Star Trek: Generations

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"It was fun... oh, my..."
Kirk imparts his final words of wisdom

The first movie featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Billed as a Crossover (Cross Through?) with Star Trek: The Original Series, although Kirk is merely given The Cameo and then gets a bridge dropped on him. Yep, They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot.

It's shortly after the end of the Next Generation TV series, which ended its run just before this film was released. Our baddie is Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell), a Mad Scientist with a malicious agenda reaching back seventy-eight years to when he was "saved" from the Nexus by Kirk, who then disappeared into it himself and was presumed dead. Soran now plans to blow up a couple suns to get back into the Nexus, but Picard gets Kirk to leave the Nexus and join him for a bridge-dropping climax.

Perhaps the best that could be said for Generations is that it's not too badly paced considering how thin the storyline is. Still, the plot is mostly just a vehicle to bring Kirk and Picard together, their meeting only occurs at the end and the final battle is over too quickly and extremely predictable. Despite this, Kirk's eventual death is fairly moving.


Star Trek: Generations is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Star Trek: Generations include:
  • Abandon Ship: The Enterprise-D in the film's climax. Played With, in that they simply evacuated everybody into the part of the ship that wasn't about to explode and separated it.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Lursa and B'etor, as always.
  • Anyone Can Die: This was supposed to be the overarching theme of the movie ("Time is the fire in which we all burn"), but YMMV about how subtle or effective the message was: see Dropped a Bridge on Him below.
  • Apocalypse How: Soran causes Stellar Physical Annihilation in the Amargosa system and the Veridian system... but the Veridian system gets reversed thanks to Picard and Kirk.
  • Arc Number: Scotty manages to save 47 people. 47 is an arc number in all the modern Star Trek series.
  • Artistic License Physics: Soren's plan to divert the Nexus makes sense at first, but promptly falls apart later. In order to actually get inside, he has to destroy the Veridian star so the Nexus hits the planet instead of a near-miss. Problem is, the timing of this is such that there would be no appreciable change in gravity since the sun is still largely intact and thus a massive gravitational body. The Nexus suddenly altering course to hit the planet would never happen. It would have made more sense to destroy the star then have the Nexus hit a planet in another solar system.
  • Back for the Dead: Kirk, sort of.
  • Big Damn Movie: Kirk dies, entire star systems are in danger of being destroyed, the Enterprise-D is destroyed and crashes, Picard loses his family and Data gets emotions. YMMV over the movie's quality, but events are certainly a step up from the average episode.
  • Non Sequitur Scene: In-universe, even. Data scanning for lifeforms. And singing. With the controls providing instrumentation. The crew is visibly thrown by this.
  • Break Them by Talking: If you ever wondered what would happen if an El-Aurian used their keen insight against someone instead of counseling them - look out. Exemplified by Soran tearing Picard down by repeatedly discussing waning time and fire.
  • Call Back: Shortly after the D12 is destroyed, the movie cuts to Geordi in engineering examining an open panel and in the middle of a conversation about the damage the ship's taken. He turns around and communicates with the bridge, only to be cut off as the panel he's just walked away from explodes and engineering rapidly degenerates from being a mess to being an outright hazardous environment. As he's ushering everyone out, Geordi tells the bridge that they're a few minutes away from a warp-core breach he can't stop. This scene mirrors one from the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise", where the ship was fatally damaged fighting Klingons in an alternate timeline.
    • Also, while examining Soran's space station, Data reminds Geordi of a joke Geordi told Riker at Farpoint Station. As noted in Late to the Punchline, Farpoint Station was the setting for the pilot episode of The Next Generation.
  • Call to Agriculture: In the Nexus, Kirk was found chopping wood and frying eggs at a farm.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: One of the most subtle examples on record. At the beginning of the film, the main cast is wearing their Star Trek: The Next Generation-era uniforms, with the black shoulders and colored torso. Then a few Red Shirts in the background are seen with the updated Star Trek: Deep Space Nine color scheme with the black torso and colored shoulders. Then Data starts wearing it. And then Riker, and Geordi, and finally Picard. In at least one case with Riker his uniform literally changes between two scenes where he couldn't possibly have had time to do so in real life.
  • Closest Thing We Got: "You and you, you've just become nurses. Let's go."
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Lampshaded then deconstructed. While Worf was getting pushed off the plank to feed the sharks (in the holodeck...) as "reward" for promotion to Lieutenant Commander...

