39. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – The Death of Spock
Following the destruction of the Reliant, the sweet smell of victory is short-lived as Captain Kirk is instructed to come to the engine room.
When he arrives, he is made to realize who and how it happened the Enterprise had their warp engine repaired in the nick of time. It was Spock.
Unable to rescue his friend in the radiation-filled chamber, the two friends have their final moments together as Spock tells Kirk not to mourn him as it is logical one dies so many can live.
After Spock’s death, Kirk’s speech about his friend prior to his body being shot down to the planet below is one of the most emotional moments in Trek history. An icon has died.
It is a good thing filmmakers had the foresight to add the additional scene where Spock transferred his consciousness to McCoy or Trek history would have never been the same.
40. Star Trek TOS – The Theme Song
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Some of the most famous Trek words ever are the first words everyone heard at the beginning of every TOS episode.
It set the mood of what you were about to watch, and the Star Trek melody commenced. The instrumental was written by Alexander Courage and was used during the beginning and ending credits of every episode as well as many times in Trek throughout the years.
Courage sites the song “Beyond the Blue Horizon” as inspiration for the tune which is one of the most recognizable in television history.
41. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Signatures
After events are resolved and the crew of the Enterprise is safely back aboard, it is time to reflect on the events which have just transpired and say goodbye to some old friends.
The Enterprise receives word they are to return to space dock and be decommissioned.
Instead of complying, Kirk decides instead on a course of “second star to the right, and straight on till morning”. A lot of people think this phrase originated with Trek, however, it is actually the directions given by Peter Pan as to the way to Neverland.
The crew settles in for another adventure.
As a “final” coda, we get to witness the seven original cast members sign their names in the stars on top of a great fanfare soundtrack by film composer Cliff Eidelman.
For those fans for which the original cast is their favorite, this is the climax of their journey together.
42. Star Trek Nemesis – “Blue Skies”
As a wedding gift to Commander Riker and Counselor Troi on their wedding day, Commander Data gives them the gift of song in the form of the Irving Berlin song “Blue Skies” from the musical, Betsy.
Actor Brent Spider is actually a professional singer as well as actor and has appeared in many theatrical productions utilizing his vocal talents.
After Data saves the day at the end of the film, Captain Picard witnesses the newly reconstructed Data trying to remember snippets of the song he rang out at the beginning.
Picard assists him with the lyrics and there is hope the old Data we know and love will return eventually over time.
This is a melancholy moment as it was the end of the 10-film Trek franchise that had begun back in 1979 and ended in 2002. It is unlikely any of TNG cast will appear in any Trek film again.
43. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – Walking the streets of San Francisco
After time traveling back to present-day Earth to find humpback whales to communicate with a mysterious probe which has planet Earth in its clutches, the Enterprise crew find themselves walking the streets of San Francisco in search of money and direction.
They quickly discover how fast life in the big city is and how out of touch with society they really are.
They also find human beings using colorful metaphors and feel the need to reply saying phrases like “double dumb ass on you!” Scenes like this made Star Trek IV the most successful and accepted film to that point.
Everyone wanted to see the “fish out of water” story of the future crew making their way through Earth’s past. Also a newly resurrected Mr. Spock had to relearn how to interact with others and renew his friendships and relationships.
44. Star Trek lets its actors direct
Everyone knows Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Jonathan Frakes had the opportunity to direct because of Trek. In addition to “Star Trek III” and “Star Trek IV”, Nimoy also directed the film “3 Men and a Baby”. Frakes directed “Thunderbirds” the “Librarian” films and a bunch of television including “NCIS”, “Castle”, “Burn Notice” and “Falling Skies”. Shatner directed “Star Trek V” as well as several “Trek” documentaries.
Larger than that however, Trek showrunners really allowed many members of their casts to take their first stabs behind the camera, also launching several individuals into careers of directing themselves. They must have felt these actors have the inside knowledge of this universe and could coax the correct performances from those whom they were directing.
Other actors who directed Trek episodes included LeVar Burton, Patrick Stewart, Roxann Dawson, Robert Duncan McNeill, Rene Auberjonois, Avery Brooks, Michael Dorn, Andrew Robinson and Gates McFadden.
Many of the actors have expressed appreciation for this rare opportunity and cherish those memories dearly.
45. Star Trek TOS – “I’m a doctor…”
It either seemed like Gene Roddenberry wanted each main character to have his own catchphrase, or it ended up that way. In the tradition of “Holy Robert Louis Stevenson Batman!” came actor Deforest Kelley’s exclamation reminding everyone of his chosen profession and the professions he chose not to pursue in life.
These were always humorous moments usually expressed to break the tension between important plot elements. It almost became a rite of passage as you waited for these infamous words to be spoken.
46. Star Trek TOS – “Beam me up, Scotty”
Although the popular myth equivalent to “Luke, I am your father” and “Play it again, Sam” says Captain Kirk and others uttered these infamous words, that was just not the case.
True “Scotty, beam me up” or “beam us up” were said, but never “Beam me up, Scotty”
The Transporters themselves were not even in Gene Roddenberry’s original idea for Trek. He wanted the crew to land on every planet using shuttlecraft or other space vessels. This proved too costly so the idea of molecular transport was crated.
