In season 6 episode 4 of of Star Trek: TNG; Captain Scott is recovered from a transport buffer after 75 years on the Jenolen.

He asks if Jim Kirk was still alive and if he'd come to rescue him.

But in Star Trek Generations, Scotty witnesses (indirectly) Kirk's 'death' when he gets sucked into the Nexus Ribbon.

Why would Scotty think Kirk was alive if he knew Kirk was dead from the maiden voyage of the Enterprise B?

(Real world answer: Generations was written 4 years after that episode, lol)

  • Another real world answer is that Ron D. Moore, who wrote Relics and co-wrote the movie liked to play around with continuity at times.
    – Tango
    Aug 21, 2011 at 15:36
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    I think when that when scotty saw there were women dressed in tight fitting uniforms that Kirk had to be close by. Besides we know from seasons of experience that Death is not permanent of Star Trek. How many times did the same red shirts get knocked off?
    – Chad
    Aug 22, 2011 at 14:03
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    As always, it is important to remember Star Trek's long standing motto: "We Hate Continuity." atwitsendcomics.com/comics/index/23/Old-Kirk Aug 23, 2011 at 16:57

7 Answers 7


First, let's establish the timeline

  • Year that Kirk vanished: 2293
  • Year that Scotty was recovered: ~2369

That's about 76 years. Which leaves less than one year between when Kirk vanishes and when Scotty has his accident involving a Dyson sphere.

So let me paint the picture I have of the situation. Scotty, an aging Captain who is already being pushed out by the younger generation witnesses the seeming death of one of his oldest friends. Unable to deal with the tragedy he embarks on a deep space mission on a rundown ship with a crew of nobodies - in search of who-knows-what.

On the way, he begins to make peace with the death of Kirk, meeting new people, having new adventures. Until he happens on something truly new. The Dyson sphere.

But a crash. All his new friends die. He is alone. Even more useless and out of date than he's ever been.

Perfect backdrop to the events of Relics. I think we can understand why he couldn't, in that moment, come to grips with his closest friend's death.


I always assumed that Scotty was disoriented after the experience; seventy-five years in a state of suspension could certainly do that. (Especially since, in the world of Star Trek, there is consciousness while inside the transporter beam, of a sort.)

  • 6
    That, or he is stuck in the transporter before the Enterprise-B incident, then is rescued in 2369 and then he travels back in time to 2293 and continues his previous life watching Kirk being absorbed by the Nexus at the Enterprise-B. That would be a great episode.
    – pferor
    Jan 5, 2012 at 0:35
  • The did indicate that Scotty suffered some minor pattern degradation from being in the transporter buffer all those years. Perhaps those particular memory was lost. Jan 1 at 21:34

There are several explanations offered by the show's principals.

Continuity is not king

In an AOL chat, showrunner Ronald D. Moore handwaved the issue by saying that Scotty was momentarily confused.

"The only way to address the Scotty/Relics issue in Generations was not to have Scotty in the movie at all. I wasn't willing to make that trade for the sake of a single line that can easily be rationalized away by saying "Scotty was momentarily confused." I still wouldn't do it."

AOL Chat with Ronald D. Moore

Which tallies with the explanation offered on the StarTrek.com website profile for Scott

Not until 2369 was it discovered he was the only survivor of the ship's crash on the exterior of a Dyson Sphere, kept alive only as a transporter beaming loop until, ironically, he was rescued by an away team from the U.S.S. Enterprise-D — so disoriented that he thought Kirk had come to rescue him. After trading barbs and quips with Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and helping to save that Enterprise, he received a permanently "loaned" shuttlecraft, the Goddard, from Captain Jean-Luc Picard and set off to roam the galaxy.

Scott doesn't think Kirk is dead

In the official novelisation of Generations, Guinan tearfully tells Chekov that Kirk has "gone to the other side".

Guinan was watching them go when a dizzying flash of memory overtook her. Suddenly she was in the Enterprise-B sickbay almost a century before, in a twi- light world between reality and the nexus, looking up into the dark eyes of a man she later learned was Pavel Chekov and saying, He's gone to the other side. Your friend, Jim.

