There’s no denying that there are few media franchises in the world as instantly recognizable as Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s now-legendary creation first graced our TV screens in 1966 and went on to encompass seven more live-action shows, two animated series and no fewer than 13 movies, not to mention a host of spin-off books, comics, and video games. Hardcore Trekkies pride themselves on knowing every detail about every incarnation of their beloved franchise, but here are 40 hidden snippets that even they may just have missed.
40. The first real-life astronaut to appear on Star Trek was Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to go into space when she orbited the earth for almost eight days in 1992 on the Endeavour space shuttle: she was also the first astronaut to make an appearance on Star Trek. As a massive Trekkie, it no doubt excited her to play transporter operator Lieutenant Palmer in a sixth-season episode of The Next Generation.
39. Darth Vader and Marty McFly are referenced in The Next Generation
In the 14th episode of The Next Generation’s seventh season, entitled “Sub Rosa,” there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to two iconic sci-fi movie characters. There’s a scene in which a character stands in a graveyard in front of two headstones; on them are chiseled the words “Vader” and “McFly,” respectively. These are, of course, references to Star Wars villain Darth Vader and Back To The Future hero Marty McFly.
38. The famous Vasquez Rocks in California are where Captain Kirk fought the Gorn
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in California has been used as a setting countless times in film and television history, due to the rock formations that give a distinctly alien look to the landscape. Fans will recognize it as the location in which Captain Kirk fought the Gorn, but it was also used in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It also later appeared in an episode of Picard when Jean-Luc visited his friend Raffi.
37. In Discovery, the ship’s console references other shows
This hidden detail is unlikely to be caught with the naked eye, instead requiring a freeze frame and later analysis. In the Discovery episode “Lights and Shadows”, there is a shot of the starship’s console. It features the labels “TNG,” “ENT,” “VOY,” and “DS9,” which are references to four other shows: The Next Generation, Enterprise, Voyager and Deep Space Nine.
36. R2D2 makes a quick cameo in Star Trek (2009)
The 2009 big-screen Star Trek reboot, directed by J.J. Abrams, was exciting, action-packed and full of space battles. Of course, this style of storytelling would serve Abrams well when he directed 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Interestingly, though, he had actually included a quick reference to Star Wars in his earlier movie. At one point, beloved droid R2D2 can be seen floating in space among the debris of destroyed Federation spacecrafts.
35. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos cameos in Star Trek Beyond
One for the business nerds here: Star Trek Beyond features a cameo from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that lasts a grand total of eight seconds and renders him unrecognizable due to the alien prosthetic makeup he is wearing. Yet, Bezos actually pushed for it as he is a longtime Trekkie and had wanted to appear in a movie for years. He told an audience at the Pathfinder Awards, “It was super-fun for me. It was a bucket-list item.”
34. Sulu has a husband in Star Trek Beyond as a tribute to George Takei
During Star Trek Beyond, John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu is shown with his husband and daughter. This was intended as an homage to George Takei, the gay actor and LGBT activist who played Sulu in the original series. However, Takei wasn’t a fan of the decision, arguing that the movie should have featured a new character with a history of being gay, rather than altered Sulu, who had never been canonically homosexual.
33. There are Easter Eggs in the Enterprise’s schematics
A schematic of the U.S.S. Enterprise is on display in the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. It was shown in nearly every episode of The Next Generation and includes a few amusing Easter Eggs. There is a Porsche automobile in the Main Shuttlebay and a mouse sitting on a wheel in the Engineering section.
32. Infinite Improbability Generator is from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy
Fans are rewarded for paying extremely close attention to schematics in Star Trek. Another example of a fun reference is in the impulse drive system schematic panel in Engineering aboard the Enterprise in The Next Generation. It includes a component reading “Infinite Improbability Generation” which is a nod to Douglas Adams’ seminal book The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
31. Kirk telling Scotty to “skip to the end” references Simon Pegg’s Spaced
English actor Simon Pegg plays Scotty in the new Star Trek movies and he also co-wrote the third entry, Star Trek Beyond. In that film, Captain Kirk tells Scotty to “skip to the end” at one point, which is a brilliant reference to Spaced, the geek-friendly British sitcom that first brought Pegg to fame. In that show, his character Tim would often say that to force people to get to the point of their long-winded stories.
