Though Star Trek 4 has been temporarily shelved by Paramount, insiders insist that the project has not been canceled entirely. Though some Trekkies hated the J.J. Abrams reboot of the series, many loved it. A lot of fans are still hopeful that the movie will come to the big screen at some point in the future.
One big question fans have about the movie is what Abrams and the screenwriters will do about the character Pavel Andreievich Chekov. The key member of the Enterprise’s bridge crew was portrayed by the actor Anton Viktorovich Yelchin, who tragically died in a car accident in 2016.
Since Chekov was such a prominent character in the other movies, fans have wondered if another actor will portray the character or if he’ll be written out of Star Trek 4.
Abrams Won’t Recast Chekov
In an interview about a month after Yelchin died, Abrams was clear that the folks behind Star Trek 4 would not recast the role of Chekov.
“I would say there’s no replacing him,” Abrams told The Toronto Sun. “There’s no recasting. I can’t possibly imagine that, and I think Anton deserves better.”
When asked for details about how they might write off the character, Abrams replied that he didn’t know yet. He went on to say that it was too soon to talk about how they’d handle Chekov’s exit.
How the Writers Could Handle Chekov’s Absence
The writing team behind Star Trek 4 is faced with the difficult task of figuring out how to give Chekov a logical and respectful exit from the movie. Killing the character off would probably not be taken well by the actors or the fans. So, the writers will likely try to come up with a storyline that accounts for his absence but leaves the character alive. Since the movies take place in a separate timeline, the writers actually have quite a few options.
Perhaps the easiest way to explain the character’s loss from the Enterprise crew would be to transfer him to another starship. Though transfers are rarely seen in the Star Trek universe, transfers within Starfleet are relatively common. In fact, according to StarTrek.com, in Star Trek the Original Series Chekov transferred to the USS Reliant. He transferred back to the Enterprise when the crew went to capture Khan Noonien Singh, as depicted in the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. So, transferring the movie version of Chekov to another ship would not only make sense, it would play into an existing storyline.
Another easy way to handle the character’s exit would be saying that he left Starfleet service or resigned from his current commission to accept one on Earth. According to Memory Alpha, Starfleet cadets who graduate from Starfleet Academy are offered a service commission that allows them to serve on a starship as an Ensign. Starfleet graduates accept the commission rather than signing a contract to remain in service for a certain amount of years as is common with the military.
So, after the events of Star Trek: Beyond Chekov could have decided that starship service wasn’t for him. He could leave Starfleet entirely and become a civilian. Or, he could accept a new commission that didn’t involve service on a starship. Plenty of Starfleet officers work within the organization on Earth or as ambassadors to other planets.
A more complicated, but interesting solution could be that Chekov’s character somehow ended up in another timeline or alternate universe. Abrams created a brand new timeline for the movies, so the concept of alternate timelines is already established. With all the alternate timelines and alternate universes that exist in the Star Trek canon, it would be plausible, though unlikely, that Chekov ended up in one between the events of Beyond and Star Trek 4.
Though the writers behind the next movie in the Abrams Trek franchise will have to do some creative thinking to deal with Chekov’s absence, they have plenty of reasonable options.