Re-Used Planet Sets

by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Matte Paintings & Models Real Locations


Many sets used in Star Trek were later modified or even recycled without changes to represent a different environment. Here are quite a few examples of planet surfaces. Please note that every statement made here is based on observation, we can only speculate why and how exactly modifications were done. Finally, please take everything with a grain of salt. We are not supposed to watch attentively enough to notice that two planets look the same.


Matte Paintings & Models

Talos IV

The backdrop representing Talos IV in "The Cage" also appears as Delta Vega in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before".


A characteristic tree on Gothos can also be seen on Cochrane's planet. We thought that this was an Araucaria, but the flower stalk of an Agave americana seems to be a better match.


The footsteps of the big white rabbit in TOS: "Shore Leave" and of the Mugato in TOS: "A Private Little War" are arguably the same.

TOS planets

All re-used matte paintings of TOS and their modifications for TOS-R are shown in the extensive article on Planet Surfaces in TOS and TOS Remastered.

Angel I

A matte painting that debuted in TNG: "Angel One" could be seen in no less than five more episodes, each time representing a different planet. Read more in the separate article Re-Uses of the Angel One Matte Painting. The article also shows if and how these were modified for TNG-R.

Gagarin IV

The matte painting of a planet with a characteristic building on the edge of a cliff was first seen as Gagarin IV in TNG: "Unnatural Selection".

A couple of minor modifications were made when the picture was going to represent the Arkaria Base in TNG: "Starship Mine". The sky is somewhat different here but has the same cloud patterns. The building is identical. The only obvious alteration is that the shuttle in which Dr. Pulaski arrived on the planet was removed. The rest can be attributed to just a different hue on film.

The matte painting underwent some more extensive alterations for Ohniaka III in TNG: "Descent I". A new building was added on the left side of the crevice, the mountains were altered, the main building got a second dome, some gaps in its structure were filled and an antenna was removed.

In TNG-R, all three versions of the matte painting remain essentially as they were. However, while the sky and the light on the planet was very yellowish in all three original episodes, the remastered planetscapes are more varied as the hue is concerned.

Buildings from "Logan's Run"

The Sandmen Headquarters from the science fiction movie "Logan's Run" (1976) appears on two occasions in Star Trek, in TNG: "Final Mission" and "Tapestry". Mike Okuda tells us: "That wasn't a miniature building, but rather a large painted backdrop. I love 'Logan's Run', so I tried to push the use of those backings from that film whenever it seemed appropriate, although the actual choices were made by the production designers.... In 'Logan's Run', that painted backdrop would have been based on their (very large) miniature city, and that particular building in the miniature was based on a real building in Texas that was used for location filming in the movie. (I think it was Sandman headquarters.)"

Mike Okuda pointed us to another re-use of the "Logan's Run" city in Star Trek. A portion of the cityscape with is characteristic pyramids appears on the Enterprise's viewscreen, behind Admiral Bennett, in "Star Trek V".

Delta Rana IV

The matte painting of the devastated planet Delta Rana IV from TNG: "The Survivors" was modified and reappeared as Melona IV in TNG: "Silicon Avatar".

The matte paintings are still the same in the TNG-R episodes. Only the one of Delta Rana IV was retouched. Several small details are different than on the original, both in the tidy garden and in the wasteland.

Tau Cygna V

A matte painting was used to extend the set of the human colony on Tau Cygna V in TNG: "The Ensigns of Command".

The are no changes to the painting in TNG-R: "The Ensigns of Command" but Tau Cygna V looks better (and more like the re-use as Volon II) because the yellowish hue is gone.

The matte painting returned in DS9: "The Maquis I", here as the Maquis colony on Volon II. No differences are visible on the actual painting. Even the aqueduct that used to play an important part in the TNG episode was retained. But while there were no celestial bodies on Tau Cygna V, a moon and later on a sunrise or sunset was inserted on Volon II.

Turkana IV

The devastated planet Turkana IV was represented by a matte painting in TNG: "Legacy".

The matte painting of Turkana IV looks considerably better in the remastered episode, although it probably wasn't retouched.

The scenery was modified to depict the planet T'Lani III in DS9: "Armageddon Game". The color of the sky was changed, a wall was inserted into the foreground, and finally a new smaller building was added in the center of the picture. This is the one where O'Brien and Bashir seek shelter.

It is worth mentioning that T'Lani III with all of the above mentioned modifications to the original look could be seen very briefly in one of the visions of the linked Cooperative in VOY: "Unity".

Moab IV

Stock footage of the isolated Earth colony on Moab V from TNG: "The Masterpiece Society" was used for the surface of Torman V in TNG: "Chain of Command I".

The matte painting was retouched and more details were added to the foreground for both of its appearances in TNG Remastered. Hence, the two planets still look identical.

Carraya IV

The Carraya prisoner camp set as seen in in TNG: "Birthright II" is composed of the model of a building complex that is inserted into a jungle landscape. The model can be seen from two different angles: a side view and an aerial view. The first one was filmed as a day version, a dusk/dawn version and a night version.

For TNG-R, the side view was edited. The trees in the foreground are new, and the mountain top looks somewhat different now. The aerial view looks still the same.

The side views were recycled for DS9: "The Storyteller" to act as a Bajoran village. The day and dusk/dawn takes were taken over without alterations. Only the sky is somewhat more reddish on the latter than on Carraya.

The aerial view of Carraya was modified more extensively and became the settlement on the planet Meridian. A large hall was added to the model, and this matches with the full-scale set of Meridian. Carraya, as a prison, was naturally surrounded by walls. In order to make Meridian look more pleasant, a small building was put outside the walls and the watch towers were modified too.


The Enterprise-D enters an asteroid in TNG: "The Pegasus", which is represented by a model.

