Star Trek’s Most Cringe Worthy Movie Moments

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With Star Trek Into Darkness coming out in just a few weeks I’d thought it would be fun to go through the franchise’s twelve most cringe worthy moments.  This can be anything from strange outfits, weird decisions, odd sequences, and embarrassing moments… pretty much anything that makes you roll your eyes, sigh, or shake and hang your head in shame.   There are some great Star Trek films and others that fall a bit flat to say the least and even the best Trek films can have some really awful moments.  Let’s kick the list off with-

12. Drunk Troi in First Contact

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Seven years of The Next Generation plus one film and there was never one scene featuring an intoxicated member of the crew but leave it to Lt. Commander Deanna Troi to be a drunken floozy within hours of going back to Earth in the past.  This is the first of two alcohol related misnomers on this list and at least this one makes a little bit of sense but Marina Sirtis’ drunken acting is just as bad as some of her Season One “telepathic” acting.

Star Trek: First Contact – Blu-ray, DVD

11. Striking a Pose in The Undiscovered Country

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Star Trek VI is one of my favorite films of the franchise; it has a good script, a tense finale, and is a proper sendoff for the crew of the Enterprise.  One thing however that has bothered me for over two decades… the lame applause sequence with Kirk, Sulu and Scotty striking poses in front of the podium after saving the life of the Federation President.  It’s just so staged looking with both Sulu and Scotty putting one foot up on the higher step and then turning to acknowledge the applauding crowd.  It didn’t sit well with me as a child; I remember letting out an audible grown at the age of 9 and my feelings have only grown stronger in the years since.  It’s one of Nicholas Meyer’s only major mistakes in his two Trek films.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Blu-rayDVD

10. The Uniforms of The Motion Picture

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There’s a lot of issues with Star Trek’s first foray into motion pictures but one of its most unforgivable qualities is the ugly pastel and Earth toned colored uniforms.  These uniforms would only last for one single film but they’re memorable for all the wrong reasons.  There’s a lot of variety with long sleeve, short sleeve, round neck, v-neck, assorted colors and more but they’re all ugly.  Even worse is that the uniforms are unflattering and leave little to the imagination especially in the crotch area of some of the crew.  The only uniforms that actually look decent are those of Admiral Kirk who has some special Admiral uniforms with greater varieties of colors and cuts.  Obviously the powers that be knew these uniforms had to go because by The Wrath of Khan they were replaced with uniforms that were used in all the subsequent TOS movies.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Blu-rayDVD

9. Worf gets plastered in Nemesis

Star Trek Nemesis Worf drunk.JPG

Worf is one of the most badass characters Star Trek has ever created but for whatever reason he’s more often than not treated as a buffoon in the TNG films.  His preferred drink might be prune juice but he’s been shown numerous times handling his liquor quite well.  For whatever reason in Nemesis he’s nearly passed out on a table at the Riker wedding after consuming Romulan Ale.  This is one of the more severe cases of trying to change the character dynamic fans grew to love on the show to something different for the movies, and it just doesn’t work.  Worf is one of the franchise’s funniest characters; on the show he’s sarcastic, a fish out of water, and asocial and not made to look like a fool by being nearly passed out complaining about Irving Berlin.

Star Trek: Nemesis – Blu-rayDVD

8.  The H.M.S Pinafore Sing-a-Long from Insurrection

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After First Contact I was eagerly awaiting another TNG film and boy was I not in for a treat.  Never in a million years did I think I’d see a Star Trek Sing-A-Long but Insurrection did it and did it poorly.  Not only is it just strange and misguided but it is lazily handled; Picard hits two… yes two buttons to bring up a karaoke style rendition of the H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan that Picard and Worf begin to sing to distract Data.  I know it’s the 24th century but even on an Enterprise shuttlecraft I think you’d have to hit more than two buttons to start up the Startfleet karaoke machine complete with a bouncing ball.  A well done and unique shuttlecraft chase scene is ruined by this awful garbage designed to get laughs when none are needed.

