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File:001-the motion picture poster.jpg

 Dr Leonard Bones McCoy: ...And they probably redesigned the whole Sickbay, too! I know Engineers, they love to change things!


Ten years after the Cancellation of the original Star Trek series, it had been Vindicated By Reruns and so Paramount decided to make The Movie with none other than Robert Wise (director of The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story and The Sound of Music) at the helm. As a side note, the general story is nearly identical to the Original Series episode "The Changeling", with elements from "Obsession" and the Animated Series episode "One Of Our Planets Is Missing" — and in fact the movie's story was intended to be the pilot of the abandoned Star Trek: Phase II.

The plot sounds simple enough. An unstoppable entity calling itself V'Ger is heading towards Earth, destroying all in its path, and the Enterprise is sent out to investigate. The story was originally written to be 45 minutes, stretched to 2½ hours, most of which involved the bridge crew staring at special effects in awe. Wise's declared intent at the time was to create a 2001: A Space Odyssey for that era.

The novelization of the film is noteworthy for two reasons: it is the only prose Star Trek fiction ever written by series creator Gene Roddenberry, and it contains a footnote explicitly addressing rumors that Kirk and Spock were lovers (it may or may not have cleared that up)

In (funnily enough) 2001, a Director's Cut was released. It is faster paced and actually includes a shot that shows the entirety of V'Ger. It also revealed that the original film was more of a workprint and Wise was not allowed to trim it to a more reasonable length because the suits feared such information would ruin the reputation ahead of time.

Adjusting for inflation, this film has the second-highest budget of any Trek movie (behind only J.J. Abrams' reboot) and the special effects to prove it. A slightly remixed version of the Fanfare Jerry Goldsmith wrote for this film later became the theme music of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also, the characters of Decker and Ilia, guest characters in the film originally intended as regulars for Phase II, are arguably early versions of Riker and Troi. Willard Decker and William Riker even have similar first names, with "Will" as their nickname.

Tropes used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture include:

  • All There in the Manual: The production diary has elaborate backstories for many of the bizarre aliens shown at the Federation headquarters. As an interesting subject of what constitutes Canon, almost none of this backstory has featured in later Star Trek productions. One species was even stated as being expert cloners and that the Federation relies on them for cloning soldiers in times of war.
    • Most of these aliens get fleshed out in the novel Ex Machina, which is set immediately after the movie, incorporating bits of their original descriptions from the production diary. The Saurians, meanwhile, at least get mentioned every time someone pulls out a bottle of "Saurian brandy, which was around in the Original Series.
  • And the Adventure Continues...: It ends with "The Human Adventure is Just Beginning"
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The 2001 special edition.
  • Big No: Decker during the wormhole scene, though this is partially due to the wormhole slowing down time for the ship.
  • Body Horror: Not clearly seen, but the transporter malfunction apparently results in this.

 Transporter Operator: What we got back didn't live long... fortunately.