It is said it was an homage to the film “The Fly” which used transporter technology that had been released in 1958; however, Roddenberry claimed he had not seen the film prior to transporters appearing in Trek.
Throughout the course of Trek, the transporters were used quite often and their frequent ability to have accidents or break down at inopportune times were always source of drama.
When “Scotty” actor James Doohan passed away, some of his ashes were “beamed up” into space in 2007 by privately-owned space vehicle Space Services Inc. who had previously done the same for series creator Gene Roddenberry.
47. Star Trek TOS – “Live Long and Prosper”
The familiar Vulcan catchphrase and salute were said to have been devised by actor Leonard Nimoy himself calling it a “double-fingered version of Churchill’s victory sign.” He also added he thought Vulcans were a “hand-oriented people”.
The sentiment seemed extremely appropriate to Vulcans in general with their embrace of no emotions and logic.
The phrase and salute first appeared in 1967 TOS episode “Amok Time” and followed the actor who uttered the phrase the rest of his life.
At times Nimoy both embraced and loathed the character of Mr. Spock and Star Trek in general, so his reaction when hearing the greeting could have varied wildly depending on when in his life you met him.
For reference, the proper reply to the phrase is “peace and long life.”
48. Gene Roddenberry
Much has been written about the series creator, his ideas, thoughts about a perfect futuristic society, etc.
You have to believe his vision for the future was a bright one. It is amazing how ahead of its time Star Trek really was and its ideas and thoughts are still relevant today as they were 50 years ago.
Roddenberry always needed to include social commentary in his work. Issues that were facing the world at the time. That tradition was also carried through the subsequent series and is one of the reasons why Trek has carried through these 50 years.
Roddenberry himself did not always see eye to eye with other Trek producers and writers. Some wanted Trek to be more confrontational and Roddenberry preferred the aspects of the show which revolved around exploration.
Unfortunately, he was actually forced to “retire” from Star Trek during the production of TNG’s third season. His years of alcoholism had finally caught up with him and his health declined rapidly.
He died only two days after the screening of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” in 1991.
One is unsure how he would feel about the current loud, shallow versions of Trek currently in theaters. You would think he wouldn’t be too pleased.
Hopefully, when Trek returns to television in 2017, Roddenberry’s original vision to “boldly go” will be resurrected as well.
49. Star Trek make up – Michael Westmore
In addition to being responsible for Steve Martin’s immense nose in the film “Roxanne” Michael Westmore created immeasurable creatures, aliens, etc. for all the “modern” Trek series including TNG, DS9, and Voyager as well as several of the feature films. Part of a make-up dynasty, his grandfather, George Westmore, formed the first studio make up department in 1917 and his father, Monte Westmore, worked on “Gone with the Wind”.
Some of the more memorable characters he helped create were Commander Data, the Ferengi, the Cardassians and the Jem’Hadar. He won an Academy Award in 1985 for his work on Eric Stoltz for “Mask”. It is also said he may have created the category of “Best Make Up” as he was honored for his work on “Raging Bull” in 1980 and the first Oscar was given in the category one year later.
50. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Row, Row, Row Your Boat – The most important aspect of Star Trek, by far, was its strong, well-written/acted, and colorful characters and their relationships and interactions with each other.
This characteristic above all others is the reason Star Trek is still with us after one half century.
One could argue there were many close character ties over the years; however the original trilogy of Kirk, Spock and McCoy will always be the best. They were part of the crew who forged the original “five-year mission” and had many away missions and conflicts together even living through the death and resurrection of Mr. Spock. McCoy had also had Spock’s essence transferred to him so Spock’s “soul” would not be lost forever which is what made his rebirth possible.
The film “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” has many problems, including the ego of its director; however, the scene of the three men by the campfire discussing their friendship is unequalled in the Trek world.
At the time, it was unsure if another trek film would be made so if it had ended with the singing of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” it would have been appropriate.
Honorable Mention 1:
Shatner plays tribute to George Lucas “His Way” – Shatner has always had a great sense of humor about himself and Star Trek in general. It is never clearer as Shatner opens the 2005 American Film Institute tribute to Star Wars creator George Lucas.
He launches into his “Star Trek changed everything” speech when he “realizes” he is in the wrong place. After a moment of confusion, he knows he is up to the task of paying tribute to Lucas himself singing “My Way”.
Shatner has made another career for himself as a “singer” also releasing several albums and CDs over the years with his unique “spoken word” style delivery. At several points when listening, it’s hard to figure whether he thought some of it was serious or total tongue-in-cheek humor.
Find some of his songs out there and give them a listen for yourself.
Honorable Mention 2:
Betty White pays tribute to William Shatner “Her Way” – Comedy Central has become famous for their celebrity “Roast”. Some of their choices of “celebrities” have something to be desired; however, Shatner was an excellent choice considering his body of work and over-the-top ego and personality.
At the time, Shatner was starring in Boston Legal alongside White, so it seemed appropriate the regal television icon appear to honor her friend.
No one could have expected the 90+ year old actress to utter off-color jokes involving including making fun of George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Farrah Fawcett.
She brought down the house. Even Shatner seemed extremely surprised and delighted at what he was hearing.
One of the funniest clips you can watch for sure. Enjoy!
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.