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Best Easter Eggs And References In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

When Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One made their debut in the second season of "Star Trek: Discovery" aboard the original USS Enterprise, it wasn't long before fans were calling for the three classic characters to get their own spinoff series. Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn got rave reviews and continued their appearances in a pair of episodes of "Star Trek: Short Treks." As a result, it came as little surprise when "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" was announced as the next original streaming series on Paramount+.

Set less than a decade before "Star Trek: The Original Series," "Strange New Worlds" is set on the same Enterprise and features many of the same characters. Though it ties into the original series pilot "The Cage" by featuring Captain Pike, there's still much we don't know about this era of "Star Trek," which provides a wealth of story possibilities for the ship and its crew. It also means there are plenty of opportunities for Easter eggs, references, and connections to the wider lore. The first episode alone, simply titled "Strange New Worlds," references just about every previous series, with allusions to characters and moments from every era of "Star Trek." 

Already renewed for a second season, we're excited to see how the series takes the franchise up to the days of Captain Kirk. For now, though, we're watching every episode and are keeping our eyes peeled for all those Easter eggs, references, and connections. Scroll on to see the best ones we've found in Season 1 of "Strange New Worlds."

USS Archer

The premiere episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" opens with a dramatic scene on an alien world not unlike our own in the early 21st century, as scientists and military leaders make a startling discovery: an advanced starship has been spotted above the planet. We later learn that the ship traveled to this world under the command of Una Chin-Riley, Captain Pike's Number One, but it's the name of the starship that offers up our first Easter egg.

Designated the USS Archer, it's a clear reference to one of Starfleet's greatest captains and the star of the 2001 series "Enterprise." Played by Scott Bakula, Archer was captain of the NX-01 Enterprise before the founding of the Federation and helped shape the creation of the interplanetary organization. At the helm of Enterprise starting in 2150, Jonathan Archer made first contact with any number of alien worlds during his captaincy, many of which we saw on the four-season series. As such, it makes sense that a ship assigned to first contact missions would bear his name in the 23rd century.

It's also not the first USS Archer we've seen, as another ship with the same name was mentioned in the tenth feature film, "Star Trek: Nemesis," released just a year after "Enterprise" launched on television. Interestingly, the 23rd-century version's single nacelle set-up bears a resemblance to the USS Kelvin, the starship seen at the opening of the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot directed by J.J. Abrams.

Shuttle Stamets

Called back into service by Admiral "Bob," Christopher Pike finds himself in a Starfleet uniform once again and being ferried to a space dock where the Enterprise is waiting for him. He is taken by a young Starfleet officer aboard a shuttlecraft that bears a striking resemblance to the shuttles seen on "Star Trek: The Original Series," reimagined and redesigned for the new series. The name of that shuttle provides our next Easter egg. Calling station control, the officer announces her arrival aboard the Shuttle Stamets. It doesn't take a diehard Trekkie to know the shuttle is a reference to "Star Trek: Discovery" star Anthony Rapp and his character Paul Stamets, the Federation's leading astromycologist. But why would Starfleet canonize him by naming a shuttle after an active Starfleet scientist?

Well, because technically Stamets is no longer active in this era. At the conclusion of Season 2 of "Star Trek: Discovery," the USS Discovery must travel into the far future to save billions of lives from a galactic threat. Due to the nature of the threat, the mission was classified, and Starfleet considered the vessel lost with all hands. As far as anyone on "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is concerned, the entire crew is dead, including Stamets. It would seem that not long after the ship's "destruction," Starfleet commemorated the officer by naming one of Enterprise's shuttles after him. This is an appropriate honor, as it fits the Enterprise's theme of naming its shuttlecraft after famous scientists, with "Star Trek: The Original Series" featuring shuttles named for historic thinkers like Galileo and Einstein.

