Star Trek: Discovery is a series that has managed to do the impossible by making Star Trek TV cool again. While the Star Trek reboot films took a stab at making this universe stylish and sexy (to mixed results), we haven’t had any fresh Trek on TV since Enterprise went off the air in 2005. And to its credit, Discovery isn’t like any Trek we have seen before, fully embracing things like serialized storytelling and a true “main character” in the form of Michael Burnham.
Part of what makes watching Discovery so rewarding is seeing all of the callbacks to other series of Star Trek. Sometimes, it’s a matter of recognizing a planet’s name on Lorca’s neat space map. Other times, it’s appreciating just how much the Discovery transporters sound like the ones on the original series.
However, even for hardcore Star Trek fans, there are references and Easter eggs in the show that are very easy to miss. These are the kinds of deep cuts to Trek mythology that let fans know they are in good hands.
If you want to check them out, you don’t have to take a spore drive all over the universe… instead, keep scrolling to read our handy guide to 15 Things You Completely Missed In Star Trek Discovery!
15. Hidden Episode titles
Part of what made Star Trek: Discovery so different was that its pilot episode introduced us to characters like, Captain Georgiou, who we would not see again (except in flashbacks and videos) after the second episode. Instead, the show pivots to give us Lorca, whose rough-and-tumble approach feels more like Captain Kirk than Georgiou ever did. However, her ready room showed she was more connected to Kirk than we thought!
Like the ready rooms of many captains, Georgiou’s has a tasteful selection of books. However, eagle-eyed fans soon noticed that those weren’t actual books. Instead, the books were named after classic episodes of The Original Series. Her collection includes classic episodes like “Amok Time”, “Mirror Mirror”, and “Balance of Terror”.
Fittingly, it also includes “The Cage,” which was the original pilot episode for Star Trek. That pilot featured Spock serving alongside an earlier Enterprise captain, Christopher Pike, and we know from a later episode that the Enterprise is in service during the time Discovery is taking place.
14. Lorca killed a Tribble
Many fans were excited to see Star Trek’s most famous critter, the Tribble, on Captain Lorca’s desk in an earlier episode. Not only was it a fun call back to the Original Series, but it made for a potential plot point. Tribbles have been used to identify Klingons posing as other races, and as fans speculated that Lieutenant Ash and others might secretly be Klingons, that Tribble started to seem important.
Well, we have bad news about that Tribble: “he’s dead, Jim.” In a later episode, we see that same Tribble in Captain Lorca’s secret room. The Tribble has been partially dissected, which seems like it’s part of Lorca’s one field of scientific interest: finding out how to kill things. Why else does he have a “research laboratory” full of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons?
13. Star Trek Beyond Connection
Star Trek has a rich history of interesting starship names. Sometimes, the ships are named after famous figures from Earth’s past, such as the Bradbury. Sometimes, it’s a bit self-referential, as with the USS James T Kirk. And every now and then, it’s a little bit of both!
One of the many Starfleet ships that fights in the Battle of the Binary Stars is the Edison, which is sadly destroyed in the conflict. It’s easy to assume at first that this was named after Thomas Edison, the most famous American inventor. However, “Edison” may also refer to Balthazar Edison, the famous Romulan Wars veteran and Starfleet Captain who eventually becomes the villain Krall that we see in Star Trek Beyond.
12. Secrets of The Albino
When Discovery first premiered, one of the biggest points of contention were the Klingons. Visually, these Klingons looked very different from what we had seen before. They did not have the smooth foreheads of The Original Series Klingons, nor the traditional ridges first glimpsed in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. One Klingon, Voq, is special because he is albino… though it turns out that he may be someone we have seen before.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we are introduced to a Klingon known only as The Albino. He was a Klingon criminal whose operations were disrupted by three famous warriors of the Klingon Empire; however, they failed to catch him, and The Albino murdered their sons. The Klingons swore a blood oath of vengeance, and with Jadzia Dax’s help, they killed him.
11. The learning pod connection
Part of what makes Michael Burnham so special is her connection to Spock. We eventually find out that she was raised by Sarek, Spock’s father, effectively making her his adoptive sister. She also has connections to Spock’s mother, including both of them sharing a fondness for the Lewis Carroll story Alice in Wonderland. However, there is another connection between Michael and Spock that you may have missed.
During flashbacks to her time on Vulcan, we see that Michael Burnham spent a lot of time in the Vulcan Learning Center. Here, she learned in a special pod known as a “skill dome.” This is the same Learning Center and skill dome that we see a young Spock using in the 2009 Star Trek reboot before he is attacked by bullies.
