In the Project Genesis story arc, the story sequence is
Star Trek III The Search for Spock : Star Trek IV The Voyage Home.


A gigantic alien probe is moving through space, sending out transmissions of incredible power – transmissions that completely cripple the Starfleet vessels Saratoga[N 1] and Yorktown. The probe's destination: Earth. Within the council chambers of the United Federation of Planets in San Francisco, the Klingon ambassador demands Admiral James T. Kirk be brought to justice for the creation of the Genesis device.

With Spock has almost completely recovered, Kirk decides that it is time for his crew to leave their exile on Vulcan. They take the captured Bird-of-Prey they named "H.M.S. Bounty" back to Earth when an alien probe threatens the planet by disabling all power systems. Spock finds out that the probe is on the search for traces of the now extinct humpback whales.

In order to provide the probe with an answer, the crew travels to the late 20th century and find two such whales in the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito. After some problems with 20th century customs and technology, they manage to take the whales with them, together with biologist Gillian Taylor, who insists on staying aboard. Back in the 23rd century, all charges against Kirk except for noncompliance with his orders are dropped. Reduced to the rank of captain, he takes command of the new Enterprise NCC-1701-A.

Errors and Explanations

Internet Movie Database

Audio/visual unsynchronised

  1. Immediately after the whales' transponders are located in the Bering Sea, Gillian can be seen to mouth "How did you do that?" without sound, then she is immediately seen and heard giving the same line from another camera angle. The level of surprise could be affecting her voice.
  2. After Sulu says "9.3" during the first time warp, Kirk says "We need breakaway speed!" However, his lips continue moving afterwards. (IMDB) Presumably he says "We need breakaway speed, Mr. Sulu!"

Character error

  1. When trying to get in to the treatment room with Chekov, Dr.McCoy says Gillian has "Acute, postprandial upper abdominal distention", which he later says means "cramps". It would actually mean "gas": "acute" = (of disease) brief and severe; "postprandial" = after a meal; "upper abdominal" relating to the area of the stomach; "distension" = the state of being stretched beyond normal dimensions. The gas could be causing cramp like symptoms.
  2. At the end of the movie after Kirk and crew stand trial, Sarek and Spock have a brief conversation. He tells Spock he recalls that he "opposed your enlistment in Starfleet." However, Spock did not enlist in Starfleet. He was an officer and went to Starfleet Academy. This could be considered a form of enlistment.


  1. At the end when the camera pans the crew just before their pardon, Scotty wears the rank pin of a Commander. This is despite his being promoted to Captain in the previous film, being listed in this film's credits as "Captain Montgomery Scott," and wearing Captain's pins in the next film. He probably expected to be reduced in rank for his part in the rescue of Spock, and changed the insignia accordingly.
  2. After Spock nerve pinches the punk, the punk's head falls on the radio and probably hits the off switch, killing the music. Kirk resumes normal speech, but Spock is still speaking louder than necessary. He may be temporarily harder of hearing - either that or he thinks Kirk may be.
  3. Scotty doesn't have enough power to beam up both Uhura and Chekov together, so Chekov gives Uhurua the device with the stored nuclear energy and tells her to go first. No one says anything to Scotty, so how does he know who to beam up? He is probably locking on to whoever is holding the collector.

Factual errors

  1. During an early scene on the Klingon vessel, Sulu says "Estimating 1.6 hours to planet Earth." The ship does not appear to be traveling at warp speed, so a journey from Vulcan, which is been shown to be 16 light years away, would take far longer than 1.6 hours (at least 16 years). Just because the ship appears to be traveling slower than light speed, it doesn't means it is!

Incorrectly regarded as goofs

  1. When Spock is being tested by the computer, some camera angles are shot through the display screens. The text when viewed from the back is still displayed forward. This can be explained as a feature of a holographic alien device from the future rather than a goof.
  2. Checkov states that the nuclear vessel they find is called the Enterprise. While it is actually the USS Ranger (CV-61), in this film the Ranger "plays" the Enterprise, much like an actor playing a part.
  3. The first time Kirk and the crew boomerang around the Sun to achieve time travel, the ship nearly breaks apart, with things popping and exploding on the bridge. But the second time they do the same, it appears to be a relatively smooth ride. Apparently, the second time Spock managed to calculate the ship's trajectory better than the first time. In a previous scene Kirk teaches Spock to use human intuition in order to solve the return trajectory problem. Perhaps the intuitive approach had paid off.
  4. When Spock nerve pinches the punk on the bus, his music appears to stop even though no one actually turns it off. It can be presumed that the punk's head hits the 'off' switch.

Plot holes

  1. The crew at Starfleet HQ in San Francisco shout and point, "There, There!" as to indicate the descent of the commandeered Klingon Ship as Kirk and crew return through the clouds, yet the cloud cover is so thick that nothing past the bridge can be seen, so how could the Admiral see the ship, let alone know that it was coming? He probably spotted it through one of the gaps in the cloud.
  2. Kirk, Gillian, and McCoy are able to rescue Chekov from the hospital. However, Chekov's phaser is still in the possession of the military agents that had originally arrested him. While McCoy earlier in the film airs his concern to Scotty about leaving advanced technology (Plexiglas scene) or information of same in the past, no concern is given to Chekov's phaser, which is left behind.The Phaser is probably dismissed as a fake.

