I am a fan of Star Trek. I've watched most episodes of all the series (especially Star Trek: the Next Generation, and not counting Star Trek: Enterprise), I've seen the movies, I can even tell you how Captain Picard likes his tea.

I watched Star Trek Into Darkness, and I liked it. It certainly has its flaws, but overall I quite enjoyed it.

However, there seem to be purists who consider it one of the worst Star Trek movies ever, maybe even worse than Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

What are some Star Trek-related reasons that a Star Trek fan would rank this film near the bottom of the list of Star Trek films?

This is not meant to imply that only a Trekkie could hate the movie nor that a Trekkie could only hate it for Trek-related reasons. I am just curious about the phenomenon of Trekkies hating it for Trek-related reasons.

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    You're making a set of assumptions here, not all of them right. E.g. I'm NOT a purist (I'm probably not even a "real" Trekkie, having never watched DS9 or most of TOS). Yet I found ItD to be an bad film - not as "Star Trek" but as a film in general, so the bad opinions don't necessarily get caused by "purism". Leaving that aside, your question is likely not answerable in the Stack Exchange format, as it is likely to solicit opinion more than verifiable answers. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 21:50
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    @Woody - I'm gonna have to see actual survey that proves the bad opinions are "mainly" purists before conceding your assertion. My personal anecdotal experience (not just me but most of my peer cohort) is the opposite. Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 21:53
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    @Woody — I don't understand how any of DVK's statements could be interpreted to suggest that it is "objectively a bad movie". As for "there is a notion out there" … there are lots of notions out there, but that doesn't mean they are majority opinions, even within a specific group. I would expect "True X fans should hate X 2" to be quite a common opinion among X fans who hated X 2 for any given value of X.
    – Quentin
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 22:06
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    This is one of the most opinion-based questions I've ever seen stay open.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:29
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    Why is this closed as "opinion based"? The querant is not asking for our opinion, but rather for (as the answer shows) well documented responses by the audience.
    – SQB
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 10:35

2 Answers 2


Into Darkness contradicts prior Star Trek canon in disturbing ways and at the same time ends up lampooning elements of Wrath of Khan, a beloved Star Trek film.

I'm a Star Trek "purist", but also a film fan in general, and I believe the fundamental problem with Into Darkness is that it makes no sense. (Case in point: Why would Khan hide his friends in torpedoes? Why would he run off leaving them in weapons that will eventually be inspected...or even used?!)

But you asked for Star Trek-related reasons, and so I will give them to you.

Transporter range

"Transporter range" is a fluid concept in Star Trek, being whatever it needs to be for a particular episode. But it has never been quadrant-sized (unless you are the Iconians, but that's another story....) Into Darkness presents the idea that you can now just transport from Earth to Qo'noS (the Klingon homeworld, near the Alpha and Beta Quadrant border). They try to justify it with Scotty's transwarp beaming equations, but why did the same idea not develop in the prime timeline between Scotty's time and, say, the Next Generation era?

Magic blood

McCoy is a smart man in any timeline. Why would he not realize in the prime timeline that Khan's blood can bring the dead back to life? (Or maybe the question is: why would McCoy in the reboot timeline be injecting dead Tribbles with Khan's blood for fun? What's up with that?) The answer for why we never saw this before is that the idea is silly. In Into Darkness, death is irrelevant now. Many fans found this upsetting.


Great lengths were taken to trick the audience before this film came out. Orci, Kurtzman, Abrams, and Lindelof had settled on the idea that they would parallel / remake Wrath of Khan to some extent, but didn't want the viewership to know about this until they were in the cinema on opening night.

To do this, they constructed the character of "John Harrison", played by Benedict Cumberbatch who looks nothing like Khan in the prime timeline (played by Ricardo Montalban). Cumberbatch and others attached to Into Darkness gave responses that were technically true but not spiritually true during interviews, in order maintain the ruse. For example:

"I play a character called John and not that other name," Benedict continued. "It’s interesting. Speculation is speculation and that’s all fun."