Data: Doctor, I must confess I am uncertain as to why pushing someone into freezing, shark-infested water is amusing.
Beverly: It's all done in good fun, Data. Get in the spirit of things.
Data: Ah. (Cue Data pushing Beverly overboard, then wondering why no one is laughing)

  • Compliment Backfire
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Though possibly unintentional, Kirk remarked in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier that he knew he would die alone. Specifically, after taking a near-fatal fall off a mountain in Yosemite during a camping trip with McCoy and Spock, he tells McCoy that he felt confident he would survive because both of them were with him. He adds, darkly, "I've always known... I'll die alone." When he "dies" on the Enterprise-B, he's the only guy in the room. His actual death could be argued the same, since Picard was the only other person around and he was too late to actually prevent it. The novelization of the movie actually mentions the callback at Yosemite.
      • This could even be argued to bookend a "Kirk trilogy" of V, VI and Generations, in which Kirk plays Peter Pan at the end of VI, receives unending exploration within the Nexus, but finally accepts his fate as a man.
    • While aboard the observatory, Data mentions the Farpoint mission - which was the subject of the The Next Generation series premiere.
  • The Constant: Guinan and Soran.
  • Crusading Widower: Dr. Soran.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Soran is quite savvy about villainy in general and mocks Picard's attempts at talking him down.

Soran: I know why you're here. You're not entirely confident you can shoot down my probe, so you've come to dissuade me from my horrific plan. Good luck.

  • Darker and Edgier: Much of the content is on the darker side of the sort the show would have had, with a larger focus on death and loss. But more literally, the entire movie is shot with much darker lighting than the show was, due to the realization that the sets that looked just fine on television screens now looked like cheap plastic with visible seams on the big screen. They used less lighting to hide the flaws until the sets could be replaced for the next movie.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Soran. "Nice try."
  • Demoted to Extra: Arguably Troi and Crusher.
    • More so in Crusher's case, as she barely did anything in the movie, while Troi's role was proportionately about as large as she got in most The Next Generation episodes.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Trope Namer itself. In fact, it doesn't just literally apply to James T. Kirk; in the way we've defined this trope, the deaths of Robert and Rene Picard are examples too. Ironically, Kirk's death was a re-shoot from one that was poorly received by test groups where he just takes a blast to the rear and dies.
  • Enhance Button: While looking through Geordi's visor, the Klingon sisters use one to see the Enterprise's shield frequency.
  • Evil Brit: Soran (although technically not British, as he was an alien), played by Malcolm McDowell.
  • Fake-Out Opening: Not exactly the opening, but the scene following the 23rd-century prologue shows an 18th-century sailing ship with the caption "78 years later". It turns out to be a holodeck simulation.
  • First Time Feeling: When Data's emotion chip is first installed, he experiences emotions more strongly than the humans around him. Eventually the chip overloads and his emotions become so intense that he collapses.
    • YMMV, of course, but this could also be some Nightmare Fuel. Just watch Data's as the emotion chip overloads; it just keeps morphing and changing from emotion to emotion, wide-eyed the entire time.
  • Five Second Foreshadowing: When Dr. Soran checks on his sun-killer missile after Picard messes with it, the viewscreen says that the missile's locking clamps are still engaged. Soran gets an Oh Crap look on his face as he and the audience realize that something bad is going to happen when the missile tries to launch. One second later, the missile explodes, killing him.
  • Foil: Doctor Soran and Captain Picard: Both characters had lost loved ones to certain circumstances (Soran to the Borg, and Picard to a fire), and both were also devastated by the deaths. The difference is that while Soran is perfectly willing to destroy entire worlds so he'd at least be reunited with his family in some fashion (by the Nexus), Picard isn't willing to do so.
  • Force Field Cage: Inverted. Instead of restraining Picard, Soran has actually sequestered himself inside a giant force-field dome. Picard beats it by slipping under a rock arch that the force-field was resting on.
  • For the Funnyz: Data spontaneously decides to shove Doctor Crusher into the holodeck ocean when she unintentionally implies to him that it would be funny. None of the Enterprise crew are amused.
  • The Future Is Noir: Very noticeably so, compared to the way the exact same USS Enterprise sets appeared on the The Next Generation television series. The set designer on this movie knew that the sets had been built for the considerably lower resolution of television, and that they'd never stand up to the scrutiny of a cinema screen. The solution? Turn off all the lights, so the audience can't see the joins.
    • This is a rather common technique, and is one big reason why a lot of Sci Fi shows have dark sets.
  • Gangsta Style: Soran's gun tilts its shooty-part on the side, and he likes to twist his hand to the side to compensate?
  • Gilligan Cut: A deleted opening scene had Kirk skydiving, echoing his mid-life crisis in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Chekhov reminds him that they’re scheduled to look over the new Enterprise. Kirk states emphatically, "I’m not going", and of course this would have led to the bottle smashing on the ship and Kirk arriving.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: Worf has a Gravitational Cognizance moment after Riker says, "Computer, remove the plank."
  • Heroic BSOD: Done as only Patrick Stewart can deliver. After receiving word of his brother and nephew's deaths, he keeps a stiff upper lip for much of the movie, but in the immediate aftermath is very curt with his senior staff and delegates to Riker many of the duties regarding the observatory rescue operation he would normally handle himself. A typical Red Shirt might not notice anything wrong with Picard other than maybe he's having a bad day (which is both true and a massive understatement), but Riker and the others gather some inkling that something is very wrong. It eventually gets even worse when Soran says something that calls back to the event of their deaths ("Time is the fire in which we all burn.").
  • Hero of Another Story: Captain Harriman, though this doesn't begin to become apparent until he overcomes his nervousness at having Captain Kirk aboard and steps up as The Captain.
  • Humans Are Ugly: "Human females are so repulsive!"
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: This is the only "original universe"[1] member of the Trek franchise without a colon, probably because the title refers to generations of Star Trek casts.
  • Idiot Ball: Riker's "shoot once, get shot at 100 times" tactic of defending the Enterprise while trying to find a quick fix kill to the Klingons is stunning. The Enterprise, even in the TV series, is shown to be capable of a volume of fire far greater than that which is displayed. He also never orders the shield frequency to changed, which would have given them a decisive advantage even when damaged. The novelization, at least, explains that the damage from the first attack prevented them from changing shield frequencies.
    • This is made particularly egregious by the Klingons repeating Khan's tactics in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; their initial salvo goes for the engineering deck, and they start shooting up the engines after that. A single throwaway line like Scotty's about main power failing would've been a sufficient hand-wave and consistent with what was shown on-screen.
  • I Like Those Odds: Discussed by Kirk.

