In the Project Genesis story arc, Star Trek IV The Voyage Home is preceded by Star Trek III The Search for Spock.


A gigantic alien probe is moving through space, sending out transmissions of incredible power – transmissions that completely cripple the Starfleet vessels Saratoga[N 1] and Yorktown. The probe's destination: Earth. Within the council chambers of the United Federation of Planets in San Francisco, the Klingon ambassador demands Admiral James T. Kirk be brought to justice for the creation of the Genesis device.

Kirk is eloquently defended by Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, but the President of the Federation Council is in agreement with the Klingon ambassador - Kirk must return to Earth, and stand trial for his crimes. Unaware of these occurrences. Kirk and his crew (McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov and Saavik) have been on the planet Vulcan, repairing their captured Klingon Bird of Prey (rechristened the Bounty by Dr. McCoy), and awaiting the recovery of their former shipmate Spock, who has been undergoing extensive retraining of his mind, following the successful completion of the fal-tor-pan (refusion of mind and body).

He is able to answer a series of complex intellectual problems put to him by a computer, but does not know how to respond to the inquiry “how do you feel?” His mother Amanda reminds Spock that he has been (once again) trained “ . . . in the Vulcan way, so you may not understand feelings, but as my son,” she says, “you have them. They will resurface,”

Meanwhile, the mysterious probe has reached Earth where, having received no response to any of it's transmissions, it creates a cloud cover around the planet that neutralises all the power systems, and leaves the home world of the United Federation of Planets completely defenceless. In the headquarters of Starfleet Command, the President of the U.F.P. Council initiates emergency evacuation plans.

As storms of ever increasing magnitude devestate the planet, Ambassador Sarek advises the President to transmit a planetary distress signal – warning all ships away from Earth – while there is still time. On Vulcan, Kirk and his crew, joined once again by the seemingly recovered Spock, decide to return to Earth, to stand trial for the theft and destruction of the Enterprise. Saavik remains behind. As they approach Earth, they are puzzled by the lack of any Federation escort, until Uhura receives the Council President's distress signal.

Picking up the probe's transmissions, and learning they are being directed towards Earth's oceans, Spock concludes they are intended to be received by a life form other than man. The transmissions are the songs sung by humpback whales – a species long since extinct on Earth of the 23rd Century. There is one slim chance, however: if they can bring a whale from the past into their time, it may be able to establish contact with the probe.

Over Dr. McCoy's strenuous objections, Kirk decides to attempt the journey through time. Using the slingshot effect first discovered aboard the Enterprise, the Bounty whips around the sun, warping out of it's own era and into the 20th Century, but the trip has taken it's toll: the ship's dilithium is de-crystallising, and unless some way can be found of reversing the process, they will not have enough power to return to their own time.

Uhura detects whalesong coming from San Francisco. Landing their cloaked ship in Golden Gate Park, Kirk splits the crew up to better accomplish their objectives. He and Spock will attempt to locate the whales, McCoy, Scotty and Sulu will find a factory to manufacture plexiglass for a whale tank, and Uhura and Chekov will infiltrate a nearby naval base's nuclear reactor, to siphon off the high energy photons needed to recrystallise the dilithium. Kirk and Spock journey to the Cetacean Institute in Sausalito, where they meet it's assistant director, Dr. Gillian Taylor, and her two special charges – George and Gracie, the only humpback whales in captivity.

Spock enters the whale's tank, and mindmelds with Gracie, to inform her of their intentions. Kirk is somewhat less successful in communicating with Dr. Taylor: after she informs him that the whales are to be released the next day, into the open sea, where they will be at the mercy of the whale hunter's ships, he attempts to convince her that he can take George and Gracie someplace where they won't be hunted. He informs her that he is actually from the 23rd Century, and hopes to return the whales to his time, but when he refuses to give Gillian any proof, she refuses to help him. She leaves Kirk in a seemingly deserted area of Golden Gate Park, and he tells her that this is where he'll be, if she changes her mind.

