The woman who answers Uhura and Chekov when they are looking for the nuclear vessel was Layla Sarakalo, an extra who had never acted before and was not supposed to speak much. Sarakalo happened to be on the set when her car was towed away to make room for the film's production. She then offered to be an extra, because she needed the money to get her car back. She was told to "act naturally", and when she was asked, she improvised an answer. Much to her surprise, her unscripted line was kept in the film. This was because director Leonard Nimoy enjoyed the spontaneity of the scene so much that he left it the way it was.
Scotty helps Dr. Nichols "invent" transparent aluminum, which, in real life, became possible 23 years later in 2009, developed partially by Professor Justin Wark of Oxford University's Department of Physics. Oddly enough, it was the year when the franchise was rebooted in Star Trek (2009).
As the alien probe approaches Earth at the film's beginning, it emits a sound wave that Spock determines to be an attempt to communicate with humpback whales. After the first test screening and at the suggestion of Harve Bennett, Paramount Pictures studio heads sent Leonard Nimoy a memo asking him to create an on-screen subtitle to translate the sound, and suggested "Where are you?". Nimoy and Nicholas Meyer insisted that any explanation of what the probe and the whales were saying would ruin the sense of mystery. Eventually, Nimoy convinced Paramount Studios to not use subtitles.
The idea of having Spock give the Vulcan nerve pinch to the punk rocker was inspired by Leonard Nimoy who was walking down the street in New York City, when a punk came out of a store with his boombox blaring, disturbing everyone around him. Annoyed, Nimoy thought "If I was REALLY Spock, I'd pinch his head off!" (According to Nimoy in the Blu-ray audio commentary).
William Shatner was originally reluctant to return to the Star Trek franchise. Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett considered making a prequel with the characters at Starfleet Academy. Eventually, Shatner was offered a pay raise in order to convince him to return. As a result of Shatner and Nimoy's raised salaries, Paramount Studios had to lower the budget of its new series, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
James Doohan once cited "Admiral, there be whales here!" as his favorite Scotty line.
Gene Roddenberry was initially pleased to hear the film would be a time travel story, as he had been pushing for such a plotline in one of the films. Roddenberry had long wanted a story in which the crew traveled back in time in an attempt to stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but Harve Bennett felt such a story would be anticlimactic with the audience knowing such a historical event could not be undone.
Some shots of the whales were in fact four foot long animatronics models. Four models were created, and were so realistic that after release of the film, U.S. fishing authorities publicly criticized the filmmakers for getting too close to whales in the wild. The scenes involving these whales were shot in a pool underneath a parking lot at Paramount Studios. The shot of the whales swimming past the Golden Gate Bridge were filmed on location, and nearly ended in disaster when a cable got snagged on a nuclear submarine and the whales were towed out to sea.
Leonard Nimoy said that after the dramatic nature of all previous Star Trek films and the events that occurred in them, he felt the need to lighten things up in the fourth film.
This film features the only instance in which Kirk says "Scotty, beam me up."
Catherine Hicks studied whales to help prepare for her audition and subsequent role. As a result, Hicks became inspired to become actively involved with anti-whaling efforts.
Leonard Nimoy provided the low "wub-wub-wub-wub" sound that the cigar-shaped alien probe makes while flying through space. Sound effects editor Mark A. Mangini had come up with several possible sound effects for the probe, none of which Nimoy liked. Finally, Mangini asked "Well, what do *you* think the alien probe should sound like?" Nimoy thought for a moment, then did a vocal impression of the sound he thought the alien probe should make. Mangini said "Okay, let's use that." Nimoy stepped into the recording booth, and did a two-minute voice recording of the "wub-wub-wub-wub" sound. Mangini took this recording of Nimoy's voice and mixed it with electronic feedback and whale songs to make the alien probe sound.
The alien probe is modeled after the titular abandoned space station from Arthur C. Clarke's novel "Rendezvous with Rama" (1973).
The computer that Scotty uses in the Plexicorp scene appears to be a Macintosh Plus, but its internals were completely changed for filming. Its screen was replaced with one from an IBM PC to make this easier to synchronize its video refresh rate with the film camera's frame rate, and the "transparent aluminum" animation was created on an IBM PC by computer graphics company Video Image.
Catherine Hicks improvised the hard slap that Dr. Gillian Taylor gave to Bob Briggs for releasing the whales earlier. Scott DeVenney's reaction is real.
Leonard Nimoy has said that when this film first came out, whale rights activists caused an uproar. These groups believed that the effects and models portraying the whales were actual footage, and that actual whales were held in captivity or filmed too close to their habitat.
When they sing, humpback whales move into an upside down vertical position as correctly depicted in this film. After hearing the humpback whales' response, the alien probe also moves into this same position and replies.
The restaurant scene was filmed in an actual restaurant. This did not have a pizza oven but, because the characters order pizza, Paramount bought and installed a pizza oven to make the kitchen more believable. The oven was given to the restaurant after filming was completed. But after all that effort, the oven is only visible for five seconds in this film.
A scene written for but deleted from this film explained why Saavik stays on Vulcan: she is pregnant with Spock's child, stemming from an event in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), when she "treated" the young Spock's pon farr. This was the character's final appearance in a Star Trek film.