10. The Mind Ripper
Most people don’t associate the Klingons with advanced technology. When it comes to things like interrogating a suspect, we generally imagine Klingons to use their sharp objects and winning personality to extract information. However, the first appearance of the Klingons in the Original Series introduced us to a scary piece of tech called a “Mind-Sifter.” The idea is that it probes a prisoner’s mind and extracts secrets; if the prisoner resists, the Klingons move the dial to eleven, which turns the “sifter” into more of a “mind-ripper.”
In Star Trek: Discovery, we get a brief hint that the Klingons may already be using the technology. When Captain Lorca is captured by the Klingons, he meets the man who would later become his security chief, Ash Tyler, as well as infamous Trek con man Harry Mudd. There is also an unnamed, barely conscious Starfleet prisoner in their cell, one who will soon be killed by Klingons. When Lorca tries to communicate with the man, Mudd tells him that the prisoner is “out to lunch,” implying he is crazy. It’s entirely possible that this doomed Starfleet prisoner had a bad date with a mind-ripper.
9. The Kahless Connection
The main plot of Discovery‘s first season kicks in when the Klingons declare war on Starfleet. This happens after Michael Burnham invesigates a mysterious artifact in space. The artifact has a Klingon warrior on it, and she is forced to kill him in combat. While there’s nothing surprising about bloodthirsty Klingons, the name of the artifact is a fun connection to Trek mythology.
The Klingons call this object “The Beacon of Kahless.” It is a quasi-mythical object whose purpose is to unify the different Klingon houses into one great empire. While the episode doesn’t call attention to this, the object is named after Kahless, who is a kind of Klingon deity. He was their greatest warrior and created the principles of honor by which they live. The character is also cloned in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, returning to the empire as a ceremonial Emperor.
8. Two centuries of Vulcan racism
One of the more shocking moments in all of Star Trek occurs when Ambassador Sarek is nearly killed by a fellow Vulcan. The fact that he is nearly killed in a shuttlecraft is not that surprising: as the Greatest Generation podcast hilariously notes, traveling by shuttle seems to always lead to death, near-death, or kidnapping. However, it’s shocking to see that he is killed by a “logic extremist” who sees Vulcan intermingling with humans as dangerous for their race. This terrorist, though, is the natural extension of an Enterprise-era plot.
The Enterprise TV show spent a lot of time showing how strained those early human/Vulcan relations were. That strain nearly reached a breaking point at times, with Vulcans bombing an embassy to try to drive a wedge between Starfleet and the Vulcan High Command.
We can still see echoes of this as late as Star Trek: The Next Generation, which mentions a Vulcan Isolationist Movement that is similarly obsessed with racial purity. Thus, Sarek’s attacker is not an anomaly: he’s part of some Vulcan drama that lasts for nearly two centuries!
7. Mudd’s Andorian Helmet
After Captain Lorca first meets the manipulative Harry Mudd, he decides to leave the con man rotting in a Klingon prison ship. In supervillain fashion, Mudd vows that he will get revenge on Lorca for what the captain has done. It sounds like idle boasting, but Mudd eventually boards the Discovery and, aided by a time gem, nearly steals the entire ship. When we first see him again, though, his goofy appearance hides a fun Easter egg.
At first, Mudd is unrecognizable because he is wearing a helmet that completely obscures his face. He also seems to have extended ear protrusions that make him look more than a bit like a robotic rabbit. However, true fans may recognize those protrusions as accommodations for Andorian antennae. The helmet, then, was designed for an Andorian, a race we had not yet seen on Discovery by this point.
6. Stella: a fate worse than prison
Fans were divided on Starfleet’s punishment of Harry Mudd. Through the use of his special time gem, Mudd had murdered Lorca and others dozens of times, and he came frighteningly close to selling the ship and enslaving its crew. Michael Burnham and Stamets are able to outsmart him, save the crew, and contact his estranged fiancee that he had run away from, Stella. When her father asks what he can do to repay Starfleet, Ash Tyler merely asks that Mudd is kept by Stella’s side and out of Starfleet’s hair.
And… that’s it! Mudd gets no prison time and pays no penalty, financial or otherwise. To casual fans, this “sentence” seemed absurdly light, especially when he gets to go home with someone played by Wynnona Earp‘s Katharine Barrell.
