10 Events That Changed Star Trek Forever

An exploding moon, an exploding sun, and exploding ships. Plus ça change…

Praxis USS Excelsior Undiscovered Country Star Trek VI
Paramount Pictures

In the February 2023 issue of SFX magazine, Star Trek: Picard showrunner Terry Matalas was interviewed about the third and final season of the show, which he had called "game-changing". Asked to clarify this tantalising statement, he noted that,

There is definitely a major event in the Star Trek universe. But not in a way that undoes it [...]. But it will feel like an event in Star Trek history. For instance, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, you know what I mean. That would be a moment in Star Trek history that everyone would remember. And that's certainly true here.

The final cruise of the original crew began with an explosion so large it redefined historic boundaries and relations with formerly implacable foes. In that sense, for what is to be the final outing for Star Trek: Picard with another crew, we could prognosticate until the cows come home about potential turning-points. In any event, we don't have long to wait to find out. One candidate from the trailers might be in the form of a gigantic explosion hitting a Starfleet building.

Along with the Praxis ignition point of Star Trek VI, Matalas' comments got us thinking about other such pivotal moments in the franchise's history: what was the galactic state-of-play before and how did things change afterwards?

There is certainly no shortage of such momentous events. Let's look back at ten such times that forever redefined Star Trek.

10. Romulans Revealed

Praxis USS Excelsior Undiscovered Country Star Trek VI
CBS Media Ventures

On-screen, we first saw the Romulans in The Original Series episode Balance of Terror. Created by writer Paul Schneider, the species already had a mythic status for the characters. No one from Starfleet had heard a whisper from the enigmatic enemy since the Earth-Romulan War more than a century prior, and after which the Romulan Neutral Zone was established. In point of fact, and this despite some four years of conflict in the 22nd century, no one had even seen the face of a Romulan (and lived to tell the tale). Quite a shock for Spock, then, when the viewscreen flickered on and the Romulan commander looked an awful lot like him.

Not only did this auricular revelation radically alter interstellar politics for the next 150-odd years (and even well into the 32nd century), we also found out fairly recently just how crucial Kirk's presence on the Enterprise was when meeting that Bird-of-Prey in 2266.

In an alternate timeline where Captain Christopher Pike had dodged his destiny and was in command of the Enterprise instead, his less guns-a-blazin' approach had "end-of-the-world type" consequences: a war with the Romulans that killed millions. Also, with Spock horrifically injured in that timeline, any hopes for reunification and lasting peace were scuppered indefinitely. Not even alternate future Pike's Monster Maroons could make up for that!

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Jack Kiely is a writer with a PhD in French and almost certainly an unhealthy obsession with Star Trek.