The Plexicorp scenes were filmed at the Reynolds and Taylor Plastics factory in Santa Ana, California. The company's acrylics division makes large custom plastic panels, and one of their clients is actually the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy improvised the continuing "Yes" "No" response to Gillian's question about liking Italian. Initially, Kirk was to say "Yes" at the same time Spock said "No", but the actors came up with the alteration while filming the scene.
Catherine Hicks says she knew absolutely nothing about Star Trek (1966) before being cast in this film. She credits Leonard Nimoy with pausing in her auditions to explain things about the series, and says she opted against watching episodes of the television series or previous films after getting the role. Hicks credits her unfamiliarity with the Trek franchise as making Gillian's "outsider" encounter with the Star Trek universe more natural.
The white back-lit table that is used at Starfleet Headquarters becomes the center table in Engineering of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
Saavik is only featured in the first few minutes of this film. The character was "left behind" on Vulcan by the filmmakers, as they did not really know what to do with her in twentieth century San Francisco. In particular, Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett feel her to be too extraneous, and saw the redundancy of having to hide a second Vulcan's identity while on Earth in the past.
The U.S.S. Enterprise CVN-65 was actually the U.S.S. Ranger CV-61. The real Enterprise was out to sea during filming.
The film was originally supposed to have Eddie Murphy instead of Catherine Hicks. Murphy was supposed to have played a professor concerned with UFOs who spots the decloaking Klingon warship at the Super Bowl. Apparently, all others are convinced the ship is a half-time special effect while Murphy believes it is real. Paramount declined this script for two reasons: They did not want to combine their two most profitable franchises (Star Trek (1966) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984)), and Murphy had signed on to do The Golden Child (1986) instead.
The film's success led to William Shatner guest-hosting Saturday Night Live (1975) during its release. It was during that appearance (Saturday Night Live: William Shatner/Lone Justice (1986)) that Shatner performed the infamous "Star Trek Convention/Get a Life" sketch.
At one hour and 46 minutes, the last sound made by the alien probe as it turns away contains the English words "I'm sorry" in monotone in the lower frequencies.
While it's widely thought that Admiral Kirk was the biggest offender in breaking Starfleet's "temporal laws", that honor should go to Chekov. Before escaping the naval officers, he threw his phaser at them, and left his communicator and Starfleet ID badge. None of these items was ever retrieved and would have caused a major temporal paradox.
According to George Takei, when McCoy, Scotty and Sulu are standing in front of the building with Yellow Pages advertisement, a door opens and an Asian woman appears. The scene in the film ends at this point but originally this woman was to begin shouting for a young boy named Hikaru, who would run into Sulu. Sulu would realize that this boy was his great-great-(etc.) grandfather. The young boy hired for this scene began to cry on the set before the shot and they were unable to get him to do the scene. With no one to replace him, the scene was never shot.
The whale hunters speak Finnish. The older hunter says "What the hell was that?" ("Mikä helvetti tuo oli?" in Finnish.)
When the time travel storyline was proposed, a few different time periods were considered. Ultimately, the contemporary (1986) time period was selected largely to make use of the opportunity for extensive outdoor location shooting. In addition, there would be no budget constraints relating to the use of period costuming, sets and props.
The film bore the dedication: "The cast and crew of Star Trek wish to dedicate this film to the men and women of the spaceship Challenger whose courageous spirit shall live to the 23rd century and beyond..." This was a reference to the Space Shuttle which exploded over Florida on Tuesday January 28, 1986 killing its seven crew members. Their names and rank in the shuttle were: Gregory Jarvis (born August 24, 1944 - 41 years old), Payload Specialist Christa McAuliffe (born September 2, 1948 - 37 years old), Payload Specialist Ron McNair (born October 21, 1950 - 35 years old), Mission Specialist Ellison Onizuka (born June 24, 1946 - 39 years old), Mission Specialist Judith A. Resnik (born April 5, 1949 - 36 years old), Mission Specialist. Francis 'Dick' Scobee (born May 19, 1939 - 46 years old), Commander. Michael J. Smith (born April 30, 1945 - 40 years old), Pilot.
This was the first Star Trek film to be shown in the Soviet Union, as it was screened by the World Wildlife Federation in 1987 to celebrate the country's ban on whaling. Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett, who attended the screening, were impressed that the reaction of the audience was similar to that of American audiences, demonstrating a universal appeal. In particular, they were struck by positive reactions to Dr. McCoy's line "The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe."
According to Leonard Nimoy, about 95% of the humpback whale footage in the final cut of the film was of man-made models and effects.
This film was released shortly after Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) was first officially announced. As a result, the film technically provided the first connection between the Star Trek films and The Next Generation. The new Enterprise revealed at the end revealed the NCC code with an A suffix, establishing a pattern leading to the D suffix to denote Picard's Enterprise. In addition, the movie would be subsequently used to promote TNG. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) was first released on home video at the time of the Next Generation debut, and featured a promotional trailer for the series. Finally, the film makes brief reference to peace talks between the Klingons and the Federation, which foreshadows the TNG world what in which the formerly hostile Klingons have become allies.
One early draft script was subtitled "The Trial of James T. Kirk". This script involved Kirk being court-martialed at the request of the Klingons, who were indignant about the events in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). One particularly interesting facet of this script is that it included the original series character Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel) as a character witness. But Carmel was in poor health and would die 15 days before this film was released. When the time-travel script was approved, the trial was included as a minor sequence. The trial-by-Klingons idea, and portions of the dialogue, were reused in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
Scenes filmed on location in San Francisco marked the first time any Star Trek installment had been filmed outside the Los Angeles region.
