12 Times 'Star Trek' and Sherlock Holmes Overlapped

One wouldn’t believe there'd be much crossover potential between the tales of a daring, egotistical Victorian detective and the adventures of a space-traveling starship, but that’s exactly what happens in numerous takes on both the stories of Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek. Whether it's the conscious quoting of the detective’s famous phrases, homages paid in the naming of starships, or the crossover between actors appearing in various adaptations, there’s more overlap between the two than one might think. Here are 12 times Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek referenced each other in the most interesting of ways.

1. Spock quotes one of Sherlock Holmes’ most famous lines in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

In one of the most recognizable moments in Trek history, Spock says, “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the solution.” The original quote, from the Holmes story The Sign of the Four, published in 1890, reads, “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

2. Spock might be related to either Holmes himself or to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Vulcan’s claim that the original source of the quote—which could be interpreted either literally as Holmes himself or as Doyle—is one of his direct human descendants is one of the more interesting asides in all of Star Trek. The idea that Spock is related to either Holmes or his creator makes sense when one considers how similar everyone’s favorite science officer is to the Victorian detective: they’re both highly logical, attentive to detail, and both see emotions as hindrances to the ability to think rationally.

3. Alternate reality Spock, from the 2009 reboot Star Trek, also paraphrases the famous quote.

He says, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” It’s another slight paraphrase, and not attributed to Holmes like it was in The Undiscovered Country, but is a nod to the detective nonetheless.

4. The co-writer of three Star Trek films also wrote several famous Sherlock Holmes pastiches, including The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which he also adapted into a screenplay.

In 1974, Nicholas Meyer wrote the novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, published as a “lost manuscript” of Watson. Meyer adapted The Seven-Per-Cent Solution into a screenplay for a film of the same name in 1976, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Meyer also co-wrote the screenplays for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country. In the audio commentary for The Undiscovered Country special edition, Meyer commented, “Star Trek fans are just as likely to be Sherlock Holmes fans.”

5. There’s a starship named after Holmes in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In a small, nearly unrecognizable moment in TNG, a screen displaying a United Federation of Planets call log shows a ship named for Doyle’s famous character. Christened the USS Sherlock Holmes and given the registry number NCC-221B, after Holmes’ residence, it appears only briefly, and if viewers aren’t watching carefully, they’ll miss it.

6. Lt. Commander Data’s interest in learning about and imitating the detective is explored in TNG

In the Season 1 episode “Lonely Among Us,” Data finds his interest piqued when Captain Picard and Commander Riker discuss Sherlock Holmes. After using the Enterprise computer to research Holmes and read all of Doyle’s stories, Data begins imitating the detective, smoking a pipe and saying phrases like, “Indubitably, my good woman,” and “It’s elementary, my dear Riker,” much to the amusement of the crew. Data, too, paraphrases the famous Holmes quotation abbreviated by Spock, saying to Picard, “We must fall back upon the old axiom that when all other contingencies fail, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

7. ...leading to a TNG episode modeled after the Basil Rathbone era of Sherlock Holmes films.

After Data discovers his interest in Holmes, his friend and fellow Enterprise officer Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge asks him to solve Holmesian mysteries using the ship’s Holodeck in the Season 2 episode “Elementary, Dear Data.” The two, with Data as Holmes and La Forge as Watson, dress up in full Victorian regalia and explore the Holodeck-created settings, modeled after the 1939-1946 series of films starring British actor Basil Rathbone. Trouble arises when La Forge asks the computer to create an opponent worthy of facing the highly intelligent and logical Data; the Holodeck generates a version of Moriarty that becomes self-aware, attempting to take over the Enterprise by hijacking the computer systems. Picard promises to save Moriarty’s consciousness in the ship’s computers, to be released when they discover a way to give him a proper existence.

8. Just like in Sherlock Holmes’ universe, Moriarty proves hard to defeat, resurfacing later in another TNG episode.

In the Season 6 episode “Ship in a Bottle,” Moriarty returns to the Enterprise, despite having been (peacefully) vanquished in the earlier episode. Demanding the crew of the Enterprise follow through on their promise to give him a reality, Moriarty takes control of the starship once again, threatening them with total destruction if they do not fulfill his wish.

