Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

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"Forget the Temporal Prime Directive. From now on, we follow the Rule of Funny!"

Gillian: [sarcastic] Don't tell me; you're from outer space.
Kirk: No, I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

The One With... The Whales.

Kirk is prepared to face the consequences of his actions in the previous movie, but a powerful alien probe is making its way to Earth (yes, another one), wreaking havoc with the environment and shutting down anything with power. Deducing that the probe is searching for humpback whales, which are extinct in the twenty-third century, Kirk and crew use a Klingon Bird-Of-Prey they stole in the last film to Time Travel to The Eighties to retrieve some and save Earth. Hilarity Ensues. Instead of the traditional Space Opera, this movie is an outright comedy. It even lacks a villain, outside of the whale probe and a whaler boat.

The wild success of this movie was proof to Paramount that Star Trek can survive as an expanded franchise, and gave Gene Roddenberry the opportunity to create a new series, Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home include:

Kirk: Oh, him? He's harmless. Part of the free speech movement at Berkeley in the sixties. I think he did a little too much LDS.
Gillian: L D S?

Kirk: If we play our cards right, we may be able to find out when those whales are being released.
Spock: How will playing cards help?
Dr. Taylor: Are you sure you won't change your mind?
Spock: Is there something wrong with the one I have?

  • Brake Angrily
  • Came Back Wrong: It's implied that maybe we didn't quite get all of Spock back at the end of the previous movie, that there's a certain... something missing. He gets better by the end though. Death apparently isn't something you can just get over straight away.
  • Catch Phrase: "Hellllllo, Computer."
  • Catfolk: The Caitian admiral at Star Fleet headquarters.
  • Changed My Jumper: The short notice for this particular mission results in the crew arriving in San Francisco in their 23rd Century clothes. As it's San Francisco, they don't look that out of place. Truth in Television -- they had unknown crew walk around San Francisco in the outfits for a week before shooting started, and got no comments whatsoever. See City of Weirdos below.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Klingon Bird-of-Prey, which was just the enemy ship and later a means of escaping from the exploding Genesis Planet in the previous film, ends up being a vital part of this film's storyline thanks to its ability to cloak and land.
    • Kirk's glasses are an unusual case of this; from the perspective of the audience and Kirk himself, this is the last time the glasses are seen. However, 298 years down the line, they're going to be very important once again.
    • Fails him at an important moment, thanks to the effects of being next to a nuclear reactor.
  • City of Weirdos: Most people are willing to accept the slightly out-of-touch Spock as a harmless stoner, even as he does weird things like jump into the whale tank... until he says things about the whales that he shouldn't be able to know. Truth in Television as anyone who lives in San Francisco could tell you.
  • Cluster "The Hell" Bomb
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: How the crew of the Enterprise see The Eighties.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Even though it's the crew of the mighty Enterprise we're talking about, the whole "get some whales from back in time" thing did sound pretty ridiculous. McCoy lampshades this, to which Kirk simply responds that he should offer a better plan if he can think of one.
  • Death Amnesia: Played with. Spock never says he can't remember what dying and coming back was like, but it was such an alien experience that he can't discuss it in terms anyone else will understand.
  • Dedication: To the crew of the Challenger at the beginning of the film.
  • Did Not Do the Research: In-Universe, the crew, knowing only the broad strokes of the sociopolitical environment of the late twentieth century United States, failed to realize that putting Chekov, a Russian, on the ground looking for "nuclear wessels" was a bad idea.
  • The Eighties
  • Everybody Lives: The only Trek film that can boast this.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Sulu mentions he trained on Hueys at the Academy as a hobby to a helicopter pilot (though the pilot probably didn't know he meant Starfleet Academy). The Novelization expands on it.
  • Expospeak Gag:

McCoy: This woman has acute post-prandial upper-abdominal distension!
Kirk: What did you say she had?
McCoy: Cramps.