Chief Kyle

During the Enterprise's mission to Kiley 279, a landing party is assembled consisting of Captain Pike, acting first officer La'an Noonien Singh, and science officer Spock. In addition to feeling like a classic "Star Trek: The Original Series" away mission, they are beamed down by their transporter chief, who Pike refers to as Chief Kyle. He later plays a crucial role in the success of the mission, using an ingenious and inventive technique to beam down a serum into Spock's eyes to allow him to pass through a retinal scanner on the planet's surface.

Eagle-eared fans will recognize that Chief Kyle is not a new character created for this series but one whose origins date back to the original "Star Trek" series. Appearing in nearly a dozen episodes, the chief went unnamed for several stories until Spock addressed him as Kyle in "Who Mourns For Adonais?" He later appears in a small role in "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" and even pops up briefly in the 2009 big-budget reboot from J.J. Abrams. The original role was played by English actor John Winston, while the rebooted version was played by Chris Doohan, son of original Scotty actor James Doohan. Here, Chief Kyle is played by actor André Dae Kim. According to his IMDb profile, he will recur throughout the series, so perhaps we'll finally learn more about him.

Pike's attitude towards Vulcans

As the crew grapples with the dilemma of Kiley 279, Spock realizes the problem. It turns out that the people on the planet haven't developed warp drive — the first necessary step towards making them worthy of first contact — but instead developed a so-called warp bomb. In a briefing room, Spock discusses the problem with Captain Pike and acting first officer Noonien Singh. As he describes the normal process of first contact procedures, he notes that the Vulcans created the process, to which Pike responds with a proverbial eye roll, "as they never fail to remind us."

This attitude towards the Vulcans, and their perceived smug superiority, is a callback to "Enterprise," a prequel set nearly a hundred years before "Strange New Worlds." There we learned that ever since Vulcans made first contact with Earth in 2063 — as seen in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" era film "Star Trek: First Contact" — they have been helping to guide Earth's progress towards a larger role in the interstellar community. However, many saw the Vulcans as a limiting force on humanity's progress. Some, including Captain Archer, saw the Vulcans as arrogant and overbearing. 

In fact, Archer's mission on the Enterprise had been opposed by the Vulcans, who ultimately assigned their own officer, T'Pol, aboard the ship. Onboard, T'Pol often cited long-held Vulcan procedures, rules, and regulations, including those of first contact with pre-warp worlds, which Archer took under advisement, but often ignored.

Star chart name drops

As Spock briefs the captain he pulls up a star chart of the region, providing perhaps the episode's best Easter egg moment, worthy of a long pause. The star shart is filled with so many references to past episodes we could write an entire article on just this image alone. 

Clearly visible are Cardassia Prime and Bajor, the two key worlds at the center of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." The chart is also littered with other familiar worlds, including Vulcan, Andoria, and Trill. The Klaestron system is not far from Trill, which makes sense as it was the home planet of one of Dax's former lovers. We also see Mizar, the system that was the home of Thol, and Cor Caroli, which is where Captain Picard cured a plague, both of which are featured in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." From "Star Trek: The Original Series," we see Sigma Draconis, Talos, Coridan, and Sherman's Planet. In addition, Azati Prime and Denobula, from "Enterprise," are depicted appropriately as not far from Earth. 

Also from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" are worlds such as Tzenketh, Xepolite, Chin'Toka, Kobliad, Free Haven, and Dreon. We also see the Archanis sector marked in red in the lower right. The Klingons contested control of this region in Season 5 of that series, with Gowron calling their claim on the sector "ancient and indisputable." On the star chart, it is marked as Klingon territory. 

Further "Star Trek: The Next Generation" callouts include Drayken, Tau Ceti — home of the mysterious traveler — and Nausicaa, which has produced some of the galaxy's most ruthless mercenaries. The Argus Array is listed as a Federation installation, which is featured in the episode "Parallels," where Cardassians are apparently tampering with it. 

