MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)
With the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy, it’s the perfect time to look at STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN here on MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, the column where we look at fun quotes from some really good movies.
The STAR TREK films are chock-full of memorable lines, and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN is one of the most frequently quoted STAR TREK films. Appropriately enough, some of these oft-quoted lines are from Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock.
Death is a central theme of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, and a recurring plot point in the film deals with the “no win” scenario and how one in command of a starship should handle that situation. It’s a scenario which the crew of the Enterprise will ultimately face at the end of the movie, and it’s Spock’s decision on how to solve it that costs him his life.
The buzz that accompanied this movie when it was first released in 1982 was that the character of Mr. Spock would be killed off. The filmmakers seemingly diffused the anxiety fans were feeling by having Spock “die” in a simulation in the opening sequence of the film, which put fans at ease, for a while anyway, until the end of the movie when Spock would die for real.
At the time, Leonard Nimoy was not interested in reprising the role of Mr. Spock in a series of STAR TREK movies, but as the story goes, he had so much fun making STAR TREK II, that Nimoy changed his mind, and even though they went ahead and killed off his character, the door was left open for him to be “reborn” from the Genesis project and return in the next movie, STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984).
Spock’s death at the end of STAR TREK II is probably the signature moment of the entire STAR TREK movie series.
Let’s look now at some classic quotes from STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, screenplay by Jack B. Sowards.
In this scene, young Vulcan Saavik (Kirstie Alley) questions Kirk (William Shatner) about how he handled the “no win” situation:
SAAVIK: Admiral, may I ask you a question?
KIRK: What’s on your mind, Lieutenant?
SAAVIK: The Kobayashi Maru, sir.
KIRK: Are you asking me if we’re playing out that scenario now?
SAAVIK: On the test, sir… will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know.
MCCOY: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who ever beat the no-win scenario.
KIRK: I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible to rescue the ship.
DAVID MARCUS: He cheated.
KIRK: I changed the conditions of the test; got a commendation for original thinking. I don’t like to lose.
SAAVIK: Then you never faced that situation… faced death.
KIRK: I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.
As always, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) enjoys some of the best moments in the film, including some of the best lines. The following scene occurs as Kirk, Saavik, and McCoy are searching for the scientists working on the Genesis project. They’ve disappeared after Khan (Ricardo Montalban) had ransacked the lab looking for them. Kirk suggests that they use the transporter beam to follow them wherever they went. It’s an idea McCoy doesn’t like at all.
MCCOY: Where are we going?
KIRK: Where they went.
MCCOY: Suppose they went nowhere?
KIRK: Then this will be your big chance to get away from it all.
And who can forget when McCoy says to Spock:
MCCOY: Are you out of your Vulcan mind?
Of course, a great deal of suspense and excitement in STAR TREK II comes from the battle of wits between Captain Kirk and Khan. In this scene, Khan thinks he has killed Kirk, but as Kirk reminds him in one of the better lines from the film, Khan keeps killing everyone but Kirk! This conversation occurs as the two adversaries speak through their communicators:
KIRK: Khan, you bloodsucker! You’re going to have to do your own dirty work now! Do you hear me? Do you?
KHAN: Kirk? You’re still alive, my old friend?
KIRK: Still, old friend! You’ve managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!
KHAN: Perhaps I no longer need to try, Admiral.
KIRK: Khan… Khan, you’ve got Genesis, but you don’t have me. You were going to kill me, Khan. You’re going to have to come down here. You’re going to have to come down here!
KHAN: I’ve done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet… buried alive! Buried alive…!
KIRK: KHAN! KHAAAN!
But the best lines from the film come from the movie’s most powerful moment, Spock’s death.
To save the ship, Spock has sacrificed his own life, exposing himself to a fatal dose of radiation in order to get the ship to safety. But before he dies, he manages to have one last conversation with Kirk, as the two characters are separated by a pane of glass.
This emotional scene gets me every time.
MCCOY: (holding Kirk back): No! You’ll flood the whole compartment!
KIRK: He’ll die!
SCOTTY: Sir! He’s dead already.
MCCOY: It’s too late.
(Kirk walks to the glass.)
(Spock walks weakly to the glass.)
SPOCK: The ship… out of danger?
SPOCK: Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many, outweigh…
KIRK: The needs of the few.
SPOCK: Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?
(Spock sits down.)
SPOCK: I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
[Spock places his hand against the glass and spreads his fingers in the Vulcan salute.)
SPOCK: Live long and prosper.
Pass me the tissues, please. There aren’t many death scenes in STAR TREK or in any movie for that matter that are better than this one.
And we finish with another superb line, spoken by Kirk at Spock’s funeral, which provides yet another memorable moment from this movie:
KIRK: We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.
If you’d like to remember the work of Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, watch STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.
Live long and prosper.
Thanks for reading!