At one hour and one minute into the film, when Dr. McCoy hands Scotty the computer's mouse, is one of the few times James Doohan's missing right middle finger is visible in the entire franchise. The finger was shot off during the invasion of Juno Beach on D-Day.
Majel Barrett appears as Christine Chapel for the final time. A year later, she would begin her recurring role as Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), which she also played on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). She also provided the computer voice on "The Cage" (Roddenberry's original pilot) and all TOS and TNG episodes and films; Voyager, DS9; Enterprise and TAS episodes.
The name of the whales, George and Gracie, was an homage to the pioneering comedy duo of George Burns and Gracie Allen. This may have been a Star Trek inside joke as well, as Burns' befuddled looks in reaction to Allen's gags were said to inspire the trademark facial expressions Leonard Nimoy used to depict many of Spock's nonverbal reactions.
This is the first Star Trek project that states that the Federation has no monetary system. Gene Roddenberry insisted on including this in the movie, even though this contradicted references in earlier Star Trek projects. The new idea was mentioned often on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and less frequently on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). On DS9, the Federation has to recognize the non-Federation intercultural currency of "gold pressed latinum" when dealing with non-Federation people. TNG and DS9 writer Ronald D. Moore has stated that he considered the no-Federation-money rule to be a bad idea, but felt bound to acknowledge this in his scripts once continuity had been established.
The medical device prop Dr. McCoy uses to heal Chekov's head injury in the hospital scene was partially kit bashed from an AMT model kit of the movie version of the Klingon battle cruiser. The center portion of the prop is actually the upper rear section above the Battle cruisers engines. The outer portions of the medical device prop haven't been identified.
Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer both had disagreements over the fate of Dr. Gillian Taylor, Bennett wanted her to go to the 23rd century, while Meyer wanted her to remain in the twentieth century.
While this film marks Saavik's final appearance, Robin Curtis would later guest star as Tallera in the Next Generation episodes Star Trek: The Next Generation: Gambit, Part I (1993) and Star Trek: The Next Generation: Gambit, Part II (1993).
Kirk R. Thatcher did such extensive work on this film that he was promoted from "production assistant/visual effects" to "associate producer" by the film's ending.
Sulu was supposed to leap into the Huey helicopter when the pilot was outside, looking the other way, and make off with this. George Takei had just run the San Francisco marathon when they were supposed to shoot this scene, and was too sore to leap into the helicopter. They tried having a grip throw him in, but could not get this to look realistic, so the scene was deleted. In the final edit, Sulu is shown talking to the pilot, then shows up flying the helicopter a few minutes later.
This marks the first film appearance of Spock's mother Amanda, and only Star Trek film in which she was played by Jane Wyatt, who originated the role in Star Trek: Journey to Babel (1967). While Spock's father Sarek also appears in this film, he and Amanda share no scenes together.
Uhura is the only crew member in standard duty uniform, although Scotty is also wearing a Captain's casual jacket as is his right following his promotion in the previous feature film. Everyone else (except Spock) is dressed in 23rd century casual wear. Saavik is also in uniform, but stays behind on Vulcan. Chekov leaves his civilian clothes in the past.
The captain of the U.S.S. Saratoga, seen in the film's beginning, was the first female captain ever seen in a Star Trek story. The success of this film led to offers by several U.S. television networks to produce a new Star Trek series with the original cast. Instead, Paramount gave the green light to produce the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) starring an all-new cast. A woman (Kate Mulgrew) was cast as ship's captain in the spin-off series Star Trek: Voyager (1995).
The computer that Scotty uses to show transparent aluminum was originally going to be an Amiga, but Commodore would only provide a computer once they bought this. Apple Computers was willing to loan them the Mac.
The computer graphic consoles that became standard on the 24th century Star Trek bridges, and also called "Okudagrams" (named for designer Michael Okuda), make their first appearance on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A. This is also the final appearance of the entire original Star Trek movie bridge set, as only small parts were reused for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989).
The scene with Chekov and Uhura sitting on the rocks looking at the aircraft carrier was shot in San Diego at North Island Naval Air Station.
The antique glasses that Admiral Kirk sells to make some cash are the pair that was given to him by Dr. McCoy for his birthday in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). It's suggested that once sold in the antiques store, those glasses hang around until they are bought by McCoy, in the future, and then Kirk takes them back in time, and so on, in which case one has to wonder where the glasses "originally" came from. This constitutes an "ontological paradox", an old favorite of science fiction writers, and raises too many questions to discuss here. (It's possible that these glasses existed in two places simultaneously, like characters in Back to the Future (1985) and its sequels, rather than being caught in a causal loop.) The same paradox arises when Scotty helps Dr. Nichols "invent" transparent aluminum. If the formula is "found" for the first time in the twentieth century, but only because Scotty took the information back, then this was never invented in the first place! (This may not be a paradox once Scotty only gave Nichols the chemical formula but not the manufacturing process.)
Brock Peters would reprise his role as Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), and later appear as Captain Sisko's father Joseph Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). As well as another character called "The Preacher".
Leonard Nimoy came up with the idea of using humpback whales after reading a book about extinct animals. Nimoy realized that their song added mystery and their size added a challenge for the crew to overcome. Nimoy previously considered a story about a disease that could only be cured by the rain forests but decided that he wanted to keep the film's tone light-hearted.
