Fans of Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender will likely have recognized several pop culture references throughout the series. The show has paid tribute several times to its original animated series Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Yet sci-fi fans may pick up on another frequently-referenced franchise: Star Trek. Whether these easter eggs were intentional or not, it’s fun to spot Star Trek‘s influence on Voltron.
A classic reference used in the show involves communications. In Star Trek: The Original Series, Captain Kirk often asks Lieutenant Uhura to “open hailing frequencies” to communicate with other ships. In Voltron, Shiro channels his inner Kirk in the Season 2 episode “The Blade of Marmora.” When the Blade of Marmora sends a digital request for the team to identify themselves, Shiro tells Coran to “open a hailing frequency.” He’s only said this once onscreen, but this command has Shiro well on his way to being a starship captain.
Battle of the Space Beasts
The Star Trek: TOS episode, “The Doomsday Machine” features a massive alien robot weapon that can destroy and consume entire planets. It fires a deadly antiproton beam and has an impervious outer hull, making it vulnerable only from the inside. With the nickname “planet killer,” this machine is as terrifying as it is massive.
Voltron has a near-identical galactic beast called the Weblum in its repertoire, shown in Season 2’s “The Belly of the Weblum.” It also has a solid outer shell and fires a destructive laser beam, much like its Star Trek counterpart. But instead of being a robot, the Weblum is a gigantic living worm. Although the Weblum feeds on dead planets, this is actually a good thing as it converts the planet’s remnants into the building blocks of new solar systems. Still, as with Star Trek‘s planet killer, we wouldn’t want to encounter a Weblum in person.
Brain Worms Will Rule Us All
There’s one moment that’s much easier to consume in Voltron‘s animated style compared to its live-action version. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Chekov and Captain Terrell stumble upon Khan on the planet Ceti Alpha V. In an attempt to get to Kirk for revenge, Khan puts Ceti eels in Chekov and Terrell’s ears. The eels wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex, which makes the two men obedient to Khan’s every command.
Coran deals with a similar creature in “The Voltron Show!” in Season 4. He buys a mind-enhancing pill in an attempt to get better ideas to help Team Voltron’s coalition show. However, when he puts the pill under his pillow at night, a worm hatches and crawls into his ear to latch onto his brain. Coran does get some helpful ideas from the worm, but it makes him go mad, almost to the point of self-destruction. It’s not as disgusting as Khan’s eels, but the brain worm seems to be just as effective at controlling the mind.
When it comes to starships, not much can beat Star Trek’s Borg cube, first seen in The Next Generation episode “Q Who” as well as several other appearances throughout the franchise. The Borg cube serves as the Borg’s primary transportation and it’s nearly impossible to defeat. It can heal itself quickly and adapt to an enemy’s changing defense tactics to counter them effortlessly. Altogether, it instills a feeling of hopelessness that requires ingenuity to overcome.
Voltron boasts its own cubic super-weapon in “Greening the Cube” (an episode title that also references the 1989 Christian Slater skateboarding film Gleaming the Cube.) Like the Borg ship, this Galra cube can recover quickly, as seen when Voltron cuts through it and it becomes two, and then four functioning smaller cubes. Its main ability is adapting to the situation, as it can absorb Voltron’s attacks and mimic it in return.
As a bonus similarity, the Galra Commander Branko, who is in charge of the cube, has a Borg-like cybernetic right eye. One thing’s for sure, Starfleet would probably appreciate it if they had the Green Lion’s vine cannon to help take down the Borg cube, too.
Live Long and Prosper, Pala-dude!
This is the tribute that beats all other tributes. The ending of The Wrath of Khan features a solemn funeral for Spock after he sacrificed himself to save everyone. The crew shoots his body in a photon tube out of the Enterprise, while Scotty plays “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes amid a military salute. The tube leaves a light trail as it flies through space, headed for the Genesis Planet.
Voltron manages to take this tearjerking moment and turn it into a hilarious tribute. In Season 5’s “Bloodlines,” Lance, Pidge, and Hunk reprogram a Galra sentry to be more fun. After they get into shenanigans at Galra HQ, they have one last idea: to shoot the Fun Sentry out into space. To do so, they tape him to the front of the Robeast coffin and, at the sentry’s insistence of “wanting to see the stars,” they launch him. Just like in Star Trek, the coffin lights up space with a beautiful purple trail while the trio salutes him. And yes, “Amazing Grace” plays in the background here, too.