The rebooted Star Trek franchise (or “NuTrek” as some have dubbed it) may not be in the same league as some of the sci-fi series’ best movie and television moments, but one thing that even its biggest detractors can’t deny is that the new movies have helped popularize Star Trek for a new generation of viewers. As alternate takes on the adventures of the USS Enterprise and her crew, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond have been able to tell new stories with familiar characters, while also paying homage to creator Gene Roddenberry’s original stories when appropriate (perhaps a bit too often for some tastes). The reboot series started by J.J. Abrams in 2009 has admittedly been an uneven experience so far, but the films contain a lot of hidden details for fans to find, including some you may not have even noticed.
In celebration of J.J. Abrams 53rd birthday, join us as we highlight 24 hidden gems found throughout in the Star Trek reboots. Enjoy!
24. The Greg Grunberg Cameos
J.J. Abrams is known for giving his old buddy Greg Grunberg bit parts in his movies; for instance, he turned up as a Resistance pilot in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and as the commander of Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond (a film that Abrams produced, but didn’t direct). What you may not have realized is that Grunberg also has a role in Star Trek 2009, but in audio from only. He’s the voice of the younger Kirk’s stepdad.
23. Paul McGillion From Stargate
Star Trek contains a pretty cool shout out to another popular science fiction franchise. Paul MGillion, best known for playing Dr. Carson Beckett on Stargate: Atlantis, has a cameo in the film as a Starfleet Academy barracks leader. McGillion actually auditioned for the role of Scotty, but the part ultimately went to Simon Pegg. However, McGillion still managed to make an impression and was given the aforementioned small part in a scene opposite Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk.
22. The Kobayashi Maru Callback
During the Kobayashi Maru testing scene in Star Trek, Chris Pine’s Kirk can be seen chomping on an apple at one point, a clear callback to a similar scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that sees William Shatner’s Kirk, apple in hand, recounting the time he beat the test. According to J.J. Abrams, this was actually an unintentional reference. He claims that he had once been told that actors seem cocky while eating apples and decided to have Pine eat one during the scene.
21. Majel Barrett Is The Voice Of The Enterprise Computer
One of the best callbacks to the original series in the Star Trek reboot is Majel Barrett, wife of the late Gene Roddenberry, reprising her role as the voice of the Enterprise’s computer. Sadly, this would be the last time she would get to perform the role, as Barrett passed away on December 18, 2008, two weeks after she recorded her voice-over work for the film.
20. Reference to Original Scotty’s Hand In Into Darkness
It’s common knowledge among Star Trek fans that original Scotty actor James Doohan lost one of his fingers while participating in the D-Day invasion during World War II and never intentionally showed both of his hands in the original series (although there are a few episodes where you can visibly see the wound). Star Trek Into Darkness has a bit of fun with this bit of Star Trek lore by having a security guard ask Simon Pegg’s Scotty to “show his other hand” while attempting to open the bay doors on the USS Vengeance.
19. Scotty Calls Dr. McCoy “Bones”
Everyone knows that Dr. Leonard McCoy’s nickname is “Bones” but what you may not realize is that Kirk is the only character who ever actually refers to him by this name. That’s why it’s such a surprise to hear Scotty refer to McCoy as Bones at one point in Star Trek Into Darkness, as this is only instance in the history of the franchise that another character has called him by this nickname (although please correct me if another character does so in Star Trek Beyond).
18. The USS Bradbury
At one point in Into Darkness, a ship called the USS Bradbury is mentioned. This is actually a tribute to the late science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who passed away at the age of 91 on June 5, 2012.
17. NO SCOTTY DON’T!
The Star Trek franchise has a reputation for trying to be scientifically accurate whenever possible. Although the many action scenes in the reboot franchise certainly defy the laws of physics pretty regularly, there are other less obvious scenes that stretch realism as well. One in particular that you probably didn’t notice is the scene from Into Darkness where Scotty hits the airlock button on the USS Vengeance in order to get away from the guard detaining him. Just before he opens the airlock, Scotty takes a deep breath and holds it, which is completely the wrong thing to do in this situation. In order to get away from the vacuum of space unscathed, Scotty should have exhaled and kept his mouth open so that his lungs wouldn’t experience any differential pressure.
16. George Takei Shout Out
If you look closely at the Enterprise’s shuttle bay in Into Darkness, you can spot one of the shuttles is called “Takei,” a nice homage to original Hikaru Sulu actor George Takei.
15. J.J. Abrams’ Father’s Cameos
During the memorial service for Admiral Christopher Pike in Into Darkness, there are two Starfleet admirals seated around the podium. One of the admirals is played by none other than Gerald W. Abrams, father of director J.J. Abrams. He also shows up in the first Star Trek as a shipyard barfly.
14. The Torpedo
The torpedo that Bones and Dr. Carol Marcus attempt to disassemble in Star Trek Into Darkness has “CVN-65” marked on it. This is actually the registry of the recently-decommissioned USS Enterprise aircraft carrier.