30. Kirk toasts to absent friends three times across three different movies
In the closing moments of Star Trek Beyond, Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk makes a toast at his birthday party to “absent friends.” The scene is a tribute to cast member Anton Yelchin, who tragically died after filming, and legendary Spock actor Leonard Nimoy. But it also mirrors speeches given by Kirk in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis in which the words “absent friends” are also used.
29. The books on Captain Georgiou’s shelf reference The Next Generation episodes
Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Philippa Georgiou in Star Trek: Discovery and, in the very first episode of the show, some fans noticed an Easter Egg in her ready room. A bookshelf is seen behind her desk, and the titles of the books are all titles of original series episodes. Sample titles included “The Trouble With Tribbles,” “The Way To Eden,” “Mirror, Mirror” and “Return To Tomorrow.”
28. In Discovery, Captain Lorca’s lab is a treasure trove of Easter Eggs
In Discovery, Captain Lorca also has a personal space that is filled with Star Trek Easter Eggs. In his laboratory, fans were able to spot a Gorn skeleton, referencing the classic original series episode in which Kirk battled the terrifying green alien. There was also a Tribble that had been dissected and some Cardassian voles.
27. Lorca’s whisky brand pays tribute to Scotty
Captain Lorca drinks “Wee Bairns” whisky in Star Trek: Discovery, which is a name sure to put a smile on the face of any Trekkie. The same whisky was spotlighted in a couple of Deep Space Nine episodes and the brand name is, of course, a reference to James Doohan’s Scotty. He twice used the phrase in episodes of the original series.
26. James Cromwell appeared as four different characters in three Star Trek projects
In a move that would surely have aggravated continuity buffs, screen veteran James Cromwell appeared as four different characters across three distinct Star Trek projects. His highest-profile role was as Zefram Cochrane in the movie First Contact. But he also played Jaglom Shrek, Hanok and Prime Minister Nayrok in Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation.
25. Horror legend Jeffrey Combs has appeared as nine different characters
Character actor Jeffrey Combs is beloved to fans of horror cinema for playing Dr. Herbert West in Re-Animator. He also holds the distinction of playing nine different characters across various Star Trek shows, usually beneath layers of prosthetic makeup. He appeared in Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise and even lent his voice to the videogame Star Trek: Elite Force II.
24. The Millennium Falcon makes a cameo in First Contact
You may not realize it, but J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek was not the first related project to include a sly wink to George Lucas’ Star Wars. In First Contact, the Millennium Falcon can be seen briefly during a huge battle between the Borg and the Federation. The Industrial Light & Magic visual effects team worked on both First Contact and the Star Wars: Special Edition, so they took the opportunity to sneak Han Solo’s iconic ship in there.
23. The Borg’s lights flicker in Morse Code
The antagonists of First Contact were the Borg, a race of frightening cybernetic aliens. They had eyepieces with a flickering green light, and in a Cinefantastique article, it was revealed that the lights blinked in Morse Code. In a neat touch from the prosthetic makeup team, the blinks actually spelled out crew member’s names.
22. Chateau Picard wine makes an appearance in Discovery
Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel, taking place ten years before the original series. Therefore, when a bottle of Chateau Picard wine was seen in Captain Georgiou’s office, it made fans happy. This is because, in The Next Generation, they learned that Captain Picard’s family owned a vineyard in France, which was run by his brother Robert. It therefore shows that the wine was celebrated throughout the galaxy long before Picard commanded the Enterprise.
21. U.S.S. Franklin’s serial number in Star Trek Beyond is a tribute to Leonard Nimoy
By the time Star Trek Beyond rolled around, the ailing Leonard Nimoy had already appeared in Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. He sadly had to turn down a role in the third film due to his poor health, and he died before the movie was released. The filmmakers paid tribute to him, however, with the serial number on the U.S.S. Franklin. NX-326 was a reference to Nimoy’s birthday, March 26.
