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The true long term damage of the Whale Probe incident is global data loss on Earth.
Think about Earth, the capital of the Federation and Starfleet Headquarters got EMPed planetwide over a sustained period of time. ALL DATA would be lost. All backups would be fried. The entirety of human digital knowledge LOST. All Starfleet records LOST. The entirety of information stored for the President and the Federation Council, LOST. In addition we have seen how much every freaking thing in the future uses Star Trek II even the boseman's whistle had little lights on it. So after the Whale Probe Incident every...single...piece...of technology on Earth. From starships, to fusion reactors, to artificial hearts to your hand held communicator, every single piece would need a hard re-boot and an installation of the operating system. Never mind there would be NO back up copies on Earth anywhere. Sure there would be back ups on other major worlds, but Earth was the central hub of the Federation. All over the Federation secured systems would be waiting for verification code updates that would never come, shutting down vital systems across the Federation. No doubt when they tried to re-integrate data from the various other d-bases around the federation they would find ALL SORTS of data drift. It would take the Federation a decade to get back on it's informational feet.
  • Perhaps this was part of the rush to make peace with the Klingons. While the Klingons suffered the Praxis Disaster. The Federation was secretly glad because they were not yet back up and running from the Whale Probe Incident.
    • If you listen to the Klingon ambassador he mentions that there were already moves towards peace talks, though. It could be this event hastens the process on the Earth end, though.

Dr. Gillian Taylor's disappearance ended up on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Imagine it from the perspective of the people in 1986. Gillian Taylor shows up for work and discovers that the whales have been carted off to Alaska without her knowledge. She slaps her boss while calling him a son-of-a-bitch, then drives off in her pickup truck.

Later, her truck is discovered in Golden Gate Park, and when she doesn't report to work later on, the police open up a missing person investigation. The media gets wind of the Cetacean Institute's assistant director going missing, and they put her face all over the evening news.


This is where it gets weird. Gillian's photo is recognized by one of the witnesses at Mercy Hospital as one of the people who sprung the FBI's strange Russian prisoner and then vanished. Witnesses also say that she was assisted by two other guys, one of whom is later identified by others as a guy that Dr. Taylor was seen talking to at the Institute, and later having dinner with at the Italian restaurant.

Investigators search for all possible leads, and they go through Dr. Taylor's personal life, but come up with nothing. So all of this, combined with the fact that her truck was discovered in a section of Golden Gate Park where people had seen strange goings-on, may have given Gillian's disappearance a mention on the Trek-verse's version of Unsolved Mysteries.

  • Probably this could be connected to several other "UFO sightings" in Golden Gate Park: one wonders how long it was before either of the trash collectors thought, to hell with "I saw nothing and neither did you so shut up!" and sold their story to the press, and there were a couple of joggers hit by the backdraft when the ship took off. Right in the very same spot where Gillian's truck is left parked, owner mysteriously vanished.

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  • Also, there's a very flat garbage can. What crushed it? There aren't any steamroller tracks leading up to it.

  • While the whalers probably wouldn't know about the odd occurrences in San Francisco, how long would they stay quiet about seeing a UFO in the middle of a hunt?

The Whale Probe was built by the Xel'Naga.
The Xel'Naga discovered a primitive sentient species on Earth millions of years ago, who were the ancestors of today's whales, and sent the probe to check on their progress. After the fall of the Xel'Naga, the probe kept on monitoring Earth until it no longer recieved any transmissions. Due to a faulty FTL drive, it took two hundred years to get to Earth.

George and Gracie themselves are aliens, the Whale Probe is from their home planet and came to Earth because the crew went back in time and got them.
George and Gracie themselves are aliens, and the "Whale Probe" was sent to determine where it was they actually went. When they lost communication in the past, they built the whale probe to figure out what exactly had happened to George and Gracie. For whatever reason, the whale probe took three hundred years to arrive to Earth. Had the Enterprise crew not have gone back in time and gotten them, the probe would never have arrived.
  • That would imply that the entire species is an alien race living on Earth.
    • The whalers were about to kill George and Gracie during the climax of the film. Only the protagonists' direct intervention saved the whales. So even if they were aliens, they would have lost contact with their home civilization even if they weren't abducted by the Enterprise crew.

