Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home can be found here.

An alien vessel armed with a destructive space probe begins to circle the Earth, and no one can figure out the meaning of the strange sounds emanating from it. After a bit of adjusting, Vulcan science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) recognizes the sounds as being the calls of humpback whales, which no longer exist on Earth, having been hunted to extinction. As the destruction of the Earth grows more and more imminent, Admiral James T Kirk (William Shatner) decides to take the Enterprise back to 20th century Earth, locate two humpback whales, and bring them back to the 23rd century. They enlist the help of Dr Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks), assistant director of the Sausalito (California) Cetacean Institute, which houses the only two humpback whales in captivity, but the whales are due to be released in the open Alaskan waters in less than 24 hours, leaving precious little time to build an enclosure big enough to hold the whales and thousands of tons of water, to obtain high-energy photons from the reactor of a nuclear "wessel" with which to repair their damaged dilithium crystals, and to get back to the 23rd century in time to save the planet.

The entire crew returns in some capacity. Besides Kirk and Spock, there's Dr Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), chief engineer Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott (James Doohan), communications officer Lt Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), first officer Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), helmsman Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Vulcan Lt Saavik {Robin Curtis), Dr Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), and Janice Rand (now a commander) (Grace Lee Whitney). Spock's father Sarek (Mark Lenard) and his mother Amanda (Jane Wyatt) also put in an appearance.

The film opens in 2286 A.D., about three months after they rescued Spock from the Genesis planet and brought him to Vulcan. However, the Enterprise is forced to travel back in time, with the majority of the story taking place in the year 1986 A.D., the same year that the film itself was released.

Ultimately, the film does not reveal exactly why the probe came to Earth or why its transmissions were so dangerous, though likely answers are given. If one assumes that the characters are correct, then the probe came to Earth to investigate the disappearance of humpback whales and it had no idea that its transmissions were causing trouble. The message was "its way of saying hello," and not a hostile action. A common misconception is that the probe was intentionally causing the destruction as humanity's punishment for driving the whales extinct, but this would not explain why it is still broadcasting in the whale "language" or why it would be satisfied by the appearance of two whales from a different time period. Since the probe leaves after a few short moments of conversation with the whales, it can be deduced that it simply wanted to know where the whales went and was planning on broadcasting its message until something answered it.

No, they used very detailed animatronics for George and Gracie and stock footage for a few other scenes. No live whales were used in the movie's production.

When a blood vessel in the brain breaks, usually due to trauma, and blood starts to build up between the brain's covering (dura mater) and the skull, it is known as an epidural hematoma. It is a serious condition because the buildup of blood can increase pressure on the brain. The 1986 doctor was about to drill a hole in Chekov's head to relieve the pressure, as might have occurred in a 1986 surgical practice called trepanning, but McCoy knew it wasn't necessary and took care of Chekov himself. More info on epidural hematomas can be found here.

There are two possibilities. One is that he was addressing Admiral Kirk. Another is because he was still a bit out of it after the procedure. Even after his head was healed that quickly, it might still take some time to recover fully. As it turns out, it only took a few minutes before he was back at his post on the Bird of Prey, doing his job as before.

Fighting problems with thrusters and acceleration control, the Enterprise makes it back around the sun and into the 23rd century, landing the Klingon warship on the water near the Golden Gate Bridge. As the warbird begins to sink, Kirk is forced to swim underwater to release the hatch that opens the tank, letting the whales loose into the sea. As the crew watches from the wing of the sinking warbird, the whales reply to the probe, which begins to retract, and the spaceship flies away. The skies clear, electronic devices come back online, and the crew of the Enterprise has once again saved the Earth from destruction. In the final scene, Kirk is demoted from admiral to captain for disobeying a direct order in The Search for Spock, but all other charges are dropped. Kirk is once again assigned the command of a new ship, the USS Enterprise NCC-1701A, a duplicate of the previous model.

Yes. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a novelization of the movie by American science fiction writer Vonda N. McIntyre, was released in 1986.

So far, there are 12. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was preceded by Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). It was followed by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), all of which featured the Enterprise captained by James T Kirk. Star Trek: Generations (1994) unites Kirk's crew with the crew of the Enterprise captained by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The other Star Trek movies featuring Picard as captain include: Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) harken to an alternate reality in which Kirk was just beginning his career with Starfleet Academy.

The so-called "European Version" features a new prologue that summarizes the events of the previous two movies. The US Version doesn't include these scenes. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.


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