The Star Trek Villains Who Were Supposed To Be In A Lot More Movies

By Michileen Martin | Published

star trek romulans

Have you ever wondered why — in spite of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation featuring the Romulans prominently as recurring antagonists, it wasn’t until 2009’s Star Trek (the 11th film in the franchise) that they appeared as chief villains? Well, the truth is that they were originally planned as the Big Bads for not one, but two Trek movies. The first time it was the late Leonard Nimoy who changed the story, and the second time it was Patrick Stewart who vetoed the pointy-eared bad guys.

They Were Villains In The Original Crew Films, But Never The Main Villain

star trek romulans

The original crew’s Star Trek films did feature Romulans as villains, but only as relatively minor ones.

Caithlin Dar, the Romulan ambassador to Nimbus III, is one of the many to fall under Sybok’s influence in 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, though she isn’t a major player.

In the 1991 follow up, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Romulan ambassador Nanclus is part of the conspiracy to spark a new Federation-Klingon war, but he’s barely in the flick.

In The TNG Films, They’re Practically Heroes

Once Picard and co. took over the Star Trek films, the Romulans graduated from minor villains to minor heroes.

For example, when the away team first encounters the villain Soran in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations, it’s after he’s barely survived a Romulan attack (which, if successful, would have helped avoid a lot of trouble).

Later in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, the Romulan Commander Donatra helps the Enterprise in her battle with Shinzon’s Scimitar.

Romulans Almost Killed Kirk’s Son

star trek christopher lloyd

In 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, it’s Christopher Lloyd’s Commander Kruge, a Klingon, who gives the order leading to the death of James Kirk’s son, but originally it was going to be Romulans doing the deed.

It was Romulans who intercept the Enterprise on their way to Genesis in the original version of the script, but in 2002, writer Harve Bennett told Star Trek: The Magazine that Leonard Nimoy — who directed Star Trek III — convinced him to make it the Klingons instead because they were more theatrical.

This also helps to explain why Kruge’s ship is referred to as a “Bird of Prey” — a name which stuck — even though in Star Trek this is the name originally given to a type of Romulan vessel.

Romulans Were Almost The Villains Of Insurrection

next generation movies

Instead of the stretchy-faced Son’a, Star Trek: Insurrection originally had Romulans forming a dark alliance with the Federation. The late Michael Piller got a lot of pushback from Paramount on the script, most notably from Picard himself, Patrick Stewart.

There were a number of problems Stewart had with Piller’s earliest ideas, but in a letter he wrote from the set of the Moby Dick TV movie, the actor said that his biggest issue was the “dredging up of the Romulans — a race already unexciting in TNG.”

So instead the Son’a were born with their quite literal stretch marks and all.

Ironically, considering Stewart’s apparent distaste for the villains, Romulans would prove to be major antagonists in the first season of his revival series–Star Trek: Picard.

Finally, Nero

It’s perhaps fitting that it took until 2009’s Star Trek for the Romulans to take center stage in the movies, considering that of all of Trek’s recurring antagonists, they are arguably the most patient. Sadly, in exchange for their heightened status on the big screen, the more passionate counterparts to the Vulcans had to lose their home–rendering Eric Bana even angrier than he was in 2003’s Hulk.

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