July 14 2024


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Abrams: Star Trek Split Timeline

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For fans of the original series and beyond, according to J.J. Abrams, don’t worry, because it’s all good and the adventures they love are still valid.

When Star Trek XI was created, the timeline alterations were meant to free Star Trek writers from the shackles of years of Star Trek canon stretching from the original series through Star Trek: Enterprise, so that writers could create new and fresh adventures.

But some of the changes were upsetting to established fans, and Abrams comprehends those emotions. “The notion that when this one character, Nero, arrives in his ship, that basically the timeline is altered at that moment, so everything forward is essentially an alternative timeline,” he said. “That is not to say that everything that happened in The Original Series doesn’t exist. I think, as a fan of movies and shows, if someone told me the beloved thing for me was gone, I would be upset.

“But we didn’t do that.  We’re not saying that what happened in that original series wasn’t good, true, valid, righteous and real. Let people embrace that. We’re not rejecting that. That, to me, would have been the big mistake. We’re simply saying that, ‘At this moment, the very first scene in the first movie, everything that people knew of Star Trek splits off into now another timeline.”

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54 thoughts on “Abrams: Star Trek Split Timeline

  1. I have to reject what JJ and crew keep saying about this. First off, for 40ish years of films and shows, time travel has never worked like that. For it suddenly to now, itself, shows a lack of respect to long time fans for a blatant alteration to the rules of the “Star Trek” universe.

    Second, I say BS that the Kelvin was ever part of the Prime Universe. It’s crew and tech just did not fit within the time period they claim it is from. At the very least the uniforms could have looked a little more like they did in “The Cage.”

    Finally, JJ and crew keep referencing “Back to the Future” with this and I think that itself is a joke. For people who actually watched the second film in the series where the alternate time line concept was talked bout, they’d know that the alternate timeline did in fact wipe out the original timeline. The whole plot of that film was that Marty McFly had to fix the timeline as a result. JJ, you are full of crap! Do you ever pay attention to films franchisees you take over or reference?

    Now if JJ and crew can admit that Spock and Nero did not just go back in time, but also to an alternate universe right off the bat, that is much easier to believe. Why we need to follow this adventure at all is another debate, but I really think if JJ could be more honest about this one issue, he’d win more supporters from the Trek community and probably wouldn’t need to take questions like this as much anymore. The fact that he still does and as often as he does, says a lot about how many old time fans he’s converted. Good luck by the way with that JJ.

  2. I think a lot of people lose focus of the fact that Star Trek is NOT REAL. It is an entertainment program put out by a corporation to make money. With that said and yes, I am a very large fan of the franchise since watching the original series first run on NBC, you can not make a niche movie only for hardcore fans. For Star Trek to continue to be successful, it needs to continue to bring in new fans like the last movie did. Do you people realize that you have JJ Abrams at the helm? You have the hottest Director and production team with the keys to the franchise. Sit back and relax a little and enjoy the process and the result. Star Trek is not a closed minded cult but a philosophy of how a brighter future may be. Don’t forget that one of the greatest Star Trek movies, the Wrath of Kahn, had a major mistake with Chekov who was not even in the series when the OG episode was shot and you got over it. Star Trek IV was made to bring in new fans (which it did) and kept things going strong. I have complete faith in JJ Abrams to do a great job and I will sit back in an IMAX theater and watch and enjoy the new film a couple of times.

  3. Timelines and such are fiction.. honestly i think the idea that the idea that if someone were to travel back in time, that creates a new timeline that basically branches off the original timeline and thus two timelines are now occuring. Any time travel into the past creates a Parallel universe. simple as that. Parallel universes are pretty grounded in Trek.

  4. The box office shows he doesn’t really need “good luck with that.” He converted PLENTY of fans. Myself included.

    The timeline works however writers say it works, and we’re supposed to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the story. The fact that some fans think not only stories, but uniform design and the speculative laws of physics and the imaginary laws of temporal mechanics are set in stone, was the entire reason for having to reboot the franchise.

