Space may be a void, but Paramount‘s Star Trek isn’t made in one. Every piece of art is inspired by what came before it, and episodes of Trek are no different. Here are some episodes from the franchise that take more inspiration from non-Trek movies than you may realize.
“Macrocosm” Star Trek: Voyager S3, E12
Captain Janeway and Neelix return from negotiations with an alien species to find Voyager unresponsive and no one there to greet them. We soon learn almost everyone aboard the ship is dying after being attacked by viruses, which have evolved to become basketball-sized menaces flying through the ship’s corridors.
It isn’t so much the plot of the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Macrocosm” that feels like it’s pulled directly from 1986’s Aliens, but very specific elements of the story. Most notably– just like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the climax of Aliens–“Macrocosm” finds Janeway uncharacteristically alone, stripped down to a sleeveless t-shirt, covered in sweat, armed with a mean-looking gun and a bag filled with explosives. She does it all while stalking the hallways of Voyager to save her colleagues from a voiceless and seemingly hive-minded enemy who won’t be reasoned with.
“Empok Nor” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S5, E24
Macrocosm” isn’t the only Trek story fueled by an earlier sci-fi classic. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Empok Nor” feels far too much like John Carpenter’s The Thing for the similarities to be accidents.
“Empok Nor” isn’t nearly as gory as The Thing, but that’s one of the few ways in which the stories differ. The episode finds Chief O’Brien leading a Starfleet team to the titular station –DS9’s decommissioned twin–in the hopes of salvaging spare parts and brings Garak along because of his expertise in all things Cardassian. Unfortunately, just as the alien of The Thing turns friends into enemies, an airborne virus turns Garak against the heroes, and he’s just as dangerous as John Carpenter’s alien.
Between Garak being controlled by an external force and the heroes trapped in a dark, isolated station, it’s clear “Empok Nor” director Michael Vejar owes John Carpenter a thanks or two.
“Starship Mine” Star Trek: The Next Generation
There is perhaps no more blatant and well-known example of Trek stealing from the big screen than Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Starship Mine” or, as it’s commonly known in the fandom, “Die Hard on a starship.”
Rather than the bloody-footed John McClane, “Starship Mine” finds Star Trek icon Jean-Luc Picard facing down criminals aboard the Enterprise while the ship undergoes maintenance. With the criminal’s colleagues keeping the rest of the crew hostage at a party–just as McClane’s wife and her coworkers are hostage at an office Christmas party in Die Hard–Picard is forced to use his knowledge of the ship and guerilla tactics to take down the bad guys.
As an added bonus, “Starship Mine” includes a bit of funny synchronicity. The very first bad guy Picard takes out is played by Tim Russ. Not only would Russ make his debut as the regular character Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager fewer than two years later, but Tuvok is a Vulcan, and Picard takes him out with the famous Vulcan neck pinch.
“Alice” Star Trek: Voyager S6, E5
Just as “Macrocosm” isn’t the only sci-fi classic Star Trek borrowed from, The Thing isn’t the only John Carpenter film the franchise was inspired by. The Voyager episode “Alice” is a 24th-century version of Carpenter’s 1983 film Christine, which adapted the Stephen King novel of the same name.
Christine stars Keith Gordon as the unpopular teen Arnie, obsessed with restoring a 1968 Plymouth Fury, who he gives the name “Christine” and which we eventually learn is possessed by a demonic spirit.
Meanwhile, in “Alice,” Tom Paris salvages an advanced shuttle from a Delta Quadrant junkyard and soon it’s the only thing he cares about. He spends every waking hour–and plenty he should be asleep during–working on the shuttle he names Alice. The shuttle is possessed by a malevolent intelligence that appears before Tom as a human woman that only he can see and hear.
“Honor Among Thieves” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S6, E15
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s “Honor Among Thieves,” Chief O’Brien, of all people, is recruited by Starfleet Intelligence to go undercover in order to infiltrate the Orion Syndicate. To do this, O’Brien befriends the aging crook, Bilby. Eventually developing a real friendship with Bilby, O’Brien starts feeling guilty about his assignment when it becomes clear it will lead to his new friend’s death.
A crook past his prime? Someone undercover with a guilty conscience about the old criminal’s imminent death? If you guessed the 1997 crime drama Donnie Brasco as the inspiration for “Honor Among Thieves,” you guessed correctly. Not only do the plot points match up, but “Honor Among Thieves” aired one year after–to the month–Donnie Brasco hit theaters.