Scenes Cut from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Several scenes shot for Star Trek: The Motion Picture never made it into the theatrical release of the film.

Uhura’s loyalty

After Kirk leaves the bridge for his confrontation with Decker, there is a brief scene involving Uhura, Sulu and an alien ensign played by Billy Van Zandt. When Van Zandt’s character questions Kirk’s takeover, Uhura says, “Our chances of coming back from this mission in one piece may have just doubled.”

The scene is restored in the Special Longer Version from 1983 (not to be confused with the 2001 Director’s Edition).

Scenes with Ilia

When Uhura first hears that Lieutenant Ilia is Deltan, she expresses surprise, leading Kirk to respond that the Deltans are so good at their job that “there are no finer navigators in Starfleet, commander.”

Ilia was the source of other comments, some of which are included in the Special Longer Version.

Sulu, upon being told by Decker to “take Lieutenant Ilia in hand,” acts like a schoolboy attempting to show Ilia the navigation console (with which she is quite familiar). This was meant to demonstrate the effect Deltan women have on human men.

When Decker questions his Deltan friend, she responds by assuring him that she “would never take advantage of a sexually immature species.” This exchange is present in the 1983 version.

McCoy beams aboard

Restored in The Director’s Edition is McCoy’s full entrance, including an unnamed yeoman’s observation that “he insisted we go first, sir. Said something about first seeing how it scrambled our molecules.”

The original plan was to beam McCoy up while carrying a riding crop, indicating that he had been snatched by some Federation transporter without a moment’s notice.

Just after McCoy’s line about how engineers love to change things, in an unrestored cut, Kirk gazes after the retreating doctor, goes to the wall intercom and announces, “All decks, this is the captain. Prepare for immediate departure.” Had this scene remained as it was, it would have reduced the risk of McCoy’s line being cut, as it accidentally was in many prints of the film.

Also present in the longer version is Ilia’s concern after Kirk summons Decker to his cabin. As Sulu introduces new figures into his console, he must gently remind Ilia to listen to him. After he finishes speaking, Ilia again stares at the door, which leads neatly into the scene in Kirk’s quarters.

McCoy-Spock tension

Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley
Production still of Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and DeForest Kelley

Some cuts were made to improve McCoy’s disposition. For example, after Spock comes aboard the Enterprise and is welcomed by Kirk, McCoy observes, “Never look a gift Vulcan in the ears, Jim.”

Spock must have known what attitude to expect from his old friend because, before the exchange in the officers’ lounge, he asks Kirk, “Sir, I would appreciate Dr McCoy absenting himself from this interview.” Remaining at the conversation, McCoy causes Spock to show a certain irritation, at which point McCoy seriously observes, “If you achieve perfect logic, Spock, you’ll pay a price. It’s given your planet ten thousand years of peace but no poetry’s been written since then, no music.” This comment causes Spock to turn menacingly toward McCoy, until Kirk calls a halt to the situation.

V’Ger’s probe

We learn more about Ilia in a sequence restored in The Director’s Edition.

After Chekov is injured by V’Ger’s energy blast, Ilia is able to provide instant relief by touching him. Arriving on the scene with a medical technician, Dr Chapel and Ilia exchange friendly glances.

Stephen Collins
Stephen Collins and other actors on the set of The Motion Picture

Another casuality of V’Ger’s invading energy probes was not so lucky. When the blinding light probe materializes on the bridge, two security men advance on it with phasers drawn. Before Chekov can warn them not to fire, the first man does. In retaliation, the probe envelopes him in a purple glow. The man vanishes, causing the second guard to holster his weapon. This sequence has never been revealed.

Ilia probe

After Spock’s spacewalk, the Vulcan describes what he has learned, calling V’Ger “a human machine.” McCoy comments, “We’re living machines too: protein mechanisms,” and when Kirk observes that V’Ger is trying to find its creator, McCoy asks, “Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? All us machines?”

James Doohan, Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta
Production still of James Doohan, Stephen Collins and Persis Khambatta

The comparison between man and machine would lead to a scene in engineering, where Decker is taking the Ilia probe on a tour. They listen to a message from Kirk:

This is the captain speaking. It appears that the alien ship, V’Ger, is not a manned vessel. It is a living entity, a machine life form. We are attempting to ascertain its intentions. All personnel will maintain yellow alert status.

Scotty is hostile to “Ilia” throughout this sequence, at one point saying, “Lassie, if I were functioning logically right not, I’d be showing you the inside of our metal scrape compactor.”

Self-destruct

In a scene that was restored in both the 1983 and 2001 version, Kirk orders Scotty to implement a “self-destruct”.

In a discussion with a female engineer, Scotty reveals that a matter/antimatter explosion would destroy V’Ger along with the Enterprise.

In a sequence partially restored to the longer version, Spock sheds tears for V’Ger. Still missing, though, is Spock’s regret that although he has found part of what he was looking for, V’Ger “has not… and now, because of what we are planning, will not.” It is this statement that causes Kirk to cancel the self-destruct, telling Scotty, “We’re holding off. There may be a chance” (to save Earth, V’Ger and the Enteprise).

Three endings

Kirk’s original statement at the end, when reporting the “missing status” of Decker and Ilia, included mention of “Security Officer Phillips,” who was vaporized in the sequence discussed earlier.

There were three versions of the movie’s ending. First, the one that’s in the film. Second, one in which Spock has the final line: “A most logical choice, captain,” responding to Kirk’s course heading “Out there… that way.” Third is a take in which Spock jokes about his need to remain on the Enterprise in order to protect the ship from its erratic, human crew.

15 comments

Interesting read, and more proof positive that when films were released theatrically back in the day, there were numerous edits floating around (intentionally or not). For example, the version of Star Trek: The Motion Picture I saw in the theater contained the scene with Uhuru remarking about their chances doubling, as well as the scene with the security officer being zapped into V’Ger’s data banks. I don’t recall seeing any of the other scenes you describe, however.

MrSatyre (Dec 5, 2012)

I once saw the cut with the security guard being killed and the destruct sequence scene on TV in the early 80s as a young child. I’d always thought I’d imagined it, the scenes were missing from subsequent versions. It was always a cold, clinical movie with hostile interpersonal exchanges throughout – these edited scenes provided a warm respite and it was a shame they were edited out.

Steve (Jan 3, 2013)

Sorry, but you didn’t see the security guard scene. I was never assembled into any cut.

David C. Fein (Aug 12, 2021)

I clearly remember seeing the guard being zapped by V’Ger when I saw The Motion Picture at the theater back in 1979

Sam (Jan 10, 2013)

I don’t. I made seven trips to theaters to see The Motion Picture, from its first day of release to the last, and I never saw any of the scenes discussed above in any of the prints I saw.

Adam Bomb 1701 (Oct 3, 2014)

I saw it about ten times during its initial ’79 release, at various theaters. It didn’t have this footage.

Paul Austin (Aug 23, 2019)

It would be great to see this footage restored in some future DVD release. I remembering reading that the Director’s Cut likely did not include additional unseen footage, because that inclusion would entail additional payment to actors. Hard to believe somebody saw the security guard scene, but that’s entirely possible considering the last-minute rush to get 800+ plus prints out to theaters in 1979. Great site!

K. (Jul 30, 2014)

I remember seeing the guard scene at the movies back in ’79.

Sam (Jan 1, 2017)

The special effects of the guard being digitized by V’Ger’s first probe were never completed, so the scene was never part of the assembled movie. However, the scene is definitely in the novelization and the comic book adaptation, and was described by Walter Koenig in his paperback book, Chekov’s Enterprise.

Similarly, the scene with the alien ensign being reprimanded by Uhura was not seen by viewers until the ABC TV premiere of The Motion Picture. That additional footage was also in the Special Longer Version home vide release and was retained for the Director’s Edition DVD.

Ian McLean (Apr 2, 2017)

I saw it in theaters during original run, and I seem to remember the transporter accident lasting longer, and being far more terrible and agonizing.

Mark Thibodeau (Apr 12, 2017)

The transporter accident has always been the same. The novelization has a much more graphic description of the scene.

LItemakr (Aug 25, 2019)

Anyone who posts that they “remember” the security guard vaporization scene from the ’79 theatrical run is either trolling, lying, or just has a bad memory. That scene was not completed in post-production and was never included in any release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, theatrical or subsequent.

Rodicus (Apr 14, 2017)

I watched the VHS version as a kid, and I swear I remember something about Ilia making a comment about other species being less sexually mature or something like that. I watched the Paramount+ version last night and it appears that section was cut, thus it leaves the viewer to read between the lines a bit more to understand the Deltan mystique.

Jack (Jan 22, 2022)

Your recollection is correct. It’s part of what I’ve labeled “Scenes with Ilia”. I don’t have Paramount+, but the deleted scenes are included in the iTunes Extras of the Apple TV version.

Yes, that segment is part of the Special Longer Version (ABC’s original TV broadcast and then to home video – i.e., VHS and video disc). The SLV has never made it to DVD, but all the trims from that are in Bonus Features of the 2001 Director’s Edition DVD. The DE is currently undergoing work to recreate the DE in 4K for Paramount+ for premiere in 2022.

Ian McLean (Jan 22, 2022)

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