In an uncredited role, the Saratoga Captain is played by Madge Sinclair. Sinclair would later appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Interface (1993) as Captain Silva La Forge, the mother of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton). It has been speculated that the Saratoga captain is an unspecified ancestor of LaForge.
When Nicholas Meyer was asked to help with the script, the first thing he wanted to do was change the location from San Francisco to Paris because he had previously written and directed a San Francisco time travel film called Time After Time (1979). But since Starfleet is supposed to be located in San Francisco, he was overruled.
It is often claimed that this is the only Star Trek film where no weapons are fired. This is incorrect, as Kirk uses his phaser to weld a door shut, and the whaler fires its harpoon. Chekov also tries to use his phaser, though this does not work. This is also one which no cast member from this film is killed, as the only deaths were from the reused footage from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).
When Admiral Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Gillian first enter the hospital and are walking around trying to locate Chekov, a voice on a loudspeaker in the background says "Paging Dr. Zober... Dr. Sandy Zober." Sandi Nimoy (née Zober) was Leonard Nimoy's wife at the time.
This was Jane Wyatt's final film before her death on October 20, 2006 at the age of 96.
Outside of North America, the film's title was changed to "The Voyage Home: Star Trek IV." This was done because Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) had done very poorly outside of North America. A special prologue narrated by William Shatner was created in which Kirk recaps the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Star Trek III. The film ended up grossing only slightly higher than Star Trek III outside of North America.
After Star Trek: Tomorrow Is Yesterday (1967), Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever (1967) and Star Trek: Assignment: Earth (1968), this is the fourth and final time that Admiral Kirk and Spock visit the United States in the twentieth century.
When the tour group is looking at George and Gracie's tank, they are actually staring at a brick wall. The shots of Spock in the tank are a special effect shot on a bluescreen.
The landing of the H.M.S. Bounty in Golden Gate Park was actually shot in Will Rogers Park in Los Angeles, as heavy rains had just made the real Golden Gate Park field too muddy.
The boom box carrying punk played by Kirk R. Thatcher makes another, even briefer cameo 31 years later in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), standing next to a hot dog vendor who interacts with Spider-Man. The punk is still carrying a boom box and Thatcher has revealed his characters name is "Krash".
The miniature of the Spacedock interior (some fifteen feet across) had been destroyed at the end of production on the previous film and had to be rebuilt from scratch.
For the shot of Sulu flying the helicopter over San Francisco Bay, the filmmakers tried to get a pilot to fly a Huey, but they were unable to. The long shot was accomplished using a radio controlled model from Japan.
In an interview published in the booklet that came with the 2011 Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home (expanded) soundtrack release, Leonard Nimoy reveals that he had wanted to use composer Leonard Rosenman to score Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) but that Paramount Studios would not let him, and since that film was his directorial debut, Nimoy did not have the leverage to get his way.
This film was released as scheduled in 1986, as that year marked the 20th anniversary of Star Trek (1966).
It had been rumored that the character Gillian Taylor was created due to demands from William Shatner to give Admiral Kirk a love interest. Shatner was said to be disappointed that the film series largely ignored the original series depictions of Kirk romancing female guest characters. Nicholas Meyer has said this was not the case, and that Gillian was actually inspired by a female biologist he saw profiled in a National Geographic documentary about whales.
San Francisco was chosen as the setting largely due to its proximity to the studios in Los Angeles for location shooting, and the fact that Starfleet Headquarters is based in San Francisco. The setting was also likely a hold over from the original drafts which had scenes depicting a Super Bowl. Super Bowl XIX was played in the San Francisco area not long before the first drafts were written.
In the DC Comics adaptation of the film, the science vessel Dr. Gillian Taylor was assigned to is identified as the U.S.S. Clarke, likely an homage to scientist/writer Arthur C. Clarke.
When Spock takes the test on his homeworld, there is a question that asks: "What were the principal historical events on the planet Earth in the year 1987?". The answer is not heard but you can see two answers written by Spock. "Computers cloned from carrots", and "New York Times is last magazine to close doors." Then the computer answers "Correct".
The film takes place in 2286 and 1986.
Leonard Nimoy found making this film challenging at times as he had to alternate his energies and enthusiasm in directing the film, while simultaneously stepping into the role of the emotionally reserved Spock.
The officer on the Saratoga who announces that the thruster controls are offline is of the same alien race as the Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). This race has never been named, but is identified in some printed materials as Efrosian, named after Mel Efros, unit production manager for this film.
The scene with the punk music on the bus was written by Nicholas Meyer to revive a scene that was deleted from his film Time After Time (1979), that had H.G. Wells (played by Malcolm McDowell) encountering a teenager with music blaring from a boom box.
While attempting to escape from security agents aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Chekov tosses his phaser to one of the agents. Although this is representative of 23rd century technology, this is never retrieved, along with his communicator and Starfleet ID badge.
In order to find the best actress to play Dr. Gillian Taylor, two prospective actresses were brought out to William Shatner's ranch by Leonard Nimoy to meet with the man himself. It was Shatner who personally chose Catherine Hicks saying that she was "spunky" (According to Shatner and Nimoy in the Blu-ray audio commentary).