Star Trek: Insurrection - Blu-rayDVD

7. Scotty and Uhura are lovers in The Final Frontier

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Why?  Why was this needed?  The Motion Picture had Captain Decker and Ilia, Wrath of Khan had Kirk and Carol Marcus, The Voyage Home had Kirk and Gillian.  What did those movies not have?  That’s right… any kind of love story involving Scotty or Uhura.  It’s the very definition of cringe worthy; Scotty’s stomach almost keeps him from reaching the control panels and Uhura’s frost tipped Bride of Frankenstein hairdo and knee high boots are frightening and far from sexy.  I think this unwise pairing was dreamed up just to pad Star Trek V’s already weak script with a couple extra minutes of dialogue that is about as arousing as listening to your grandparents talk dirty to each other.   Wisely by the time The Undiscovered Country was released no mention of this odd pairing was ever touched on again.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Blu-ray, DVD

6. Boob talk in Insurrection

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The second Next Generation film also marks the second appearance of Deanna Troi joined by Dr. Beverly Crusher as they talk about how their breasts are firming up thanks to youth revitalizing affects of the Ba’ku planet.  Even more awkward is that Data overhears this conversation and then discusses with Worf how their boobs are firming up as well.  This represents one of the most fundamental flaws with the TNG films; changing the dynamics of the characters by having them behave  in uncharacteristic ways from how they behaved on the show.  The first two TNG films skirted past this issue relatively well but Insurrection and Nemesis both struggled big time.

Star Trek: Insurrection - Blu-rayDVD

5. Spock’s Rocket Boots in The Final Frontier

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In this film Kirk boldly asked, “What does God need with a starship?” and I would ask William Shatner a similar question, “What does Star Trek need with rocket boots?”  They’re sloppily introduced, the effects (like many of the effects of The Final Frontier) are poor, and they represent one of many convenient and lazy plot devices featured in the film.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Blu-ray, DVD

4. Chekov’s Pink Jumper in The Search for Spock

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This is a blink or you’ll miss it moment but eagle eyed fans have been laughing about it for years.  For whatever reason when Kirk and company steal the Enterprise from space dock to head back to the Genesis planet, Chekov is dressed in a pink, childlike jumper.  He looks like one of the creepy animatronic children from the ‘It’s a Small World” ride at Disney.  Either Walter Koenig complained or someone on set finally said he resembled a real life Pinocchio because by the time the Enterprise encountered the Klingon Bird of  Prey he was dressed in a much more snazzy leather jacket ensemble.  With any luck that outfit was destroyed along with the rest of the Enterprise.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock – Blu-rayDVD

3. Riker’s 90′s era Joystick in Insurrection

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There’s cheesy and then there’s CHEESY and this qualifies in the latter.  During a tense battle inside of a dangerous nebula the Enterprise is outnumbered and outgunned.  A newly shaved Riker hatches a daring plan to collect some explosive gas, release it in front of their enemies and ignite it with a photon torpedo.  This risky plan will require some fancy piloting of the Enterprise so Riker activates the “Manual Steering Column”…  sounds cool right?  Wrong.  The Manual Steering Column turns out to be a standard off-the-shelf PC joystick from the late 90s.  I’d love to have been a fly on the wall during the production meeting where that idea emerged because nothing makes more sense than a 24th century starship having a cheap looking joystick located on the bridge in a movie that cost 40+ million dollars.  The scene still works despite the joystick but it’s a major eye rolling moment that calls into question the decision making process of the TNG films.

Star Trek: Insurrection - Blu-rayDVD

2. Tom Hardy’s picture as a young, bald Picard in Nemesis

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This one bothers me a lot because it’s lazy, insulting to the fans, and goes against the established continuity of the series.  It’s easy to suspend your disbelief that Tom Hardy is a Picard clone since this is the same universe that brought Spock back from the dead and brought whales back to the future from 1986.  What’s harder to swallow is that Picard was bald as a cadet when it’s been discussed on the show and there have been flashbacks of Picard with hair played by both by Patrick Stewart and other actors.  If it was such a big deal to use a photo of Tom Hardy portraying a young Picard they simply could have photoshopped a slight amount of hair onto him or just given him a good looking wig.  Instead there’s this shameful photo that insults a loyal fan base and shows how little the film’s production team cared or knew about the franchise they were involved in.

