her from a distance, and the planet has very few women, so it could be excusable in that context.)
  • 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.
  • Door Jam: In the finale, the transporter has just enough power to beam up Spock and McCoy, leaving Kirk to face off with a vengeful god alone.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: When Spock reveals who the loony Sybok is...
    Spock: Sybok also is a son of Sarek.
    Kirk: You mean he's your brother brother? [Beat] You made that up.
    Spock: I did not.
    Kirk: You did too. Sybok couldn't possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact you don't have a brother.
    Kirk: There, you see? You see?
    Spock: I have a half-brother.
    Kirk: [Beat] I gotta sit down.
  • Eldritch Abomination: It's never stated precisely what not-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.
  • The Exact Center of Everything: Spock's long lost half-brother Sybok commandeers the Enterprise and makes the crew set a course for the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, where Sybok believes God is waiting.
  • 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.
  • Fake Static: Done twice: once for laughs when Chekov pretends he and Sulu have been caught in a blizzard to avoid admitting he's lost, and once for drama when the Enterprise broadcasts static to delay talking to Sybok.
    Uhura: Is there a problem, gentlemen?
    Sulu: Um, yes. We've been caught in a...we've been caught in a blizzard.
    (Chekov has a brief "You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!" look on his face before blowing into the communicator)
    Chekov: (while blowing) And we can't see a thing! Request you direct us to the coordinates! (continues blowing)
    Uhura: My visual says sunny skies and 70 degreesnote .
    Chekov: (stops blowing) Sulu, look. The sun has come out. It's a miracle.
  • 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.
    Sybok: The people of your planet once believed their world was flat. Columbus proved it was round. They said the sound barrier could never be broken! It was broken. They said warp-speed could not be achieved.
  • Fan Disservice: Fifty-seven-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 very good for 57.
  • First-Name Basis: Harve Bennett cameos as a Starfleet Admiral who Kirk knows well enough to address by his first name, Bob.
  • Fix Fic: Every adaptation of this film has changed the storyline significantly 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 a subplot that implies Kirk has never really gotten over the death of his elder brother Sam (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.
    • Kirk's autobiography says the movie never happened and was just an in-universe movie made on a planet that the Enterprise visited.
  • Foreshadowing: A subtle one. When Kirk tells Sybok he's crazy for hearing God's voice beckoning him, Sybok gives a long take before saying "We'll see". Sybok is unsure himself whether God is really communicating with him.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: When they meet God, God cycles through 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.
  • Garden of Eden: The Garden of Eden, along with the Klingon Qui'Tu, the Romulan Vorta Vor, and whatever the unpronounceable Andorian equivalent would be, is conflated with the Vulcan creation myth of Sha-Ka-Ree, a location from which all life originates and where man's questions could be answered.
  • 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 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.
  • 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," "Mind if we drop in for dinner?", "I've always wanted to play to a captive audience," etc.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Enterprise warps away from Nimbus III a half-second before a Klingon torpedo would have hit her.
  • I Have Many Names: As the alien claims "One voice, many faces". The planet is supposedly a location common to all mythologies as well.
  • Informed Attribute: The planet Sha-Ka-Ree is conflated with the creation myths of all species in the galaxy, and referred to in tones that suggest it to be a paradise. What the Enterprise crew find is a completely barren desert.
  • Inventional Wisdom: The "System Failure" light on Kirk's logbook.
  • I Owe You My Life: J'onn, after Sybok relieves him of the pain in his soul.
    J'onn: It's ... as if a weight has been lifted from my heart! How can I repay you for this miracle?
    Sybok: Join my quest.
  • 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 rapidly 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.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The Friendship Theme, introduced in "The Mountain".
    Movie Musik US: This Friendship Theme is heard throughout the score with different expressions; in "Not Alone" it is reflective, in "Let’s Get Out of Here (Part 2)" it is warm, while in "Cosmic Thoughts" it is carried by a tender solo oboe.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...:
    McCoy: Let me get this straight ... you and Sybok have the same father, but different mothers?
    Spock: Exactly. That is correct.
  • 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 and falls over, unconscious.]