9. In a Star Trek comic, Data reprises his role as Holmes to save Counselor Deanna Troi.

In the WildStorm Comics one-shot comic “Embrace the Wolf,” an entity known as Redjac commandeers the Enterprise’s Holodeck and recreates Victorian London, assuming the role of Jack the Ripper. To rescue Troi and other crew members trapped on the Holodeck, Data uses his disguise as Sherlock Holmes to defeat the evil being.

10. In the BBC reboot Sherlock, John Watson compared Sherlock to a famous Star Trek character.

In the Season 2 episode “The Hounds of Baskerville,” the modern Sherlock Holmes paraphrases, once again, the same quote remembered by Data and both incarnations of Spock, saying, “Once you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.” Watson later says to Sherlock, “Alright, Spock, just take it easy.” The cleverness of this reference is that Watson had, presumably, been attributing the earlier quote to Spock in The Undiscovered Country, when in actuality he is quoting an earlier incarnation of Holmes himself.

11. Watson’s eulogy for the famed detective in Sherlock closely resembled the eulogy given for Spock by Captain Kirk in The Wrath of Khan… and Khan writer Nicholas Meyer was a fan of the similarity.

In the Season 2 episode “The Reichenbach Fall,” when Holmes appears to have died after jumping from a tall building, Watson eulogizes him at his gravestone, saying, “You were the best man, and most human human being that I've ever known.” This touching phrase sounds eerily similar to Kirk’s words about Spock following his death in The Wrath of Khan: “Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human.” Fans of both Sherlock and Trek were quick to make the comparison, and Meyer, who co-wrote The Wrath of Khan, remarked, “I love new Sherlock; it’s nice to know they return the favor!”

12. Many actors from the Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes incarnations have appeared in versions of both.

In the mid-1970s, Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the original Spock, played the detective in a stage adaptation, titled Sherlock Holmes. Nimoy said of his role as Holmes, “He's an asocial man, hardly your average 9-to-5 worker with a family. Instead, he's chosen a very special kind of life, and he has very little respect for most of the people around him who are also involved in his profession. He's an outsider, in so many ways—particularly in his relationships, with women. Holmes is very much an alien, all right, and I felt that I could understand him the same way I understood Spock.” Additionally, Christopher Plummer, who played Chang in The Undiscovered Country, also portrayed Holmes in several TV adaptations of stories about the detective, as well as the 1979 Holmes movie Murder by Decree. Frank Langella, who played Minister Jaro in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, took on the character of Holmes for an episode of the 1976–1982 TV series Standing Room Only, and Benedict Cumberbatch, perhaps best known as Holmes in the BBC reboot, played Khan in the 2013 incarnation Star Trek Into Darkness.

10 Actors Who Regretted Leaving Hit TV Shows

Actors leave TV shows at the height of their popularity all the time, but sometimes their exits come back to haunt them. Here are 10 famous actors who regretted departing their hit TV shows.


In 2005, after years of lobbying the BBC, lifelong Doctor Who fan Russell T. Davies was given the opportunity to reboot the classic sci-fi series for a new generation, and there was a lot of excitement around the announcement that Christopher Eccleston had been cast as the Ninth Doctor. Although the show was an immediate hit, Eccleston left after just one season due to creative differences with the show's producers; he was replaced by David Tennant.

"It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn’t play him for longer," Eccleston admitted in 2016, during an interview with an Australian radio show. “He’s a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that.”

Eccleston's relationship with the series has remained strained over the years, and he's recently revealed more about why. In March, he told The Guardian that, “What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career. I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press, and blacklisted." Right around the same time, he told Radio Times that, “My relationship with my three immediate superiors—the showrunner, the producer and co-producer—broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered. They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.”

Despite all that, Eccleston is scheduled to make his first convention appearance later this year, when he appears at the London Film and Comic Con in July (where an autograph will reportedly cost you more than $100).


In 1998, Jason Priestley left Beverly Hills, 90210 during the show's ninth season. Although he earned two Golden Globe nominations for his role as Brandon Walsh, and got the chance to direct a handful of episodes, Priestley believed he had explored every aspect of his character and could no longer play the role. However, he was disappointed with how the show ended in season 10 and felt that if he stayed on for one more season, it would’ve had a much more satisfying final year.

"In retrospect, I do regret leaving," Priestley told CNN in 2014. “Understanding what I do now about story and character, I believe that [Aaron Spelling] was pushing the story in a direction that would have had Brandon and Kelly end up together at the end of the show and I think I probably should have stuck around to its fruition."