Meanwhile McCoy and Scotty, posing as visitors from Edinbrugh, have been receiving a tour of Plexicorp from Dr. Nichols, one of it's scientists. After seeing the company has the plexiglass they will need to construct the whale tank, Scott offers Dr. Nichols an enticing deal. In exchange for a few thousand dollars worth of materials, he will give Dr. Nichols the formula for transparent aluminum, a discovery that will make him “wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice”. Nichols agrees to the deal, just as Sulu is receiving some first hand instructions on how to handle the controls of a Huey 205 helicopter.

Chekov and Uhura have discovered the nuclear energy they need access to is located aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise. They beam in and attach Scotty's jury rigged photon collector to the reactor room walls. At last the job is finished, and Uhura beams back aboard the Bounty with the collector. Chekov is captured by naval personnel, however. He falls and is gravely injured while attempting to escape.

Gillian returns to the institute, and discovers the whales have been released a day early to avoid a publicity crush. In desperation, she returns to Golden Gate Park in time to witness a Huey 205 lowering huge sheets of plexiglass into what looks like thin air. Kirk was telling the truth! The next minute she finds herself aboard the Bounty, where she informs Kirk that the whales are already gone. Uhura discovers Chekov is hospitalised in Mercy Hospital in critical condition, and is not expected to survive.

With the help of Dr. Taylor, Kirk and McCoy are able to locate and treat Chekov, and following a madcap chase through the hospital, all return safely to the Bounty. Gillian provides Kirk with the frequancy of the radio transmitters attached to George and Gracie, and convinces him to let her return to the future with them. The ship reaches the whales just as a whaling ship is about to harpoon them. The Bounty de cloaks, - scaring the hunters away – and beams the whales aboard. Next stop: the 23rd Century.

The Bounty repeats it's slingshot manoeuvre around the sun, and returns to it's own time. Disabled by the probe, the vessel crashlands in San Francisco Bay, near Starfleet Command Headquaters. The crew abandons ship, and Kirk is able to release the whales before the ship sinks. They communicate with the probe, apparently to it's satisfaction. The mysterious entity departs, and the threat to Earth is ended.

Summoned before the United Federation of Planets Council, Kirk and his shipmates are exonerated of all charges except one, a charge directed at Kirk alone: disobeying orders of a superior officer. He is demoted to Captain, and returned to that duty “for which he has repeatedly demonstrated unswerving ability: the command of a starship.”

Sarek admits to his son that he now approves of Spock's Starfleet career, and of his choice in shipmates. Spock requests that his father relay a message to Amanda: “Tell her I feel fine.” Kirk and his crew shuttle toward their new vessel: a starship designated “Enterprise NCC-1701-A.”[1]

Errors and ExplanationsEdit

The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic TrekkersEdit

Plot OversightsEdit

  1. Whales having the ability to transmit over interstellar distances without humanity realising. Perhaps the frequencies used are equivalent to those of a dog whistle.
  2. The probe tearing everything up after not initially making contact with the whales. The intelligence controlling the probe probably regards humanity as not worthy of living.
  3. Ships in the opening sequence that are affected by the probe lose power and come to an almost complete stop. In the vacuum of space, air friction does not exist, so they should keep going the same speed they were before. The control system could be programmed to bring ships to a complete stop following total power loss as a safety measure. [N 2]
  4. Mention of Leningrad as one of the area affected by the probe. See my comment on this in the entry for I, Mudd.
  5. Saavik claiming that this is the first chance she has had to explain David's bravery to Kirk. They were probably too busy with other business.
  6. Spock claiming that the message from the President stated the Probe's transmission is being directed at the oceans. The President's warning stated that the transmission from the probe were vaporising the oceans, making them the only part of Earth's ecosystem being directly connected to the transmission.
  7. Spock persuading the whales, via a mind meld, to allow themselves to be transported through time by humans, despite knowing their species will be driven to near extinction by humanity in the near future. It is more likely that Spock informed the whales that taking them to the future is the best way to prevent the extinction.
  8. The direction of time travel being determined by which way you travel round the sun. This depends on whether or not you are traveling against the Sun's rotation
  9. The president tells the Klingon ambassador that "Admiral Kirk has been charged with nine violations of Starfleet regulations." In the courtroom scene, the crew was collectively charged with six violations. The other charges - most likely assault on the guards and temporary imprisonment of 'Mr Adventure' - could have been quietly dropped. [N 3]

Changed PremesisEdit

  1. Kirk stating that it's a forgone conclusion the natives have never seen an extra-terrestrial. Kirk is referring to confirmed face to face contact, which in his reality isn't due to take place until early April 2063 - over three quarters of a century away.