Kirk: I take it the odds are against us and the situation is grim.
Picard: You could say that.
Kirk: If Spock were here he would call me an illogical, irrational human being for taking on a mission like that... Sounds like fun.

  • Infant Immortality: Spot. Can't have the cat die after all, even if a ton of red shirts snuff it.
    • Actually, according to the epilogue, there were barely any casualties from the Enterprise's crew, this might be the only Star Trek movie where a great deal of red shirts don't die.
      • Expect for the refugees caught in the nexus, a few Romulans, a ship full of Klingons an undetermined amount of researchers and Kirk, there are relativity only a few people dead at the end of the movie.
  • Late to the Punchline: Thanks to his new emotion chip, Data finally gets a joke from the Farpoint mission, which was in the Pilot, seven years ago. This particular joke is never heard in the actual pilot, incidentally.
    • This creates a Series Continuity Error, considering Data can understand (if not entirely appreciate) humor as early as the first season's end.
      • He'd understood the principles that underlie human humor, on an intellectual level. It's not until he has emotions that he can grasp how funny the joke was.
  • Laughing Mad/Heroic BSOD: When Data's emotion chip overloads. It's unsettling.

Data: (teary-eyed laughing) I cannot stop. I think something is wrong!

"It wouldn't be the Enterprise without a Sulu at the helm"

  • Living Memory: The Guinan in the Nexus.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: The Nexus.
  • Made of Explodium: This film has the biggest exploding console plague in Star Trek history; firstly the Enterprise-B navigation officer gets nailed early on in the film, then in the film's big battle scene the entire rear row of consoles on the Enterprise-D's bridge blows up, killing what must be at least half a dozen officers.
  • Mad Scientist: Soran.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Doctor Soran, who plays everyone for his own ends.
    • Also given he's El-Aurian, a race of psychics and readers, means he was likely pulling this on Picard in Ten-Forward to let him go back to the Array.

Soran: They say time is the fire in which we all burn.