But despite all of the statements to the contrary, Cumberbatch's character was indeed Khan. Recall that Khan was born in the 20th Century, before the timelines diverged, and so there is no reason for drastic changes of appearance. Some things are always in the eye of the beholder, but they really look nothing alike. Putting Cumberbatch's popularity and acting credentials aside, it's not crazy to think he was cast at least in part to throw off fans and ensure the surprise of the eventual Khan reveal. That's not a good motivation to cast someone.

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Furthermore, the Khan character in Into Darkness has confusing motivations, from the point of view of long-term Star Trek fans. This new Khan was overly emotionally concerned with his "family" (other genetic augments) and cried over his inability to protect them. It's hard to assess this point without veering into opinion, but this doesn't seem to be a sound interpretation of Khan as we knew him in "Space Seed" and Wrath. This was a man who ruled a quarter of the world with an iron fist. The Khan of the prime timeline, while displaying respect for his fellow augments and measured affection towards his lover Marla McGivers, was never shown to be moved to tears over their plight, even at the height of their despair on Ceti Alpha V as he recounted the deaths of many of them in addition to that of his wife. In that same scene in Wrath, he reaffirmed how the other augments were to "live and die by my command". This new Khan, who is supposed to be the same man who fought through the same Eugenics Wars and experienced the same exile from Earth, seemed as if he might not sacrifice a single one of them for any reason.

enter image description here

Overall, the mid-movie Khan-reveal gambit did not pay off and fans were left debating whether or not the portrayal was accurate instead of focusing on the plot.

The Kirk death scene

Finally, Kirk's death scene came off as a parody of Spock's in Wrath of Khan, especially with the Khan scream. It simply didn't work, nor was there any in-universe reason for them to repeat exact lines from Wrath at a different time and under different circumstances.

Some Further Reading

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    @Adamant : Done. (I resisted citing articles at first precisely because I didn't want it to seem that I was toeing the "party line" and just repeating other Trekkies' complaints. So for posterity, let me just say that my write-up above was fully composed before I added in any references.)
    – Praxis
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 3:41
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    One point maybe also: How the heck did a constitution class ship manage to get to Kronos without a single klingon space ship trying to hail it or stop it?! (never could wrap my head around that one.....and then a second even bigger ship appears in the same system without any klingon defense ships showing up).....pacifist demilitarizied klingons?
    – Thomas
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 7:59
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    @Thomas : Starships also seem to be able to warp from Qo'noS to Earth in a few minutes, as the Vengeance chase scene seems to suggest.
    – Praxis
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 15:39
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    @Adamant: "maybe it would be helpful to add some references (articles etc.) indicating that these opinions are widespread" - please do note that one of the issues that fans have with Into Darkness (and also some other parts of the Abramsverse) is that you do not have to venture deeply into opinion territory, but you can simply stick with the facts as shown on screen to stumble over plot problems. Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 17:34
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    Hollywood is business. The Abrams movies were engineered by the studio to fill seats in order to maximize return on a big-budget investment. That means broad appeal, not catering to a niche fan base. So they took everything iconic about the original series and jammed it into a formula comedy/action/adventure movie - the kind which always costs a lot but sells really well. Canon be damned, you've got all the recognizable characters saying and doing their trademark things, a cool Enterprisey-looking spaceship, and lots of ray gun and explosion action; what more could anyone want?
    – Anthony X
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 2:17

JJ Abrams himself has expressed regrets about how Into Darkness played out. In this Buzzfeed interview

But by the time we started shooting, and this was literally at the very beginning of the shoot, there were certain things I was unsure of.

And I found this comment to be quite astute (emphasis mine)

"I felt like, in a weird way, it was a little bit of a collection of scenes that were written by my friends — brilliantly talented writers — who I somehow misled in trying to do certain things. And yet, I found myself frustrated by my choices, and unable to hang my hat on an undeniable thread of the main story,” Abrams said. “So then I found myself on that movie basically tap-dancing as well as I could to try and make the sequences as entertaining as possible. Thank god I had the cast that we have, who are so unbelievably fun to watch. And an incredible new villain in Benedict Cumberbatch."

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    Yeah, it was bad, but, you see, it's not my fault, but my friends'...
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 1:13
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    ... My writer friends ate my homework.... Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 15:42

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