The Gorn

Back aboard the Enterprise after their away mission to Kiley 279, Pike, Spock, and Noonien Singh speak again in a briefing room. There, they discuss how to proceed with a pre-warp culture that is attempting to use advanced technology — copied from scans of a Federation starship — as a weapon. At this moment, we learn about Noonien Singh's past and the traumatic childhood incident that shaped her into the woman she has become. As we saw earlier on a PADD, the incident involved the Gorn, a species we've seen in live-action "Star Trek" only twice before.

In the classic "Star Trek: The Original Series" episode "Arena," Starfleet makes first contact with the Gorn, who have attacked a Federation colony on Cestus III. The Enterprise's captain, James Kirk, finds himself in a life-or-death battle with a Gorn soldier in one of that series' most iconic moments. Years later, on "Enterprise," we'd see the Gorn again, though this time it would be in the Mirror Universe, where a Gorn slave master named Slar is in charge of prisoners held aboard a futuristic starship from a parallel reality, the Defiant.

The premiere of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" explains that the Gorn have nurseries and keep human captives as food and breeding sacks, adding a gruesome new background to the lizard-like alien race. As the Gorn figure into La'An's backstory heavily, it's possible we might finally see them again in later episodes of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

Changing General Order 1

The first episode of "Strange New Worlds" is appropriately centered on a first contact mission to a world we've never seen before, Kiley 279. In the best "Star Trek" tradition, the story revolved around a classic dilemma of whether or not to get involved in the affairs of a more primitive culture and society that has not yet achieved interstellar travel, potentially violating the Prime Directive. Though discussed heavily in the episode, some fans may find it curious that Pike and his crew refer to the directive however as "General Order 1." That's because in the original "Star Trek," it is called just that until about midway through the series when writers reshape the lexicon.

In "Star Trek: Discovery," and in this episode, it is called "General Order 1," in keeping with canon. However, the Starfleet Admiral that meets with Pike, Spock, and Number One at the conclusion of the episode notes that the order might need a new name. Thanks to Pike's reckless disregard of Order 1, he says, "[Starfleet] is doubling down, renaming it 'the Prime Directive.'" Pike rolls his eyes and responds, "well, that'll never stick." This is both an in-universe explanation for the back-and-forth naming of Starfleet's highest order in "Star Trek: The Original Series" and a meta-reference to the inconsistencies throughout early "Star Trek" history.

Lieutenant Kirk

Early in the premiere episode of "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," we're teased with a surprising name drop when Captain Pike mentions a Starfleet officer named Lieutenant Kirk. It's an eye-popping moment: could the future Enterprise captain appear in the first episode? With Pike re-assembling his staff and personally selecting several new officers for the latest crew rotation, it seems he's asked for Kirk specifically, as Spock notes while they walk through the Enterprise's corridors. Nearer to the end of the episode, First Officer Una Chin-Riley tells Pike that Lieutenant Kirk has finally arrived on the Enterprise and is on his way to the bridge as requested. But when the officer walks through the doorway, we see it is not a yellow-shirted James T. Kirk but a blue-shirted science officer — with a surprisingly thick mustache.

Pike greets the lieutenant, shaking his hand and addressing him as Samuel Kirk. However, this is more than just a clever gag to bait-and-switch the audience, as Samuel Kirk is a character briefly seen in an episode of "Star Trek" in 1967 titled "Operation — Annihilate!" In the episode, deadly parasites attack an Earth colony on Deneva, causing mass insanity and taking many lives, including that of Captain Kirk's brother, Sam. We never see the brother of James Kirk in action, but we do get a look at his body after his death, and he's played by none other than William Shatner — who is sporting a thick Hollywood mustache. Thanks to Variety, we already know that James Kirk himself is set to appear in Season 2, so it will be interesting to see if his brother Sam figures into any future stories.

Admiral Robert April makes his live-action debut

Since the earliest days of "Star Trek" we've known that Captain Kirk was not the first captain of the Enterprise. Later on it was revealed that Christopher Pike was not even the first man to sit in the captain's chair. The honor of first captain of the Enterprise instead belongs to the fabled Captain Robert April, who has never before been seen in live-action. The closest fans had gotten to a glimpse of the former captain was in an episode of "Star Trek: The Animated Series." He appeared as an older man with the rank of Commodore, visiting the ship and reverse aging along with the rest of the crew in the episode "The Counter-Clock Incident."