    But if we’re going to have to talk canon, then how do we KNOW “that is not the way timelines work”? For all we know, everyone who traveled back and forth through time during the first 40 years of Trek WAS going to alternate realities, and simply didn’t know it. Maybe the Earth Kirk brought the whales to in the 1980s is a parallel Earth, and the one we saw getting ravaged at the beginning of the film actually got destroyed in its own timeline. Maybe in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” when McCoy went back through time, it shunted Kirk and Spock into the alternate reality McCoy created, simply because they were standing next to the portal. And when they”corrected” his actions and went back to the future, they entered still another timeline where events unfolded almost identically to the original timeline (and in the original timeline, none of the three ever reappeared).

  5. No, they didn’t do that. This is just a separate time line, like the dark universe timeline. Or like any of the timelines in the TNG episode “Parallels.” Trek is virtually littered with examples and references to alternate realities such as this one. The original timeline is still intact and still happened as we saw it happen.

  6. Love Candorville! You’re a pioneer, Mr. Bell! It’s wonderful to see such a talented artist also having the ability to debate temporal/quantum mechanics as well.
    However… should we follow your line of logic, which almost mirrors Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation; if the Spock of the original timeline is now in this alternate timeline & has knowledge of the aforementioned reality that is now w/out him, how does that affect both? & how did that same reality as TOS become an “alternate reality”? The Many Worlds Interpretation posits that those alternate worlds always existed, they’re linear; not created by an event like someone traveling back in time & changing something, etc.
    Also, there is the question of Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, which dictates that no identical fermions can occupy the same quantum state simultaneously, which is what the Spocks did in the epilogue. That in itself is a violation quantum mechanics.
    While I respect the Orci, Kurtzmann & Abrams ingenuity in trying to preserve & respect canon but also allowing themselves the freedom to tell fantastic stories for fans old & new, their methodology does violates several laws of physics.

  7. I’m happy to suspend disbelief. All the original stuff “happened”… not that it matters, because it’s all fiction anyway. Of course it still exists. I own the DVDs, it exists.

    Updating looks, like crew uniforms, etc…. well, Klingons were changed for ST:TMP. Enterprise had more technoligically advanced looking equipment. Production value and special effects advancements and *artistic license* are all parts of making a new and attractive product.

    Does it ignore establish “Star Trek rules”? Sure, but the shows did that too… Warp 13 in the original series became impossible in the TNG era shows. Does it matter that these rules are broken? No. My only real hope is that the second movie has a little more meat and substance to it: character development and relevant themes, hallmarks of the best Trek stuff.

    As for laws of physics being violated… Warp Drive? Time travel? While theoretically possible on the quantum mechanical level, they violate laws of physics. We’re in the realm of sci-fi hypotheses, not real science.

  8. I’d like to think Enterprise didn’t apply to ANY timeline.
    But, (dream shattered,) the same technological inconsistencies and slipshod approach to little things like basic science have carried over from Enterpoop/Enteritis to JJPrise.
    I say the disruptions caused by the Borg, and repeated visits by various Enterprises to Earth’s past, altered the timeline, leading to Enterprise. Prior to that, Enterprise did not exist. Oh Gods, how we wish that were still so…

  9. So is endlessly mucking about with the “real” timeline. yes, it’s a now-obsolete view of time travel, but it’s been well established in the franchise that altering the past affects the future. Sure it’s unrealistic, but hey, it’s fiction.

  10. I own a copy of the new film. I play it for people who hate Star Trek in general. So far, they have all liked it.

  11. Physics, and science in general, are foreign concepts to Kurtzman and Orci.
    I can overlook it, which is not easy for me, because the story is entertaining, and the characterizations are so spot-on. I feel it is one of the best films in the franchise.

  12. Look. Timelines, time travel, and the effects of time travel have been represented many different ways in Trek. There is room for this. Deal with it.

  13. I think my spin sensors just went off. Could it be that the degree of core fan alienation that resulted (which apparently is still growing, from recent posts on this and other sites) from the first movie is making Abrams and or the studio a little nervous? It seems like these comments might be meant to counter the reaction to the recent “I didn’t get it…” comments. The biggest question that this leaves is (when) do we get back to “the beloved thing”?