20. Apollo program scientist Farouk El-Baz is namechecked in The Next Generation
Egyptian-American space scientist Farouk El-Baz, who was instrumental in training the astronauts on the Apollo program, received a tribute in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was an important part of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. In the show, the Enterprise has a shuttle named the El-Baz, which is one of the most prominent craft of its kind.
19. Nurse Ogawa hints at a later twist in The Next Generation episode “Genesis”
The Next Generation episode “Genesis” featured the crew of the Enterprise de-evolving into primitive beings. For example, Riker became a caveman and Troi an amphibian. Nurse Alyssa Ogawa de-evolved into an ape form, but some viewers were able to spot actress Patti Yasutake subtly hinting at this twist much earlier in the episode. If you pay attention, you can see her doing a super-subtle ape walk away from her command console.
18. Hamlet is referenced in nearly every Star Trek show
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the most-referenced work of the Bard in Star Trek. Quotes from the play form the basis for titles of episodes of the original series, The Next Generation, Voyager and the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Of course, Patrick Stewart was always comfortable with reciting Shakespearean language in The Next Generation: he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1966 to 1982.
17. The Next Generation finale is referenced in Picard with a poker game
The first scene of Picard, which saw Patrick Stewart returning to his most famous role for the first time in almost two decades, featured Jean-Luc playing poker with Data. This was a call-back to the finale of The Next Generation when he joined his crew’s regular poker game for the first time. Fans were excited to see the new show immediately honor the past.
16. A plaque on the bridge of the Voyager lists names of producers
On the bridge of the U.S.S. Voyager there is a dedication plaque that is given pride of place. The names inscribed on the plaque are the various writers, producers, and crew members of Star Trek: Voyager, listed under titles such as “Starfleet Command” and “Science Ops.” Best of all, though, is the name chosen for “Chief Of Staff.” It’s none other than Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
15. Some power relays and pipes were labelled “GNDN,” which has an amusing meaning
Set designer John Jeffries explained the hilarious meaning behind “GNDN” on a Star Trek original series DVD extra. He said, “The plumbing and pipes in the Enterprise all had color codes and some form of nomenclature on it.” He then revealed, “GNDN with a number behind it and then a color code became very common throughout the Enterprise. GNDN means, ‘Goes nowhere, does nothing.’”
14. Akira class starships reference the classic Manga and director Akira Kurosawa
Many of the writers and members of the production team on The Next Generation were fans of anime. Therefore, it makes sense that the Akira-class starships on the show were named after Katsuhiro Otomo’s genre-defining 1988 movie Akira. However, there are also some who believe it could be a reference to legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
13. “Androbin Batman” is referenced in Deep Space Nine
In the Deep Space Nine episode “Equilibrium,” Captain Sisko and Dr Julian Bashir search the records of enrolment at a music academy on the planet Trill. One of the students listed is named “Androbin Batman,” in what is clearly a reference to DC Comics’ dynamic duo. In a neat twist of fate, Alexander Siddig, who played Bashir, would later go on to star as Ra’s Al Ghul in the Batman origin show Gotham.
12. Miles O’Brien’s biological duplicate in Deep Space Nine is a “replicant”
A biological duplicate of Miles O’Brien was created by the Paradan government in Deep Space Nine. However, instead of being known as an android or clone, as is common in Star Trek, it was designated a “replicant.” This was writer Paul Robert Coyle’s reference to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner and, to his surprise, no one at the studio told him he couldn’t use the word in the script!
11. Harry Mudd’s pet insect is named after a character from The Big Bang Theory
Star Trek: Discovery episode “Choose Your Pain” featured Rainn Wilson’s first appearance as Harry Mudd, a character who first debuted in the original series. Mudd has a pet insect named Stuart and, on the aftershow After Trek, the episode’s writers revealed the name was a nod to the character Stuart Bloom from The Big Bang Theory. In that show, Stuart is friends with Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on The Next Generation.