With Leonard Nimoy having directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), William Shatner was to have directed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) as a result of Favored Nations Clauses in the two actors' respective contracts for the franchise. Shatner was unable to direct the film as he was busy with the television series T.J. Hooker (1982), and would instead go on to direct Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989).
Until Star Trek Beyond (2016), this was the only Star Trek film not to be primarily set on board the U.S.S. Enterprise. All prior and subsequent films used a starship bearing the name Enterprise as the film's primary setting. Also, this and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) are the only Star Trek films without a discernible villain.
This was the last appearance of the Tellarites in the "Star Trek" franchise until Star Trek: Enterprise: Bounty (2003) 17 years later.
Harve Bennett wrote the beginning and the ending of the script while Nicholas Meyer wrote the middle scenes which take place in San Francisco. Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes wrote the original screenplay, and while most of their ideas were deleted, they still receive credit.
In the final scene in which Saavik appears with the crew members, Admiral Kirk says "Saavik, this is goodbye." The line would be somewhat prophetic as this film marked Saavik's final canonical appearance.
The original script called for the whales to be intercepted during aerial transport over the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein objected, saying that the city already had enough trouble with jumpers on the bridge, and that the scene would only encourage more. This lead to the scene showing capture of the whales in Alaska.
The Cetacean Institute is actually the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. The Institute's logo also belongs to the Aquarium.
Admiral Kirk says "May fortune favor the foolish", which is a paraphrase of the real Latin "May fortune favor the bold (or brave, or strong)."
This was one of the rare sci-fi movies where aliens came to Earth to make contact, hostile or friendly, with a lifeform other than humans.
Both bumpers of Dr. Taylor's pickup truck sport custom-made Cetacean Institute bumper stickers, with the actual Monterey Bay Aquarium logo.
The line "Nothing unreal exists", the so-called First Law of Metaphysics from Spock's response to the computer on Vulcan, is actually a direct quotation from the introduction to "A Course in Miracles".
The sounds of static from the computers heard in the background when the Klingon Bird-of-Prey comes out of time warp are the loading sounds of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer.
This film is dedicated to the seven astronauts who died in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. During the 1970s, NASA employed Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura) to help recruit minority and female candidates into the astronaut training program, which had previously had only white and male recruits. Nichols' recruitment work was partly responsible for NASA Group 8, the 1978 trainee group that included Dr. Sally Ride (the first American woman in space), Colonel Guion Bluford (the first African American in space), Dr. Judith A. Resnik (the first Jewish American in space), Lt. Colonel Ellison Onizuka (the first Asian American in space), and Dr. Ronald E. McNair (the second African American in space). Four of the astronauts (Resnik, McNair, Onizuka, and Lt. Colonel Francis Richard "Dick" Scobee) recruited with Nichols' assistance for NASA Group 8 died in the Challenger disaster.
Since the film was released in 1986, no one could anticipate the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is reflected early in the film when the probe arrives at Earth causing a world-wide power drain and one of the cities mentioned is "Leningrad", which had its name changed to its original name of "St. Petersburg" soon after 1991.
In the bus scene, there is a man in a brown jacket sitting just in front of the "loud punk". He can be seen "reading" the latest issue of Omni magazine, which from 1978 to 1998 published articles on scientific developments as well as short works of science fiction. The specific issue in this scene is from May 1986; the cover celebrates the "25th Anniversary of American Manned Spaceflight".
In the Spanish dubbed voices there is a mismatch with the original English. At the film's ending, when Admiral Kirk and his crew presents in front of Starfleet for their trial by the acts happened in the previous film (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)), they declare themselves "guilty" of all violations of the regulations they are accused, but in Spanish dubbing Kirk says "inocentes" (not-guilty). There is no explanation about this change.
Sulu claims that the travel from San Francisco to the Bering Sea to find the whales will have a length of twelve minutes. Counting a distance approximate of 4,500 kilometers or 2,800 miles from one point to another, this implies that the Klingon Bird-of-Prey would travel 630 meters per second and 375 kilometers per minute, equivalent to 0.39 miles per second and 23.33 miles per minute.
The older triangular building in the background of the San Francisco street corner scene was built in 1907 and was at one time home to a restaurant named Caesar's, one of the alleged birthplaces of the Caesar Salad. The building is now owned by Francis Ford Coppola, and is mostly occupied by American Zoetrope Studios and Café Zoetrope.
Early in the film, the Federation President informs the Klingon ambassador that Admiral Kirk is charged with nine violations of Starfleet Regulations. At his court-martial at the end, only six charges are listed: 1 Conspiracy 2 Assault on Federation Officers 3 Theft of Federation Property (the Enterprise) 4 Sabotage of the Excelsior 5 Destruction of Federation Property (the Enterprise again) 6 Disobeying direct orders of a superior officer However, assault on Federation officers is actually 3 charges (2 guards outside McCoy's cell, and Uhura's forcing Mr. Adventure crewman at gunpoint into a closet). The theft of the Enterprise is one charge, but it's conceivable that a second theft could be added. Depending on whether sabotage of the Excelsior includes Scotty stealing control chips, Scotty could also be charged with stealing components to make the Enterprise automated. That makes the total of charges as follows: conspiracy (1), assault (3), theft (2), sabotage (1), destruction of the Enterprise (1), and disobeying a direct order (1) = 9 charges.