Which was evidently interpreted by his friends as meaning that he wasn't dead, as explained in the EU Novel 'The Return'

“Personnel records?” Riker asked. “Anyone in particular?” Spock hesitated. But he kept his attention focused on the screen. “James T. Kirk… I never really accepted the fact I ... never really believed… that he was dead.”

Riker saw how stiffly, almost formally, the ambassador sat in the child-sized chair. It had been a difficult admission for him to make.

“You were not the only one,” Deanna Troi said softly.

Spock turned to regard the counsellor with an upraised eyebrow. “Indeed?”

Deanna smiled. Riker felt bathed in her warmth, though it was directed at Spock and not him. “Montgomery Scott said the same thing,” she told the ambassador. “Believed as you believed.”

Riker remembered his conversations with the feisty old Scotsman. Scott had been the chief engineer on the original Enterprise, where Kirk and Spock had first served together. After Kirk’s first recorded death, on the maiden flight of the Enterprise-B, Scott had led an intensive search of the sector in which that ship had been damaged by the mysterious energy ribbon known as the Nexus.

Decades later, when the chief engineer had been rescued from transporter storage and had come aboard the Enterprise D, he had explained the details of his search, how he had used experimental sensors sensitive enough to detect individual molecules, let alone the body of his captain.

In his personal quest, Scott had found the remains of other victims of the force of the Nexus—shattered bodies blown clear of the ruptured EI-Aurian ships. But he had not found all of the recorded EI-Aurian dead. And, more importantly to him, he had been unable to find any trace whatsoever of a human body.

“In fact, the first thing Mr. Scott said when he was recovered from transporter storage,” Deanna explained to Spock, “was that he half expected to hear that it was Kirk who had rescued him, taking the first Enterprise out of mothballs just to come after his old friend.”

Star Trek: The Return

  • "was not to have Scotty in the movie at all" - or Kirk! Scotty would surely have been told of Kirk's "death" in the meantime even if he wasn't on the ship with him.
    – komodosp
    Mar 27, 2023 at 7:06

To be honest, I thought it was simply poking fun at the way the original series stuck to the old 'Status Quo is God' concept -- That is to say, by the end of the episode, everything was back the way it was before. As a result, major characters were in effect, immortal.

Kirk ALWAYS came and rescued (or arrange the rescue of) major characters, so Scotty automatically assumed it had happened, knowing at the time of no reason it couldn't have.

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    Other than that he was dead. Aug 21, 2011 at 13:33
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    @TomalakGeret'kal You mean Jim's dead, Jim.
    – user1027
    Aug 21, 2011 at 16:17
  • Ah, but at that time, he hadn't been killed off; well in a sequential sense, he had, but since that movie hadn't been filmed yet..... and, of course, it might not be final anyway.. Spock was killed in the earlier movies, but got better :)
    – K-H-W
    Aug 21, 2011 at 16:19
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    @Keith: This question is in-universe. Aug 21, 2011 at 16:23
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    +1 The differences between TOS and the "new" Star Trek were a major theme of this episode. It's in the same vein as the exchange between Scotty and Geordi about repair time estimations. Scotty suggests overestimating while Geordi believes in making his estimates as accurate as possible. Aug 23, 2011 at 0:07

The key is that Kirk, at the beginning of "Generations", is "presumed" dead, and there is no body. Scotty has seen enough of the galaxy to know that Kirk, without a physical, lifeless body to seal the notion that he is indeed dead, may in fact be alive somewhere, and if there was a way for a human to beat the odds and live, Kirk would be the human to do it. As humans, we will sometimes hold on to the idea that someone we are close to may still be alive, even when we know that the odds against it are quite high.

And, let's not forget - at the time Scotty was rescued from the transporter buffer, Kirk was in fact alive....living in a fantasy inside the Nexus. So, if Scotty had been holding on to the hope that Kirk was still alive, he would have been right.


When the crew announced themselves as from the Enterprise Scotty was affectionately or jokingly saying that Captain Kirk was there to rescue him. That is all it was. He knew Kirk was dead. The fact that during that episode he never again mentioned Kirk indicates this to be so.


It wouldn't be the first time one of the crew came back from the dead. And Kirk had cheated death so many times, perhaps Scotty just felt as if it would be the most likely situation.

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