Abandon Ship! 'Star Trek' Loves to Destroy the Enterprise

star trek beyond
The USS Enterprise is in peril in the trailers for 2016's "Star Trek Beyond." (Image credit: Paramount Pictures via Twitter)

The USS Enterprise is one of the most iconic parts of "Star Trek." The vessel can take the crew anywhere in the universe, and with every iteration of the show, the ship gets cooler and better. Remember the crew of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" separating the craft's saucer section for the first time? So amazing.

But besides serving as a showcase for Starfleet's technology, the Enterprise is also a ship that gets blown up over and over again. "Star Trek Beyond," which premiered July 22, is no exception, as a swarm of drones attacks the famed vessel. The crew deploys all its technology to try to escape, but it's unclear from trailers if the ship makes it to fight another day.

Here are some of the other ways the Enterprise was destroyed or nearly destroyed in other "Star Trek" movies. [What I Learned by Watching Every 'Star Trek' Show and Movie]

"Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982)

This movie follows the deployment of the Genesis device, which is supposed to render barren planets habitable by rapidly terraforming their surfaces. But the device is coveted by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), who attacks the Regula I space station where Genesis is being developed.

The Enterprise quickly swoops to the rescue, but gets attacked by Khan's ship, the Reliant. The Enterprise's warp drive is badly damaged in the attack. By the time Khan gets the device and deploys it, the only way the Enterprise crew can escape is for Spock to sacrifice his life to fix the damaged warp drive amid high radiation levels.

"Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984)

Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), the ship's doctor, begins acting strangely. Spock's father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), explains to the crew that McCoy must be carrying Spock's katra, or spirit, because McCoy confronted Spock shortly before Spock's fatal final act in the action of the previous movie. Without help, McCoy will die. So the crew of the Enterprise breaks orders and spirits McCoy and the ship away from Starfleet.

Meanwhile, the Genesis planet, terraformed by the device from "Star Trek II," is being investigated by Starfleet — including the son of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) — and also comes under scrutiny by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), a Klingon. Enterprise arrives at the planet in search of Spock's body, but it turns out the power of the Genesis planet revived Spock.

Kruge orders his Klingons to attack the Enterprise, and Kruge also kills Kirk's son. The skeleton Enterprise crew agrees to activate the ship's self-destruct sequence to kill a Klingon boarding party. After killing Kruge, the crew escapes using his Klingon vessel. (A new Enterprise is given to Kirk's crew in the next movie, "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.")

"Star Trek Generations" (1994)

The crew of the "The Next Generation" is hunting Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell), an El-Aurian alien who wants to enter an extradimensional space called the Nexus. The Nexus is portrayed as a region outside of time where all of your dreams come true. Soran is so obsessed with the Nexus that he destroys stars to alter the path of the Nexus through space.

The crew voyages to the Veridian system to stop Soran from destroying an inhabited planet, Veridian III. There, they encounter a Klingon crew that kidnapped their engineer, Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton). Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) offers to exchange himself for La Forge, but is adamant he must go to Soran's location first.

When La Forge goes back to the Enterprise-D, he accidentally shows the Klingons the Enterprise's shield frequency. The Klingons then attack the Enterprise, with devastating consequences; even though the Klingons' Bird of Prey ship is destroyed, the Enterprise's warp core is so broken that Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) orders a saucer separation. When the core explodes, the saucer is sent crashing onto Veridian III.

After the crew finally saves the planet, Picard quips that there will be another Enterprise, because there are "plenty of letters left in the alphabet." [The Evolution of 'Star Trek' (Infographic)]

"Star Trek: First Contact" (1996)

The new Enterprise-E is invaded by the alien Borg. The crew figures this out after the ship's environmental systems go haywire. The Borg slowly take over the ship's decks and controls, assimilating crewmembers into the Borg collective as they go.

Picard is reluctant to let the ship go at first, but then he changes his mind and activates Enterprise's self-destruct sequence. He tells the crew to go to their escape pods. He remains on board the ship to rescue the android Data (Brent Spiner) from the Borg. Despite appearing to be assimilated, Data helps Picard regain control of the ship and deactivates the destruction sequence, saving Enterprise.

"Star Trek: Nemesis" (2002)

The Enterprise E-crew goes after Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a clone of Picard who takes over the Romulan Star Empire. Near the end of the film, the Enterprise takes on Shinzon's ship, the Scimitar. Picard struggles to defeat Shinzon, and, as a last resort, asks his crew to ram the Scimitar.

The crash damages the Scimitar's weapons, and in response, Shinzon starts up a thalaron weapon, which shoots a deadly type of radiation, to kill both crews. Picard goes to the Scimitar alone to try and disable Shinzon and the weapon. He succeeds in killing Shinzon. Data then boards the ship to rescue Picard, beaming the captain back to the Enterprise before firing his phaser on the thalaron generator. The resulting explosion kills Data and destroys the Scimitar, but the Enterprise is saved.

"Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013)

The second-most-recent "Star Trek" film features a new version of the Original Series crew, led by Chris Pine playing Kirk. In a nod to past "Star Trek" lore, the crew in this film encounters Khan (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who disables the Enterprise while he is actually supposed to be helping the crew.

Between Khan's deception and a nasty fight with the USS Vengeance — which is disputing Kirk's claim to Khan — the Enterprise is so badly wounded that it plummets to Earth. Kirk goes into the radioactive warp chamber to fix the warp core, killing himself in the process, but saving the Enterprise. Kirk is later revived with a vial of Khan's blood.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace