Star Trek IV Backstory Erased Because Of A Child

By Zack Zagranis | Published

star trek iv child

Ask someone to name a Star Trek movie, and even the most casual fan will say, “The one with the whales.” Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home manages to charm even the most hardcore haters with its fish-out-of-water time travel story and light-hearted tone. Unfortunately, one charming scene in Star Trek IV had to be scrapped thanks to a shy child actor.


arnold schwarzenegger

The scene in question would have given more backstory to the Enterprise’s famous helmsman, Hikaru Sulu. According to the original Star Trek IV shooting script, Sulu was supposed to run into a child on the streets of 1980s San Francisco who turned out to be one of his ancestors.

The scene, as planned, would have given Sulu a touching moment, something the character doesn’t really get in the movie as it exists now.

Sulu Meets Sulu

star trek iv child

According to the Star Trek IV screenplay, a young Japanese child passes Sulu on the sidewalk, causing the helmsman to do a double take. The boy then asks Sulu in Japanese if he is his uncle Akira. Sulu then addresses the boy in his native Japanese tongue to tell him he must be mistaken.

The boy starts to continue walking, but Sulu stops him to ask his name. When the boy replies that his name is Hikaru Sulu, the other Sulu is “visibly moved” and tells the child that he will have a long, happy life. Something Sulu is in a unique position to say to the boy since he hails from the 23rd century and knows his family history.

No Hate For The Kid

What happens next would have cemented the scene as one of Star Trek IV’s most touching, as Sulu tells a curious Bones the child was a distant relative. “That, Doctor, was my great-great-grandfather,” Sulu says in the script. So what went wrong?

According to Star Trek IV actors George Takei and William Shatner, in their respective memoirs, the child simply would not perform when it was his time.

Both men blamed the child’s skill level—he was not a professional actor—and an overbearing mother on set for making the boy nervous. Neither seemed to have any animosity towards the child and remembered the day fondly.

They Did Their Best

leonard nimoy

George Takei has said that both he and director Leonard Nimoy played with the child and attempted to loosen him up. Pictures even exist that show the two men smiling while the boy looks down at the ground, clearly too shy to perform. By all accounts, the two men spent hours on the Star Trek IV set trying to get the child used to being on a film set.

Sadly, the scene was being shot on location in San Francisco, meaning that the production was at the mercy of the waning sunlight. Eventually, Nimoy, like all good directors, had to make the best decision for the movie. Unfortunately, that decision was to cut the scene from the film entirely.

The Novelization

Unlike most deleted scenes, the Star Trek IV scene with the child was never actually shot. As a result, fans can’t determine for themselves whether the scene would have worked. There’s a very good possibility that even if things went exactly as planned, the scene would still have been axed for slowing down the pace and not contributing to the story.

Luckily, the scene still exists in the Star Trek IV novelization and the comic book adaptation, so fans can still experience it in some form or another.