Equipment OdditiesEdit

  1. The Klingon Ambassador having access to images of the destruction of Enterprise, which he is showing the Federation Council. These could have been automatically transmitted to the Klingon Empire without Kirk and the others realising.
  2. The Klingon ship the crew is on is supposed to be the same ship they acquired at the end of the previous film, yet the bridge looks nothing like the bridge in that movie, despite all the displays still being in Klingon rather than English. They've probably reconfigured the bridge during their three month stay, but were unable to install a compatible computer system.[N 4]
  3. The Universal translator not working on whale song The capability may have lapsed following the encounters with the Xindi, due to the need to have a living member of the species to provide reference samples.

Nit CentralEdit

  1. Peter Stoller on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 9:35 pm: No one else seems to have asked why they needed to land their BoP in Golden Gate Park instead of leaving it in orbit. There's still no good reason to do so. Darth Sarcasm on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:40 am: Um... Scotty says the time travel drained the crystals, leaving them only with power for another 24 hours if they remained cloaked. The power drain was so significant at one point that he could only beam Uhura and Chekov one at a time. Leaving the ship cloaked in orbit would have significantly drained the crystals even further. So yes, an explanation was given.
  2. Darth Sarcasm on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:40 am: No explanation was ever given for why (with their power drain being so great) they beamed Spock and Kirk back aboard the ship when extending the ramp would have been more energy efficient (and it would have saved Chekov a trip to the hospital).Peter Stoller on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 6:39 pm: I thought of that one too, the power issue. Scotty reports that after a given time, "They'll be no way of breaking out of Earth's gravity." Using the transporter throughout their visit instead of the gangway, that may be their idea of keeping the ship incognito. Transporters seem to have an effective range of a few thousand miles or kilometers, in this case it was used for ranges of less than 50 miles maximum and often less than 100 yards. That could be the best reason to land, to conserve what transporter power they do use. Not to mention allowing them to power down most other systems as well, including life support. R on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 8:48 pm: They would be able to deactivate and otherwise turn down enough systems to let the cloak stay active while on earth. I have had to do something similar to that when a car of mine's alternator went out. What you do is try and balance the needed electrical systems (such as cloak or headlights if in a car) with the systems you don't really need (such as life support. or the radio) Which does help explain why they might have landed. No one has ever said if short range transporter hops use less energy than long range ones but that is also another reason for landing. And before anyone says anything about the communicators they were probably using regular old radio waves only on higher or lower frequencies than what we totally pick up or they still broadcast on something that was picked up and was written off by the MIB as spurious radio signals. But to clarify and summarize. Landing let them shut off unused, unnecessary, or otherwise unrequired systems that staying in orbit would not allow them to do. They would have had to at the very least keep life support on, sensors, navigational systems, and manouevering thrusters. Landing they could open a window, turn all manouvering and navigation systems off and leave the bare minimum on.

Internet Movie DatabaseEdit

Audio/visual unsynchronisedEdit

  1. Immediately after the whales' transponders are located in the Bering Sea, Gillian can be seen to mouth "How did you do that?" without sound, then she is immediately seen and heard giving the same line from another camera angle. The level of surprise could be affecting her voice.
  2. After Sulu says "9.3" during the first time warp, Kirk says "We need breakaway speed!" However, his lips continue moving afterwards. (IMDB) Presumably he says "We need breakaway speed, Mr. Sulu!"