Priestley was also upset that his leaving the show in some ways turned the series into something very different than what it was when it first aired in 1990. Beverly Hills, 90210 was originally about the Walsh family adjusting to life after moving from Minnesota to Beverly Hills, but quickly turned into a teen soap opera.

"I think there was no more moral center to the show," Priestley said. "There was no more linchpin. There were no more Walshes in the Walsh house. It kind of didn't make sense anymore. So, I regret leaving the show for all those reasons."


Actress Katherine Heigl accepts the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series award for 'Grey's Anatomy' onstage during the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on September 16, 2007
Vince Bucci, Getty Images

After gaining commercial and critical success as Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, Katherine Heigl left Grey’s Anatomy in 2010, after a very public feud with ABC and showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Despite winning an Emmy Award for the part in 2007, Heigl wasn't happy with her work on the medical drama. In 2008, she withdrew her name for Emmy consideration, saying that, “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."

Though her movie career was beginning to take off with plum roles in box office hits, another public feud—this time with her Knocked Up director Judd Apatow and co-star Seth Rogen—led to her being branded as "difficult" to work with. “There’s certainly things I regret about it,” Heigl told The Wall Street Journal of the episode in 2014.

In 2016, Heigl told Howard Stern that she had apologized to Rhimes. "I went in to Shonda and said, 'I'm so sorry. That wasn't cool. I should not have said that,'" she said. "I shouldn't have said anything publicly, but at the time, I didn't think anybody would notice.”


Chevy Chase was one of the original cast members on Saturday Night Live in 1975. While he was one of the show's first breakout stars, Chase left the now-iconic series after only one season to marry his second wife, Jacqueline Carlin.

“I tried to pretend that everything was great,” Chase told the Los Angeles Times in 2011 of leaving New York for Los Angeles. “I was leaving really because there was a girl I wanted to marry that I was infatuated with out here. The whole thing was crazy because I was a young fellow who was infatuated with the wrong person. Everybody there knew it except me. [A woman] who would not move to New York and insisted that I come there. It was all nuts, looking back on it. But I did regret it.”


During the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher, the only son of Beverly Crusher, the chief medical officer aboard the USS Enterprise. He left the show in 1991 to pursue more acting opportunities in movies and TV.

“I left Star Trek: The Next Generation when I was 18 years old, and initially I thought it was a really smart business career move," Wheaton said during a Star Trek reunion at the Calgary Expo in 2012. "In some ways it was, and in more ways it wasn’t. What I was unprepared for was how much I was going to miss the people on this stage. After that ended, I just felt really ashamed of myself. I felt like I just couldn’t go to the set, and I felt like I couldn’t look them in the eye. I felt like I didn't have the right to invite them to my wedding. Years after that, I sort of saw them at a few conventions and I just, you know, I just tried to sort of say, 'I apologize for being a kid.'"


Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter (1948 - 2003) and Suzanne Somers in a full-length promotional portrait for the television series, 'Three's Company', 1979
ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

In 1977, Suzanne Somers was cast to play Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company and immediately became a major celebrity. Before the beginning of season five, Somers requested a pay raise and a percentage of the show’s profits, but the producers denied her request and reduced her role to merely 60 seconds of screen time, which she shot separately from co-stars John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt.

Somers eventually quit Three’s Company, which divided the cast and escalated into a very public feud with producers. In addition, Ritter and DeWitt felt betrayed because of her request and completely shunned her for decades afterwards.

“To this day, I feel a sadness for not being able to finish out Three’s Company,” Somers told the Television Academy Foundation in 2012. “I still have a heartache that it ended so badly, this wonderful thing. Joyce DeWitt, to this day, doesn’t talk to me. John Ritter and I made up right before he died, which I was so glad.”

There's a happy ending to this story, though: In 2012, DeWitt and Somers reunited on Somers's talk show after 30 years of not speaking to each other.


During the massive success of Chappelle’s Show in the early 2000s, co-creator Dave Chappelle walked away from Comedy Central because he didn’t like where the show was heading and hated that his work was reduced to a series of catchphrases. He also believed that working 20 hours a day took away from his family and stand-up comedy career. 

