In theaters, the film was presented at 1.85:1 for the first 20 minutes. When Tim Allen first realizes he's on a real spaceship and the vista of Thermia is revealed, the screen image widened to 2.35:1 as the parting walls of the spaceship revealed the vista.
The scene when Tim Allen is in a mens room overhearing how the cast of Galaxy Quest are nobodies and all the co-stars can't stand him mirrors an actual event in William Shatner's life. He discovered the exact same things about himself when he attended a Star Trek (1966) convention.
Sam Rockwell based his portrayal on Bill Paxton's performance in Aliens (1986). In particular, his hysterical fear of being killed, and his mental breakdown upon seeing a motion detector that shows their enemy closing in on them.
Director Dean Parisot and star Tim Allen have revealed in interviews that the original tone of the film was much darker, with more scenes of violence. After test screenings the film was re-cut to emphasize the comedy and obtain a PG rating.
This film was one of the earliest to have its own internet domain and website, GalaxyQuest.com (now available only via Wayback archive). However, instead of being a polished part of the film's marketing campaign, the site (in keeping with the film's fandom theme) was deliberately designed to look like a fan page, with screen captures and poor HTML coding.
Alan Rickman never takes off his headpiece throughout the entire movie. Even in the scene when he and Gwen (Sigourney Weaver) are both at home talking to each other on the phone, Rickman still has his headpiece on, even though he is not in costume.
At the beginning of the film, Tommy's "You are so full of shit, man!" line was re-dubbed to "You are so full of it, man!" When faced with going through "the chompers", Gwen's "Well, fuck that!" was re-dubbed to say "Well, screw that!". These edits were to avoid a PG-13 rating. The original lines are still obvious when reading their lips.
Just after the crew arrives via the 'pods' and the Thermaians appear without their appearance generators; when the captain asks "who wants a tour?" at least Sigourney Weaver did not know that 'Guy' was going to scream in terror as he did. You can see a very real reaction from her at that moment.
Instead of ripping off the standard Star Trek (1966) "Swooosh-thweep" sound for their automatic doors, the NSEA Protector's automatic doors were given the same "Tweeep-Clunk" sound effect as the doors in the original version of the video game Ultimate Doom (1993).
The Thermians use appearance generators to assume human form, while their true form is that of massive alien beings with several tentacles. This concept was possibly taken from the Star Trek (1966) episode Star Trek: By Any Other Name (1968), where in that episode, the Kelvans are aliens who assume human form, but their true form (which is never shown, but described by Spock to Capt. Kirk) is that of "massive creatures with hundreds of tentacles".
According to writer David Howard, the continuous melodic yet monotone voice of Thermian Commander Mathesar was an original idea that Enrico Colantoni brought to the character. Everyone on the set loved it so much they kept it in the shoot.
The film's script originally contained a mention of Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman's character) having been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Rickman asked that this be changed because he believed it was inconsistent with the character, and all mentions of the knighting were removed. However, the character is still listed in the credits as "Sir Alexander Dane".
When the crew are eating aboard the ship, they are told that the food has been prepared based on their regional cuisine. The commander comments that the steak tastes like Iowa Beef. This seems like a subtle reference to the fact that Captain Kirk (Star Trek (1966)) is from Iowa.
In the Audio Commentary for Star Trek (2009), Director J.J. Abrams says, "By the way, I think we've all gone on record as saying one of our favorite 'Trek' films is 'Galaxy Quest'. And this sequence [where Kirk and Sulu are falling toward Vulcan without a parachute] is clearly an homage to Tony Shalhoub's great save in that film."
The set of the NSEA Protector was built on an articulated platform so that it could move a few feet in any direction, for a touch of realism (instead of actors leaning in unison). When it was first used the set dropped two feet and shifted to the side, causing several cast members to fall out of their chairs and two lights to fall down.
The rock monster is a mock tribute to William Shatner, who desperately wanted to put rock monsters in the climax of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), but had to cut them out of his script for budgetary reasons. There are a couple of references to Star Trek: Arena (1967), particularly the suggestion to "build a weapon" during Jason's encounter with the rock monster.
The design for Sarris' starship is a crossover between the designs for the planet-killing "Doomsday Machine" from Star Trek: The Doomsday Machine (1967) (notably the massive, glowing maw in the front of the ship) and a D'deridex-class Romulan warbird from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) (the open design of the rear nacelles).
The name "Alexander Dane" alludes to this character's seriousness as an actor in the legitimate Shakespearean theater. William Shakespeare's character of Hamlet, universally regarded as the most desirable Shakespearean role to play on stage, is sometimes referred to as "the melancholy Dane."
The promotional campaign for the film included a "mockumentary" for the E! cable channel about the fictional Galaxy Quest TV series. Most of the cast members appeared as their actor characters from the film. Extras from the film's convention scenes also appeared as fans giving candid interviews. Out-takes and behind the scenes footage from the film were used as clips from the TV show. The humor even went so far as Sigourney Weaver's character, Gwen DeMarco, claiming that she had turned down "a small part in a Woody Allen movie" to do the Galaxy Quest series [A reference to one of her first, though very brief, big screen cameos as Alvy's (Allen's) date at the end of Annie Hall (1977)].
The characters who are actors in the fictitious Galaxy Quest television serial are largely based on the actors in the actual Star Trek (1966) television series and its spin-offs. The film contains numerous references to events in the lives of the Star Trek actors.
Tech Sgt. Chen would seem to satirize the method of casting Caucasians as other races. The character of Fred Kwan (who admits this is not his real name) only ever goes into "Chen mode" (narrowing his eyes as if to imitate an Asian appearance) occasionally, usually when prompted by someone saying his name or otherwise reminded to be in character.
Scrubs (2001) actors Sam Lloyd and Matt Winston (Ted Buckland and Dr. Jeffrey Steadman respectively) both make appearances as Thermian crew members in the film and can actually be seen on screen together. This comes a full two years before appearing on "Scrubs" together in 2001.
On the rock planet, 'Helm Laredo' chides 'Dr. Lazarus' for holding his tracking device upside down, claiming that he actually thought Dr. Lazarus's character was "smart or something" by the way he was leading the group to find the nearest Beryllium sphere, before realizing he was using the device incorrectly. This is a subtle reference to the series 'Star Trek', where the character Mr. Spock often held his tricorder upside down when in use during the first season.
At the end of the movie just before the opening credits for the new Galaxy Quest series, the announcer says "Now back after 18 years, the New Adventures of Galaxy Quest" The original Star Trek (1966) was cancelled in 1969 and Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) premiered in 1987, also 18 years later.
As the Protector departs the space dock, the structure is shown to have been built into a shard of a once habitable planet, foreshadowing the later revelation that the Thermians have been nearly exterminated.