Character errorEdit

  1. When trying to get in to the treatment room with Chekov, Dr.McCoy says Gillian has "Acute, postprandial upper abdominal distention", which he later says means "cramps". It would actually mean "gas": "acute" = (of disease) brief and severe; "postprandial" = after a meal; "upper abdominal" relating to the area of the stomach; "distension" = the state of being stretched beyond normal dimensions. The gas could be causing cramp like symptoms.
  2. At the end of the movie after Kirk and crew stand trial, Sarek and Spock have a brief conversation. He tells Spock he recalls that he "opposed your enlistment in Starfleet." However, Spock did not enlist in Starfleet. He was an officer and went to Starfleet Academy. This could be considered a form of enlistment.


  1. At the end when the camera pans the crew just before their pardon, Scotty wears the rank pin of a Commander. This is despite his being promoted to Captain in the previous film, being listed in this film's credits as "Captain Montgomery Scott," and wearing Captain's pins in the next film. He probably expected to be reduced in rank for his part in the rescue of Spock, and changed the insignia accordingly.
  2. After Spock nerve pinches the punk, the punk's head falls on the radio and probably hits the off switch, killing the music. Kirk resumes normal speech, but Spock is still speaking louder than necessary. He may be temporarily harder of hearing - either that or he thinks Kirk may be.
  3. Scotty doesn't have enough power to beam up both Uhura and Chekov together, so Chekov gives Uhurua the device with the stored nuclear energy and tells her to go first. No one says anything to Scotty, so how does he know who to beam up? He is probably locking on to whoever is holding the collector.

Factual errorsEdit

  1. During an early scene on the Klingon vessel, Sulu says "Estimating 1.6 hours to planet Earth." The ship does not appear to be traveling at warp speed, so a journey from Vulcan, which is been shown to be 16 light years away, would take far longer than 1.6 hours (at least 16 years). Just because the ship appears to be traveling slower than light speed, it doesn't means it is!

Incorrectly regarded as goofsEdit

  1. When Spock is being tested by the computer, some camera angles are shot through the display screens. The text when viewed from the back is still displayed forward. This can be explained as a feature of a holographic alien device from the future rather than a goof.
  2. Checkov states that the nuclear vessel they find is called the Enterprise. While it is actually the USS Ranger (CV-61), in this film the Ranger "plays" the Enterprise, much like an actor playing a part.
  3. The first time Kirk and the crew boomerang around the Sun to achieve time travel, the ship nearly breaks apart, with things popping and exploding on the bridge. But the second time they do the same, it appears to be a relatively smooth ride. Apparently, the second time Spock managed to calculate the ship's trajectory better than the first time. In a previous scene Kirk teaches Spock to use human intuition in order to solve the return trajectory problem. Perhaps the intuitive approach had paid off.
  4. When Spock nerve pinches the punk on the bus, his music appears to stop even though no one actually turns it off. It can be presumed that the punk's head hits the 'off' switch.

Plot holesEdit

  1. The crew at Starfleet HQ in San Francisco shout and point, "There, There!" as to indicate the descent of the commandeered Klingon Ship as Kirk and crew return through the clouds, yet the cloud cover is so thick that nothing past the bridge can be seen, so how could the Admiral see the ship, let alone know that it was coming? He probably spotted it through one of the gaps in the cloud.
  2. Kirk, Gillian, and McCoy are able to rescue Chekov from the hospital. However, Chekov's phaser is still in the possession of the military agents that had originally arrested him. While McCoy earlier in the film airs his concern to Scotty about leaving advanced technology (Plexiglas scene) or information of same in the past, no concern is given to Chekov's phaser, which is left behind.The Phaser is probably dismissed as a fake.


  1. Listed in the original compendium summary as Sheppard
  2. Listed under Factual Errors in the Internet Movie Database entry.
  3. Listed under Character Error in the Internet Movie Database entry.
  4. Listed under Continuity in the Internet Movie Database entry


  1. Asherman, Allen. The Star Trek Compendium - Third edition. Titan Books Ltd. 1993. ISBN 1 85286 472 9 Pages 165-167

The Movies
Original Series: The Motion Picture I The Wrath of Khan I The Search for Spock I The Voyage Home I The Final Frontier I The Undiscovered Country
Next Generation: Generations I First Contact I Insurrection I Nemesis
JJ Abrams Reality: Star Trek I Star Trek Into Darkness I Star Trek Beyond