      • To clarify, Picard has just received the news his brother and young nephew perished in a fire, leaving him the last Picard, something Soran couldn't possibly have known otherwise.
        • In fact, Soran piles it on by adding, "My time is running out." playing on Picard's new re-acquaintance with mortality.
  • The Movie: Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Except that Executive Meddling demanded a crossover with The Original Series because they didn't want to risk giving The Next Generation its own entire movie right away.
  • Multiple Endings: The videogame adaptation provides two endings: one which follows that which is seen in the film, and another where you track down Soran before he gets to Veridian III and defeat his starship in battle, circumventing both the destruction of the Enterprise-D and also the death of Captain Kirk, who under this scenario does not appear in the plot at all and presumably remains entirely at peace within the Nexus. Needless to say, if you complete the game and get the second ending, then you've created an Alternate Continuity.
  • Mythology Gag: The Next Generation portion of the movie takes place 78 years after the launching of the Enterprise-B—there were 78 original aired episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series (counting its sole two part story as one episode).
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The "ribbon" of "temporal energy" that takes its victims to "the Nexus".
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Kirk and Picard do not save the universe, nor anything close.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Soran explains to Picard: "You know, there was a time when I wouldn't hurt a fly. Then the Borg came, and they showed me that if there is one constant in this whole universe, it's death. Afterwards, I began to realize that it didn't really matter. We're all going to die sometime. It's just a question of how and when." Soran saw the Nexus as the way to escape death forever.
  • Nightmare Face: When Data's emotion chip overloads, they went so far as to stretch his eyeballs.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Played with. In the deflector room of the Enterprise-B, when Kirk is climbing down the ladder, we can see what appears to be some kind of deep shaft. It hasn't got any guard rails around it to stop people from falling in... but what it does have is a hilariously small "Caution" sticker on the wall right next to it.
  • Oh Crap: Actually, more precisely, it's "Ohhh, shit!"
    • Klingon equivalent: "WE ARE CLOAKING! OUR SHIELDS ARE DOWN!"
    • Soran, when he realizes what Picard's done with the missile controls.
  • Orphaned Punchline: We don't hear the rest of the joke that Data finally "got". A Ferengi in a gorilla suit would be quite a sight, though.
  • Outrun the Fireball: An unusual instance, in that it's the Enterprise-D's saucer that's trying to outrun the stardrive section before it explodes. Also subverted in that the saucer doesn't outrun the fireball—the explosion's shockwave destroys the saucer's engines and knocks it sharply out of orbit, causing it to crash onto the planet below.
  • Precision F-Strike: Oh, shit! If any character other than Data (who had just acquired his emotion chip) had delivered this line, it wouldn't have been as profound.
  • Rebuilt Set: The Enterprise-D bridge now has noticeably more workstations than it (usually) did on television.
  • Refusing Paradise: Picard and Kirk decide leave the Nexus together in time to stop Soran. Although Kirk is reluctant at first, he soon realizes the ability to make a difference is more important to him than anything the nexus could offer. He also finds the Nexus lacks one critical element: for all its realism, there's no sense of fear.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: The bottle-breaking version is used with the Enterprise-B, except the bottle is thrown at the ship instead of just smashed against it. This leads to the hilarious mental image of a dude in a spacesuit trying to pitch the bottle at the ship without missing.
  • Running Gag: Quite a bit of the Enterprise-B's equipment and essential crew will not be available until next Tuesday, much to Captain Harriman's compounding frustration and embarrassment when a crisis breaks out.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Worf states that Soran's rocket will take eleven seconds to hit the sun. Considering that he shoots it from an M Class planet, which are more-or-less the same as Earth, it would have to be traveling faster than light to make that kind of time. However, it's been established well before this film that there are probes the size of Soran's missile with warp drives, which he could have acquired.
    • On the subject of distance, the probe might have traveled faster than light, but it still would have taken eight or however many light minutes away the planet was before you could actually see the change in light.
  • Series Continuity Error: Scotty witnesses Kirk's death, despite an earlier The Next Generation episode showing him as a Human Popsicle, who immediately assumes Kirk is the one who woke him up. Moore and Braga said that they were well aware of the continuity issue, but just couldn't resist seeing Scotty in action one last time.
  • Shout-Out: The "present day" is 78 years after the start of the film with Kirk, Scotty and Chekhov—the same number as The Original Series episodes (counting the two-part "The Menagerie" as one episode).
  • Star-Killing: Soran's trilithium-armed probes.
  • Stock Footage: Some shots of the Klingon Bird-Of-Prey are recycled from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: This is the first movie in the series since Star Trek: The Motion Picture that doesn't feature a number in the title. Justified Trope because this is the first Next Generation movie (even though there was some crossover with The Original Series) and none of the rest that followed had numbers either.
  • Trash the Set: The Enterprise being destroyed. A lot of the sequences showing the ship breaking up as it crash lands were given added realism by production crew actually taking a sledgehammer to the sets which had served the television show so well for seven years. In the final scene, the bridge set is only barely recognizable.
    • Before you get too angry about this, bear in mind that the sets would have been trashed regardless, in order to make way for the sets of Star Trek: Voyager. At least this way, we got to see the sets destroyed in action, rather than them just being dumped in some Los Angeles scrapyard.
    • Word of God is that the big wooden wishbone railing (where Worf had his console) was saved.
  • Unwanted Rescue: Soran's rescue from the Nexus. The others are like this, too, but Soran is the most vocal.

"No, I have to go... I have to get back. You don't understand! Let me go!"

Kirk: I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was in diapers.

  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Soran, literally. Well, more like a destroyer of stars, if we want to be very literal. The worlds are part of the package, though....
    • To elaborate: he wanted to destroy things to summon the nexus so he'd return to the one place he ever felt happy, after brief exposure to the nexus in the prologue (his family had been murdered by the Borg, and his heart's desire is to be reunited with his family).
  1. The sequels to the reboot film (which take place in an alternate continuity), Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, also lack colons. Meanwhile, Star Trek: Discovery, which occurs in the same canon as (and a few years prior to) the original series, brings the colon back.