In the premiere of "Strange New Worlds" we finally got to meet Robert April — now an Admiral — for the first time in live-action. Played by actor Adrian Holmes, he arrives by shuttlecraft at Pike's remote Montana ranch after the Enterprise captain had refused to answer his communicator. Pike even refers to Admiral April as "Bob," showing the close friendship between the two. This makes sense considering Pike's service record states that he was April's first officer aboard the Enterprise before his promotion to captain.

Though he only gets a single scene in the opening episode, it seems like Admiral Robert April — one of Starfleet's most decorated captains — could be set to become an ongoing recurring character in "Strange New Worlds."

Hemmer's origins are a major callback to Trek lore

The series' second episode "Children of the Comet" begins with a log entry from Cadet Uhura, the younger version of the future Enterprise senior officer played by Nichelle Nichols. She is still getting used to life aboard the Enterprise and is about to attend a dinner in the Captain's quarters. There she meets the ship's new chief engineer, an Andorian named Hemmer. But Hemmer is no ordinary Andorian — the normally blue-skinned, antennaed aliens who debuted in "The Original Series" episode "Journey to Babel." Hemmer is a subspecies of Andorian known as Aenar, who live in the frozen wastelands on Andoria, as seen in the "Enterprise" fourth season episode appropriately titled, "The Aenar." In the 22nd century there were only a few thousand of them on the planet.

When Uhura spots Hemmer chopping vegetables she offers to assist, knowing he is visually impaired, as Aenar are all blind. But Hemmer is quick to point out that while he may be unable to see, his people are no less able — with his other senses not just compensating but making him superior to ordinary humans — and needs no help. It's also mentioned that Aenar have a form of precognition, and Spock demonstrates Hemmer's telepathic powers as well. Both of these unique abilities were showcased in the "Enterprise" three-part story that introduced a young Aenar woman named Jhamel and her brother Gareb, who until now were the only Aenar ever seen on "Star Trek." In that story, the Romulans kidnapped Gareb and used his abilities to power a deadly new drone ship in an attempt to provoke a war between galactic powers.

Nausicaans seem to like hassling future Enterprise captains

During his dinner with the crew, Captain Pike entertains his people with a story from his earlier years. He was chasing down a Nausicaan while working a security job and fell flat on his face after tripping over, phaser still in hand. It's an incident that would apparently play at least some role in his switch to command, but it wasn't the last time a future Enterprise captain would tangle with some nasty Nausicaans. While we haven't seen Nausicaans that often, this brutish alien race made a memorable first impression in the "Next Generation" episode "Tapestry."

In that story, Picard dies and meets Q in the afterlife. He offers him a chance to go back in time and change his past. In doing so, Picard revisits a violent incident from his early days in Starfleet. While awaiting his first orders after graduating Starfleet Academy, Picard and two friends have a run-in with some Nausicaans who attempt to cheat them in a game of dom-jot. Defending his friend from a vicious melee, Picard got impaled through the back by one of the aliens, requiring him to have an artificial heart implanted that he'd carry for the rest of his natural life. Thankfully, it doesn't sound like Pike's brush with Nausicaans was quite so harrowing.

A return to a TNG star system

The episode "Children of the Comet" takes the Enterprise to the Persephone star system. A planet there is endangered by a massive comet which is due to strike its surface in a world-ending event that will leave no survivors. In his briefing, Spock says that the people on the planet are a primitive race with no way to know the threat they are facing, and no way to stop it even if they could see it coming. With the people below unable to save themselves, Pike and the crew get to work on finding a way to divert the comet from Persephone III. But this won't be the last time an Enterprise crew makes a visit to Persephone, as we have seen this planetary system before. It originally popped up in a first season episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," set nearly a century later.