    • The novelization suggests that Sonak and the other crewmember (Vice Admiral Lori Ciana) were rematerialized with their internal organs outside their bodies. Good God, that's enough to make anyone resign from Starfleet.
    • Bizarrely enough, McCoy's famous distaste for transporters is played for laughs shortly afterward.
  • Celebrity Paradox: A rare nonhuman example is Played With in that the real life Space Shuttle Enterprise was named after the starship Enterprise as a work of fiction, but is shown in-universe as a precursor and namesake to the starship.
  • Commander Contrarian: Decker.
    • Justified, in that Decker did know the refit Enterprise better than Kirk at that point. Overriding an order from Kirk even saved the ship from being destroyed by an asteroid.
  • Deleted Scene: Character scenes cut in favor of Leave the Camera Running scenes. This makes the special edition favored by fans.
  • Dull Surprise: Two crew members suffer a hideous death at the hands of a malfunctioning transporter. Kirk's response is a flat, affectless 'Oh my God.' without a change of expression. Particularly startling when it comes from William Shatner.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Persis Khambatta, who played Ilia, was very reluctant to shave her hair, as it was a huge part of her image. She even asked for insurance on her hair in case it didn't grow back. Thankfully, it did.
  • Edited For Television: For once this was a good thing! ABC helped in financing the movie in exchange for the first Network airings of the film. To get the most for their money, ABC added many scenes to pad out the three hour (with commercials) time slot. When viewers tuned in that Sunday Night, they saw for the first time Uhura defending Kirk's taking over command, the Ensign who beamed up before McCoy, the tear on Spock's cheek as he cried for his 'brother' other words all the bits that made it seem like a Star Trek story. we also got the Kirk space walk scene with the studio rafters in the background, but hey, nothing's perfect.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Actual deaths in this movie consist of a Klingon getting vaporized for shooting torpedoes at the approaching V'Ger; Commander Sonak, who dies horribly on his commute in to work; and Ilia, who is vaporized by a scan. Earth is nearly destroyed by a probe they themselves had sent out centuries ago that was looking for its mommy.
  • Foreshadowing: Spock describes V'Ger's homeworld as "a planet populated by living machines with unbelievable technology." 10 years later, came the Borg... (see also Leitmotif for a possible connection between V'Ger and that race)
  • Four-Star Badass: Kirk. To quote Uhura: "[Their chances] of coming home from this mission in one piece may have just doubled."
  • Future Spandex: The movie has this in spades. The main cast threatened to quit if they didn't get rid of them seeing how not everyone looked good in them. Plus, the spandex costumes were hard to get into and out of, requiring the help of assistants every time the actors needed to use the bathroom, hence the uniform change in the rest of the Star Trek movies.
  • Guide Dang It: It's never mentioned in the film that Decker is the son of the crazed Commodore Decker who piloted a shuttle into a Doomsday Machine, and the Enterprise was his big chance to prove he wasn't crazy like his Dad. That explains why he's none too pleased with Kirk casually commandeering the Enterprise (or some of his crew grousing about it.)
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Spock has an (untethered!) spacewalk scene using thrusters, and Kirk has a much shorter spacewalk to catch Spock when he comes flying back. You can see both their faces, though slightly obscured.
  • Instant AI, Just Add Water: Kirk surmised that V'ger "amassed so much data it achieved ... consciousness itself!"
  • Jet Pack: Sort of. To get a closer look at V'Ger's nerve center, Spock steals a "thruster suit" — a space suit with a rather impressive thruster pack attached.
  • The Juggernaut: V'Ger
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Admiral Kirk is back on the Enterprise, but he occasionally finds himself at odds with the ship's commander, Captain Decker. At one point, Decker countermands one of Kirk's orders during a crisis, and ends up saving the ship from destruction as a result.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Captain Admiral Kirk, before the movie begins. Ironically, Gene Roddenberry infamously got kicked upstairs as well because of the film's disappointing critical reception.
  • Leave the Camera Running / Padding: Its Fan Nickname isn't The Motionless Picture for nothing.
  • Leitmotif: The Klingon theme that would echo in later movies and tv shows, and a love theme that plays during Decker/Ilia and Kirk/Enterprise scenes.
    • In Star Trek: First Contact, also scored by Jerry Goldsmith, the Borg's leitmotif is very similar to V'Ger's leitmotif from this movie, perhaps lending credence to the popular fan theory that the "planet of machines" was the Borg homeworld. (This is also supported by Spock, after melding with V'Ger, saying that "Any show of resistance would be futile, Captain.")
  • Machine Monotone: Probe!Ilia.
  • Magical Security Cam (sort of): when the Klingon ships are discombobulated by V'Ger whilst being observed by Starfleet personnel, the live feed continues even after the last ship has vanished. How and by whom was this footage broadcast?
  • Mandatory Unretirement: McCoy.

 Kirk: Well, for a man who swore he'd never return to Starfleet-

Bones: Just a moment, Captain, sir. I'll explain what happened. Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little-known, seldom-used reserve activation clause. In simpler language, Captain, they drafted me!