The 23rd Century date for this film is established to be set in 2286. This is a rare instance where a Star Trek story occurs exactly three hundred years from the year of the story's release.
The film's dedication to the crew of the space shuttle Challenger was first played at an IMAX theater at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Numerous dignitaries were present to see the dedication, which brought tears and a standing ovation.
Early scripts featured Admiral Morrow from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), but the role was eventually changed to Admiral Cartwright.
Scenes of the Cetacean Institute were shot at four separate locations in California, none of which was in Sausalito, a real city north of San Francisco. The Monterey Bay Aquarium on California's central coast served as the primary location for the institute's exterior shots, while Nimoy's mind-meld scene with the whales was filmed in El Segundo, near Los Angeles. The tour group was shot at the whale tank built at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, at the aquarium in Monterey, and on a sound stage at Industrial Light and Magic. Several extras with identifying features (including a military officer and a nun) were taken to each location for filming.
This was the last "Star Trek" production to feature scenes set in the 20th century until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Past Tense, Part II (1995) nine years later.
In 1987, Leonard Nimoy read various poems and prose on the Paul Winter/Paul Halley album "Whales Alive", which also featured whale songs.
This is one of only five "Star Trek" films in which someone speaks a swear word. The others are Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Star Trek: Generations (1994) and Star Trek: First Contact (1996). In two cases, the cursing was a single use of the "shit" word. There were several other swear words used in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989). This was before swearing became more commonly used in Discovery, Picard and censored in Lower Decks.
During the proposed involvement of Eddie Murphy, the actor was said to be disappointed to be offered the scientist's role. Murphy has said his preferred Star Trek role would be that of a Starfleet officer/Enterprise crew member or an alien.
John Schuck has appeared in two Star Trek films and three Star Trek spin-off series. He has played the Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Dr. Antaak in Star Trek: Enterprise: Affliction (2005) and Star Trek: Enterprise: Divergence (2005), Legate Parn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Maquis, Part II (1994), and Chorus #2 in Star Trek: Voyager: Muse (2000).
During the final scene of this film, where the Enterprise crew is in the shuttle, Sulu says "With all respect, I'm counting on Excelsior." In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Sulu is the Captain of the Excelsior.
According to Spock's computer on Vulcan, Kiri-Kin-Tha's First Law of Metaphysics states that "Nothing unreal exists."
Admiral Kirk and the crew name the Klingon Bird-of-Prey "H.M.S. Bounty", suggested by Dr. McCoy. That was written as a tribute to the mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty, which took place on April 28, 1789.
When the U.S.S. Enterprise crew are travelling backward in time, faint voices are heard. These are the voices of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew, speaking lines from later in this film.
Some questions from the memory tests Spock takes on Vulcan at the film's beginning: Question: Who said "Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide"? Answer: T'plana Hath, matron of Vulcan philosophy Q: What is the molecular formula of sulfite crystals? Q: What significant contribution to bioengineering was made in Lucarian Outpost on Klendth? A: The universal atmospheric element compensator Q: What were the principal historical events on the planet Earth in the year 1987? A: (written) 1) Computers cloned from carrots, and 2) "New York Times is last magazine to close doors." (The computer answers "Correct.") Q: Adjust the sinewave of this magnetic envelope so that antineutrons can pass through it but antigravitons cannot. Q: What is the electronic configuration of gadolinium?
This is one of two 1986 time travel films in which Catherine Hicks (Gillian Taylor) plays a supporting role. The other is Peggy Sue Got Married (1986).
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, site of the fictitious Cetacean Institute in Salsalito, never keep whales or large mammals of any type. The tour group watching the whales were actually standing in front of a tank filled with kelp and various small fish.
First Star Trek film since Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) to be released for the holiday movie season as opposed to the summer. This was largely due to William Shatner having become free of his commitment to the television series T.J. Hooker (1982), which had been cancelled.
This is the first film in "Dolby Stereo Spectral Recording" soundtrack.
The film's novelization was one of the first two Star Trek novels to be adapted as a Book On Tape.
An early story idea centered around the crew travelling back in time to a slightly primitive rain forest to find a cure for a plague drastically affecting 24th century Earth. However, this proved to be too great a contrast to Leonard Nimoy's desire to give the film a lighter and more positive nature. In addition, Nimoy felt audiences would not have gotten a proper payoff by the plot's resolution.
On planet Vulcan, Scotty informs Admiral Kirk that the reparations of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey are easy, but reading the Klingon language is difficult. This is a deliberate in-joke after James Doohan introduced the Klingon language for the first time in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
When Admiral Kirk talks with Spock about the way to speak in the twentieth century, he mentions Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins, two immensely popular novelists of the mid-century. Catherine Hicks (Gillian Taylor) appeared in Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls (1981).
The bridge of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey is very different from the one seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). This is likely due to budget concerns of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). In this film, the budget was enough for the filmmakers to make the bridge as director Leonard Nimoy had intended.
John Schuck was formerly married to Susan Bay Nimoy, who would later marry Leonard Nimoy. He would later reprise the role as the Klingon ambassador Kamarag in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
When Chekov is running through the Enterprise (the aircraft carrier), trying to get away from the Marines, the words "Escape Route" and an arrow can be seen on the bulkhead walls.
After V'Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), a humpback whale is the largest lifeform Spock has mind-melded with, once we discount three creatures Spock encountered over the course of Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973).
