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Small Details In The Star Trek: Discovery Trailer Only True Fans Understood

After a seemingly endless wait that drove hardcore fans nearly insane with pent-up anticipation, the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery is here, and Trek enthusiasts everywhere couldn't possibly be any more excited. Of course, the whole point of all this is to ramp up anticipation in the fanbase even further, so it shouldn't surprise anyone at all that there's a ton of little details to unpack in this clip, including a number of moments that will only truly register with hardcore fans. We've pored over every frame of the trailer and consulted all of our Starfleet manuals for clues, and we've come away with a pretty good picture of what to expect from the long-awaited new addition to the franchise—and what it all means for fans who've already taken a deep dive into Trek lore. Here are the seemingly small details in the first Star Trek: Discovery trailer that the Trek faithful understood.

Ship design lineage

One of the characters we're most excited about is Captain Philippa Georgiou, captain of the Shenzhou, played by the amazing Michelle Yeoh. There's a ton of mystery surrounding the Shenzhou—most notably, if the show is called Star Trek: Discovery, why didn't we see the Discovery and its captain (played by Jason Isaacs) in the trailer? All the shots were of Captain Georgiou on the bridge, so we assume the ship we saw was the Shenzhou—and true fans instantly recognized that ship's design lineage when it dropped out of the clouds.

Clearly, the Shenzhou is the ancestor of the NX-01 Enterprise, humanity's first warp-5 capable starship and the title ship of Star Trek: Enterprise. Both ships look similar, although their warp nacelles are situated differently around the saucer sectionThe showrunners are trying to show us how the technology of Federation progressed after the original Enterprise, but the old design features remained good enough for a starship. 

Fans of the later Star Trek series like Voyager and Deep Space Nine will also recognize that the Akira class has the same layout. True fans now have the design linkage between the old-school NX-01 and the top-of-the-line Akira class. We're glad the showrunners decided to design a ship that's obviously part of the Federation's developing technology, connecting the new with the old.

Uniform design

Star Trek always has the coolest uniforms, and since this series takes place ten years before the original series, the crew's outfits need to look like something that could evolve into the bright, Technicolor uniforms of Kirk and Spock. Eagle-eyed fans are able to see the references these new uniforms are making—and how they'll evolve.

First of all, they have a blue color like the Star Trek: Enterprise uniforms, only this time they're not jumpsuits. The Discovery uniforms mark the slow transition away from jumpsuits into formal military dress. They also look like the uniform Kirk's dad wore in the 2009 Star Trek reboot.

Like the Star Trek: Enterprise uniforms, divisions have color accents. Looking closely, we see that command had gold piping, which by Kirk's era will evolve into the bright yellow shirt of command crew. Operations/helm seems to have bronze accents and tactical/security in silver.

One of the more interesting details on the uniform is the badge. In the original series, the badge design was unique to the ship. Only the Enterprise had the familiar swooping triangle badge, which is something most casual fans of Star Trek forget. Why does the crew of the Shenzhou have the same badge? Is it possible that the Enterprise badge was a sign of respect for whatever the heroes of Star Trek: Discovery end up doing?


As we would expect from a show set ten years before the original series, some of the characters from old-school Trek are going to show up here—including Sarek, Spock's dad, a character who's showed up repeatedly throughout the franchise.

This time around, Sarek is played by James Frain, spotted in the trailer talking to main character Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), telling her that amazing people are needed to bring people together. And he would know—this isn't just a random Vulcan. Sarek is one of the most important political figures in the Federation, and is well-known around the Alpha Quadrant as an excellent ambassador.

Sarek's lines were also really intriguing, since they implied that Burnham has a strong connection to the Vulcans. Perhaps she's half-Vulcan, like Spock; in fact, it's possible that Sarek is Burnham's father, making her Spock's half-sister. Either way, seeing Sarek raised some fascinating possibilities.


The Klingons glimpsed in the Discovery trailer could offer some intriguing mysteries. They aren't exactly like the Klingons that we saw in the original series (with smooth foreheads and more humanlike features) or the Klingons from later series (with the forehead ridges). They're somewhere in between.

As fans of Star Trek: Enterprise know, there's actually an explanation for this. In canon, the Klingons were hit with a virus in the 22nd century that mutated some of the species to lose their forehead ridges, so it's possible that these new Klingons are victims of the virus.

These could've also been ancient Klingons, which—judging by their dress and the design of their spaceship—seems possible. There's an even more intriguing possibility that really dives into Star Trek lore, too: the Klingons were invaded in the 14th century by a mysterious species called the Hur'q, which stole their religious artifacts and ravaged their home planet. We've never seen them, so it's possible that these weird aliens are Hur'q.

Tomb of Kahless

During the trailer, we saw the Klingons congregating around a mysterious tomb, seemingly in reverence to whatever was inside of it. If these are either ancient Klingons or Hur'q, this is probably the tomb of Kahless—which should get any Star Trek fan excited.

