In the Star Trek universe, saving a planet from total destruction was all in a day’s work. But Star Trek 4: Voyage Home saw Captain Kirk and Spock focus their planet-saving efforts a little closer to home, as they travelled back in time to 1986 in order to save Earth from being annihilated by an alien probe. The key to saving the planet, as it turns out, was humpback whales.
By 2286, humpback whales were extinct on Earth, with the Star Trek movie painting a grim picture of what the future might hold for the species at the time of the best ’80s movie‘s release. Back in 1986, humpback whales were classified as an endangered species, but this all changed when the science fiction movie came out. And this real-life impact really makes The Voyage Home stand out when considering the Star Trek movies in order.
After The Voyage Home was released, audiences were so moved by the plight of humpback whales — which at that point, were nearing extinction — Greenpeace saw a surge in phone calls, letters, and donations.
In an 1986 interview with the Associated Press, Gene Wilkinson, wildlife legislative director at Greenpeace’s Washington chapter, praised the Star Trek movie for shining a light on conservation. ″It’s brought attention to the fact that whaling is still going on,″ he explained. ″The whale population is vulnerable to the point of extinction. Also, [the movie] stands for a whole lot of species that countries are exploiting or losing due to extinction.”
But the best Star Trek characters didn’t just raise awareness of these issues, but encouraged people to act make the world a better place. This ultimately led to humpback whales “no longer being hunted to the point of being commercially extinct,” Wilkinson added. So, is The Voyage home the best movie of the Star Trek franchise? We’re sure humpback whales will probably think so.
To find out about the new movie in the Star Trek franchise, check out our guide to the Star Trek 4 release date. Or, if you want something a bit different from your sci-fi, here’s what to know about Avatar 3.