13. Chekov And Khan
Chekov doesn’t interact with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan over the course of Into Darkness, primarily because he spends most of the film in the Enterprise’s engineering section instead of his usual bridge posting. This can be read as a callback of sorts to Khan’s first appearance in the original series episode “Space Seed” (1967), which aired before Chekov was part of the cast. In an ironic twist, Walter Koenig’s Chekov is the only crew member to actually interact with Khan directly in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
12. Hey, It’s Nolan North!
Video game fans are no stranger to the name Nolan North, as the prolific voice actor has played all sorts of iconic characters, including Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series. It turns out that North has a cameo in Into Darkness as a Bridge officer aboard the USS Vengeance. Unfortunately, he only gets a single line.
11. Yorktown was the original name of the Enterprise
Star Trek Beyond introduces the Federation space station known as Yorktown, which is actually what Gene Roddenberry called the original starship in his early script treatments for Star Trek. The ship’s name would eventually be changed to “Enterprise.”
10. Jaylah = J-Law
Star Trek Beyond’s most interesting new character is arguably the alien scavenger Jaylah, played by Sofia Boutella. According to Simon Pegg, who co-wrote the film’s script, the name Jaylah is a literal reference to J-Law, aka actress Jennifer Lawrence, whom Pegg claims heavily inspired the character. Specifically, Pegg drew from Lawrence’s performance in the 2010 film Winter’s Bone. “We were trying to create this very independent character, but we didn’t have a name for it, ” Pegg revealed in a press conference. “So we just called it ‘Jennifer-Lawrence-In-Winter’s-Bone.'” “That’s a long name,” he joked. “So it started getting tiring always saying, well Jennifer-Lawrence-In-Winter’s-Bone is fighting here. So then we started calling her J-Law. And then she became Jaylah.”
9. Stardate Reference
At the opening of Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise is on the 966th day of its five-year mission. This isn’t just some random number that the writers came up with, but rather a homage of sorts to Star Trek’s original air date, September 1966. Quite fitting considering Beyond was released in time to celebrate the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
8. All 3 Trek Villains Have Played Marvel Superheroes
The main villains of the three Star Trek reboot films released so far are played by Eric Bana (Nero), Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan), and Idris Elba (Krall). What you may not have realized is that all three of these actors have played Marvel superheroes. Bana played Bruce Banner / the Hulk in Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), Cumberbatch is playing the titular role in the upcoming Doctor Strange (2016), while Idris Elba has had a recurring role in the Thor series as the Asgardian sentry Heimdall.
7. Captain Picard Reference
When the Enterprise crew first arrives at Yorktown, there’s a background announcement that can be heard making reference to the “USS Stargazer, NCC-2893.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard served as a bridge officer on the Stargazer prior to commanding the Enterprise. In The Next Generation episode “Relics,” Picard describes the Stargazer as an “overworked, underpowered vessel, always on the verge of flying apart at the seams.” Sounds charming.
6. The Apollo Callback
During the sequence when the Enterprise crew discover that Jaylah’s “house’ is actually the Franklin, a long-lost Starfleet vessel, Scotty mentions that some have claimed the Franklin was lost because of a giant green space hand. Observant Trekkies will recognize this as a callback to the episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” from the second season of the original series. In that episode, the crew encounters the Greek god Apollo, who literally reaches into space and grabs the Enterprise with his giant green hand. According to ScreenRant, the green hand can be spotted briefly in the Star Trek Beyond credits.
5. Bones and Spock Spliced
About halfway through Star Trek Beyond, there is a discussion between Scotty and Bones regarding the risks of beaming him and Spock back to the Franklin using the ship’s obsolete teleporter, with Scotty claiming there’s a chance Bones and Spock could be spliced together. Bones replies that he hates the idea of being spliced with Spock, a funny reference to Spock being mind-melded with Bones in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
4. Subtle Nimoy Tribute
Star Trek Beyond’s tribute to Leonard Nimoy is touching, but you probably didn’t notice another subtler reference to the late actor included in the film. The restistry number of the USS Franklin reads NX-326, a reference to Nimoy’s birthday, March 26 or 3-26.
3. McCoy and Kirk’s Toast
In an early scene, Bones and Kirk share a drink to celebrate Kirk’s birthday, with the two toasting to “perfect eyesight and a full head of hair.” This is a sly reference to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in which Kirk requires glasses due to his advanced age. The full head of hair remark can be read as a nod to William Shatner’s toupee, which he is reported to have worn throughout his tenure as Kirk.
2. That’s James T Kirk To You, Scotty.
Believe it or not, Star Trek Beyond marks only the third time in Star Trek history where Scotty refers to Kirk as “Jim” (something that Bones does quite frequently). The first instance is in the original series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” while the other two times have been in the rebooted franchise; once in
Star Trek Into Darkness and another in Star Trek Beyond.
1. MACO Solider Reference
In Star Trek Beyond, it’s revealed that Krall was once a Military Assault Command Operations (MACO) soldier of the United Earth military organization, which predates the Federation. He also claims to have fought the Xindi. MACO soldiers and the Xindi were both introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise (2001), but Krall’s reference to that show goes even deeper. He mentions that he fought during the Romulan conflict, which alludes to an unused plot line that was going to be used in the fifth season of the show if it hadn’t been canceled.