However, fans of the Original Series understand just how bad this punishment will eventually become. She would start to criticize almost everything Mudd did. How bad did it get? After she left him, Mudd eventually built android replicas of his ex-wife just so he could finally win an argument with her! It seems like staying by Stella’s side will make Mudd’s life a living hell, and this is ultimately more of a punishment than a cozy Starfleet prison would ever be.
5. Spore drive previews future episodes
In the first major arc of Star Trek: Discovery, the “spore drive” plays a major part. We see the crew working hard to understand how to use a combination of space spores and alien DNA to travel virtually anywhere in the galaxy at the blink of an eye. It’s undeniably cool technology, and as it turns out, it may open doorways in time as well as space.
How can we tell? The third episode revolves around Michael Burnham trying to get to the bottom of just what is going on around the ship, particularly when it goes to “black alert.” Captain Lorca himself eventually comes clean and shows her the spore drive, complete with a cool demonstration of how the spore drive can take them anywhere.
The visions themselves show longtime Original Series fans familiar sights, such as a Preserver obelisk from “The Paradise Syndrome” and Starbase 11 from “The Menagerie.” While it’s possible these are nothing but Easter eggs, it’s exciting to speculate about the spore drive transporting the crew to the future.
4. The Alice in Wonderland connection
Fan reaction was mixed when the show revealed Michael Burnham’s connection to Spock and his family. However, the show leaned hard into this connection, with one episode revealing how much Michael’s life was shaped by the Lewis Carroll book Alice in Wonderland. The book was shared with her by Spock’s mother, ostensibly as a reminder that the world won’t always make sense. While this is a cool background moment for Michael, it’s also a neat Star Trek Easter egg!
Specifically, it’s an Easter egg for Star Trek: The Animated Series. Many fans know very little about the animated series, but much of this show and its adventures is still canonical to the Trek universe. And in the episode “Once Upon a Planet”, Spock mentions that his mother was very fond of Lewis Carroll.
3. The very first Enterprise captain
Captain James T. Kirk remains the most famous Starfleet captain, both in the universe of these shows and in our own world. However, he was not the first captain of the Starship Enterprise.
In the pilot episode of Star Trek, we see an adventure of its former captain, Christopher Pike. This character is further fleshed out in the Star Trek reboot films, making him more well-known to fans. Interestingly, an episode of Discovery calls out a man that many have never heard of: the very first Enterprise captain!
Canonically, the very first Enterprise captain was Robert April. He oversaw the construction of the Enterprise and then commanded it during the very first five-year mission. The reason that many fans do not know about him is that he was only ever seen in a single episode of the animated Trek Series. That episode revealed that he was a decorated and celebrated Starfleet officer.
In an episode of Discovery, Saru is left in command and asks the computer to call up a list of the best Starfleet Captains. Robert April is on this list, along with more familiar faces like Jonathan Archer and Christopher Pike.
2. Lorca killed a Gorn?
It’s safe to say that Captain Lorca is the most mysterious member of the Discovery. He is unlike any Starfleet captain we have yet seen: he is aggressive, manipulative, and openly warlike. To this end, he has a special room where he studies war, and it houses some of the most dangerous weapons in the galaxy. It also houses some curious scientific artifacts, including one that might even make Captain Kirk think twice about messing with Lorca.
In Lorca’s weird lab of horrors, we see that he has a bipedal skeleton. If you look closely, you can see that this is a skeleton of a Gorn, the same race as the lizard man that Kirk famously fought in the Original Series. The presence of the skeleton brings up many questions: did Lorca kill this thing? Or did he simply appropriate the body?
1. The wrath of Stamets
When Michael Burnham finally unlocks the key to using the spore drive, it looks like the show is getting pretty dark. It turns out the key is to exploit the abilities of a giant Tardigrade, which helps the ship travel almost anywhere in the universe. However, the creature is being continuously hurt by this procedure, and Michael eventually frees the Tardigrade. This forces engineer Stamets to inject himself with Tardigrade DNA, and the fallout from this gives us a cool Khan-sized Easter egg.
Throughout the early part of the first season, Captain Lorca is kept partially in check by Admiral Cornwall. She criticizes Lorca allowing Stamets to inject himself with alien DNA, calling it “eugenics manipulation.” Casual fans may think she is overreacting here, but Khan and his followers genetically modified themselves and nearly took over all of planet Earth during an event known as the Eugenics Wars. Thus, she is very wary of Stamets’ self-manipulation, just as Starfleet would frown upon Doctor Bashir’s genetic manipulation many years into the future on Deep Space Nine.
Got any cool Star Trek: Discovery Easter eggs we missed? Let us know int he comments!
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