  14. I agree with Darrin on this one. “Parallels” established in a ‘canon’ TNG episode that there were untold thousands of alternate realities to draw from. Who is to say that Spock as played by Leonard Nimoy in this movie was even the same timeline Spock as TOS? Or TOS Remastered which also altered details from the original series? Or, have you read any of the countless contradictory novels, comics, etc. that have been licensed throughout the years? “Parallels” not only gave us all freedom to include this stuff in our own versions of ‘canon’ but also opened up fan fiction in general to become ‘canon’ of a sort, just by the fact that there are untold thousands of options. This is NOT a bad thing. The Star Trek Online game has in its continuity the idea that Spock entered an alternate reality where things were already different anyhow. So what? It’s a TV show and movies, it is not reality. Love it or hate it, Star Trek is FICTIONAL. So, ultimately, everyone should just relax. 🙂

  15. Totally agree with Ken…and Darren alternate universes are and timelines are quintessentially Trek, is it easy to get caught up in something you love absolutely BUT people take it for what it is, a great franchise that we all love to escape in so as to escape our lives even for a short time. Are some of the series and movies better than others sure but they were/are made to entertain us not divide us. Just embrace it for what it is…science fiction!

  16. I can never understand the reasons for “hatred” and “closed mindedness” of some here and on other pages who profess to be great Star Trek fans. I have been a fan since the 60’s, stayed up in my jarmies to watch TOS’s weekly episodes with awe and wonder.

    In the 80’s, being in Australia, I picked up a copy of “Encounter at Farpoint” from my local video shop. Couldn’t believe my favourite show was back! All new, new stories, new ship and new cast. Great!!! Got it, went with it – hale Gene Roddenberry again.

    I enjoyed DS9, loved Voyager – moreso after the addition of 7-of-nine – and loved Enterprise. Enterprise season 4 has some of the best Star Trek episodes ever. And then it was gone! No Star Trek OMG!!

    During the next years I followed the developement of JJ’s movie through this web site and the internet. When it finally arrived I was blown away and now I am just as excited about a sequel.

    As said above, ‘Parellels” gave us a way to deal with arguments of alternate Universes. Also, as far as most other time travel episodes go, when we get to the end of the story everything is returned to “normal” from our current perspective. Who’s to say that sometime in the future another reset is done by revisiting the events of “Countdown” (the comic) and preventing Nero from going back in time?

    In the mean time, if you really like Star Trek you’ll find something to enjoy in any incarnation. If you have to question and nit pick all the time why not just watch something else?

  17. J.J. Abrams is so full of shit, he’ll say Anything it takes to win back fans of Real Star Trek which he screwed over with this travesty.

  18. Amazing what some young punk director can do, who never even watched TOS much less gave a damn about the franchise. But simply because he produces a multi-million dollar film with state-of-the-art special effects AUTOMATICALLY MAKES HIM A HOT YOUNG DIRECTOR WITH TALENT – My ass!

    Shining flashlights into cameras for lens flare. Shaking cameras. A Brewery for Engineering. Idiotic writing, cliche characterization, and an overall non-thinking storyline with the weakest villain in all Star Trek history.

    Get real! If you call this Star Trek, you Don’t Know what Star Trek is all about.

  19. It does sound like Abrams et al is getting very nervous about his Lost in space franchise. He should be. There’s only so much you can do with poor acting, non-existent storytelling & expensive special effects. What they don’t have the testicular fortitude to admit is that split timeline was never the real problem (Of Gods & Men used the same device, better, at a fraction of the budget & pretense) – it was just a rallying cry for a bunch of dissatisfied viewers. If this mob promised a film set in the prime universe, i’d be no more inclined to pay my hard-earned to watch it

  20. I don’t understand why they just didn’t reboot the series; the splitting off timelines doesn’t hold up. For example, the Kelvin is obviously much bigger and much more advanced than the original Enterprise, even allowing for bigger budgets and better special effects. It resembles the Pike era Enterprise even less. If they just rebooted, they could have avoided making feeble excuses about altered timelines vs. split-offs.

