Star Trek reveals why Spock really left the Enterprise (to study Kholinar)

Star Trek reveals why Spock really left the Enterprise (to study Kholinar)


  • Spock leaves Starfleet to study Kholinar after meeting Surak, the founder of modern Vulcan society, in a time before logic.
  • Spock’s struggle to reconcile his Vulcan and human sides leads him to choose pure logic and leave Starfleet behind.
  • Although he ultimately fails at Kholinar, Spock learns to accept his human side and, in the long run, achieve a balance between logic and emotion.

After Pursue Five-year mission, Star Trek Mr. Spock left Starfleet to study Kholinar – and now his reason for doing so has been revealed. In 2021 Star Trek: The Fifth Year #21Spock, stranded in Vulcan’s distant past, suddenly finds himself face to face with Surak, the founder of modern Vulcan society. Spock’s encounter with Surak has a profound impact on him, awakening both his human and Vulcan sides and leading him down a path that has nothing to do with Starfleet and the Company.

Star Trek: In the Fifth Year #21, written by Brandon Easton and illustrated by Silvia Califano, finally explains why Spock left Starfleet. In the previous issue, Spock was thrown back in time to prehistoric Vulcan, to a time before logic. Spock arrives in the middle of a civil war, between those who follow Surak, the founder of the philosophy of logic, and those remaining who oppose it. In a clear case of “don’t meet your heroes,” Spock becomes disillusioned with the historical Surak. Surak points out that Spock has not yet reconciled his two halves, Vulcan and human. These words are etched deep into Spock’s brain, or as he puts it, “a bruise on my consciousness.”


Star Trek: Spock-Kholinar 1

He decides that there is only one way out: he must never again let his emotions get the better of him. Therefore, after completing the mission, he decides to return to Vulcan to study Kholinar.

Spock’s departure from the Enterprise is a Star Trek mystery

Spock’s decision to leave Starfleet is rooted in his character

Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek: The Movie in a black robe on the bridge of the Enterprise and with a very serious expression

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture When the film premiered in 1979, audiences were stunned to learn that Spock had left Starfleet and returned to his homeworld of Vulcan, where he studied Kholinar – the Vulcan ritual that erases all remaining emotions. However, Spock’s studies are interrupted by V’ger’s arrival. V’ger’s presence touched Spock’s human side and caused him to fail Kholinar. Spock returned to Starfleet, where he served for many more years. Trek Fans never saw the end of the Pursue five-year mission, leaving Spock’s motives for leaving Starfleet uncertain. It seemed out of character – Spock had said he felt most comfortable in Starfleet, so why leave? In 2020, IDW began publishing Star Trek: In the Fifth Yearwhich aimed to fill the gaps between the end of the show and The film.

Star Trek: Spock-Kholinar 2

Pock understood the philosophy of logic
to gain a foothold on Vulcan, otherwise they would be destroyed. But when Spock saw that Surak was making questionable decisions even when it came to logic, he was deeply shocked.

Spock’s struggle to reconcile his Vulcan and human sides was central to his character, and it was this conflict that led him to leave his home in Starfleet. In Vulcan’s distant past, Spock sees the bloodshed and horror his pre-logic ancestors wreaked on their planet. Spock understood the philosophy of logic had Vulcan or they would be destroyed; but seeing Surak himself making questionable choices on the path to logic shook Spock to the core. Seeing the different sides of Vulcan’s story, Spock realized he had to choose a side, and he did. Spock would leave his friends behind and turn to perfect logic.

Spock would ultimately balance his two sides

Spock also learned to love his human side

Spock on Vulcan in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”

Of course, fans know that Spock is doomed to fail in this endeavor and will return to Starfleet in a few years. The double whammy of the V’Ger incident and the failure in Kholinar made Spock realize that his human side was important too. Spock would later in life achieve something of a balance between logic and emotion, making his studies in Kholinar an interesting footnote in Star Trek Story.