Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Other mistake: During many of the scenes of the Reliant in space, you can see stars through the dark parts of the engine nacelles.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: It's the reflection of stars.

Stupidity: Reliant's prefix code is 16309. This code prevents an enemy ship from ordering a friendly ship to lower its shields or something similar. Five digits with no symbols. We know that symbols and letters aren't used since Spock uses a 10 digit set of switches to input the code. This is ludicrous. In 2016, a high powered server could crack a 6 digit password in approximately 0.0224 seconds (at 100 billion guesses/second). Any starship computer would have to far more processing power then a 2016 server. The prefix code protecting a starship from cyber attack would have to be insanely complex in order to be useful.

Grumpy Scot

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Keep in mind the era that this movie was made in. This movie was made before PCs really existed. Computers at this time were typically huge devices or box like containers. Their data storage capacity was minuscule and there certainly wasn't any form of AI logic programs built to "hack" passwords. I know this movie is about space and set in the future but there's a lot of stuff in Star Trek movies that based on our technology or development currently, we would expect something bigger, smarter, etc. We still have problems today with people using archaic password structures like or actually using the word password for/in their password. Back in '81-'82, I'm sure that most people would not have thought about codes being hacked. This is not to mention that in many movies, which I don't know if there is a specific reason for using 16309, codes, passwords, numbers for addresses/apt#/room#/etc and other info frequently come about as tribute, honoring, or coming from something in the lives of a film's director/producer/actor/etc! So sure with today's technology, which could have been accomplished more than 10 years ago as well, using a single string of numbers as security measures for anything is foolish and can be hack by a self running password-like cracker program... But they made this "code" back in the very early 80s when computer hacking was barely unconscionable (MAYBE) so unless these #s were a tribute or to honor something, I'm pretty sure no one was even thinking of hacking back then... We all aware of today... all about the hacking threats and YET we still have people using, the word password, or other horrible predictable password choices that can easily be broken by a password cracking program... And we know that there's a huge hacking threat requiring strong security measures but don't do so while back then, there was little awareness of the threats of hacking much less the concept of hacking altogether.

OR... in this future they have limited the number of password attempts to one a day and the ship automatically goes to red alert after a failed attempt until the right code is entered. That way it would take 7,327 years or so to try all the codes with the crew on notice and plenty of time to address the threat.

Factual error: It is long-established in Star Trek canon that onboard diagnostics can detect any animate intruders on Federation vessels. Any living thing that exists upon a Federation vessel can be identified, and its location specifically noted on Federation property. How is it, then, that there are rats aboard the Regula I space station (as observed by Doctor McCoy) that haven't been eradicated?

Charles Austin Miller

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: It is not established that Regula 1 has the same internal sensors that a starship has.


It is definitely established, however, that the Regula 1 space station is conducting the most highly-classified technological research and development in the entire Federation: The Genesis Project, which entailed re-engineering whole worlds to create new ecosystems where no life existed before. If anything, Regula 1 should be equipped with even more sensitive and discriminating biological sensors than any starship in the Federation, for the express purpose of preventing biological contamination of their experiments. So, Regula 1 must have necessarily possessed the most sophisticated biological sensors available. As Dr. Carol Marcus emphasized, the Genesis Project couldn't risk contamination by so much as a microbe, nevermind foot-long rats creeping around the space station.

Charles Austin Miller

None of the scanning shown in the film was done by the Regula 1 station. The Reliant is what scanned the planet where Khan was found. Even if Regula 1 did have highly advanced sensors there is nothing to suggest anyone has the time or need to regularly scan for pests on the station itself. The presence of a pest in the Genesis cave itself would have been an error, but not on the station. A pest on the station has no bearing on the Genesis project itself. There are too many assumptions for this to be considered a movie mistake.


The rat was not shown in the Genesis Cave, it was shown aboard the Regula space station, where the Genesis Device itself was constructed before it was beamed inside the planetoid for a test run. The point you're missing is that the space station had rats crawling around inside, but a rat infestation wouldn't be tolerated at an ultra-top-secret research and development facility for a project that was highly sensitive to biological contamination.

Suggested correction: Obviously the first thing the rats did was chew through the cables to the lifeform scanners.

Which would set off alarms like crazy aboard the station because preventing biological contamination of the Genesis Experiment was a No.1 priority for Dr. Carol Marcus. Undoubtedly, the station was bristling with redundant bio-scanners.

Charles Austin Miller

All of which had been also chewed through! No, you make a good point.

Suggested correction: When was this established? There are a number of episodes of the original series where the plot depends on them not being able to detect intruders. "Court Martial" for example.

