The bridge of Captain Kruge's ship — stolen by Admiral Kirk and company in The Search for Spock and re-christened the HMS Bounty — looks completely different between that film and The Voyage Home.

Little, if anything, looks the same.

Several months of exile pass between the two films, with the Bounty grounded on Vulcan. Are the differences in the bridge the result of modifications made by Scotty and/or Vulcan engineers during that period?

It seems unlikely that anyone would care about altering the bridge to that extent, especially given that the ship would only ever serve as temporary transportation. Was it simply that the bridge of The Voyage Home fit the aesthetics of the film better, and it was hoped that we wouldn't notice the change?

3 Answers 3


You're essentially correct. There have been several attempts to explain away the inconsistency in Bird-of-Prey bridge design, of which the most common is on Memory Alpha:

Due to their age and variety of configurations, the main bridge design for Birds-of-Prey included numerous variations.

This is partly due to the fact that:

This [Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home's] bridge set was rebuilt several times, intermittently kept in storage, and underwent minor changes for each reuse.

But the immediate concern with the bridge design was money. Leonard Nimoy direct both Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and was constrained by finances during the filming of the former:

According to director Leonard Nimoy, the set that would eventually be used for this bridge was originally in another movie as somewhere else and, when subsequently asked if the still-standing set would work as the Klingon bridge, he – under considerable financial constraints – felt pressured to answer positively. He also thought that – if there was enough money to redress the set as the Klingon bridge – the film's production crew could make the set look effective. After the bridge was consequently reconstructed as the Klingon bridge, Nimoy found the set to be very cramped, difficult, tight and limited in scope but he ultimately came to believe that the film's production team had managed to make it work. The set was top-lit, which helped to hide the prosthetics of actors portraying the Klingons and make the applications believable. The film's production crew also tried to keep it dark, to give the bridge an ominous feeling.

The design used in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, was the one Nimoy wanted, and with the latter film's superior budget he, along with set designer Jack T. Collis, were able to achieve a design both preferred.

There has been an attempt to retcon the change in bridge configuration between the films as due to a re-fit on Vulcan:

It is possible that the differences in this ship's two bridge designs were the result of the reconstruction and repair of the ship during its three-month stay on Vulcan, in order to give the ship a more Starfleet feel. In reality, the change of bridge set was due to the fact that an entirely new set had to be constructed for Star Trek IV, following the demolishing of the Klingon bridge from Star Trek III. In addition, it was felt that the extra expense of building an all-new set was worthwhile, due to the fact that the Klingon ship would, in Star Trek IV, be featured to a much greater extent than it had been in the previous film. Leonard Nimoy found the new Klingon bridge set to be lavish by comparison with the previous one.

This retcon doesn't make sense, however, when one realises that this design is also used on other Birds-of-Prey during the course of TNG and DS9, including a slightly refitted version in the film Star Trek: Generations.

  • 1
    After formation of alliance between Federation and Klingon Empire, Klingons no doubt wanted info for all captured/missing empire ships that Federation could provide. So this refit would probably be shared with them and they might have liked it. :)
    – Zeela
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 8:52
  • @Zeela: It doesn't explain the later TOS-era films that used the same design. There were Birds-of-Prey in both Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The bridge interiors were shown in both; Paramount had spent a pretty penny on the bridge design, so they used it every chance they had. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 9:18
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    Logically, the Vulcans discovered that had a talent for Klingon interior design. After the HMS Bounty left the Vulcans offered their services to the Empire.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 12:20
  • @Xantec: And the Klingons, being too drunk on bloodwine to build the ships themselves, were only too happy to contract the work out. They no doubt thought the Vulcans were magical elves offering to work for them, seeing as how they were too wasted to remember what Vulcans actually were. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 12:29
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    You are right it doesn't explain later TOS films, another possibility would be that the bridge config shown in III was unknown (too rare, one klingon favourite etc.) to Federation, but they were familiar with config shown in IV (from other captured ships, scans in battle, espionage or whatever), which might have been more common to Klingon ships, so when making repairs to captured ship, they redesigned the bridge, to known familiar configuration, so it would easily pass as generic klingon ship unlike custom tuned one
    – Zeela
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 7:57

Possibly a Klingon Bird of Prey has two or more bridges. Larger Federation starships tend to have two or more places they can be commanded from. Since Klingon ships are more like warships they might have multiple command centers despite being smaller than starships.

(The size of the Bird of Prey seems to vary in different shots in the two movies and thus it is possible that it was big enough for two separate bridges to be reasonable.)

  • Indeed questionable; the BoP seems to be rather small, and came only with a standard crew of twelve. Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 21:35

Regarding the set change between movies, you should keep in mind that in terms of the visual design of a movie, the sets are thought to be an extension of the characters. The bridges of the Klingon ships in Star Trek the Motion Picture and the Search for Spock went a long way towards establishing the characterization of the newly revamped Klingons throughout all further iterations of Star Trek. When the story required the crew of the Enterprise to man the Klingon ship, it was a conscious decision to “smooth it out” a bit. The original design had the commander sitting high on a throne like command chair but that wouldn’t work based on the relationships between the Kirk and his friends. As stated in another post, the lighting was top down in the original to aid the makeup, but also to give the Klingons a harsher, more contrasty, moodier feel. The producers may have lost the sets between films but they didn’t lose the plans, I presume. They had to build a new set, so if they wanted to, they could have built it identical to the original. Fact of the matter is that they changed the layout and the lighting to fit the characters. The lighting is still contrasty, but softer and warmer.

  • 2
    The part about the disparity of scale does not seem relevant. Perhaps you could edit it out?
    – Adamant
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 20:59

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