As of 2022, this is the only Star Trek feature film where no one dies (including all films between Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek Beyond (2016)). Any killing referenced in this film - such as the whales' extinction, deaths of the Klingons from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), the punk rocker's song "I Hate You", and Dr. McCoy's "Spanish Inquisition" comment - occur outside the film's time-line. It's also the only Star Trek film (again, as of 2022) to take place almost entirely on Earth.
Catherine Hicks, who plays Dr. Gillian Taylor, was the star on the television series 7th Heaven (1996) together with Stephen Collins, who played Captain Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Even though the whalers in this film are depicted as Finnish, Finland had participated in whaling only in the 1800s. Iceland, Japan and Norway are pretty much only countries that practice commercial whaling these days. The Finns are probably mercenaries for another nation such as Japan.
After Scotty moves George and Gracie to the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Admiral Kirk recites part of the poem "Whales Weep Not", with Gillian correctly noting that this was written by D.H. Lawrence.
This was Robert Ellenstein's final film before his death on October 28, 2010 at the age of 87.
One of the extras in the Cetacean Institute tour scene (brunette with brown vest) is also visible at the left edge of the frame in the last shot on the Enterprise bridge. She had also appeared as an extra in the previous two Star Trek films.
This film was released in 1986 which is the same year the global moratorium on commercial whaling was implemented by the International Whaling Commission.
When Admiral Kirk and his crew walk by San Francisco, Kirk looks a newspaper's 25-cent box where can be seen an issue of San Francisco Register with the headline "Nuclear Arms Talks Stalled". This is the first appearance of San Francisco Register's newspaper. This would be used later in the fifth season episode Star Trek: The Next Generation: Time's Arrow (1992).
Susan Sarandon was considered for the role of Dr. Gillian Taylor.
USS Ranger (CV-61) was the ship used to portray USS Enterprise (CVN-65). Ranger was decommissioned in 1993 after 36 years of service. Ranger was not a nuclear powered ship. The most noticeable difference between the Ranger and the Enterprise is that the Ranger has one deck edge elevator forward of the island, while the Enterprise has two. Ironically, the carrier seen moored behind the Ranger, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is a Nimitz class carrier whose configuration is closer to that of the Enterprise.
Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) died only two days apart: Bennett on February 25, 2015, and Nimoy on February 27, 2015.
In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), Dr. McCoy tells Spock "nobody's perfect" after missing the deck they were supposed to stop. In this film, he said the same words to him, after Spock explained he doesn't make educated guesses. In "The Wrath of Khan," Saavik says of Kirk (in Vulcan), "He seems so ... human," and Spock replies (in Vulcan), "Nobody's perfect."
During Spock's memory tests, the computer speaks very rapidly, almost too rapidly to discern. The first question it asks Spock is: "Who said 'Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos, using reason as our guide'?".
In overseas markets, the title was inverted to The Voyage Home: Star Trek IV, which featured a lesser emphasis on the Star Trek branding. This was due to the poor overseas box office results of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984).
The base of the distinctive Transamerica Pyramid building can be seen in the background of the San Francisco street corner scene.
When the Klingon Bird-of-Prey crash-lands in the San Francisco Bay and Admiral Kirk comes up out of the water splashing, Spock is seen smiling. That illogical response seems to cement their friendship for life.
Chekov was being interrogated in one of the engineering spaces. The yellow rectangle identifies the space as 4-132-0-C. This is deck 4 on the center line and is a control center. P-4 Division has responsibility for maintaining the space. P-4 Division operates #1 & #2 Auxiliary Machinery Rooms. In these spaces, Ranger's distilling plant - consisting of seven evaporators - produces more than 390,000 gallons of water daily.
The $60 that the garbageman mentions for the toaster oven comes out to $144.36 in 2021. The $100 that Admiral Kirk receives for his glasses comes out to $240.60.
Melanie Shatner's debut cinematic appearance.
The location where Dr. Gillian Taylor picks up Admiral Kirk and Spock is not an actual street. It's a parking lot that runs alongside the main road.
In the opening credits, a white oval appears and expands over the movie's title. Its shape resembles that of the head-on shot of the whale image seen during the travel back to the past.
In the film's ending, Gillian Taylor informs Admiral Kirk she has "300 years of catching up to do". Captain Kirk says the same thing to Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: Space Seed (1967) (#.1.22).
The scene where Admiral Kirk steps in front of a car and is bawled out by the driver is reminiscent of the nearly identical scene from "The City on the Edge of Forever" (1967), except with the addition of certain "colourful metaphors" which would have not been appropriate for late 1960s television.
This film establishes the practice of adding a letter suffix to a starship's registration number in cases where a later ship of the same name also retains the same registration number. Hence the NCC-1701-A (and as of the late 24th century, up to NCC-1701-E).
When Admiral Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Gillian first arrive in the hospital, the PA system can be heard calling for "Doctor Dover, Doctor Ben Dover" which is a juvenile play on the term "bend over".
The plot of this film is essentially the same from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). A hyper-advanced probe arrives, threatening Earth with destruction. Shenanigans ensue until it's learned probe is waiting from a signal from Earth's distant past (in this case, long-extinct whales). This signal is sent and the probe politely withdraws.
As of 2022, this is only the second film in motion picture history to depict aliens visiting Earth who are not interested in contact humans (either to kill us or peacefully visit us). In fact, even Spock says "there are other forms of life on earth other than man. Only human arrogance would assume the signal must be meant for man". E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) is the first. The title characters interaction with the children was accidental. His parents were there on a botany expedition.