Though it wasn't Persephone III, the Enterprise D visited the Persephone system in the episode "Too Short a Season." In that story, Picard and his Enterprise crew travel to Persephone V to pick up a renowned Federation negotiator (the elderly Admiral Mark Jameson) who has been called in to see to the release of prisoners taken in a terrorist hostage crisis. Things don't go as planned, of course: It's revealed that Jameson himself may be responsible for the crisis, the fallout from another incident he was involved in decades before.

Chapel's budding love for Spock

Nurse Christine Chapel and Mr. Spock had a brief interaction in the premiere episode, and their encounter in "Children of the Comet" made it clear there's some serious tension there — at least from Chapel's side of things. As Spock, La'An, Uhura, and Lt. Kirk (not James) prepare to beam to the surface of the comet, Chapel inoculates them with an anti-radiation drug. When she administers a dose to Spock, she openly flirts with the Vulcan science officer, though Spock doesn't seem to notice. Uhura does, however, and mocks him later in the episode, sarcastically referring to Chapel as his girlfriend.

The sparks are, of course, a direct reference to "The Original Series," in which Nurse Chapel (played then by series creator Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett) showed an open attraction to Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and even got jealous of his relationship with T'Pring. It was in the episode "The Naked Time" that Chapel professed her love for him, and in "Plato's Stepchildren" they even shared a kiss, though it was while they were coerced by alien telepaths, and neither was entirely comfortable with the encounter. Under the influence of a love potion, Spock himself became infatuated with Chapel in the quasi-canonical "Star Trek: The Animated Series" episode "Mudd's Passion." Where "Strange New Worlds" will take their relationship remains to be seen.

Uhura is already a good singer

Once arriving on the comet's surface and heading into the alien structure they find there, the landing party discovers a mysterious alien egg. Unable to get many readings, it's up to Uhura to decipher the inscriptions on the egg's surface and find a way to communicate with the intelligence at work in the hopes of lowering the comet's artificial shielding. If she can't, the comet may be destined to destroy Persephone III. But it's Uhura's first away mission, and the first time she's ever been responsible for something this critical. Luckily, Uhura unwittingly discovers how to communicate with the egg when she absent-mindedly begins humming an old Kenyan folk melody.

As it turns out, the comet's intelligence communicates through musical tones. It's lucky that Uhura was on the away mission rotation, because she's well known to be a talented singer. Diehard Trekkies will recall that in "The Original Series," Uhura had shown an aptitude for singing, and was seen doing so on more than one occasion. She was most fond of a song called "Beyond Antares," which she sang in two different episodes, "The Conscience of the King" and "The Changeling." They were performed by actress Nichelle Nichols herself.

Later in "Children of the Comet," Uhura and Spock sing together to communicate with the intelligence, and, as "Star Trek" fans know, this wouldn't be the last time they perform side by side. In the 1966 episode "Charlie X," Spock plays a Vulcan lute while Uhura accompanies him with her sweet voice, performing a song titled "Oh, On the Starship Enterprise."

An escape inspired by a former captain

As the landing party works inside the comet to alter its course in "Children of the Comet," Pike and the Enterprise find themselves confronted by an alien ship. The beings aboard it refer to themselves as "The Shepherds." They warn Pike not to interfere with the comet, which they believe is a kind of divine life-bringer. This is a powerful starship that the Enterprise can't quite compete with, so they're careful not to anger them, but they cannot abandon the mission to save the planet either. When they're finally forced into a firefight, Pike issues a command to get them out of there, barking "Escape pattern April Omega Three!"

This is a clear reference to Robert April, the former Enterprise captain who we met in the "Strange New Worlds" premiere. April became official canon in an episode of "Star Trek: Discovery," where his name appeared on a computer screen as part of a list of Starfleet's most decorated captains, alongside Pike, Jonathan Archer (from "Star Trek: Enterprise"), Matthew Decker (from "The Original Series" episode "The Doomsday Machine") and Philippa Georgiou of "Star Trek: Discovery." With April having his own escape maneuver named after him, it's no wonder he's considered one of the best.