Every Change The Star Trek Movies Made To The Original Crew

The Star Trek film series starring the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series saw the crew of the USS Enterprise undergo some jarring changes. The story of Star Trek‘s resurrection is the stuff of pop culture legend at this point. A ratings failure during its initial run, TOS became a phenomenon in syndication in the 1970s. While there were tentative plans to revive the television series, the success of Star Wars prompted Paramount to change their minds and shift Star Trek toward a feature film instead.

That film would ultimately become Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was met with a mixed critical response and thin profit margins at the box office. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan fared much better, and a new film franchise was born. Over six films, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his trusted first officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) evolved in significant, enjoyable ways. In many ways, the TOS characters’ most defining moment came in the movies, not the TV series, adding narrative depth to some characters who were not particularly deep on TOS.

7 Pavel Chekov

Introduced in TOS season 2 as a plucky young Russian Ensign, Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) had been promoted to Lieutenant and served as the Enterprise’s tactical and security officer by the time of The Motion Picture. He didn’t have much to do in the first movie, but he was a pivotal figure in The Wrath Of Khan. Now serving as First Officer of the USS Reliant under Captain Clark Terrell (Paul Winfield), Chekov and his new captain were brainwashed by Khan (Ricardo Montalban) in an effort to kill Kirk.

Chekov rebounded by helping the crew of the Enterprise revive Spock in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and traveled with them to the 20th century to find humpback whales in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Chekov managed to get lost in the woods with Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) on a camping trip before briefly pretending to be the Captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He spent most of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the final TOS film, assisting Spock in his attempt to solve the mystery of who killed the Klingon leader Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner).

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6 Nyota Uhura

Uhura Star Trek V

Lieutenant Commander Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) was still serving as the Enterprise communications officer in The Motion Picture. Of all the main TOS cast, Uhura is perhaps the one who underwent the least amount of change in the feature films. She was promoted to Commander and took part in a training cruise under Captain Spock on the Enterprise in Wrath Of Khan which quickly went awry. Uhura helped Kirk steal the Enterprise in The Search For Spock by accepting a lowly transporter room assignment, essentially her entire role in that film.

Uhura traveled aboard Kirk’s stolen Klingon Bird Of Prey in The Voyage Home, but her role in the film was limited. Perhaps her most famous cinematic moment came in The Final Frontier, where she performed a provocative fan dance to distract the renegade Vulcan Sybok’s (Laurence Luckinbill) followers. Uhura made her final appearance in The Undiscovered Country, again playing a small role. Uhura ultimately deserved more development than the movies granted her.

5 Hikaru Sulu

Captain Sulu drinks tea while captaining the Excelsior

After serving as the Enterprise’s helmsman during the V’ger crisis in The Motion Picture, Lieutenant Commander Sulu faced down Khan with his crew mates in the next entry. He helped steal the Enterprise and revive Spock on Vulcan in The Search For Spock before getting intimately acquainted with 20th century helicopters in The Voyage Home. He again had little to do in The Final Frontier, ultimately falling under the psychic pull of Sybok.

Sulu’s biggest moments as a character come in The Undiscovered Country. Between films Sulu had been promoted to Captain of the USS Excelsior and was already making a name for himself as an influential Starfleet officer. Later Star Trek series would confirm that career trajectory, with Captain Sulu often noted as a Starfleet legend on the same level as Kirk.

4 Montgomery Scott

Relics Star Trek Scotty

Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan) played a crucial role in the Enterprise’s massive refit just before the events of The Motion Picture. He did all he could to keep the Enterprise afloat in The Wrath Of Khan, and he was witness to Spock’s heroic sacrifice to save the ship. He was promoted to Captain of Engineering and transferred to the pre-Captain Sulu USS Excelsior, a ship he hated, in The Search For Spock. He helped sabotage the Excelsior so he and Kirk could steal the Enterprise to save Spock.

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Scotty may have mildly disrupted the timeline when he paradoxically introduced a material called transparent aluminum to the 20th century to house the crew’s time-displaced whales in The Voyage Home. He wrestled with the malfunctioning Enterprise-A before saving the Klingon Chancellor from an assassination attempt in The Undiscovered Country. Scotty would live to see the 24th century, as he was rescued from decades spent in a transporter buffer in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics.”

3 Dr. Leonard McCoy

DeForest Kelley Star Trek V The FInal Frontier

The cantankerous Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley) only got crankier with age, with Kirk having to essentially draft him back into Starfleet in The Motion Picture. Spock transferred his katra – more or less his soul – into McCoy just before the Vulcan died in The Wrath Of Khan. A mentally unstable McCoy followed Kirk and friends to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock’s body and reunite it with his katra.

McCoy voiced his disgust with 20th century medicine in The Voyage Home and had fun at Spock’s expense on a camping trip in The Final Frontier. His biggest film role was in The Undiscovered Country, where McCoy and Kirk were falsely accused of assassinating the Klingon Chancellor. After being rescued from the prison colony Rura Penthe and unraveling the Federation-Klingon conspiracy, McCoy was set to retire.

2 Spock

Captain Spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Spock had a very busy film experience. He returned to active Starfleet duty in The Motion Picture after receiving telepathic messages from the sentient machine cloud known as V’Ger. After serving as Captain of the Enterprise during training exercises, Spock famously sacrificed himself to save the Enterprise at the conclusion of The Wrath Of Khan. Kirk would sacrifice both his ship and his son to revive his old friend in The Search For Spock.

Spock struggled to find himself after being resurrected in The Voyage Home, particularly his human side. He was forced into a confrontation with his half-brother Sybok in The Final Frontier. He served as Federation Special Envoy to Kronos in The Undiscovered Country, pulling a reluctant Captain Kirk into his final mission as Captain of the Enterprise. As a Vulcan, Spock outlived his fellow crew mates, playing key roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Kelvin timeline films.

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1 James T. Kirk

Admiral Kirk Star Trek III

The Star Trek film series begins with Admiral Kirk essentially stealing the Enterprise from under Captain Will Decker’s (Stephen Collins) nose to take on the V’Ger threat. Admiral Kirk would go on to meet his adult son and lose his closest friend and First Officer Spock in The Wrath Of Khan. Kirk risked his career to resurrect Spock in The Search For Spock, losing his son and the Enterprise along the way. After saving Earth from the humpback whale crisis in The Voyage Home, Kirk was demoted to Captain and given command of the Enterprise-A.

Kirk was forced to seek a peace treaty with the Klingons, a species he despised, in The Undiscovered Country. Still harboring bitterness over his son’s death at the hands of Klingons, Kirk goes on a journey of personal awakening, eventually acknowledging peace with the Klingons is both right for the Federation and what his idealist son would have wanted. After flying off into the sunset in The Undiscovered Country, Kirk went on one last adventure with Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek: Generations, the first Star Trek movie to feature the cast of The Next Generation. Kirk died heroically with Picard by his side.

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