The story line of Star Trek (2009) explains that Spock was sent back trying to help Romulus but failed so he was forced to watch Vulcan get destroyed.

But, out-of-universe, why was Shatner not asked to appear in the movie?

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    Spock vaporizes rock....
    – BBlake
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 18:18
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    What precisely are you looking for that my answer hasn't got? I've updated with Shatner's response as well as some other chat from the writers...
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 9:05
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    @Richard Both are probably right, it's just about alternate timelines and such.
    – Mario
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 11:21
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    I'm interested to know why you didn't award the bounty...
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 23:41
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    @giacomocasanova - Fair enough
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


In the simplest terms, Nimoy was happy to accept a small cameo role whereas Shatner wasn't.

J.J. Abrams specifically addressed this issue (both in and out of universe) in an interview with Sci-Fi Scanner;

“It was very tricky. We actually had written a scene with him in it that was a flashback kind of thing, but the truth is, it didn’t quite feel right. The bigger thing was that he was very vocal that he didn’t want to do a cameo. We tried desperately to put him in the movie, but he was making it very clear that he wanted the movie to focus on him significantly, which, frankly, he deserves.

The truth is, the story that we were telling required a certain adherence to the Trek canon and consistency of storytelling. It’s funny — a lot of the people who were proclaiming that he must be in this movie were the same people saying it must adhere to canon. Well, his character died on screen. Maybe a smarter group of filmmakers could have figured out how to resolve that.”

If it makes you happy, there were apparently several attempts to write him in but the writers claim that there simply wasn't a good enough reason to skew the story purely in order to allow a two minute continuity-porn cameo:

The Shatner ending of “Star Trek” was abandoned for a whole variety of reasons. “Whereas our elder Spock had a very organic reason to be there, we didn’t have that same benefit with Kirk,” Kurtzman explained. “Because Kirk died in the movies — he died in canon — it was very hard to come up with a way to bring him back in the movie that didn’t feel contrived.”

“Ultimately, we decided internally that we were split,” Orci remembered of the decision to abandon the Shatner ending. “The decision was that it wasn’t quite enough to justify wasting his time.”

Still, it’s pretty obvious where Orci fell in the internal debate. “It was a nice voice-over. It was more than a scene,” he explained. “I think it could have worked, personally.”

William Shatner referenced this "cameo" in an interview on his website. According to him, he was never asked to be in the film but I suspect we can take this with a grain of salt...


Romulus was destroyed in 2387, Kirk dies in 2371 (actually, even 78 years earlier, if we don't take Nexus in account). It would be really hard to explain his appearance.

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    LOL, nothing is really hard in the Star Trek universe. In previous episodes and movies Kirk has already been duplicated by transporter accident, by changeling (twice!), as an android, and by mirror universe. Kirk even died twice. Trek is so full of magical technology, gods, demigods and reckless fools the only wonder is that the Trek universe is as stable as it is.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 2:10
  • Sorry, but the question asks for an out-of-universe explanation, so this doesn't really address the question. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 8:07
  • @N.Soong agree. The question was changed, so now the answer is not very relevant.
    – madfriend
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 11:29
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    @N.Soong: I would consider "being unable to come up with a good way to explain his appearance" is quite a decent oou explanation.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 14:30
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    @PlasmaHH - They came up with an excellent way to put him into the film; He was going to appear in a (posthumous) holo-letter.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:47

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