Dr. McCoy quotes "Hamlet" act I, scene IV: "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!"
When Dr. Gillian Taylor meets Admiral Kirk and Spock while she is driving, Kirk justifies Spock's strange behavior pretending her that he belongs to the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s. The Free Speech Movement was an organization created in 1964 by the University of Berkeley's student Mario Savio as the first mass of disobedience civil against the U.S. government, that it congregated to several thousands of members, related to the civil rights movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. The Free Speech Movement had a strong impact that it changed completely the way to make policy in the United States and the values of the college students on the different college campus across the country.
When Admiral Kirk transports Gillian aboard the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, he salutes her with the joke "Hello Alice, welcome to Wonderland." This is one of many allusions to Lewis Carroll's novel "Alice in Wonderland" throughout the Star Trek universe.
The Klingon ambassador threatens the Federation President claiming that while Admiral Kirk is still alive, the peace between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets will be impossible. It shows to be untrue after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), where Captain Kirk discovers and neutralizes a conspiracy of Admiral Cartwright and General Chang to prevent a peace treaty, established finally peace between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.
Catherine Hicks' other best known roles feature another Star Trek actor: Stephen Collins on 7th Heaven (1996), and Chris Sarandon and Brad Dourif in Child's Play (1988).
Though not mentioned on screen, the name of the Federation President was Hiram Roth. J.D. Roth would later audition for the role of Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
[40:00] Dr. McCoy says "It's a miracle these people ever got out of the 20th Century." DeForest Kelley himself 'never got out of the 20th Century', as he died on June 11, 1999 at the age of 79.
This is the only time in the Star Trek franchise where both Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig are in natural outdoor scenes as Uhura and Chekov, respectively. Though their characters beamed down to planets numerous times, it was always in the confines of an indoor studio.
In Star Trek Beyond (2016), Captain Kirk and crew commandeer the U.S.S. Franklin after her crew perished on Altamid through a wormhole displacement. In this film, Admiral Kirk and crew commandeer a Klingon Bird-of-Prey after her crew perished on the Genesis Planet.
One of the Starfleet admirals attending James T. Kirk's court martial is a Caitian, the catlike species first introduced in Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973) in the form of Lieutenant M'Ress.
This is the only Star Trek film in which the characters do not directly interact with the story's antagonist in any way, the alien probe being indifferent to human presence. As a result, although the crew's actions enable a solution to solving the problem, the ones who ultimately do are the whales since only they know how to respond to the probe.
Pan and scan (4:3) video releases letterboxed the end credits slightly to about 1.85 with a starfield/starburst background behind them. The text is too wide to crop fully and the "clip show" background footage (unique among classic Star Trek films) might make deforming or other reformatting awkward.
[46:26] The young tourist asks Gillian Taylor "Do whales attack people, like in Moby Dick (1956)?" This is one of several references to Moby Dick. Most of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was based on this, and the line "Captain Ahab has to go catch his whale!" is said to Captain Picard in Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
The interior of the alien space probe is never shown.
Immediately after escaping the interrogating officers, which occurs in a compartment on Deck 4, Chekov is seen running through a narrow passageway where he is jumping over "knee knockers" That passage way is on the O-3 level, seven decks above where he was being interrogated. He is next seen running across the hangar bay, three levels below the O-3 level.
Composer Leonard Rosenman reused some of his score for The Lord of the Rings (1978) in this film.
Monk (2002) reference: The "double dumb ass on you" scene was located at the same intersection as a scene in Monk: Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man (2002) (#1.9). This is one of six references of the Star Trek franchise to that television (TV) series.
Originally thought to have sunk in the bottom of San Francisco Bay, the Klingon Bird of Prey HMS Bounty would eventually be raised, restored and put on display at an orbiting Fleet Museum as revealed in the third season of Star Trek Picard.
Italian censorship visa # 82700 delivered on 1 July 1987.
Kirk R. Thatcher: An associate producer plays the punk on the bus who is nerve pinched by Spock. Thatcher expressed displeasure at the music chosen for his boom box, and asked to write and perform a song that he feel would be more representative of his character. The result was the song "I Hate You".
Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney: There are brief appearances of Christine Chapel and Janice Rand, beloved Star Trek (1966) supporting characters, at Starfleet Headquarters during the alien probe's arrival.
Jane Wiedlin: The Go-Go's rhythm guitarist appears as a communications officer on a starship rendered powerless by the Probe. She is seen on the right of three huge video screens amid a chaotic control room on Earth. Her line: "The condition remains the same. The Probe has neutralized all power supplies. We are functioning on reserves only."
Vijay Amritraj: Captain of the U.S.S. Yorktown was played by a professional tennis player and television commentator who at the time was attempting to transition into an acting career. He is one of three actors from India to appear in the Star Trek franchise. Others include: Persis Khambatta, Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979); Padma Lakshmi from Star Trek: Enterprise: Precious Cargo (2002).
Harve Bennett: The masked surgeon set to operate on Chekov is believed to be the producer, but this is unconfirmed.
Leonard Nimoy: In addition to his role as Spock, Nimoy also played a visitor to Mercy Hospital. This was reportedly an unintentional cameo appearance as he was on the set as the film's director.