Dr. Gillian Taylor's disappearance did not affect the course of history.
She told Kirk when the whales were removed from the aquarium that she had nothing without those whales. It's altogether possible that, in the absence of Kirk—or even, if word got out that George and Gracie were killed by poachers immediately after release—she would've
committed suicide soon thereafter. So her disappearing from the timeline and reappearing in 2285 would not affect history.
  • Or, it didn't affect history because by the 23rd century, it had already happened.
  • on the contrary, if Dr.Taylor had been left in her proper place in history then due to her advocacy whales would never have gone extinct. In the future the probe would have showed up, asked them to play volleyball or whatever the hell it was saying, they would have responded and the probe would have gone away. Meantime James T. Kirk would have been prosecuted for the events of Search of Spock and sent to a penal colony. A few years later the Klingon moon of Praxis would explode, Chancellor Gorkon would sue for peace. Some random captain would be sent out to escort them in, but the chancellor would have been assassinated apparently by Starfleet, the assassin would never have been found and the Federation and Klingon Empire would have gone to war. There would never have been another ship named Enterprise.

The Klingon ambassador is spouting forth propaganda.

Look at the video footage he has playing behind him. It includes footage taken from the Genesis promotional video from The Wrath of Khan with Kirk narrating where Carol Marcus ought to be. That looks a lot like they digitally altered the video to superimpose Kirk on top of Marcus. Also included is shots of the Enterprise self-destruct and the Klingons on its bridge- possibly taken from recovered flight recorder data, with Klingon text over it, as I recall. That looks to me like it's a deliberately doctored Klingon propaganda clip taken from what could be some Klingon news report, maybe. Combined with the Insane Troll Logic he spouts about Genesis being part of a plot to destroy the Klingon empire, which sounds a lot like propaganda from some crazy regime.

Why? I imagine that some faction in the Klingon empire wants to set up Kirk as a renegade war criminal or terrorist in order to spare themselves the shame of dishonour, either of dying in battle for no good reason or pure personal gain, or of the subterfuge Kruge used in order to obtain the secrets of Genesis (which seems hardly an honourable course of action, being somewhat wily). This way, it looks like Kruge will be spared the shame of dishonourble defeat.

(Mind you, there was if I recall some bit in the third film where Kirk's face was shown on the same video- which seems to undo this somehow. Yet how did that turn up if so?)

  • Actually, in the video shown in Star Trek III, I recall Kirk saying something like, "In order to understand the events that have taken place we must first examine information regarding the Genesis device." It was probably Kirk's message to Starfleet trying to explain to them why the Mutara Nebula no longer exists. However, the Klingon Ambassador ordering them to stop the video could be because he doesn't want the council to actually hear what Kirk says, which would go in line with the propaganda theory.

The whalers...
Like the disappearance of Gillian, it's likely that their story will eventually find it's way into the media somehow- they've essentially just seen a UFO appear almost out of thin air.

Another thought is that some of them were so freaked out by the experience that they gave up the business of hunting whales altogether, lest "the aliens" appear and get them for good next time...

Another UFO sighting occurred at NORAD or similar when the ship first came out of warp...

Spock mentions that they'd probably already be visible to the tracking devices of the time. Imagine seeing something suddenly appear in orbit and then mysteriously vanish.

Chances are amateur astronomers might have noticed a brief spot of light in the sky (real-life orbiting satellites, spacecraft, space stations etc. can sometimes be seen as points of light in the sky, reflecting the Sun's rays) too.

The pills McCoy gave the woman were created from the spores from "This Side of Paradise".
While most people remember the mind-altering effects of the spores, a rewatch of the episode also shows that they caused those affected to regrow lost tissue. After having discovered this through personal experience, McCoy thought that it would be awesome to harness that power. After much experimentation, he created a pill that could regrow organs without the mind-altering effects.

How did the alien probe know about the whales on Earth, anyway?
In the film, Spock mentions that whales were on earth "ten million years" before humans. And yet, even in 1986 humans had far surpassed humpback whales in technological development. Still, some alien civilization from many light years away knew about the whales and their "language". Did the humpback whales of earth have some sort of transmitter they used to send a signal through the galaxy to the probe's point of origin? Were the aliens monitoring the earth somehow and decided that the whales were the dominant species? Or maybe the whales themselves were extraterrestrial in origin?
  • The whales had their own Preserver race, that actually checked up on them?

Were it not for the Enterprise crew, Gillian would have committed suicide
As hinted above.

She seemed pretty dejected about the sudden loss of the whales and was desperate enough to follow Kirk into an uncertain future, saying there was "nothing for her here". Not the sort of thing you'd say if life has much meaning to you as it is.

The woman Bones saved in the hospital went on to prevent the Eugenics Wars from happening in the 1990s
Khan wasn't created for another century or two, as per the retcon in later TV series, and when he was, he looked like Benedict Cumberbatch. Timeline resolved!

Kirk's glasses really do form a temporal loop
It's just that over the centuries, every piece has been replaced as it broke, thus none of the "original" pieces remain.

