Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

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Name: Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
Abbreviation(s): ST:TWOK, TWOK, ST II
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Date(s): 1982
Medium: film
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: ImDb entry
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In 1982, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan was the second movie released in the original Star Trek franchise. Critically, the movie was considered more successful than its predecessor, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and featured a tight, action-packed storyline that did not skimp on the emotional connections and relationships between the characters. The final battle between Captain Kirk and his nemesis from the 20th Century, Khan Noonien Singh, ended in perhaps one of the most dramatic moments in Star Trek history: the farewell scene between Captain Kirk and Mister Spock moments before Spock's death after he sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise.

The loss of such a beloved character in what appeared to be a final and irreversible manner rocked both gen and slash Star Trek fandom.

Henry Jenkins wrote:

When I try to explain slash to non-fans, I often reference that moment in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan where Spock is dying and Kirk stands there, a wall of glass separating the two longtime buddies. Both of them are reaching out towards each other, their hands pressed hard against the glass, trying to establish physical contact. They both have so much they want to say and so little time to say it. Spock calls Kirk his friend, the fullest expression of their feelings anywhere in the series. Almost everyone who watches that scene feels the passion the two men share, the hunger for something more than what they are allowed. And, I tell my nonfan listeners, slash is what happens when you take away the glass. [1]

Fan Comments


"The Wrath of Khan" was pure "Star Trek" as we knew and loved it. We went to see it over and over again, now seasoned filmgoers. In Baltimore, we fans formed an alliance with a local theater that was showing ST:TWOK. We set up a display in their lobby cases, memorabilia and fan items we wished to display. In exchange, we got tickets before they went on sale to everyone else, and developed a rapport with the theatre manager. At times, we could slip in and avoid the lines that formed outside. Other times we waited on line just like everyone else so that we could chat and meet the other patrons, never knowing where a TruFen might be standing, someone to whom "Star Trek" might mean more than a casual movie experience. We became the Ambassadors of Everything Trek. [2]


Yes, the first Amazing Grace was all about creative ways of bringing Spock back because the wait between movies seemed so painful. (The operative word being, creative.) Though I was pretty well plugged into fandom at the time, or so I thought, I was unaware of any opposition to bringing him back pre-canon. In fact, I was at great pains to get AG out before STIII debuted so no one could say we copied anything from it. The feedback I got at the time was all positive. I remember being mobbed by feeding frenzied fen at Shore Leave that year. [3]

The months leading up to Wrath of Khan were very fraught, as an early version of the script had been leaked to fans, in which Spock died a meaningless, inconsequential death about a third of the way through. Kirk's response is a brief, he was a wonderful officer; we all know the risks when we sign up. Then the plot goes on, and I don't remember if Spock's even mentioned again.

Fandom exploded! A "Save Spock" campaign was quickly organized. A fan who was a financial analyst at "Ma Bell" (and IIRC, the first woman in an executive position at that company) wrote an article analyzing the financial impact on future Star Trek properties if the Spock character was killed. It was published in the Wall Street Journal, and because of publication there it got a lot more attention than the usual fan campaigns. IIRC, fans fundraised and took out an ad in Variety as well.

IMO, fandom was right. If they'd killed off Spock in ST2 and never brought him back, I doubt any potential ST3 would have been successful, and "the franchise" would have been over before it had even begun.

After ST2 came out, we were still in shock, but at least the ending gave us hope. The biggest fannish kerfuffle that occurred between 2 and 3 were between fans who were adamant that they didn't want to see any "Bring Spock Back To Life" stories published until we found out what happened in canon, and the fans who jumped right in writing and publishing "Bring Spock Back To Life" fic. I published at least one of those stories in "T'hy'la" # 3 in 1983.

It was definitely a long two years between those movies, but at least ST3 came out. I agree with all the fans who call it an amazing love story. [4]

I was in high school when The Wrath of Khan was released. I attended the movie premiere with my non-Trek friends and they couldn't even begin to understand why I burst out in tears on the way home. In their eyes, he was just a movie character. To me, it was as if someone had ripped out my heart and soul. [5]

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