Near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,

Spock dies of radiation exposure

There are rather obvious hints that this may not be the end, for example

the whole "Genesis is life from lifelessness" introduction


the fact that Spock's coffin/torpedo was fired at the Genesis planet at all (why not space or a star?)


McCOY: He's really not dead.... ( As long as we remember him. )


KIRK: As your teacher Mister Spock is fond of saying, 'I like to think there always are ...possibilities.'


the ominous shot: "the torpedo coffin lays in a clearing in the new, verdant forest on the Genesis planet"

So how much of Star Trek III:The Search for Spock was determined at the time of writing of Khan?

  • 3
    I was going to comment "all of it", but in my Search for Script Notes I have found surprisingly little evidence of that, i.e. none whatsoever. Indeed, Bennett started writing ST3 after ST2 (though just days after the latter's release) and there's no indication that there were existing story notes as far back as ST2, certainly none that influenced the development of ST2 itself. Hum. Dec 12, 2015 at 22:11
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Well, certainly some of the ideas permitting the resurrection must have been at the back of the writer's mind. It doesn't have to have been literally written down. If it wasn't the case, someone sure lucked out that there were enough accidental breadcrumbs in TWOK to permit TSFS to exist. Dec 12, 2015 at 22:24
  • Frankly, it's starting to look like that was the case. I am as surprised as you, given the little hints in ST2 that Spock could return. But the more I read about it the more it seems to be true. The writer of ST3 even thought that Nimoy had chosen to leave Star Trek in ST2 due to disputes (and would therefore not want to come back) until Nimoy assured him that this was not the case. It seems that those hints really were just "hey, you never know..." moments. Dec 12, 2015 at 22:29
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    @T-1000'sSon: What's the harm? Dec 12, 2015 at 23:16
  • 1
    @T-1000'sSon: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/a/1562/3823 Dec 12, 2015 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


Not too much was apparently planned throughout most of the filming, since this article mentions:

Paramount also really wanted Nicholas Meyer to return as director for Star Trek III, but after he read the script Meyer passed. His reason being is that he felt Spock's death should have been final, and to resurrect him so soon was underselling the franchise.

And this interview with Nicholas Meyer quotes him saying that both the shot of Spock saying "remember" to McCoy and the coffin on the Genesis planet were done against his wishes, after the movie had already been shot:

When Paramount saw the movie, when Leonard saw the movie, and everybody said, “Well, gee. Gee. Maybe killing him isn’t such a good idea.” And at that point, we got into the whole thing about “Remember” and showing his coffin on the planet, and stuff like that. All of which at the time I furiously objected to. I just thought this was so unfair to an audience of people who really care about this sh-t, and then saying, “You know, oh, it was just a dry hustle.” No, I didn’t think that was right. And in retrospect, you know, maybe I was wrong about that. At the time, I just thought that my vision of the thing was being insensitively overruled. But that’s when they made that insert, about “Remember” and put him on the planet in his torpedo.

So, this stuff would not have been in the shooting script, since Nicholas Meyer wrote that himself based on drafts by other writers (see this excerpt from Meyer's memoir).

Additionally, p. 249-250 of this biography of DeForest Kelley says that the revised ending was written by Harve Bennett, and that it included the dialogue about "possibilities" on the bridge and Spock's closing voice-over:

The first preview audiences agreed: the shock and grief were too much. Bennett set about to modify the ending. Meyer objected but did not stand in the way of the new material. The rewrite included an end scene on the bridge ("There are always possibilities"), a sequence shot by ILM in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, revealing Spock's torpedo casket intact on the planet, and the use of Nimoy's voice in the closing Star Trek credo ("Space, the final frontier").

This site has scripts for TNG and DS9 as well as the movies, including the script for Wrath of Khan, and I presume it's the shooting script since it has most of the movie we know but doesn't have the "Remember" scene. It does feature a description of Spock's coffin being shot off towards the Genesis planet:

Spock's remains seen on their way to the new world. The capsule grows too small to SEE. The bagpipes STOP.

But just because Meyer included this scene doesn't necessarily mean he was thinking in terms of the planet resurrecting Spock, it may have been more like a poetic juxtaposition of the end of Spock's life and the new life represented by the planet (and Kirk's line to McCoy that he feels "young" is also in this script, which would fit this sort of contrast).

  • This is great stuff. What I don't get, is that even if you remove the 'Remember!' and the shot of the coffin, there are still an awful lot of hints. It seems like Meyer just thought it became too unsubtle, but he seems to be implying no hints were present. I don't get it. I mean, shooting the coffin at the Genesis planet doesn't make any sense at all unless you are trying to set something up for later and it doesn't seem like that is a change that was added. Dec 12, 2015 at 23:06
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    @ThePopMachine: The only "explanation" I can come up with is that it would have been a nice place to lay the bloke to rest: a brand new planet, full of brand new life (and eventually, who knows, even new civilisations?). Actually, yeah: the more I think about it, take away the reincarnation aspect and this does still seem like a perfectly reasonable decision. Dec 12, 2015 at 23:27
  • @ThePopMachine - "I mean, shooting the coffin at the Genesis planet doesn't make any sense at all unless you are trying to set something up for later and it doesn't seem like that is a change that was added" - Well, the second two quotes mention the actual shot of the coffin on the planet was added at the last minute. Looking at the transcript here, there doesn't seem to be any dialogue in the funeral scene about the coffin being sent to the Genesis planet, it's only suggested in dialogue by the captain's log which could be another late addition.
    – Hypnosifl
    Dec 12, 2015 at 23:38
  • @Hypnosifl: Yes, but I just rewatched the shot of the torpedo being fired and the shot of it approaching and hitting (landing on) the planet isn't exactly simple, so it would take deliberate planning to create that shot. Not saying it couldn't have been done, but another effects shot is a bigger deal than a couple lines added. It would be great if we could get any info on whether it was always shot at Genesis planet or not. Dec 12, 2015 at 23:50
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    @ThePopMachine shooting the coffin at the planet doesn't necessarily make sense, but it is a good cinematic contrast. As one life ends, new life is busting out all over.
    – Mohair
    Dec 13, 2015 at 16:05

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