"This seems to happen a lot. One almost wonders if other starships stay away when the Enterprise is in town, knowing that danger must be near."
—Michael Okuda's text commentary for the Director's Edition, when Kirk tells Scotty that "the only starship in interception range is the Enterprise."
    • One might correlate though that EVERY Starfleet-ship enjoys similar adventures. Because why is the Enterprise always the only ship in reach? All the others are out fighting Klingons, stopping some disasters, or getting lost in time and space somewhere...
  • No Seat Belts: Averted--the fact that seat belts were a subject of public discussion in the late 1970s and that the bridge crew kept thrashing around falling out of their seats in TOS probably helped. This bridge has chairs with armrests that fold down over the legs. They do look kind of awkward, though.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different
  • Permission to Speak Freely?
  • Pilot Episode: As mentioned above, the script was written as the pilot episode to a new television series, and was hastily being rewritten after filming had already started (hence the addition of Spectacle). In fact, if you watch it with this in mind, you might spot that the finished product still hits many of the beats required of most television pilots, such as introducing the characters, and relaunching the ship, elements which weren't strictly necessary for the story that's being told here, but which make perfect sense in context of setting up the format for a new television show.
  • Planet of the Apes Ending: kind of - V'Ger turns out to be the (fictional) NASA probe Voyager 6
  • The Power of Love: It causes Decker, Probe!Ilia, and V'Ger to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Putting the Band Back Together
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: They chose Voyager as the design of what became V'Ger because it was a current event--Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977, and by the time the film was released, both had already visited Jupiter. Mixes with a bit of Hilarious in Hindsight as there were only two Voyager probes... no matter that only two were ever planned.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The usual Kirk/Spock dynamic is handily pointed out by the film's poster.
  • Red Shirt: Completely averted. No one's even wearing one!
    • Originally, they planned to kill Chekov. Thankfully for the sake of the sequels they didn't know they would be making, it was decided that it would be more dramatic if Kirk listed Decker and Ilia as the only casualties at the end.
      • Actually, it was a security man who gets zapped and "absorbed" by the probe just before Ilia does. They cut his death to give Ilia's more dramatic weight.
    • Not wearing red shirts didn't seem help the two crew members horribly mangled by the transporters, or the crew of Epsilon IX.
  • Robot Girl: Probe!Ilia. And intentionally or not, she strongly resembles the machine-man from Metropolis.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: V'Ger is either 82 or 2 AUs.
    • One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, for clarification. Therefore, V'Ger must be comically large if seen in its entirety.
      • Which is why the DVD version reduces 82 (which is the entire Solar System) to 2.
    • Many people did not catch that it was the V'Ger cloud they were describing. Granted, it still seems far more than what would be needed to hide a ship even if it was the size of Earth . . .
    • This story takes place a few hundred years after the voyager probes were launched. Voyager 6 fell into a black hole to emerge at the planet of the machine intelligences. At the speeds that the voyager probes left the solar system, it would take thousands of years to reach the nearest celestial body (Alpha Centauri), so presumably much longer to rendezvous with a black hole somewhere in space. Also, V'ger traveled through normal space in the film, so how did it get from the Klingon imperial space to human space so quickly?
  • Scenery Porn: The effects budget was huge, and they waste no time in showing it. Sometimes, even too much. (as Linkara said: "Yes, I understand you spent a lot of money in this!")
    • Although the five minute trip around the Enterprise could be seen as a Fandom Nod thank you to those original Trekkies in 1979 who had to put up with the plastic model Enterprise effects of the series for 10 years before finally seeing her on the big screen.
  • Sex Goddess: Ilia, although she'd never take advantage of a sexually immature race, as Commander Decker can tell you.
    • Hilariously, one of the first thing Ilia tells Kirk after reporting for duty is that her oath of celibacy is on record. Apparently she'd heard about Kirk's reputation, and felt she needed to cut him off at the pass.
  • Space Clothes
  • Space Opera: Heavily influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey, the first movie is very different in tone from the rest.
  • Special Effects Failure: Literally averted. The first special effects company couldn't get the job done, so Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra had to be hired late in the production.
  • Spiritual Successor: To 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Switch to English: Klingons speak Klingon with subtitles to set the mood and then speak English for convenience.
  • Take That: A number of early promotion materials released to the press during production contained the tag line "There is no Comparison", an answer to those who speculated Paramount was just going to make a Star Wars rip-off.
  • Technology Marches On: According to Dr. McCoy the new Sickbay is like "...working in a damned computer center.".
  • Technology Porn
  • Teleporter Accident
  • We Want Our Kirk Back: Noone at the end seems terribly upset at the departure of Captain Decker.
  • You Look Familiar: Spock's father is a Klingon Captain! (Although admittedly you wouldn't recognize him unless you knew it was the same actor under the heavy make-up.)

Tropes seen in the novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture include: