10 Biɡɡest Cһаnɡes J.J. Abrаms Mаde To Stаr Trek

J.J. Abrams’ Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movies made changes that were incorporated into new TV shows Discovery, Strange New Worlds, and Picard.



  • J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films influence the newer shows and are particularly influential in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
  • The visual language established by Abrams, including lens flare and artistic choices, is adopted by both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard.
  • Abrams’ movies introduce new elements to the Star Trek canon, such as Uhura’s first name being confirmed as “Nyota” and enhancements to transporter technology.

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films reimagine the era of Star Trek: The Original Series with elements that have been adopted by the franchise’s newest shows. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds borrows the most inspiration from Abrams’ updated visions, as a show set aboard the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Star Trek: Discovery has nods to alien designs and concepts that originated in the Kelvin Timeline movies. Even Star Trek: Picard, though it takes place a century later, acknowledges certain story elements from Abrams’ movies, going so far as to make them integral to the plot of Picard season 1.

The production design of Abrams’ Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movies is inspired by Star Trek: The Original Series, expanded and buffeted by a 21st-century feature-film budget, to interpret what could have been if creator Gene Roddenberry had access to modern technology when producing TOS in the 1960s. The TOS movies featured updated designs that persisted into the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond, so it’s not unreasonable to imagine visions of the future that evolve even further. Star Trek shows in the modern era run with these visions, as if in agreement that Abrams is on the right track in conceptualizing the Kelvin Timeline.

10 Artistic Lens Flare

Discovery and Picard Use Abrams’ Visual Language to Direct Viewer Attention

Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness certainly didn’t invent the lens flare, but they make liberal use of it as an artistic choice, which is also adopted by Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard as part of the visual language of Star Trek in general. In the era of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, lens flare was a simple fact of cinematography, owing to the way that cameras actually capture light. Improvements in lens technology and filming techniques mean the use of lens flares in modern Star Trek films and television shows are deliberate choices designed to guide the viewer’s attention with futuristic flourishes.

9 Uhura’s First Name

“Nyota” Wasn’t Canon Until Star Trek (2009)

Throughout Star Trek: The Original Series and its films, Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura is referred to only by her last name. “Nyota”, which means “star” in Swahili, was coined by fans as a potential first name for Uhura that was used in books and by Nichols herself, but in Star Trek, canon only counts if it’s on-screen. Uhura’s first name being Nyota became official canon in Star Trek (2009) when Spock calls Zoe Saldaña’s Uhura by her name. In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Celia Rose Gooding’s Ensign Uhura also sports the first name Nyota, confirming this fact from the Kelvin Timeline applies in the Prime Timeline as well.

8 Microprint Uniform Details

The devil’s in the deltas.

The solid-color uniforms of Star Trek: The Original Series are reimagined with what appears to be a texture, but upon closer inspection, is revealed to be a repeated Starfleet delta in a fine monochrome print. The same delta microprint appears on the side panels of the 2250s uniforms in Star Trek: Discovery, now in metallic colorways over the uniform’s base of navy blue. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds adapts the concept into versions with division-specific insignia printed on the fabric used on the upper sleeves, and Star Trek: Picard season 3’s uniforms feature tiny monochrome deltas on the upper shoulders.

Crafty cosplayers can recreate this look with a Cricut and iron-on vinyl.

7 A Different Look for Klingons

Star Trek: Discovery Takes Cues from Star Trek Into Darkness for its Klingons

Every iteration of Klingons in Star Trek continues to evolve the design of these famous adversaries of the Federation. In Star Trek Into Darkness, Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldaña) speaks to a group of Klingons on Q’onoS that look markedly different from the Prime universe Klingons, with their lack of hair and pierced forehead ridges. Star Trek Into Darkness’ Klingons appear to be a step between Prime Klingons and Star Trek: Discovery‘s notable Klingon redesign, which pushes the boundaries into a much more alien visual than those seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era.