  21. “It’s just a TV show! I mean, have you EVER kissed a girl?? Well, have you?? ” Shatner, SNL

  22. Hi. I’d like to point something out to you.
    Trek XI is a good film, and good Trek.
    Hear me out on this. I hated the concept of Trek XI from the outset. I wasn’t thrilled about Abrams, and when I heard who was writing the screenplay I pretty much gave up hope.
    When I heard good word of mouth, I saw it. You know what? I was very pleasantly surprised.
    It’s not without flaws. The lens flares and spinny-cam are annoying, and the new Enterprise is an overblown abomination. I can get over it because the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
    The script was weak on science, but very strong in character, and dialogue. The actors that played our beloved characters did a fantastic job. Karl Urban and Zach Quinto in particular knocked it out of the park.
    Rent it. Give it a shot. Could it really be any worse than Final Frontier, Insurrection, or the first three seasons of Enterprise?

  23. Actually, it’s more that people keep asking him the same stupid questions over and over again, and fan sites think it is news.

  24. It tells me that it’s a lot more enjoyable than Insurrection, most Voyager, and the first three seasons of Enterprise.

  25. Thanks, I appreciate that! As to the questions, here are my opinions:

    “if the Spock of the original timeline is now in this alternate timeline & has knowledge of the aforementioned reality that is now w/out him, how does that affect both?”

    In the “original” timeline, Spock is simply gone. He disappeared while failing to save Romulus. In the new alternate timeline, Spock’s probably going to withold his knowledge of the dangers/adventures that may still lie ahead for his younger alternate, because as he said at the end of the film, he wouldn’t want to rob his alternate of the experiences he’s had. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Old Spock shared a lot of his knowledge of technology and science, because now, without Vulcan, the Federation’s at a huge disadvantage and it may be the only way for the UFP to survive.

    “The Many Worlds Interpretation posits that those alternate worlds always existed, they’re linear; not created by an event like someone traveling back in time & changing something, etc.”

    I didn’t realize that. I thought Everett’s theory was one of branching universes, where “everything that can happen, does happen” and universes branch off from every decision point.

    As for the Exclusion Principle, the events in that film “took place” hundreds of years from now. I’m assuming that by Old Spock’s time (but maybe not yet by Young Kirk’s time), the Exclusion Principle had simply been shown to be wrong. I think Spock’s comment at the end was an allusion to that.

  26. I am an old fan of Star Trek, whom likes the original series. Gene after the series run, changed allots of things as time went on when he got older (in 70s his views on military for instance.) Star Trek changed, no longer was the Constitution Class a type of Heavy Cruiser, and it was simply a Starship, nameless type ship doing exploring.

    Star Trek: First Contact changed major part of canon history (namely how Warp Drive was invented and background of its creator.), then you have Enterprise which changed it more.

    Star Trek (XI) changed allot things, personally I think it was suppose to be re-imaging. I honestly think they (Writers/Producers/Studio) backpedaled once they started realizing how much a backlash from older fans could mess up the launch of the new film.

    Frankly, I still believe its just re-image of franchise; too much of older era (example USS Kelvin) was too advanced in comparison to old Constitution Class Enterprise technology from original show.

    Star Trek was only story telling scifi-show, which was suppose to illuminate human condition and provide vehicle for story telling. New film, less science reliable than all TNG era TV Shows combined. I don’t like dumbed down Science Fiction, especially when it supposes be based on smart science. Old Star Trek inspired a generation of people into science, XI wouldn’t. Its popcorn adventure, which was okay as scifi adventure film which in my personal opinion, is forgettable.

    I hope that someone could make it into a reimage television show. Least with reimaging, reboot (real one) you don’t have worry about old timeline being hacked. It could have perhaps come with some original stories. Television provides better medium and the time to tell a story. Movies haven’t been good lately telling smart stories.

    I doubt very much XII will be much better than last one, properly worse if their taking old material and retelling it new way.