    Tropes M-Z 
  • 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."
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    McCoy: What do you do after we toast the marsh - er, marsh melons?
    Spock: We consume them.
  • Meaningful Appearance: Sybok wears a white robe, obviously intended to evoke Jesus.
  • 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 David McCoy'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 Meddlinginvoked 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sybok.
  • 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 mistake.note 
  • 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/Stink Snub: In the turbolift as Kirk and crew return from their camping trip.
    Kirk: I could use a shower.
    Spock: Yes.
  • 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 simply 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 the Fall That Kills You…: Kirk falls several thousand feet down El Capitan only for Spock to catch him 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]
    • Bones, when Sybok forces him to relive his worst memory.
      "Father? Oh my God, don't do this to me!"
  • 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 Admiral Bennett doesn't think their captains can handle the negotiations.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Sybok - a member of the typically emotionless Vulcan race - starts laughing gleefully in the prologue, we know that this is a disturbingly wrong Vulcan.
  • 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] yIjatlh! ["Speak!"]
    Klaa: [Sheepishly] I ... apologize.
    [Kirk looks absolutely stunned.]
    Korrd: maj. 'ej...? ["Good. 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 other ships were around, but only Kirk had the experience. By that logic, they could have just sent a working ship to meet Kirk. (Even an inexperienced captain could have beamed the ambassadors out, for that matter, given the absence of defences worthy of the name on Nimbus III.) Starfleet could have simply assumed that a hostage situation wouldn't need a fully functional ship, but as the admiral giving the assignment admits, the Klingons are likely to send their troops, 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 is to get a starship. It wouldn't have worked at all if not for Starfleet's incompetence. He even tries to call Chekov's bluff by inviting him to beam down, having apparently expected Starfleet would have sent a ship with functional transporters but not realizing this would have ruined his plan in a flash. 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. He'd likely been living on the planet for some time (given he's a Technical Pacifist, he may have gone there when it was first made a "neutral planet" that was supposed to unite the Romulans, Klingons, and Federation), and he only started having his visions from "God" after he was already stuck there. So, since getting off the planet would be just as tricky as getting an advanced ship, 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 Federation and Klingon counterparts,who are older, more cynical, and really stopped caring.
  • 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 the movies and the show, this movie focuses on them as a trio more than any of the other movies, albeit (in most viewers' eyes) despite Shatner's intentions.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The comic book cuts several 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), it also goes to show the depth of his feelings toward Kirk. (And one of the few times that he uses a "colorful metaphor" correctly.)
      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:
      McCoy: Not long after, they found a cure. A GODDAMN CURE!
  • 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 this 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 (Spock exposits only that much in the movie proper) after he advocated pursuing peace with the Federation, and Caithlin Dar couldn't get an any better position than Nimbus III due to her facing discrimination for having a human grandfather.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sybok's remaining lifespan falls to about fifteen 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 to 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 Korrd 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 we 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.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • At least they had the foresight to downscale 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.
    • The photon torpedo that Chekov fires at "God" should have caused a much bigger explosion, since ... you know ... antimatter.
  • 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.
  • Secret Ingredient: Tennessee whiskey, for the McCoy family beans.
  • Seeking the Intangible: Sybok, the main Anti-Villain of the film, is searching for God, whom he believes resides on a mythical planet within the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: After arriving at Sha-Ka-Ree prior to leaving the Enterprise Sybok has his hair cut, has his beard trimmed, and changes into a fresh set of clothes to be presentable for meeting "God." Kirk, Spock, and McCoy also make a stop on the way to the shuttlecraft in order to change into dress uniforms and make themselves presentable as well.
  • 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 Ka 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.
  • Space Clothes: Still Averted by Starfleet 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:
    • The establishing shot of the Enterprise-A in spacedock is taken from the previous film.
    • 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.
  • 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 from behind a hill to rescue Kirk.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Just when it seems like the Klingon Captain Klaa will be victorious in destroying the Enterprise, Spock realizes he's got a Klingon Admiral standing next to him on the Enterprise bridge, and tells him to talk to Klaa. Shortly thereafter, the Klingon Warbird has saved Kirk, Kirk gets beamed aboard the Klingon ship, and the Klingon Admiral is there on the bridge and clearly in command.
    Klingon Admiral: My junior officer has something he wants to say to you.
    Captain Klaa: I...apologize. The attack upon your vessel was not authorized by my government.
  • Taken Off Life Support: When Doctor McCoy's father developed a illness that caused intense pain and begged McCoy to stop the pain by letting him die, McCoy turned off his father's life support system, killing him. It still haunts him that a cure for his father's illness was found shortly thereafter.
  • 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.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Bones while on shore leave.
    Bones: (watching Kirk through his binoculars) You'll have a great time, Bones. You'll enjoy your shore leave. You''ll be able to relax. (lowers his binoculars) You call this "relaxing"? I'm a nervous wreck! If I'm not careful, I'll end up talking to myself.
  • 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, several 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:
    Sybok: I imagine the Klingons will be quite angry.
    Chekov: You are a master of understatement. They are likely to destroy the planet!
  • Undying Loyalty: Even after Sybok has performed his pain removal technique on McCoy, he refuses to part ways with Kirk and Spock when they refuse to go along with Sybok's plan.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: The Enterprise-A is sent into action to investigate a Hostage Situation despite being barely operational and manned with "Less than a skeleton crew".
  • The Unpronounceable: According to Sybok, the Andorian name for Sha Ka Ree can't be pronounced by humans or Vulcans.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Implied to be between Uhura and Scotty.
  • Villain Opening Scene: An Anti-Villain variant, where on Nimbus III Sybok approaches J'onn, a man who is digging "a field of empty holes" for no apparent reason.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After having been blasted with a photon torpedo, "God" comes out of it as a rather goofyinvoked 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, George Murdock, back to record any new material.
  • Walk into Mordor: Its said that the Great Barrier surrounding the core of Milky Way Galaxy was extremely dangerous to enter as "no ship has ever entered and no probe has ever returned.", yet the Enterprise breaches it with virtually no trouble note .
  • 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 stands up to what he believes is God to demand to know why he's hurting his "friends". 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 doesn't realize that and tries to minimize damage where he can.
  • 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.
  • What Other Galaxies?: The Great Barrier was planned to be located at the center of the universe but is changed to be placed at the Milky Way Galaxy's center instead. Beyond the Great Barrier is Sha Ka Ree, where creation is said to have begun as if the center of the Milky Way Galaxy were the center of the universe.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Caithlin Dar truly 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.
  • 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."
    • Likewise, Kirk around Korrd. He acts like a military cadet discovering General Rommel is slinging drinks in some backwater.
    Kirk: (With sincere sympathy and pity) When they finally put me out to pasture I hope that I fare better than Korrd....
  • Wretched Hive: Nimbus III is a godawful hellhole.
  • 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 are mad.
    Sybok: Am I? [Long Beat] We shall see.
  • Your Worst Memory: Sybok's power lies in his ability to target the "secret pain" of individuals and eliminate it; eventually, he goes after Bones and Spock, both of them reliving the moments that first imbued them with said "secret pain."
  • 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 have done it, though.
    • J’onn aims a rifle at Sybok when he doesn’t know what the approaching stranger wants. Sybok continues to approach and says, “I can’t believe you’d kill me for a field full of empty holes.”


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Star Trek V


Captain Kirk Asks a Question

What does God need with a starship?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / GodTest

Media sources: