“It would be interesting, Captain, to return to that world in a hundred years and to learn what crop has sprung from the seed you planted today.” – Spock, “Space Seed”
Well, we got our follow-up, and it didn’t take a hundred years. Separate from whether or not leaving Khan and his followers on Ceti Alpha V was a good idea, it did give us probably the best of all the Star Trek movies, or at least one of the top two. (I see you, First Contact.)
But that’s not the only ending that left us temporarily hanging. Here are more unresolved Star Trek episodes, characters, and stories that are worth following up on.
The Providers’ promise in “The Gamesters of Triskelion”
This was a second season TOS gem with outrageous costumes, a “master thrall” with glowing eyes that activated pain collars, and a trio of brains betting quatloos on physical combat between species yanked from all over the galaxy. Kirk rightly puts a stop to this nonsense, winning his big gamble and convincing the Providers (those brains) to free the thralls.
So what happened after the Enterprise left? Is this now a thriving society? Did the thralls rise up and smash the Providers’ protective dome? Did they build ships? Did any of them find out where their home planets were and return to them? Did Starfleet go back to check to make sure that The Providers honored their word? Is Shahna still there? And is she still wearing the same outfit?
Sex ed on Gamma Trianguli VI in “The Apple”
The 1960s TV aesthetic imposed on the show meant that Kirk truly did this planet wrong. Not by destroying Vaal — Kirk and McCoy argued with Spock about it, and while each side made a strong case, I think in the end they were right that this was a planet of people whose sole function was to service a machine. Setting them on the path to self-determination was a huge risk, but one of several justifiable moral choices. Spock remaining troubled by the whole experience is just as legit.
But before they left the planet, Kirk had an unfortunate exchange with the natives, telling them that they’re going to have fun learning about love and having children. When they asked what children were, he told them, “Just go on the way you're going. You'll find out.”
They left the planet behind without a middle school-level sex ed book, let alone birth control or any kind of information on… well, anything. The women must have been terrified the first time one of them got pregnant, let alone went into labor.
Captain Kirk, I love you, but this was not a time to be cute and cagey.
McCoy’s communicator in “A Piece of the Action”
This gangster planet episode is a blast, but let’s not forget what happened at the end: McCoy accidentally left his communicator behind!
There was a comic book that followed up on this, so I know I’m not the only one who wanted to know what happened next. They say the comics aren’t canon, which means you should feel free to write your own version of what happened to the Iotians — and don’t forget to take your cut.
A society on the brink in “The Hunted”
This fascinating TNG episode told the story of a group of supersoldiers who were created by the Angosians to fight their wars, and then abandoned and imprisoned them when they were deemed too violent to function in normal society.
Picard and his team left the planet at a pivotal moment. The soldiers and the Angosian authorities were at a standoff, on the precipice of conflict, as the Enterprise crew beamed out. Safely back on the ship, a glib Picard told Riker, “Number One, will you note in our report that if the government of Angosia survives the night, we will offer them Federation assistance in their efforts to reprogram their veterans.” He added that he thought they’d choose to survive.
So did they? And was the Federation able to help? Most of all, what happened next on that fateful night?
That homing beacon in “Conspiracy”
Everyone knows this Next Generation episode, where Riker consumed worms (poor Jonathan Frakes actually ate them, only to have the shot go unused) and Remmick’s head exploded. Bug-like critters had taken over dozens of Starfleet officers, and while their threat was neutralized at the end of the episode, the homing beacon sent by Remmick from Earth still went out to an “unexplored sector of our galaxy.”
There’s been some follow-up to this in Star Trek novels and comics, and while they meant to do something on the show, they never got to it.
Scientists who boldly went: Mirasta Yale and Gillian Taylor
One of my favorite TNG guest characters was Dr. Mirasta Yale, who was representing probably all of fandom when she told Picard, “I have been prepared for the realities of space since I was nine years old.” Our good captain fulfilled that dream, inviting her to stay on the Enterprise. And then we never saw her again. So is she still there? Did she join a research team somewhere? Is she traveling from planet to planet, soaking up all the knowledge she’d been yearning for? Perhaps our friends at Lower Decks can give us a drive-by update.
Dr. Gillian Taylor also gave up her life at home — in her case, 1980s Earth — to join a science vessel, as she had “three hundred years of catch-up learning” ahead of her. Since we know the Cerritos has Cetacean Ops, this would be another good Lower Decks opportunity. Tell us where she is, and how it’s going! (We’d also like an update on our whale friends George and Gracie, if you don’t mind.)
Can we get a 20 on Sisko and Odo?
Spoilers ahead, first-time Deep Space Nine viewers: In the series finale, Odo rejoined the Great Link (in a shapeshifted tuxedo, no less) and Sisko remained in the Prophets’ Celestial Temple. All of us DS9 fans would very much like to know what they’re up to these days, and so would Kira, Jake, Kasidy Yates, and Benjamin & Kasidy’s child, who hadn’t been born yet when he left.
(Those aren’t tears, there’s just, um, something in my eye.)
And how about an update on Mestral?
In the Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek,” T’Pol tells the story of her great-grandmother and two companions who crash-landed in Pennsylvania in 1957. When they get rescued, they report that Mestral died in the initial crash, but really, Mestral stayed behind. Some of the novels have offered stories about what he did next, which proves that along with his “invention” of Velcro, he left a lot of unanswered questions behind.
The inside scoop on the Kelpiens and the Ba’ul
We were promised a visit to Kaminar, Saru’s home planet, in season two of Star Trek: Discovery, and we got it. We finally learned the truth about the two species: Kelpiens used to be the predators until the Ba’ul created The Great Balance, a myth that kept the Kelpiens from achieving v ahar'ai — thus shedding their fears, gaining power, and trading in their threat ganglia for powerful spikes. (Am I the only one who’s going to miss those ganglia?) But what we didn’t get were the details. A history of what the Kelpiens used to do when they were predators, how the Ba’ul created the Great Balance, and how the two species found their way to peace would be fascinating, wouldn’t it?
And finally… lizard babies
A lot of people may hate Voyager’s “Threshold,” but that doesn’t exclude normal human curiosity about what happened to those babies. The parent lizards, Janeway and Paris, still had traces of human DNA when Chakotay found them and brought them back to Voyager, so how about their offspring? There were at least three of them — do they have human DNA? Did they grow up and have more lizard/human hybrids? And are they going to come looking for their parents one day?
Laurie Ulster (she/her) is a freelance writer and a TV producer who somehow survived her very confusing adolescence as the lone female Star Trek fan in middle school. She's a writer/editor and was the Supervising Producer on After Trek.