6 Phasers Operate Differently

Phasers Don’t Just Shoot Straight Beams

The USS Kelvin, in Star Trek‘s opening scenes, shows phaser banks located on swivels on the hull, allowing for phaser fire in multiple directions at once. The Prime Timeline Enterprise in Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds also features multi-directional phaser arrays. Although a different color, the phasers in Discovery more closely resemble the effects in the Kelvin Timeline, operating in pulses and bursts rather than a continuous beam, but both methods of operation are possible.

5 Enhanced Transporter Capability

You Can, in Fact, Transport Moving People

Chris Pine's Kirk is transported in midair in Star Trek Beyond

The need to stand still during transport in Star Trek: The Original Series is a necessity born of the production capabilities of the time, but modern visual effects allow for beaming targets in freefall in Star Trek (2009), Kirk and Spock off Nibiru in Star Trek Into Darkness, and Kirk from his moving motorcycle in Star Trek Beyond. Transwarp beaming in Star Trek: The Next Generation requires both locations to be at synchronous warp, but in Star Trek (2009) Montgomery Scott (Simon Pegg) can, with Prime Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) help, beam to a vessel at warp. Both enhancements to transporter technology persist into new Star Trek shows.

4 The Enterprise’s Bridge Design

Strange New Worlds’ Enterprise Evokes the Kelvin Version

The bridge of the starship Enterprise is a familiar set to Star Trek fans, and its appearance in Star Trek (2009) updated its look from painted plywood to sleek metal and glass, trading jellybean button consoles for holographic displays, and offering more space between its stations. When the Enterprise appeared in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, the new Enterprise set owed a lot to the Kelvin Timeline version, including the fact that the viewscreen, now wide enough to span the front of the bridge, was an actual window looking into space.

3 Captain Christopher Pike’s Leadership in Action

Captain Pike is Great in Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

The Enterprise’s previous captain certainly existed prior to the Abrams films, with Jeffrey Hunter’s Captain Christopher Pike starring in the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”. Hunter’s Pike provides clues to his leadership style, with a reluctance to determine the fate of his officers in battle, but until Bruce Greenwood’s portrayal of Pike in Star Trek (2009), he’s not a fleshed-out or well-known character. Greenwood’s Pike is a substitute father figure and mentor who wants to bring out James T. Kirk’s (Chris Pine) potential, and Anson Mount’s version of Pike has similar relationships with his junior officers, particularly the conflicted Cadet Nyota Uhura in Strange New Worlds season 1.

2 The Romulan Supernova

Star Trek: Picard References the Destruction of Romulus in 2387

First mentioned in the Kelvin Timeline films, the Romulan supernova of 2387 remains a hard fact in the Prime Timeline, where it’s a defining event in the life of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard prior to Star Trek: Picard season 1. The Prime Timeline’s Romulan supernova is the driving force that inspires Romulan captain Nero (Eric Bana) to travel back in time in hopes of exacting revenge on Prime Spock, after he failed to prevent the disaster. Nero’s journey back to the 23rd century in the first place is the inflection point that creates the Kelvin timeline.

Admiral Picard tenders his resignation when Starfleet pulls back from their mission to help Romulan refugees after the supernova.

1 The Kelvin Timeline

Star Trek: Discovery Confirms the Existence of the Kelvin Timeline

After the USS Discovery makes the jump into the 32nd century, the Mirror Universe’s Emperor Phillippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) starts experiencing unusual symptoms. In Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 9 “Terra Firma, Part 1”, Dr. Kovich (David Cronenberg) explains he’s seen this before, in the case of Temporal War veteran Lt. Commander Yor, who traveled not just through time, but also from Yor’s home universe, which Kovich explains was created during the temporal incursion of a Romulan mining ship. This directly references the creation of the Kelvin Timeline, proving people in the Prime Timeline are aware of it.

The cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies created a new cohort of fans primed to take interest in Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Nyota Uhura, and other classic characters. Updated visuals and storytelling meant that people who might pass over Star Trek: The Original Series for looking dated had a doorway into Star Trek that they could take more seriously. Without the Kelvin Timeline films and J.J. Abrams’ changes, it’s unlikely that the new era of Star Trek television shows or the new versions of legacy characters in Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds would exist today.

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