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers

Plot Oversights

  1. Whales having the ability to transmit over interstellar distances without humanity realising. Perhaps the frequencies used are equivalent to those of a dog whistle.
  2. The probe tearing everything up after not initially making contact with the whales. The intelligence controlling the probe probably regards humanity as not worthy of living.
  3. Ships in the opening sequence that are affected by the probe lose power and come to an almost complete stop. In the vacuum of space, air friction does not exist, so they should keep going the same speed they were before. The control system could be programmed to bring ships to a complete stop following total power loss as a safety measure. [N 2]
  4. Mention of Leningrad as one of the area affected by the probe. See my comment on this in the entry for I, Mudd.
  5. Saavik claiming that this is the first chance she has had to explain David's bravery to Kirk. They were probably too busy with other business.
  6. Spock claiming that the message from the President stated the Probe's transmission is being directed at the oceans. The President's warning stated that the transmission from the probe were vaporising the oceans, making them the only part of Earth's ecosystem being directly connected to the transmission.
  7. Spock persuading the whales, via a mind meld, to allow themselves to be transported through time by humans, despite knowing their species will be driven to near extinction by humanity in the near future. It is more likely that Spock informed the whales that taking them to the future is the best way to prevent the extinction.
  8. The direction of time travel being determined by which way you travel round the sun. This depends on whether or not you are traveling against the Sun's rotation
  9. The president tells the Klingon ambassador that "Admiral Kirk has been charged with nine violations of Starfleet regulations." In the courtroom scene, the crew was collectively charged with six violations. The other charges - most likely assault on the guards and temporary imprisonment of 'Mr Adventure' - could have been quietly dropped. [N 3]

Changed Premesis

  1. Kirk stating that it's a forgone conclusion the natives have never seen an extra-terrestrial. Kirk is referring to confirmed face to face contact, which in his reality isn't due to take place until early April 2063 - over three quarters of a century away.

Equipment Oddities

  1. The Klingon Ambassador having access to images of the destruction of Enterprise, which he is showing the Federation Council. These could have been automatically transmitted to the Klingon Empire without Kirk and the others realising.
  2. The Klingon ship the crew is on is supposed to be the same ship they acquired at the end of the previous film, yet the bridge looks nothing like the bridge in that movie, despite all the displays still being in Klingon rather than English. They've probably reconfigured the bridge during their three month stay, but were unable to install a compatible computer system.[N 4]
  3. The Universal translator not working on whale song The capability may have lapsed following the encounters with the Xindi, due to the need to have a living member of the species to provide reference samples.

Nit Central

  1. Peter Stoller on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 9:35 pm: No one else seems to have asked why they needed to land their BoP in Golden Gate Park instead of leaving it in orbit. There's still no good reason to do so. Darth Sarcasm on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:40 am: Um... Scotty says the time travel drained the crystals, leaving them only with power for another 24 hours if they remained cloaked. The power drain was so significant at one point that he could only beam Uhura and Chekov one at a time. Leaving the ship cloaked in orbit would have significantly drained the crystals even further. So yes, an explanation was given.
  2. Darth Sarcasm on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:40 am: No explanation was ever given for why (with their power drain being so great) they beamed Spock and Kirk back aboard the ship when extending the ramp would have been more energy efficient (and it would have saved Chekov a trip to the hospital).Peter Stoller on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 6:39 pm: I thought of that one too, the power issue. Scotty reports that after a given time, "They'll be no way of breaking out of Earth's gravity." Using the transporter throughout their visit instead of the gangway, that may be their idea of keeping the ship incognito. Transporters seem to have an effective range of a few thousand miles or kilometers, in this case it was used for ranges of less than 50 miles maximum and often less than 100 yards. That could be the best reason to land, to conserve what transporter power they do use. Not to mention allowing them to power down most other systems as well, including life support. R on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 8:48 pm: They would be able to deactivate and otherwise turn down enough systems to let the cloak stay active while on earth. I have had to do something similar to that when a car of mine's alternator went out. What you do is try and balance the needed electrical systems (such as cloak or headlights if in a car) with the systems you don't really need (such as life support. or the radio) Which does help explain why they might have landed. No one has ever said if short range transporter hops use less energy than long range ones but that is also another reason for landing. And before anyone says anything about the communicators they were probably using regular old radio waves only on higher or lower frequencies than what we totally pick up or they still broadcast on something that was picked up and was written off by the MIB as spurious radio signals. But to clarify and summarize. Landing let them shut off unused, unnecessary, or otherwise unrequired systems that staying in orbit would not allow them to do. They would have had to at the very least keep life support on, sensors, navigational systems, and manouevering thrusters. Landing they could open a window, turn all manouvering and navigation systems off and leave the bare minimum on.


  1. Listed in the original compendium summary as USS Sheppard
  2. Listed under Factual Errors in the Internet Movie Database entry.
  3. Listed under Character Error in the Internet Movie Database entry.
  4. Listed under Continuity in the Internet Movie Database entry


The Movies
Original Series:
The Motion Picture I The Wrath of Khan I The Search for Spock I The Voyage Home I The Final Frontier I The Undiscovered Country
Next Generation:
Generations I First Contact I Insurrection I Nemesis
JJ Abrams Reality:
Star Trek I Star Trek Into Darkness I Star Trek Beyond
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