  27. Why would he care, when he’s made millions of new Star Trek fans out of people who’d never heard of it before?

  28. No, it couldn’t.

    You never get back to “the beloved thing.” It’s gone, finished, kaput

  29. You CAN’T anymore. They’ve changed the original series being run on tv now. They added those crappy new digital scenes which totally make the whole show more like a cartoon. I hate them. It completely disregards the hard work to make the original film. I find many of the special effects used on TOS were quite excellently performed, mostly of other ships.
    I’m glad I taped SiFi channel’s long celebration of Star Trek back in the 90’s, which are still the original ORIGINAL show.

  30. UGH!! ULTIMATE UGH!! “Enterprise” broke so many Star Trek rules, that the only way I could endure watching is is that the whole “Enterprise” universe is a complete branch off from the Roddenberry Star Trek universe.

  31. Like some, I remember this is just a science fiction tv show. And like most, I prefer to keep a sense of regularity and continuity with the various creations of shows.

    I think most people accept the single timeline theory of time travel for Star Trek, mostly because of so many times when they’ve had to be careful to not disrupt future events.

    But I’m sure that there are also versions where branching off could be equally valid. I can only watch “Enterprise” by accepting that it’s a complete branch off of the Roddenberry universe of Star Trek…….waaaaaaaay branched off. There’s so much wrong with “Enterprise”, sometimes it’s hard for me to watch it.

    Only thing I found ‘iffy’ about Abrams’ movie version was the part of transporting ANYwhere in the universe. Talk about stretching the plot to cover themselves.

    I agree about renewing the franchise. We’re in new generations (no pun intended, but I’ll take it) about Star Trek, and they need to be allowed to view ST in their own reality of the 21st Century. Those of us who were able to see TOS in original broadcast undoubtedly groan at some of the changes we’ve seen thru the decades since. But I think Abrams’ version does enliven and increase the endurance of Roddenberry’s amazing creation.

  32. No, it tells you that the new movie may be a decent action movie, but not a real Star Trek movie.

  33. Do not presume to tell me what my opinion is.
    Doing so tells me that you are arrogant and stupid.

  34. Have to remember in the Star Trek universe the timeline has been changed, and many times set back.

    I think Q said it best “How little you mortals understand time. Must you be so linear, Jean-Luc?”

    Time can be changed and changed back, has happened more times in the universe then can be counted. Chances are at the end of these movies the timeline will be reset.

    Abrams is right this timeline does not negate the other one.

    Enjoy these movies for what they are, and don’t worry about the timeline. It’s just an alternate timeline. Doesn’t make the timeline we know and love irrelevant.

  35. You idiot.
    The original, cleaned-up releases of the original series are still available.
    The changes made to TOS-R are subtle and fit in very well, because they were rigidly controlled by continuity meisters like the Okudas. I’m very much a purist, and I think they did an excellent job.

  36. I thought the new film was rubbish…

    I am a sort of fan of Star Trek, and found it boring even as a general Sci-Fi action movie. I hate ‘re-boots’ etc, and especially the casting of new actors to play old established characters.

    The humour was to in your face (Scotty in the water tubes, bleach), and the emotional aspect as well.

    I felt that it was an insult to the actors of TOS (which I haven’t watched since the original airing).

    I won’t be buying the last one on disc, and won’t be bothering to go and see anymore at the cinema…

    RIP Star Trek…

  37. Totally agree Kevin (from Adelaide, Australia) as NONE of us have ever time travelled with the knowledge of it being puerly theoretical why argue over it go watch any incarnation of CSI and see the inconsistancies there (as far as time taken to arrive at a conclusion)…but its still fun to watch. Just enjoy Trek even though I have all the DVD’s of all of treks incarnations when it comes on TV I will watch it just for the serendipitous of the moment.

  38. I dont buy it or accept it. Fact is without respect to the cannon it’s less than half the show and what at least I enjoy. I’m not a stickler for lore eg I embraced the Xindi and everything Enterprise did with the Vulcans, new things can be made up, they can even send Spock back in time…They just shouldnt have blew Vulcan up.

  39. I LOVE IT! RE-BOOT the franchise. After TOS, it was derivative, cannibalistic, and watered-down. DS9 was a soap-opera too intricate to keep up with without constant viewing; Voyager sold out on it original premise, Enterprise was too tepid to stand the test of time.

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