Star Trek III: The Search for Spock brought some changes to the Star Trek we all knew and loved
And series creator Gene Roddenberry hated a good portion of them. He felt like Star Trek was being changed too much and that everybody wanted to make the franchise better. Unfortunately, his objections, though noted, rarely made an impression on how things moved forward. One particular scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, that Roddenberry had a problem with, though, wasn’t just about Star Trek. It was about his attachment to the Enterprise. He did not want the ship to be destroyed in the movie.
Roddenberry’s friend and business associate, Richard Arnold explained in Star Trek Movie Memories why Roddenberry, who’d served in the military during World War II, had a particular feeling about ships. They were important during the war, given names, and were often referred to as “she.” Roddenberry had that same level of attachment to the Enterprise, and it makes sense. Star Trek started with a crew aboard the Enterprise, and that ship carried them through three seasons and two major movies. To Roddenberry, Enterprise was a big part of the series, essentially a part of the crew.
But the destruction of Enterprise was going to happen whether Roddenberry wanted it or not, and to make matters worse, Harve Bennett originally wanted the crew to simply move to the Excelsior instead of creating a new Enterprise. That left Roddenberry feeling like Bennett was trying to overhaul Star Trek and turn it into more of what Bennett wanted than what Roddenberry created.
While the powers that be saw the annihilation of the Enterprise as an awe-inspiring plot twist, Gene Roddenberry saw it as a revision of the Star Trek he’d created. Fans have differing opinions about the Enterprise’s demise, but odds are good that none of them would have been behind erasing the ship altogether from future movies.
And though we’ll never know all of the details that took place behind the scenes and why the producers felt like Enterprise had to be destroyed, one does have to wonder why, after knowing Roddenberry’s reasons, the Enterprise couldn’t have been badly damaged instead.