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More Theories About Star Trek’s ‘Unstoppable Force of Terror’

John Harrison. John Harrison. John Harrison.

Nope. No matter what emphasis I put on it, the name given to Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in Star Trek Into Darkness still means nothing in particular to me, and you know what? That’s perfectly okay with me, because the movie isn’t out for another half-year. But there are others who need to know just who John Harrison is right now… So here are some of the possibilities.

John Harrison Is A Fake Name That Will Be Revealed In The Movie
One of the two most popular theories I’ve seen floating around online, the notion that the character who first appears as Harrison will be revealed to be someone else entirely fits right in with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises‘ villain reveals, plot twists that didn’t seem to do those movies any harm. However, such reveals made more sense in a narrative far more concerned with secret double identities than in the more straightforward Star Trek, so perhaps it wouldn’t work so well this time around…? Especially if there wasn’t a good reason behind it other than “Ha ha, fooled you, viewers!”

There Is No John Harrison
The other most popular theory is, of course, that the name “John Harrison” is a big old lie created for promotional purposes to misdirect everyone, and that no character of that name will actually appear in the finished movie. To say I’m slightly disbelieving of this one is putting it mildly; as much as Abrams et al enjoy playing with viewer and Internet speculation, this seems to be taking things a little too far, just in terms of the workload required to ensure that everyone is on the same page of the joke. That said, it would be funny to imagine the fan outrage if it turned out to be the case.

John Harrison Is Taking The Place of A Very Familiar Character
Consider this: The last Star Trek movie was centered around the very basic idea that history has been changed and things are different now. So why do we have to have the return of any familiar villains? Instead of Khan being awoken on the Botany Bay, why can’t it be someone else called John Harrison? Instead of Gary Mitchell receiving godlike powers in a freak accident, why can’t it be someone else called John Harrison? History doesn’t have to repeat exactly, after all – It would be dull if it did, let’s be honest – so why should we assume that Harrison can’t be an all-new character placed in a very familiar situation…?

John Harrison is Related To A Very Familiar Character In Some Way
Courtesy of the Huffington Post: What is Harrison is the twin of a character whose name we are more familiar with? Maybe Khan Noonan Singh’s name in this timeline is Khan Harrison…? Well, maybe not. But more likely, perhaps, is that Harrison is working for a bigger bad guy who’ll be revealed later in the movie that will be someone the fans are familiar with (Peter Weller’s character, after all, remains unnamed). After all, we’re all just assuming that Cumberbatch is the movie’s main villain for no real reason…

There Is Only John Harrison
This is the one that hardcore fans seem more upset by: The possibility that there is no swerve, that the character really is called John Harrison, and that he’s a new character with a new agenda and all of the silence before releasing the name was just down to not wanting the fan base to go “John Harrison? Who’s that?” in a disturbed and disdainful tone. I have to admit, I think this is the option I’d prefer, even if I find myself believing the previous option is far more likely. But what about you…? Which of these possibilities seems most exciting for you when it comes to the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness – or do you have your own alternate theory? Use the comments to share your thoughts (and make your guesses as to who Peter Weller will turn out to be).


  • John Green

    That last option doesn’t seem to make much sense, though. From the get go it’s been the filmmakers and actors that have been spreading the “it’s a character some fans will be familiar with” rumors. If that actually isn’t the case, why would they stir up the pot only to tick off fans when the movie comes out? The movie could be great, but they will essentially have made a promise of sorts that they never had any intention of keeping. So fans could still be upset, no matter how good the film is, that they didn’t get what they were told they would. And the filmmakers have to be aware of the critical mass this speculation has reached. Why wouldn’t they just come out and say “this is a new continuity, so there is a new villain”? Why tease something so much when it will be a non-issue? I don’t recall them teasing Eric Bana’s villain from the first new film as possibly being the Romulan Commander from the classic “Balance of Terror” episode, or any other existing character, and if they had teased it, and then the film had absolutely nothing to do with it, there’d be some backlash. It wouldn’t change what the movie itself is, but I still think hyping what the movie IS is better than hyping what the movie ISN’T. People don’t like feeling duped by a red herring, even if what actually does end up on screen is perfectly satisfying.

  • Jaynova

    My theory: Cumberbatch is actually playing a Sith Lord who has come to prove once and for all that my Star Wars can beat up your Star Trek.

  • ghdgirl

    He’s Khan. 

  • Guest123

    He’s Gary Mitchell

  • Xaos

    He’s CLEARLY 7 of 9

  • Mario Di Giacomo

    Oh come on.  He’s CLEARLY Harry Mudd.

  • Alan

    He’s Data, disguised as Sherlock Holmes.

  • Fury

    the film is clearly going to suck balls.