Star Trek: Nemesis - Blu-rayDVD

1. Uhura’s Fan Dance in The Final Frontier

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I don’t want to give the impression that woman nearing 60 years of age can’t be sexy but the thought of Uhura fan dancing either in the buff or in her Starfleet issued undies is almost the very definition of un-sexy in my mind.  The sex starved men of Nimbus III (The Planet of Intergalactic Peace) must take an “any port in the storm” thought process to women if they were so desperate to run into an obvious “honey” trap.  While I’m sure Nichelle Nichols appreciated the opportunities that Star Trek V offered to get off the bridge and stretch her acting chops a bit, this was a just a bad idea from the start.  If The Final Frontier would have had a more youthful co-star like Kristie Alley, Robin Curtis, or Kim Cattrall the idea might have worked but as it stands I always add my own squeaky door sound effects to her leg movements.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – Blu-ray, DVD

Honorable Mention

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Madea joins Starfleet in Star Trek –Tyler Perry’s cameo in J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot just reeks of being unnecessary and instantly takes me out of the flow of the film because I can’t help but think of Madea.

Star Trek – Blu-ray, DVD

That’s it; the twelve (if you don’t count the honorable mention) most cringe worthy moments in Star Trek’s storied film history. Agree, disagree, did I miss a glaringly bad moment?  Make sure to comment and let me know what you think are the most cringe worthy Star Trek moments.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum

  • Michael

    I agree with 90% of the stuff on this list. Most importantly the horrendous uniforms and clothes selections. But I enjoyed Troi drunk, i always envisioned her and Riker getting all hot and heavy after the fact when she was all wasted. The rocket boots were always a bit hokey to me in that movie. Even in the beginning when Spock ended up saving Kirk, I definitely wasn’t happy to see them reappear in the turbo shaft to save the day for a second time.

    • Nicholas Herum

      Drunk Troi is definitely one of the lesser cringe worthy moments, hence its place at the top of the list. It’s just one of those moments that never really felt right in the context of that film.

      The rocket boots are just a sign of pure screenwriting laziness.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Earl

    What’s even worse about the turbolift/boots scene in STV is the fact that they got the deck numbers wrong. In one take, Kirk, Spock and McCoy are shooting through the 70s, and in the next take, they are flying past a lower deck number.

    I was kinda looking for a note on the scene from V where Scotty knocks himself out cold on the bulkhead after claiming to know the Enterprise so well. That was nearly as bad as Worf getting plastered on Romulan Ale.

    Also, I honestly didn’t mind Nichelle Nichols/Uhura’s fan dance, but I always feel that the TNG producers cheated fandom out of a similarly memorable scene with Marina Sirtis/Troi. Didn’t have to be a fan dance, but even just a brief Risa/holodeck beach scene featuring her in the 24th century equivalent of a bikini would have worked.

    Also, good catch on the Tom Hardy baldness issue. I honestly didn’t think he looked much like Picard anyway.

    • Nicholas Herum

      I always thought the deck numbers ‘mistake’ might have been by Shatner to screw with the audience. It’s hard to imagine that mistake making it past an editor but then look at the way the rest of Star Trek V turned out so who knows?

      Drunken Scotty almost made the list but I thought three drunken characters on one list might be pushing it.

      The fan dance might have worked better 20 years earlier on the original show instead of in a movie. One aspect I always appreciated about TNG was that they didn’t overly sexualize their female leads like some later shows did (7 of 9, T’Pol) but yeah, a Troi fan dance or hanging out at the beach scene wouldn’t have been too hard on the eyes.

      That Tom Hardy moment was the breaking point for me in a film that had been teetering on the edge of disaster for a while. I checked out after that point- it’s just a bad film and a sad way to end their run. It’s like if Star Trek V would have been the last film featuring the original cast.

      Thanks for your comment!