Admiral Morrow's replacement by Cartwright was due to the events of the previous movie
I haven't read the novelization, but the main page and the Memory Beta entry on him suggests he resigned for a reason similar to this. Think about it: if we assume the orders concerning Genesis (in the stated absence of policy decisions by the Federation Council) came directly from him based on his judgement, he just made one massive cock-up. Now his decision reflects the fact that he knows precisely how much interested parties are willing to get hold of Genesis for their own dangerous ends, and to kill in order to do so; otherwise, he wouldn't have had it kept under wraps. But given the fact that this has meant the murder of the entire science team, plus the loss of nearly two ships with most hands, and yet he only sends a single science vessel with absolutely no escort or backup whatsoever. Result: complete destruction of said science vessel and the murder of one of the key surviving scientists working on the project, and the Klingons nearly getting their hands on the secret but for the intervention of the Enterprise.

It's doubtful that fact would have done much for Morrow's reputation, conscience or job security, and even assuming the inevitable inquiry cleared him of any undue negligence, one presumes he at least felt resignation the honourable course. After what happened with Kirk and co., there is no way this would stay a secret and perhaps the court of public opinion would have weighed against him, too.

Spock knew how to swear all along, he just enjoyed trolling Kirk.

Or Spock did know how to swear... his previous life. The fal-tor-pan probably didn't preserve the knowledge of it, or the Vulcan retraining of his mind simply did not mean he had the ability to do it effectively.

The reason lowbrow fiction like Jacqueline Susann etc. is considered classic in the 23rd century... because, due to some stroke of luck, it survived. Assume following the events of WW 3, most of the libraries with interesting and important books could well have got nuked along with the cities they were in. A load of old paperbacks gathering dust in an attic in some remote rural house, on the other hand...

Kirk caused or contributed to the extinction of the hump-backed whale.
Kirk should have been put to death or whatever punishment awaits those who break the (temporal) prime directive. Not only did he take 2 hump-backed whales, one of which was "very" pregnant and so could have contributed greatly to the species' revival, but also took a leading expert and passionate activist from the 20th century, when she was most needed. Had he not done so, the trouble with the alien might never have happened...
  • If so, this would not be Kirk's fault, but a classical case of Stable Time Loop. Kirk went back in time because the alien probe was already attacking. But of course, it might be possible.
  • Plus, the whales would have been killed by the whalers had the Bounty been even 20 seconds later. And nothing Kirk did affected the decision to release them there at that moment.

The Glasses McCoy gave Kirk are the same he sold.
However, to avoid the wear and tear, it's like the "axe of my grandfather" line from Discworld. So, the frames and the lenses get replaced as time goes on, but it is the same pair of glasses Kirk sold to the antique shop owner.

The reason the Enterprise-A is already completed... because it was under construction during the previous two movies. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, it's mentioned that the TOS-Era Enterprise is 20 years old and is slated to be decommissioned. However, the Enterprise-A was already under construction as an upgraded model.

Alternatively the Enterprise-A is the USS Hood
The USS Hood is another refitted constitution class ship just like the Enterprise, and is mentioned in the film as having been disabled by the Whale Probe. It stretches credulity for Starfleet to build a new ship of the same type if the line is being mothballed, but makes perfect sense to just re-christen the Hood to serve as Kirk’s ship for his last few months before retirement. It also explains why the ship is in such poor shape in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, as the ship is still being fixed after the Probe did a number on it. This theory makes perfect sense considering a brand new Excelsior class Enterprise B gets rolled out just months after the events of the Kitomer conference in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as seen in the opening of Star Trek: Generations.

Kirk lied about not using money in the future.
As mentioned on the TOS Trivia page under Undermined by Reality, this is the first time the "moneyless future" concept appears in Star Trek, and it doesn't seem to jibe with some episodes of the series that did depict the use of money. So when Kirk says that they don't have money in the future, what he means is that what they use wouldn't have any value or wouldn't be accessible in 1986. (Similar to what would happen if you took a modern credit card back 300 years.)

Or maybe he was just trying to stick Gillian with the check.

The reason Gillian said she "had no one," and wasn't bothered by the prospect of time travel.. a long and painful story. First, she was a proud housewife named Annie, married to a preacher with seven children. When he was outted as a massive creep however, she divorced him; by this point, all the children had left the nest. While exiting the courtroom, Annie fell through a temporal sinkhole and found herself ten years earlier, in the 1980s, de-aged to that point in time. Since she'd had her first few children in the '80s, the age-reversal recreated her pregnancy, basically cloning her first son. Viewing this new child as his own individual, she named him Andy. After a run-in with a killer Cabbage Patch doll, Annie was committed to an asylum. However, the asylum allowed her to work at the aquarium, and live a relatively normal life; she just couldn't have custody of her son. Figuring she'd failed all of her children, Annie—now living under the name Gillian—devoted herself to the whales. The 23rd Century offered the perfect escape from killer dolls, pedo husbands, and an unsympathetic society.


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