JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, the mostly successful reboot of the moribund franchise, uses a plot device where the past is changed to allow the new film and its sequels to have their own continuity and canon. But Trek fans are nothing if not continuity freaks, and even though the change to the timeline occurs on the day Captain Kirk is born, three decades before the original series, there are still some continuity details that the movie gets wrong. Of course the new, altered timeline allows the filmmakers to simply say ‘That happened differently in this reality,’ but you have to wonder how the destruction of one starship would change Starfleet’s fashion, the launch date of another starship or the very history of space diplomacy.
These are all nitpicks, of course, meaning that they’re essentially meaningless, so don’t get too up in arms about it. And be aware that there are spoilers for the new Trek in here, so don’t read these nitpicks until you’ve seen the new film.
5. Everybody’s too old. According to accepted Star Trek canon, James T Kirk was born in 2233. The Enterprise was launched in 2245 – when Kirk was 12 years old! But in the new movie we see Kirk on the Enterprise as it’s on its maiden voyage (and forget the fact that the wrong captain is in charge; if you’re using the animated series as canon, Captain Robert April launched the Enterprise), and he’s most certainly older than 12. And it gets worse when you realize that Chekov was born in 2245, the year that the Enterprise launched. Anton Yelchin is young, but he’s no newborn.
4. Sulu on the bridge. The first time Sulu is introduced, in the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, he’s the head of the Enterprise’s astrosciences department. At some point between then and The Corbomite Manuever Sulu got transferred to a new position as helmsman. This also means Sulu is wearing the wrong color uniform; gold is for command, while he should have been outfitted in the blue sciences division uniform.
3. The outfits. Abrams’ Star Trek takes place a decade or more before the events of the original series, yet the Starfleet uniforms are way ahead of their time. The original, unaired pilot episode, The Cage (which was repurposed into the two part original series episode The Menagerie, making it canon), shows completely different Starfleet tunics.
2. Spock and Uhura. This is one nitpick that is almost demolished by careful reading between the lines in the original series. While there’s no canonical element to suggest that the two had a relationship (or even knew each other before serving on the Enterprise), Uhura does have enough familiarity with Spock in the episode The Man Trap, where she sings a song mocking him to his face. But the fact that she’s surprised by how well he plays the Vulcan lute – something Spock did not keep to himself and likely wouldn’t have hidden from a student he was schtupping – makes it seem unlikely that the two had a previous relationship.
1. Everybody knows what Romulans look like. In the classic original series episode Balance of Terror it is firmly established that no one in the Federation had ever seen a Romulan. When the Enterprise encounters a Romulan Bird of Prey and the Romulan captain appears on the view screen, everyone is suprised to see that he looks just like a Vulcan (they’d be even more surprised if they knew he was played by the same guy who played Spock’s dad). When Nero, looking like a bald, tattooed Vulcan, shows up on viewscreens in Abrams’ Star Trek, no one even bats an eye.