In 2005, Chappelle left the show and a new $50 million contract, and for the next eight years, he stayed out of the spotlight until he restarted his stand-up career. In 2014, he went on the Late Show With David Letterman to talk about life after Chappelle’s Show, as Letterman asked if he ever regretted turning down Comedy Central’s money.

“It’s very hard to go through something like this because no one’s really done it before. So there’s not too many people that don’t think I’m crazy, right?” said Chappelle. “Okay, fine, I don’t have $50 million or whatever it was. But say I have $10 million in the bank. The difference in lifestyle is minuscule. The only difference between having $10 million and $50 million is an astounding $40 million. Of course … of course, I would have liked to have that money.”

But what tens of millions he may be lacking in his bank account, Chappelle has more than made up for with perspective on his life and career. He spent more time with his family and produced a 2005 documentary with director Michel Gondry called Dave Chappelle's Block Party. In 2016, he signed a $60 million deal with Netflix for three comedy specials.


Although M*A*S*H is one of the most beloved shows in TV history, its massive appeal made actor McLean Stevenson, who played Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, very uneasy because he was part of an extremely talented cast instead of being the sole superstar.

While he received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, Stevenson left the show after his contract expired at the end of the third season in 1975—then had trouble finding work that matched the caliber of what M*A*S*H was producing.

"I've never been able to work with a group that's as talented or scripts that are as good,” Stevenson told The Baltimore Sun in 1990. “I made the mistake of believing that people were enamored of McLean Stevenson when the person they were enamored of was Henry Blake.”


Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman at FOX-TV's 'American Idol' finale at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on September 4, 2002
Kevin Winter, ImageDirect/Getty Images

In 2002, during the first season of American Idol, there were actually two hosts: Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman, who left the reality TV competition at the very beginning of its success. Dunkleman quit American Idol to pursue a career in stand-up comedy and acting, but his ambitions didn’t pan out as he planned.

“[T]he undeniable truth is, I just didn’t have the wisdom at the time to handle what was happening,” Dunkleman wrote in Variety in 2016. “Do I regret not remaining on the show now that it’s coming to an end? Yes. Especially when I open my bank statements.”


From 1972 to 1979, Michael Learned played Olivia Walton on The Waltons. After seven seasons as the family’s matriarch, Learned left the hit TV show because she didn’t feel the role was challenging enough as an actress, despite winning three Emmy Awards and earning four Golden Globe nominations for her performance.  

“There’s been times when I’ve regretted it only in that it probably would have been better to complete the whole show,” Learned told Fox News in 2017. “But frankly, when John-Boy came back with a new face and a new voice, it was like something happened. I just couldn’t do it anymore … and also, I felt a lot of the times I was sitting around for 14 hours saying, 'More coffee John.'"

Olivia Walton was written out of The Waltons with the character developing severe tuberculosis and being sent to a sanatorium in Arizona. Learned returned to make a few special guest appearances, while she also reprised the role in four made-for-TV reunion movies.

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Move Over, Star Wars Land: A Star Trek World May Be Coming to Universal Studios
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Getty Images

As Disney gears up for the 2019 openings of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at both its Florida and California amusement parks, there may be some sci-fi-themed competition on the horizon. According to Disney and More, there’s a rumor out there that Universal is planning a fourth Orlando theme park, which will include a land dedicated to all things Star Trek.

The blog also states that there have been rumblings that a Star Trek stage show at Universal would take the place of the now-defunct Terminator 2 3D show, but that’s just one option, with a Bourne Identity attraction being the other. Instead, the potential Star Trek show could be expanded to a whole area of the rumored fourth park, with a focus on a recreation of a sci-fi city, according to the site.

This rumored park would be the most high-profile Trek attraction since Las Vegas's Star Trek: The Experience (as seen in the main image). Housed at the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998 to 2008, Star Trek: The Experience included a restaurant based on Quark's bar from Deep Space Nine and the popular Borg Invasion 4D, which was an attraction that combined motion platforms, live actors, and a short 3D film to simulate a Borg takeover.

Any potential Star Trek land would be much further off than Galaxy's Edge's fall 2019 debut in Orlando. But with two new Trek movies on the horizon, and Star Trek: Discovery returning to CBS All Access for a second season in 2018, the venerable sci-fi franchise might just be able to ride a wave of momentum to become real competition for Star Wars—if not at the box office, then at least as a theme park.

[h/t Screen Rant]


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