  • Dave

    Err, the changed timeline should have no effect who was in cryo on the Botany Bay as the eugenics as the eugenics wars and the BB leaving earth happened before the point of divergence, in fact one of the most ironic things about this reboot is that it still leaves the most unpopular series (and arguably the reason the reboot is needed) Enterprise in canon while wiping out the much loved TOS, TNG and DS9.

  • Chris Buckley

    Unstoppable Force of Terror: I’m still calling Col. Green

    Good use of a one-shot villain from Patterns of Force, who got another brief cameo in a historical video in ENTERPRISE.
    Notice his similarity to Cumberbatch’s costume in the link above.

  • Darth Bumbles

    John Harrison is a cortexiphan patient, making it a crossover with Fringe.
    Spock is a descendant of William Bell and Nina Sharp, there’s going to be a USS Walter Bishop, an Peter Weller, whose character is undiscolosed, will be playing an Observer.

  • Cjorg2

    Voice of experience?

  • John Smith

    Evil young Picard from the Mirror Universe

  • Dstncramer

    peter wellers character is Q

  • mfactor

    I have to agree- he’s a Sith Lord

  • numberthirty

    Looks like the costume is Star Fleet. I’m guessing play of Midnighter and Apollo’s Stormwatch team.

  • Darkon

    They have said the Klingons are in the film. Maybe he is one of the genetically engineered smoothed headed Klingon acting as a sleeper agent.

  • Calim1701

     What if John Harrison is from the mirror universe?  He could be Khan or Mitchell but from the other side?

  • numberthirty

     Actually, this is reasonable. Borg assimilate. The costume is the same color as 7’s leftover cyber implants. The Borg were certainly an “unstoppable force of terror”. Giving them a human name would be a red herring.

  • RN

    …Or it’s the Salt Vampire disguised as Records Officer Finney.

    Seriously, though, the released still image of Cumberbatch in the brig harkens directly back to that scene from ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’, with Gary Lockwood’s Gary Mitchell in the brig, right down to Cumberbatch’s posture.  All except for the lack of silver in the eyes.

    So my money’s on it being Mitchell or, as was noted above, that, instead of the Enterprise, some other ship went off to find out what happened to the missing spaceship Valiant at the edge of the Galaxy and has returned with one of its crew now a crazed God-like being.  And his name just happens to be John Harrison…

  • Falchook

    Ever since Star Trek rebooted, everyone keeps floating ideas about rebooting old villains like Khan. What could be more boring! I’m frankly not interested in villain reboots in the slightest. To me, that signals that Star Trek would have jumped the shark, which shouldn’t be the case with writers like David Mack around. And as far as what the public is told in advance of the movie’s release is irrelevant to me. Pre-release “leaks” just ruin the surprise of the movie for me. Ok; they rebooted the franchise and reintroduced Star Trek to a new generation. Now could we have some fresh new scripts and story lines that are original and not rewrites or reimaginings?? Thanks!

  • Brianthomas1961

    The original timeline is preserved. “Enterprise” is simply relevant to both timelines now.

  • Lastnamecumbie

    Peter weller could be Khan and John Harriosn could be his son. John dies and Kahn blames Kirk for his death and in the third movie comes after him for it.

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

     It wasn’t “Patterns of Force”, the Nazi-planet episode.
    It was “Savage Curtain”, where aliens created images of historical figures from various planets, including Surak of Vulcan, Kahless of Q’uonos (Klingon homeworld) and Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, and Colonel Green of Earth.

  • Bridgekeepers

    Okay, here’s my theory . . . John Harrison is the character’s name, and he’s a scientist (maybe even a Starfleet scientist) working on genetic manipulation, as shown in the 9 minute preview.  Carol Marcus is introduced in this film, and becomes a love interest for our good Captain Kirk.  But remember, Khan was a RESULT of genetic manipulation, not the scientist who did it.  I think John Harrison maybe the villian who CREATES Khan Noonian Singh, and we’ll actually see Khan emerge in the third film of the series . . . or possibly even at the end of this film in tried-and-true cliffhanger fashion.

  • astralbee

    Latest interview I read quotes Benedict Cumberbatch as saying his character is “someone who has enormous physical strength”. I’m taking that to mean that he is more than just a human, possibly from the same genetic experiment that produced Khan in the original universe.

  • Meh

    Could be Redjac. Weird powers over people and machines,
    feeds (literally) off pain and fear and it would explain why the character
    would have a generic name like John Harrison who would actually be the person
    Redjac has taken over.

    Then again if the second movie keeps with the theme of the
    first one chances are the crew of the enterprise will be up against ” Banakin
    Zkywalker” and his deadly “illumination sword” (Into the
    darkness huh? Hey at least JJ stopped short of actually using the dark side in
    the title)

  • 4cade

    Oh, wow – hadn’t considered that! Enterprise locked in and the other nullified, great!