This Star Trek article contains spoilers for the ending of Discovery Season 3.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 may have taken place in a whole new future for our characters and for us, but it wasn’t afraid to call back to franchise history. One of the most delightful ways we saw this happen in Season 3 was in the discussion of the all important Star Trek captain catchphrase. In “Sanctuary,” Captain Saru and Tilly surreptitiously discuss “the other matter” of figuring out what he should say whenever it’s time to seem like a cool and in control Starfleet captain. This results in Saru hilariously trying to re-appropriate Captain Pike’s “Hit it,” followed by a fairly lukewarm reception of “Execute!”
The subject comes up again in the Discovery Season 3 finale when Michael Burnham takes the captain chair. Captain Burnham doesn’t seem to have the same level of existential crisis as Saru did figuring out what his captain catchphrase may be (either that or we just don’t get to see the workshop session she has with Tilly), landing on an all-new catchphrase for the episode’s final moments. Now that Burnham has just busted-out her own excellent tag line, it’s time to look best and worst Starfleet catchphrases. It’s warp time!
Saru tries this one out in “Sanctuary,” but Captain Kirk actually used “Execute” fairly well! In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Kirk says “execute” twice. The more famous version is when he says “Prepare to execute emergency landing plan…b,” which is just Kirk making shit up on the fly. But, in the same movie, he also, very slickly says “Mister Sulu…execute.” Which is some badass Captain Kirk action, even in a fairly underloved Trek movie.
11. “Get It Done”
Oh goody. Remember your favorite Captain of the USS Enterprise-D; Edward Jellico? Played by RoboCop baddie Ronny Cox, Jellico liked to tell Riker and Troi to “Get It Done,” like that was something cool to say. In fairness, Jellico wasn’t a terrible Captain, and was partially responsible for Troi getting to wear a regular uniform for the rest of the series, so if he got one thing done, it was (arguably) getting Troi a little more respect.
10. “Take Us Out”
Can you think of one Starfleet order that elicited a standing ovation for no reason? Yep, it was in Star Trek Generations, when, surrounded by reporters, Kirk said “Take us out.” Everyone went wild and Chekov and Scotty made fun of Kirk when he sat down. The weird thing was, as a 12-year-old- in 1994, I actually kind of thought this might have been a legit catchphrase of Kirk’s, and was confused when I couldn’t find him saying it all the time in old TOS episodes. I mean, in “City on the Edge of Forever,” he does say “Let’s get the hell out of here,” but that hardly counts as a catchphrase. Sure, Kirk said variations of “Take us out of orbit,” or whatever in TOS, but come on.
9. “Just Do IT!”
No, this wasn’t a Star Trek/Nike crossover. Picard said this one time when he was really depressed. Weirdly, this one comes from Generations, too. Does that make Generations like a low-key workshop for new Star Trek catchphrases? Maybe.
This was Captain Lorca’s catchphrase in Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, and it mostly indicated the ship was about to use the Spore Drive. Interestingly, Saru did use “Go” in the Season 1 episode “Choose Your Pain,” the first time he was left in command of the Discovery. Is this really worse than “execute?”
7. “Punch It”
Remember when Star Trek ripped-off Han and Lando? In the first Star Trek reboot in 2009, that version of Captain Pike said “Punch it” twice. This was a clear Star Wars nod and, you know what? It worked.
6. “Warp me!” and “It’s Warp Time!”
In Star Trek: Lower Decks, Captain Freeman tries out the phrase “It’s warp time!” in the episode “Envoys.” Later, in a holographic simulation in “Crisis Point,” she says “Warp me!” This one isn’t bad, but considering Saru isn’t really using warp drive anymore, it’s suddenly…outdated!
5. “Hit It”
It’s weird that Anson Mount’s Captain Pike has only been around since 2019, and yet, “Hit It” has already become a huge part of the Trek fandom. Because Pike, Spock and Number One will all be in Strange New Worlds sometime in either 2021 or 2022, expect to be hearing “Hit It” a lot more in the coming years.
4. “Do It”
While Captain Sisko was never really given a catchphrase, his fellow late-’90s Star Trek star, Captain Janeway, did get one, kind of under the radar. Janeway says “Do it” in a very specific, almost angry way. When Janeway says “do it,” you kind of want to comply right away, but also, kind of figure out what you did wrong. Maybe she needs coffee?
3. “Let’s Fly!”
At the end of “That Hope Is You, Part 2,” Burnham busts-out her personal Starfleet captain catchphrase. Some fans have pointed out that in a sense, Burnham could be riffing on Captain Lorca in Discovery Season 1, when he said “We’re creating a new way to fly,” in reference to the Spore Drive. But, the stranger and extra-fictional deep-cut might have to do those killer Discovery Season 2 trailers that were set to the Lenny Kravitz rock classic, “Fly Away.” Yeah, remember that? I’m not saying “Fly Away” is an official anthem of Discovery, but I’m also not not saying that.
Regardless of the inspiration, Burnham’s “let’s fly” feels perfect for her captaincy, and it fits well with the mood of Discovery. Too soon to put it this high on the list? Maybe. But it feels right.
2. “Make It So”
It’s tempting to rank Picard’s “Make it so” ahead of “Engage,” but for some reason, the formality of it makes it closer to a “Manifest” or “Execute.” That said, it’s iconic for a reason. Just never forget that one time, Picard said “Step on it,” when he was still acting like Dixon HIll.
While Picard certainly made “Engage” his own on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the first Star Trek captain who said “Engage,” was Captain Pike! In the TOS pilot “The Cage,” Jeffrey Hunter’s Pike said “Engage,” which sort of means Anson Mount can bring it back at any time. (Can you imagine Hunter saying “Hit It” in 1964?) Captain Kirk also said “Engage” in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver.”
Does this mean Saru can use “Engage?” Does he even know about Picard yet? Considering how much time has passed since the era of Picard, Saru could get away with “Enage” in the context of the 32nd Century, but certainly not in the context of fans in 2020. Maybe because the USS Discovery spins around before jumping, there’s an easy answer close at hand. How about Saru just says: “Spin me!”
Yeah, that one needs a workshop, too.
Star Trek: Discovery — It’s DISCO TIME! — is available to watch on CBS All-Access.