"Court Martial" is probably the worst example you could use for your argument. In that episode, the vengeful Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Finney repeatedly sabotaged the Enterprise main computer (changing ship's chronological data records in order to fake his own "death" and frame Captain Kirk for a murder that never happened). Finney also sabotaged the computer and caused the Enterprise to fall out of orbit. Indeed, Spock discovered that the ship's computer was malfunctioning due to sabotage. So, Finney was more than capable of sabotaging the ship's bio-scanners, as well, to conceal himself from a whole-ship scan. In fact, they had to resort to a very sensitive audio-scan of the Enterprise, selectively eliminating the audible heartbeats of every known person aboard the ship. When all known heartbeats were eliminated, just one unknown heartbeat remained, and its owner couldn't be identified. Therefore, Finney had certainly tampered with the bio-scanner to conceal his whereabouts. It's very doubtful, however, that foot-long rats hacked the bio-scanners aboard the Regula research station to conceal their whereabouts.

Charles Austin Miller

Every time the Enterprise computer system reported an "intruder alert," and every time they asked the computer for the location of specific individuals and lifeforms anywhere aboard the ship. This was all well-established in the Original Series.

Charles Austin Miller

It's a big leap to go from that to they can detect any living being. It is explicitly established that under many circumstances they can't even detect a full grown man if they are in hiding. This is the whole basis of the plot of "Court Martial." Even as late as The Next Generation it is established that it is difficult to find someone if they're not wearing their communicator badge.

Yet they can detect single-celled organisms on a planet's surface from thousands of miles away. The technology certainly exists in the Star Trek universe, and especially for the highly-classified Genesis Experiment. In "The Wrath of Khan," Dr. Carol Marcus stipulates that the Genesis Experiment cannot be contaminated by so much as a microbe, and complete sterility is a condition for selecting a test planet. Yet they have foot-long rats scurrying around the Genesis research facility? That is a plot hole, a continuity problem and a factual error all rolled into one.

Charles Austin Miller

Reliant scanned the planet to search for any life forms. That scan was inaccurate and it read Khan's entire group (and presumably the Ceti eels) as non-specific, potential life matter. Reliant's crew speculates that it could just be some speck of matter and they are completely shocked to find multiple living humans there. If they were using these highly advanced sensors you claim they were using they would not have been surprised by the presence of humans at all. And even if they could, there is nothing to suggest they should also use those sensors for pest control on their space station.


Suggested correction: It was most likely a lab rat that was inadvertently freed when Khan and his followers ransacked the station. The sensors probably pick it up just fine, everyone on the station is just too busy being dead to do anything about the stray rat scurrying about.

TonyPH Premium member

It's the 24th Century. After all the "animal cruelty" activism of the 20th and 21st Centuries, I very seriously doubt they are still experimenting on lab rats in the 24th Century. That practice would be deemed medieval, at best, and barbaric, at worst.

Charles Austin Miller

More mistakes in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Dr. McCoy: Go... Where are we going?
Captain Kirk: Where they went.
Dr. McCoy: Suppose they went nowhere.
Captain Kirk: Then this will be your big chance to get away from it all.

More quotes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Trivia: As the shuttle with Kirk and company approaches the Enterprise in Space dock, Sulu says "I'm delighted. Any chance to go aboard the Enterprise..." According to, there was a full dialog between Kirk and Sulu in the original script. The rest of Sulu's line was "however briefly, is always a chance for nostalgia." Kirk also told Sulu the he had cut the orders for Sulu to Captain the Excelsior.

Movie Nut

More trivia for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Question: This isn't technically a mistake per se, but it involves Spock's funeral. Several Enterprise crewmembers are killed during the battle with Khan, and yet only Spock gets a funeral. Perhaps there was a smaller memorial for the others, and Spock got a full funeral due to his status as captain, but why is Kirk only sending Spock's body to the Genesis planet? I imagine he sent only Spocks's body there since in ST3 there aren't dozens of little regenerated human babies crawling around down there.


Chosen answer: I imagine there was a memorial service for everyone killed. Starfleet's policy on corpses is probably to return them to Starfleet HQ where their families can collect them for whatever services or ceremonies they want unless the crewman had left instructions specifying otherwise. There's no telling why Kirk sent Spock's body to Genesis. Based on Sarek's reactions in ST3 he almost certainly went against Spock's wishes, unless of course, Spock left no recorded instructions and Kirk did what he thought would please Spock based on his being highest ranking officer and Spock's closest friend. It also seems very out of character for Spock to just assume that whoever he transferred his katra to would be able to handle it and carry out his wishes (McCoy certainly couldn't!). Ultimately it seems we have to chalk it up to a plot device to base the sequel on.

Grumpy Scot

More questions & answers from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.