In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock tragically sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise. During his funeral, his body is jettisoned from the ship onto the planet Genesis.

In the following film, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Sarek criticizes Kirk for not bringing his body to Vulcan instead.

Sarek: Why did you leave him on Genesis! Spock trusted you. You denied him his future!

Kirk: I saw no future.

Sarek: Only his body was in death, Kirk. And you were the last one to be with him.

Kirk: Yes, I was.

Sarek: Then you must know that you should have come with him to Vulcan.

After Kirk asks questions about what he means, Sarek clarifies.

Sarek: I had assumed he mind-melded with you. It is the Vulcan way ...when the body's end is near.

However, Lt. Saavik, another Vulcan, was aboard the Enterprise when all this happened. Why didn't she ask these same questions about whom Spock might have mind-melded with? Why didn't she investigate more into this and advocate for bringing Spock's body to Vulcan, rather than jettisoning it to the planet?

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    Worth noting that this wasn't the first time no Vulcan told the humans on the Enterprise about a vital part of the Vulcan life cycle and culture, nearly getting Spock killed. The same thing happened in "Amok Time."
    – Davislor
    Jul 23, 2018 at 8:18
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    Of course the real reason is 100% "out-of-universe" and all the reasons given here or implied in "Search for Spock" are retconned. By the end of production of "Wrath of Khan" Nimoy was more or less warming up to the idea of a comeback, but nobody knew yet what that would look like. The whole "remember" thing was added at the last minute (I believe it was Nimoy's idea) as a way to leave a vague unexplained nugget in place which could be used later to manufacture an explanation. Worst case if the comeback didn't pan out it could just be shrugged of. I have no sources, so providing as a comment. Jul 23, 2018 at 14:59
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    Tuvak expressed doubt about the Vulcan 'soul' Katra so maybe this lies in the mystical realm of Vulcan culture and is not fully embraced by the whole populace.
    – user95188
    Mar 26, 2019 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


The katra refusion belief seems to have been somewhat limited

It's not clear how much of Vulcan believed in katra and its various uses, but it's clear that the idea of rejoining body and soul was a belief most Vulcans did not share. We've not seen any other Vulcans use katra like Sarek and Spock have. Even Sarek himself wasn't sure it would work.

SAREK: I ask for fal-tor-pan, the refusion.
PRIESTESS: What you seek has not been done since ages past, and then, only in legend. Your request is not logical.
SAREK: Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.

Spock's body was radioactive material

Spock dying from radiation exposure

One of the major problems with trying to bring Spock back in general was that his body had absorbed a lethal dose of radiation. That Spock dies within minutes speaks to how much radiation he was exposed to. Even if she has been a believer in katra refusion, Spock's body was far beyond any use. It's only after having been regenerated on Genesis that the refusion was even an option.

She might not have known Spock did the katra thing with McCoy

Saavik was on the bridge when it happened. By the time Sarek confronts Kirk, Saavik had already been reassigned to assist the USS Grissom in investigating Genesis. It would make sense that she didn't have time to review it herself.

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    "Even if she has been a believer in katra refusion, Spock's body was far beyond any use." - I agree, but then it's Sarek whose words make little sense in that apparently he expected Spock's body to be brought to Vulcan rather than onto the Genesis planet. Jul 23, 2018 at 13:00
  • @O.R.Mapper Given that Sarek didn't know any of the details of Spock's death (assuming that Spock had given Kirk the katra), I think Sarek had simply been told of Spock's death and assumed it was something simple that they could repair and then refuse. Sarek gives up hope when he is told Spock couldn't touch Kirk (I always found it odd that they left the radiation part out).
    – Machavity
    Jul 23, 2018 at 13:06
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    The "normal" path is the collect the katras and store them as repositories of knowledge and wisdom. They have a way by which they can call up a katra to ask it a question.
    – Joshua
    Jul 23, 2018 at 15:28
  • @Joshua Isn't that The Matrix?
    – gidds
    Dec 4, 2023 at 11:49

Possbility 1:

I think this is a misinterpretation of this line

Sarek: Then you must know that you should have come with him to Vulcan.

By 'with him' Sarek is referring to Spock's Katra, not his body. Saavik probably either assumed the same thing as Sarek (that Kirk had the Katra and would thus know what to do with it) or believed that Spock's Katra was simply gone.

So that leaves the question of why Sarek would say this...

Sarek: Why did you leave him on Genesis!

Perhaps it's typical or preferable to have both the body and the Katra available for the death rituals. However, even in this case, it's likely that Saavik, knowing more about the details of Spock's death, knew that there was no Katra and thus nothing to be done.

Possbility 2:

Though not mentioned on screen in the final film, the original script refers to Saavik as half-Vulcan, half-Romulan. In that case it's quite likely that her upbringing might not have exposed her to the full extent of Vulcan traditions and death rituals. So not suggesting the body should be brought back to Vulcan may have been an act of ignorance.

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