10. Federation Defense pods in The Next Generation resemble the Red October
The Hunt For Red October was a 1990 spy thriller set in the Cold War era. It featured the eponymous nuclear submarine. Several years later, Federation defense pods would make their debut in Star Trek: The Next Generation and they bore a striking resemblance to the design of the Red October. This is simply because production designer Rick Sternbach used a similar model kit, the Soviet Typhoon-class submarine, used by the designers on the movie.
9. Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos inspired the hairstyle of an alien species
Star Trek: Enterprise featured the Mazarite, a race of aliens with dark hair that was swept back into a ponytail and streaked with white around the temples. Hairstylist Michael Moore admitted to Star Trek: Communicator magazine that he based the look on an unexpected source. It was the distinctive style sported by Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri in David Chase’s HBO gangster show The Sopranos.
8. A computer console showed the names of the first six Doctors from Doctor Who
The Next Generation featured a sneaky reference to the indelible British sci-fi series Doctor Who in its episode “The Neutral Zone.” A computer screen is shown that lists the names of the six actors who, up to that point, had played The Doctor on television. Unfortunately, one name was misspelled, with “Peter Davison” being listed as “Peter Davidson.”
7. M*A*S*H was frequently referenced in The Next Generation
M*A*S*H, one of the most important and popular shows in U.S. television history, was referenced a number of times during The Next Generation and Voyager. Most nods came from the number 4077 cropping up on computer displays and readouts. This was the unit number of the show’s titular Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
6. In Star Trek Beyond, Syl’s prosthetics homage the facehuggers from Alien
One of the most striking aliens in Star Trek Beyond was Syl, an Ensign aboard the Enterprise who had cranial appendages that looked like crab legs. They folded at the back of her head but were also shown opening out at one point. Joel Harlow, the Academy Award-winning head of makeup and prosthetics on the movie, told Forbes magazine that Syl’s design was his homage to the terrifying facehuggers in the Alien franchise.
5. Department of Temporal Investigations Agent Dulmur was a nod to The X-Files
The 1996 Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” featured Agent Dulmur of the Department of Temporal Investigations coming to the DS9 to speak with Captain Sisko about a time-travel incident. “Dulmur” was intended by the writers as an anagram of “Mulder,” the laconic FBI agent played by David Duchovny in The X-Files. Strangely, though, they substituted an “e” for a “u.”
4. The number 5843 has special significance when it appears in Picard
Eagle-eyed viewers of the Picard episode “Maps and Legends” may have caught a glimpse of a hilarious workplace sign in a Borg cube. It read, “This facility has gone 5,843 days without an assimilation.” On top of being a funny gag, though, the number itself was significant because the first Picard trailer was released 5,843 days after Matt Jeffries, the man who designed the original Enterprise, died.
3. The shuttlecraft Indiana Jones appeared in The Next Generation
Another computer display, another in-joke reference to a popular franchise. In The Next Generation episode “Evolution,” viewers are given a quick glimpse of the shuttlebay operations display on board the Enterprise. One of the shuttles is designated the Indiana Jones, a reference to Harrison Ford’s heroic archaeologist from Steven Spielberg’s iconic series of films.
2. Wallenberg-class transports in Picard are named after a heroic Swedish diplomat
The Picard episode “Absolute Candor” has a reference to Wallenberg-class transports whenever Picard is talking about relocating Romulans before their planet is hit by a supernova. This is a poignant reference to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War Two. All in all, it’s a telling name for a vessel meant to rescue frightened people staring mass death in the face.
1. The “Slusho” drink also featured in other J.J. Abrams productions
“Slusho” is a fictional frozen drink that has made subtle appearances in a host of J.J. Abrams productions. Uhura orders it at a bar in Star Trek and its logo is shown at a San Franciscan bar in Star Trek Into Darkness. Perhaps inspired by Quentin Tarantino, who also includes his own fictional brands in his movies, Abrams has also referenced the drink in Cloverfield, Alias, Super 8 and Fringe.