Kahless is the central mythological figure in Klingon culture. Before he died, he prophesied that he'd return to lead the Klingon Empire to glory. In the meantime, he'd be in Sto-vo-kor, Klingon heaven, waiting for warriors who died in battle. Throughout Klingon history, people have impersonated Kahless, but he's never returned.

Interestingly, we learned early this year that the plot of Star Trek: Discovery will focus on the unification of the Klingon Empire. And what is Kahless's prophetic role? To unify the Klingon Empire under his leadership. It all fits. If that really is the tomb of Kahless, those are probably Klingons who believe they're under religious duty to unify the empire, which could hold problems for the Federation.


Every Federation ship in Star Trek has a registration code. For example, Kirk's Enterprise is NCC-1701. The codes get pretty complex (the USS Defiant's code is NX-74205), but true fans can spout off the registry code for any ship in the franchise. So when the trailer dropped, they knew to look at the ships really closely—which only added to the mysteries.

Early promotional material for Star Trek: Discovery gave the ship the code NCC-1031, so on the exterior space shots, fans were looking closely for it. In the image above we can see the registry code right next to Burnham's suit... and it's not NCC-1031. Instead, it looks like the code is NCC-1227, which must be the code for the Shenzhou, Captain Georgiou's command. It's a small detail that only hardcore fans could have picked out, but it makes the trailer so much more mysterious. Why is Burnham on the Shenzhou if she's the main character in a show called Star Trek: Discovery? Where's the titular ship? Is something terrible going to happen to the Shenzhou in the first few episodes? We might be seeing Star Trek take the Game of Thrones approach to the first season.

Old-school communicators

It's a detail so quick that most people probably missed it, but Captain Georgiou uses an old school communicator to call for a beam up. This doesn't look like some re-imagined version of Kirk's tech—it's definitely a faithful replica of the old prop that proves the showrunners took the time to re-create some of the artifacts from the original series, and not just rely on the props from the alternate universe Star Trek movies.

The bridge of the Shenzhou doesn't really look like the bridge of the original Enterprise, but that makes sense; of course the showrunners are going to update the set design from the original series, because otherwise, it would look pretty dated to the modern TV audience. The Shenzhou may also be a patrol ship/warship rather than as a luxury explorer like the Enterprise. The interiors should look different.

Whatever the case, it's great to catch a brief glimpse of a classic communicator—hopefully just the first of many old-school pieces of tech revived by Star Trek: Discovery.

A fragile peace

Some people might have been mystified as to why Captain Georgiou wouldn't fire on the Klingons, but fans knew better. Before the events of the original series, the humans and Klingons were at an uneasy truce which basically led to a Cold War between the two superpowers. Both sides viewed each other with suspicion, and by Kirk's time, the powder keg had exploded into open conflict. During the decade before (in the time period of Star Trek: Discovery), there was real fear that a big war could break out. This is why the crew of the Shenzhou freaked out when the Klingons showed up.

It's easy to forget that the Federation and Klingons didn't really communicate before peace accords were signed, so the crew of the Shenzhou have absolutely no way of knowing what they're up against when the Klingons show up. They could have the Star Trek equivalent of a Death Star for all the crew knows.

This also explains why Captain Georgiou tells them that the Federation doesn't fire first. It's most likely not an act of compassion—Georgiou literally doesn't want to start a war. We're certainly going to see some old-fashioned Cold War paranoia between the Federation and Klingons, and true fans got just a little taste of it in the trailer.

The Vulcan language is hard for humans

Once again, this was a small detail, but one that made true Trek fans smile. Throughout the series, there are many references to how hard it is for humans to speak Vulcan. It's the reason Spock doesn't go by his full name, since humans would find it impossible to pronounce. It's a nice piece of continuity for the writers to remember. While Burnham obviously has strong Vulcan relationships, she can never truly be one of them, if only because she can't speak their language.

Bat'leth use

Clearly Burnham is really brave to off with a fully armored Klingon in the last scene of the trailer, but casual fans of Star Trek probably wondered why the Klingon didn't just blast her with a disruptor and call it quits.

Hardcore fans, however, know the Klingon was probably using a Bat'leth, the traditional blade of a Klingon warrior. Fighting with a Bat'leth is considered honorable in Klingon culture, so perhaps this warrior was wielding it as a sign of respect. More likely, this backs fan theories that these are either ancient Klingons or the Hur'q.

The Klingon mythological hero Kahless was said to have created the Bat'leth, and used it in battle to defeat the evil tyrant Molor. The Hur'q stole Kahless' sword when they invaded the Klingon homeworld. Eventually it turned up and was shot into space. If we're seeing a Bat'leth here, it likely ties into Discovery's Klingons being ancient religious fanatics—and therefore very, very dangerous.