"You pompous ass!"

  • Lighter and Softer: This is pretty much the most lighthearted Trek film there is.
  • Literal-Minded: Chekov during the interrogation, much to the frustration of his interrogator. A possible case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Mistaken for Spies: Chekov.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: An interesting version, seeing as it was applied to what was then the real-life present day.
  • Modern Humans are Morons: Kirk states to his crew before exploring 20th Century San Fransisco that "this is an extremely primitive and paranoid culture" and believes that no one pays attention to you in the contemporary age "unless you swear every other word." Bones is shocked to find a woman in a hospital on dialysis, asking if this is The Dark Ages.
  • Mythology Gag: The Bridge Computer Sound Effects from The Original Series can clearly be heard in the background as Kirk says "Let's see what she's got."
  • Name's the Same: "Sir! Ve have found the nuclear wessels! And Admiral.... it is the Enterprise!
  • No Antagonist
  • Oh Crap: The whaler upon seeing the Bird-of-Prey decloak. Not only could the entire whaler fit in the Bird-of-Prey's torpedo launcher, but these are late 20th century humans. They have never seen an alien (or even human) starship of any kind before.
  • Photographic Memory: Gillian Taylor mentions that she has one -- "I see words!" -- but it comes into play only once, during Spock's Time Travel Tense Trouble.
  • Precision F-Strike: Lampshaded. "Are you sure it isn't time for a colorful metaphor?"
  • Sarcastic Confession: Kirk flat out tells Gillian exactly who he is and where he comes from over dinner. Subverted in that Kirk tells her with utter conviction and she naturally thinks he's full of shit.
  • Sequel Hook: The crew is absolved of all criminal charges and are given a new ship, a virtually identical Constitution class USS Enterprise: NCC-1701-A. The adventures of this ship are continued in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but it also paved the introduction of the Galaxy Class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.
  • Shout-Out: According to Word of God, the probe is modeled after Rama.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: A major source of humor from Spock.
  • Space Whale: The likely pilot of the probe.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Trope Namer. Don't hunt whales to extinction or an alien probe will destroy us all!
    • Only an example, though, if it's taken too literally. The intended Aesop is more along the lines of "you don't know what you've got till it's gone", specifically the permanence of extinction.
    • Also, don't play your music too loud on the bus or you will wind up nerve pinched.
  • Spotting the Thread:

Security Guard: How's the patient, Doctor?
Kirk: He's going to make it.
Guard: He? They went in with a she!
Kirk: One little mistake... [runs]

  • Stable Time Loop: All over the damn place.
    • Scotty and transparent aluminum. In the novelization, the engineer he sells the formula to is the one who introduce[d/s] it to the world.

Scotty: "How do we know he didn't invent the thing?"

      • In the Novelization, Scotty recognizes the name Dr. Nichols, and immediately pegs as him being the actual inventor of transparent aluminum, and actually invokes the Trope, saying that it could be necessary to tell him about how it could be done. Regardless, it could cyclical in that Scotty recognizes Nichols as the inventor - and might have realized that he's supposed to make him the inventor.
    • When Kirk sells his glasses at a pawn shop.

Spock: Admiral, weren't those a gift from Dr. McCoy?
Kirk: And they will be again. That's the beauty of it.

    • The Expanded Universe has also established in some form that the whole movie is one as well -- that Kirk's theft of the whales from 1986 helped cause them to become extinct, thus resulting in the probe nearly destroying the Earth, thus needing the whole movie to happen in the first place.
    • No one checks to see if removing Gillian from the timeline will change anything historic. Despite her insistence "I have nobody here", no one considers the possibility that any future actions of her's could be important.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: During the FBI's interrogation of Chekov:

Agent #1: What do you think?
Agent #2: He's a Russkie.
Agent #1: That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. Of course he's a Russkie, but he's a retard or something.

Kirk: And a double dumbass on you!


My friends....we've come home.