The Truth About That Scene From ‘Star Trek: Generations’

Brent Spiner as Data

Paramount Brent Spiner as Data

It’s hard to argue against the notion that social media has changed the way people consume information. This is true for news and entertainment, including content about “Star Trek.” But beware, dear reader, because not everything available on social media is true. 

This is a phenomenon that is under review and study by some of the most brilliant folks on the planet, who conclude that even though a news item might be fake, some people still believe it. According to a press release from McGill University in Canada, researchers say that “platforms like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming the primary sources of news and misinformation for Canadians and people around the world.” McGill’s study looked into misinformation spread during the initial COVID-19 pandemic, but what they learned can be applied to other news as well.

Regularly, fans get news on “Star Trek” by following the franchise on platforms like Twitter and can get even more information on the shows and films by following their favorite people on social media. Nearly all “Star Trek” performers, writers, and behind-the-scenes personnel have a presence on Twitter or Instagram. 

Takei and Social Media


In fact, some have used social media to gain a considerable following. George Takei has used social media to create a vast presence, forcing some to call him an “internet icon.”

“Fans have always existed, but I think technology is really what’s facilitated the development of ‘nerd’ culture,” Takei said in a 2018 interview with writer Chris Osterndorf. “The power of social media is fantastic in developing a genuine community. People who share a common passion. And that devotion to each other and the subject.”

But as noted earlier, sometimes fans must be careful in what they see on social media. Sometimes it is just not true. 

Data’s Song on ‘Generations’

Data loves scanning for lifeformsLifeforms, you tiny little lifeforms, where are you?2018-10-16T00:05:05Z

In the 1994 film “Star Trek: Generations,” Mr. Data is asked to scan for life forms by Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) on a planet which the Enterprise was orbiting. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) had just beamed to the surface to confront Dr. Soran (Malcolm McDowell).

At this point in the story, Data had been struggling with his new emotion chip, which caused him to cower in fear while Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) was kidnapped by the Klingons. But in this scene, instead of fear, Data displays humor and sings a little song. 

The Scene Was Not Ad-Libbed

According to many websites and social media accounts across the internet, this scene was ad-libbed by Spiner. One source, StarTrek Facts, posted a “fact,” stating that the song’s lyrics were made up on the spot by Spiner and that he was actually supposed to hum. 

This is not true, according to two essential sources — Spinner himself and the script for “Generations,” as written by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga.

Spiner’s Say

Thanks to an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A session with Spiner from 2012, a fan asked Spiner what the story was behind the “Life Forms” song. Spiner responded:

“Brannon Braga and Ron Moore wrote the script for the movie, and they wrote a stage direction ‘Data sings‘ and the lines, ‘Life forms, you tiny little life forms, etc.…’ That’s exactly what it said. So, I just came up with a little melody and enhanced it a little bit.”

Someone else tagged his account on Twitter, pointing to the post from FactTrek. Spiner responded there as well, saying that the ad lib story “is not true.”

The Script

As noted by Spiner above, the script called for Data to sing a little song, which was written as:


"Life forms... tiny little 
life forms... where are the 
life forms --"

One difference is that Picard was still aboard the Enterprise in the original script when Data sang, not on the planet’s surface. 

READ NEXT: The Canceled Sequel to ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’

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