Watching Star Trek 2009 and I came to the realization that the USS Kelvin (see below) looks very much like a 'reboot' starship (by 'reboot', I refer to the design of starships in the Abrams reboot series which differs from that of TOS). Now I understand that the basis of this series is that it is that Nero's entrance resulted in the formation of an alternate timeline. Logically, however, the events of the alternate timeline did not initiate until after this point though (ie approximately after the birth of James T Kirk). Hence the events prior to Nero's emergence from the black hole occurred as they did in the (original) TOS timeline.

As the Kelvin was obviously commissioned and designed before this, however (i.e. it was designed and commissioned in the original TOS timeline), why would it look like a 'reboot' ship? Surely it should have looked much more like a ship that would have come out of the uninterrupted timeline like the Antares Class or Constellation Class (both of which seem to have been created before the Constellation according to Memory Alpha).

I am of course looking for an in-universe answer; the answer 'Abrams' will not suffice ;)

NOTE: I am not asking why the other ships look different, as with an alternate timeline and the presence of Nero causing new events it is reasonable to assume the difference in design can be explained by different starship designs/designers (perhaps even slight derivations of technologies - consider the difference in the deflector dishes) being employed. I am asking why ships prior to the alternate timeline being created looked like 'reboot' ships.

The Kelvin

  • 1
    Maybe just because it looks better than the old designs. Or in-universe, maybe there were starships with this design before Enterprise even in the old timeline, we juat never saw them in the series. Jul 31, 2014 at 8:28
  • 1
    @KushtrimP. true; there do seem to be quite few Federation ships that we know of from before this time, although from simply looking at them this one seems quite different Jul 31, 2014 at 8:32
  • ex-astris-scientia.org/inconsistencies/… follows the same line of thinking... although it has to be said, the site author is not overly fond of New Trek, basically saying that while they may be fun summer blockbusters to watch there is not really much ST spirit in them. Nevertheless the site is quite informative for all kinds of things.
    – BMWurm
    Jul 31, 2014 at 10:16
  • 1
    In-universe, who says it looks any different? We aren't shown any Prime Universe ships to compare against. (If you're going to stay in-universe it's silly to assume that any given onscreen depiction is "accurate".)
    – user36551
    Jan 23, 2015 at 15:46
  • 1
    @Izkata oh. In that case, I'm pretty sure this is purely a production thing, not an in-universe difference
    – Petersaber
    Oct 8, 2018 at 11:33

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately I don't think there is an in-universe answer which appears on-screen. From your last paragraph -

I am not asking why the other ships look different, as with an alternate timeline and the presence of Nero causing new events it is reasonable to assume the difference in design can be explained by different starship designs/designers (perhaps even slight derivations of technologies - consider the difference in the deflector dishes) being employed. I am asking why ships prior to the alternate timeline being created looked like 'reboot' ships.

To expand on your question, if I may, I would go on to wonder -- "Even if the reboot universe is a parallel universe which is fundamentally divergent from the original and thereby excused for being entirely separate, why does Old Spock's ship (the Jellyfish) resemble the alt-universe ships?"

There should not be any reason that the Jellyfish's design reflects any events in the alt-universe, because it is allegedly from a point some years after the last filmed events in the TNG franchise came to a close. The "questionably canon" Star Trek: Countdown comic establishes Geordi La Forge as the ship's designer. By rights, that ship should look like it was straight out of the old universe, but it neither externally nor internally acts or looks like anything from that universe.

I know you were not looking for such an answer, but sadly the films provide no real explanation. It's simply a new art direction. As proof, there are at least two vessels which follow this direction - the Kelvin and the Jellyfish - which both existed more-or-less independently of the events of the new Trek universe, yet inexplicably resemble that universe.

  • 2
    The Jellyfish is of a highly advanced design. I don't necessarily see that it resembles ships of the new timeline more than it resembles ships of the old timeline. Jul 31, 2014 at 16:32
  • 5
    It sure as heck doesn't look like any TNG vessel, interior or exterior. Certainly not one designed by the engineer of the flagship of the Federation; not one LCARS DE? Goofy hangy-ceiling-chair that spins is somehow better than just, like, having a regular stuck on the ground chair? Weird moving parts on the outside in an age of engines with almost no moving parts on the exterior? Now if they'd made it look like a modded Runabout or something I might buy it, but this ship looks nothing like anything remotely Terran, Vulcan or otherwise from the prime universe.
    – Stick
    Jul 31, 2014 at 23:51
  • 1
    Only everything
    – Stick
    Aug 1, 2014 at 0:24
  • 2
    Do other ships from the new timeline have a "goofy hangy-ceiling-chair that spins", or "weird moving parts on the outside". If not, can you clarify what you mean by "everything"? Aug 1, 2014 at 0:27
  • 5
    Vulcan ships trend towards a particular set of designs though - either a three-pronged vessel like that in First Contact or the 'long sleek hull with circumscribed propulsion ring' shapes seen in ENT and very briefly in TNG (Redemption Pt 2). There's nothing vague about it, it doesn't follow the same artistic direction as was present during TNG franchises, and it fits in awfully easily when compared to the JJ-verse ships; the interior has that 'Apple Store w/ lens flare' motif like the bridge of the Enterprise. It is a new ship, sure, but it doesn't even harken to TNG-era tech.
    – Stick
    Aug 1, 2014 at 16:31

My theory is the timeline actually fractured from the original in Enterprise when the Xindi attack killed seven million people that hadn't died in the prime universe. The ripple effect from that would theoretically impact the people who were selected for design, research, and development teams at Star Fleet. Different team leaders would presumably make different design decisions leading to the design of the Kelvin being rejected by prime universe faculty but being approved by the Kelvin universe faculty. This also explains the size disparity between the prime Constitution and the Kelvin Constitution, after the Xindi attack the preference for larger and more combat oriented vessels lead to an Enterprise almost twice as large as it's prime universe counterpart. I'd bet the U.S.S Relatively is responsible for isolating both the Xindi and the Nero temporal incursions to the same timeline as is the common practice. I also have a theory that the Mirror universe is actually the original order of events that occurred without the Borg incursion. The violent reaction Lily Sloane and others had toward the Enterprise crew would have been directed toward the Vulcans and only wasn't because they had knowledge of the better future because of their contact with Picard and Co. In actuality the mirror universe is the prime universe and the prime universe was created paradoxically by the Borg of the prime universe deciding to stop First Contact, presumably to get their hands on the boronite ore used by Ketteract in the 23rd century to create an Omega molecule. This explains why the Borg that awoke in Antarctica in the 22nd century attempted to escape Earth rather than assimilate it, which would be the expected course of action, their mission was to acquire boronite from the only source they knew existed before the Federation used it in their failed experiment. Every timeline in Star Trek is the result of temporal manipulation, even the mirror universe got a Constitution class star ship from a future point in the prime universe that altered the natural course of events allowing Hoshi Sato to become Empress, it's no wonder there's a division of Star Fleet dedicated to preserving the time line in the 29th century.

  • 2
    That is one big block of text. Can I suggest you edit it, split it into paragraphs etc? As well as including source material to back up your theory, so that it's not just a headcannon.
    – Jenayah
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:37
  • Unfortunately, pure speculation isn't what we are looking for. Please take a look at our Help Center to see what kind of answers are expected.
    – Sava
    Oct 7, 2018 at 15:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.