Some may remember quite awhile back I did an article on the time’s when Disney “killed” a main character, only to have it be a fake out. The character of course lives. Well, Disney isn’t the only one guilty of this. Star Trek has done it more times than I could count! I was thinking of doing a list of them all, but I’d be here all day. So instead let’s take a look at the one’s that did not work. At all.
When a main character is killed in an episode, you know that it’s not permanent. Unless the actor/actress is leaving the show of course. The death is there for shock value, to show how dangerous the villain is, or even just to pad the episode. And sometimes these death’s are decent scenes and even memorable by serving the plot, advancing the story, and even giving some character growth in rare cases. For instance Scotty dies in the classic episode “The Changeling” but the scene works and Nomad bringing him back is believable and we see just what Nomad is capable of. When Neelix died in Voyager’s “Mortal Coil” not only is his resurrection explained (thanks to Seven of Nine) but the plot is how he’s has major issues dealing with it! It’s one of the better Neelix episodes. And when Picard presumably died in TNG’s “Tapestry” it led to a real good character episode involving Q. There can be all kinds of fake out’s from a dream or fantasy, a hologram, clone, some kind of elaborate deception, or a time travel/alternate history story where the re-set button is pressed.
Sometimes though, the creators can’t come up with a clever way out, and the death is reversed with either a weak as hell excuse or, better yet, no excuse. In some cases it serves such a small part of the show you wonder why the “death” is even in the episode!
Today I present the worst Star Trek death fake out’s. The only rule is this has to be a main character who was pronounced dead and came back to life in the same episode they died in. And the death has to be permanent so no Data, Tripp, Dax, Tasha, or especially Spock’s from TWOK since that wasn’t meant to be a fake out when it happened, and besides it was and still is one of the most moving moments Trek ever produced. And of course this is just my opinion, feel free to disagree.
#5.Chekov in “Spectre of the Gun”
This comes from the episode “Specter of the Gun” which is a decent episode for season 3. The setup is that Morgan Earp catches Chekov with his girl, and basically guns him down. There’s more it than that but that’s the basics. It’s actually a very powerful death scene and handled very well! It isn’t forgotten we see Kirk and crew dealing with it in the next scene. Why do I count it as one of the worst? Because there is no explanation for how and why Chekov is alive again! They just return to the ship, and he’s all alive and well. When I was a kid that confused the hell out of me, and now I still don’t get it. They kind of hint that it was because Chekov didn’t believe what was happening, except the Melkotians made it clear that if they died, they were really dead! Maybe they restored him to life but this is never stated.
#4.Paris from “Threshold”
If you know anything about Star Trek Voyager, you probably know this episode is generally considered plain awful. The science is so ridiculous and the situation beyond far fetched. One of the more ignored, but no less stupid, moments happens mid way through the episode. Paris has survived his trip through the “transwarp barrier”, but he isn’t doing well. In fact, he ends up dying in sick-bay. A few minutes later Kes comes in to say goodbye, and he wakes up and is fine. What happened? Never explained, the Doctor just keeps on treating him as if it never happened and Paris keeps transforming into a Salamander (I wish I was kidding). This episode is beyond bad.
#3.Worf in “Ethics”
There was once an episode of TOS where Spock was blinded, and his sight saved by a “secondary eyelid” an idea which was lame and corny. This episode’s cop out is ten times worst! Worf is critically injured, his spine is damaged, and needs a highly controversial procedure so he can walk again. Again, long story short they do the procedure. But Worf dies on the table.Â So everyone is sad and his son comes in to see him one final time. Suddenly he is breathing on his own again. How? It seems that Klingon’s have “back-ups” to their biological functions, including the synaptic functions in this case. How the hell is this possible? It’s like they needed to fill five minutes (or make the episode interesting somehow) so shoehorned this in. It’s stupid! I suppose to be fair they did foreshadow this unlike the Spock eyelid stuff which felt like it was made up at the last second, but where I can buy that Vulcans have an inner eyelid that they ignore this “back-up” nonsense with Klingons is really pushing it. If they always had this why didn’t Gorgon survive in Star Trek VI? Whatever, next one……
#2.McCoy in “Shore Leave”
Some may disagree with me here but this episode bugs me. I made fun of Chekov but at least his death served the plot. It made Kirk and Spock realize that they could change things if they wanted to. What the hell does this death serve? It is undone off screen and accomplishes nothing. Though the moment is kind of dramatic. Ok if you don’t know in this episode the crew arrive on an “amusement” planet where their wildest fantasies come true. Problem is they don’t know that! When a Black Knight comes charging at McCoy he is determined to prove what they are seeing is not real. And gets lanced through the heart. I suppose it proves that what the others are experiencing is real but it’s still basically pointless. How does he come back? He just appears at the end, having been repaired under the planet and of course off screen. I can buy the the people who live on this planet can create artificial life forms who perfectly mimics people and things, but how in the world can they restore life to a real person?Â And why in the world didn’t they figure out the crew had no clue what was happening a lot faster? I imagine them watching this and laughing their asses off!! This is a “turn your brain off” kind of episode and as I get older, it gets harder and harder for me to enjoy it.h
#1.Kirk from Star Trek:Into Darkness
Oh you probably all saw this one coming. This was so stupid that it’s amazing! I very briefly touched on how awesome the scene from TWOKÂ was when Spock died. So what does this movie do? It rips it off! But that isn’t what bugged me. If you don’t know (and very long story short), Kirk ends up risking his life to get the ship up and running. Kirk and Spock have a powerful goodbye moment that tries hard. As Spock, enraged, races to kick Khan’s ass, McCoy notices a tribble that had been dead earlier is now alive and kicking. I don’t know something to do with Khan’s blood McCoy had injected into the thing. The point is McCoy realizes he can still save Kirk, and five minutes later he is back and that whole powerful death scene is rendered moot. The worst thing for me is they way Kirk just, wakes up, like nothing happened. No drama, no suspense……nothing!Â I honestly liked this movie, but that had to be the worst death cop out ever, Trek or anywhere else!! Why did they need it? Would having Kirk just be critically injured have worked just as well? Ah well, it was stupid and I think most agree with me on this one.
It’s more than likely I am forgetting some good examples, so feel free to comment and maybe I will come back with another list.
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out what hard week or two it’s been for the real life people who worked in Star Trek. Of course Leonard Nimoy, but we also lost Harve Bennett who literally saved the franchise with TWOK and Next Gen co-producer Maurice Hurley who created The Borg.