Quentin Tarantino WIll Never Direct a Star Trek Movie, But He Changed Season 3 of Picard

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Quentin Tarantino

The fandom was understandably excited a few years ago when it sounded like we might be getting a Star Trek movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. That project sadly fell through, but it turns out that he had a very deep influence on Star Trek: Picard that has been hiding in plain sight for over a year. From his personality to his appearance, Worf in that series was a deliberate homage to Pai Mei from Kill Bill.

Matalas Wanted Something Different

If you know much about Worf actor Michael Dorn, you probably know that he had been agitating for a solo series focused on Worf long before the idea of a Picard show was a twinkle in a Paramount executive’s eye. When putting the third season together, it would have been easy for Picard showrunner Terry Matalas to explore the notion of Worf serving as captain of a starship. However, Matalas said that he wasn’t interested in pursuing this or any other of the Worf storylines that various Star Trek books and comics have explored.

Lone Worf And Cub

Quentin Tarantino

Instead, Matalas took a page out of Quentin Tarantino’s book, saying that he saw Worf as “a samurai,” a lone warrior “with this Klingon sword on his back.” The showrunner also admitted that “although this doesn’t quite line up with Klingon lore,” he envisioned Worf “with a white beard.” When he told this to Michael Dorn, the Worf actor immediately asked “Do you mean like Pai Mei from Kill Bill?”

Interestingly, Matalas responded with “that’s a way to go,” indicating that he wasn’t necessarily thinking about Quentin Tarantino’s film when coming up with his vision for Worf in Star Trek: Picard. Nonetheless, he loved Dorn’s suggestion, and Dorn was equally enthusiastic about this new course for his legendary character. “I love it,” he told the showrunner. 

There Was A Real Pai Mei

quentin tarantino

At this point, you might be wondering how Matalas could have been thinking up something so specific for Worf without immediately thinking of Quentin Tarantino. The reason for that seems clear: the Kill Bill director didn’t exactly invent Pai Mei–rather, he provided his own interpretation of Bak Mei, one of the Five Elders who survived the Qing Dynasty’s destruction of his Shaolin Monastery. Fictionalized versions of this character became an archetype in many kung-fu movies out of Hong Kong, so Tarantino continued this tradition and used the legendary figure’s Western name Pai Mei for Kill Bill.

Worf and Raffi

Once you know that Quentin Tarantino’s version of Pai Mei was the inspiration for Worf’s new look, it’s basically impossible to unsee. Furthermore, there is some parallelism between Pai Mei in Kill Bill and Worf in Star Trek: Picard, including the fact that Worf–like Tarantino’s hero–spends time teaching his lifetime of knowledge to a young female student. In Kill Bill, Pai Mei teaches Beatrix Kiddo her deadliest techniques–in Picard, Worf teaches them to Raffi, a female warrior whose killer instincts don’t always jibe with Starfleet values.

Where’s Our Star Trek: Worf Series?

Even without knowing the Quentin Tarantino influence, I was already a big fan of what Star Trek: Picard did for Worf, adding extra layers of development to a character that, frankly, has often been very one-dimensional. Ironically enough, this version of Worf was so great that I’ve come back around and warmed to the idea of a solo show featuring everyone’s favorite Klingon. 

Worf as a samurai wandering the galaxy, cutting off heads while dispensing Zen wisdom? Paramount should call that one Star Trek: Community, because an idea like that is definitely getting six seasons and a movie.