The asteroid in the remastered TNG episode is still the same. The shot may have been slightly retouched in some areas.

The asteroid that Voyager enters in VOY: "Phage" uses the same model. It was filmed from a slightly different angle, but we can see that the rock structure around the entry hole is identical in both cases.


The matte painting of Ronara in TNG: "Preemptive Strike" shows the Maquis colony in the daytime and in the dusk or dawn.

In TNG-R, Ronara looks similar as in the original episode. But as we compare the two, we can see that it is a completely new (digital) matte painting. The buildings as well as the surroundings were recreated from scratch. We can only speculate that the original shots were not deemed good enough for HD.

Both versions were re-used for Yadera II in DS9: "Shadowplay". The daylight picture was almost unnoticeably modified, the mountain range in the background is now different. The same change was made to the night version. In addition, the sky was darkened and more lights in the windows were inserted.

Rock plateau

The rock on the rebel headquarters planet in DS9: "Through the Looking Glass" is the same as the one the Raven sits on in VOY: "The Raven".


A view of the Ocampa underground city reappears on a screen as Argala habitat on the Nyrian ship in VOY: "Displaced".


The exotic landscape of Risa from DS9: "Let He Who Is Without Sin" reappeared one year later in VOY: "Random Thoughts" as a view of the Mari homeworld. It becomes obvious at the first glance that the central building with its characteristic chamfered tubes, the shore with the palm trees and the bridge on the left were taken from the Risa scenery. The building with the columns in the foreground on the right is the Delmar T. Oviatt Library of California State University, Northridge.

The rest of the structures on the Mari homeworld is not new either but was taken from various other episodes, including Ronara from TNG: "Preemptive Strike" (see above), the Chronowerx building from VOY: "Future's End, Part II" and Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco from DS9: "Homefront". The building with the round tower from the latter episode can be seen at a different angle on the Mari homeworld. It is obviously a model. Some of the smaller structures on the left may have been taken from Ligon II (TNG: "Code of Honor") or Kataan (TNG: "The Inner Light"). It seems that the Mari are not satisfied re-using various small items, they have a collection of entire buildings from the Alpha Quadrant on their planet!

Zahl colony

The Zahl colony, one of Annorax's targets in VOY: "Year of Hell", could be seen once again as the Qomar homeworld in VOY: "Virtuoso".

"Weird Planet"

The planet from VOY: "Blink of an Eye" is out of sync with the rest of the universe, which gave the Art Department the unique opportunity to show how the same location on that planet evolved throughout the centuries.

But even in this exceptionally beautiful sequence of shots there are at least two re-used elements: The building on the right in the modern cityscape of the planet originally appeared on the outpost in VOY: "Darkling". The dome with the triangular segments on the left is taken from Risa.

Torothan homeworld

A CG model with characteristic cone-shaped buildings could be seen as the Torothan homeworld in ENT: "Desert Crossing". It reappeared without open fire and with new small windows, insinuating a larger size, as the Klingon Qu'Vat colony in ENT: "Affliction".


The same digital translight represents Keto-Enol in ENT: "Canamar" and Andor in ENT: "Proving Ground".


Real Locations

Bronson Canyon

Griffith Park in Los Angeles and particularly the portion known as Bronson Canyon is among the most often used filming locations of Star Trek. TOS: "This Side of Paradise" shows the location only briefly, and no prominent portions. TOS: "Bread and Circuses", on the other hand, features plenty of shots, including the hilltops, the cave entrance and a striking steep rock. TNG: "Darmok" was filmed here too and shows several rock formations but mostly doesn't feature wide angles. For TNG: "Ensign Ro", some junk was arranged as a refugee camp. The footage of Patrick Stewart on Kataan in TNG: "The Inner Light" was filmed at Bronson Canyon and shows a very similar shot of the rock as already at one point of "Bread and Circuses"; the village was added in post production.

The next time the location appears is in TNG: "Attached" and TNG: "Homeward". In both episodes we can see some rock formations but no prominent features. The hilltops are visible again in DS9: "Shadowplay". VOY: "State of Flux" just shows the valley bottom.

We can see an almost total view of the U-shaped Bronson Canyon in DS9: "Shakaar", together with Shakaar's house. VOY: "The 37's" once again shows the prominent rock from "Bread and Circuses". DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong", on the other hand, has mostly close shots of the location. Bronson Canyon was purportedly used for VOY: "Flesh and Blood" as well, but this is hard to verify.

We can see a screen image of the already mentioned Bajoran camp on Valo II from "Ensign Ro" in VOY: "Displaced", this time supposed to depict the Tanatuva habitat on the Nyrian ship.

Additionally, the interior of the Bronson Canyon cave was used in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" for some shots of Rura Penthe and in ENT: "Strange New World" for a cavern on Archer IV.

40 Acres backlot

The 40 Acres backlot in Culver City serverd for the production of numerous films such as notably "Gone with the Wind" as well as many television series. An American small town set was erected around 1960 and was most extensively used as Mayberry in the The Andy Griffith Show. Three TOS episodes were filmed in this set, which remained largely unchanged each time: "Miri", "The Return of the Archons" and "The City on the Edge of Forever". Different sections were used each time, but we can spot a couple of buildings that are the same, all located at the same street crossing.

Additionally, scenes for "The Cage" and for "Return of the Archons" were shot in the "Arab village" set of the 40 Acres backlot. The whole area was razed in 1976 and is a business park today.

"Roman" buildings

In TOS: "Bread and Circuses", stock footage of neoclassical buildings represents the "Roman" planet 892-IV, among them the San Francisco Main Library (today: Asian Art Museum), the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw (formerly dedicated to Joseph Stalin), the Great Dome of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (we can read the inscription in HD) and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (with the french motto "Honneur et Patrie").

Tillman Water Reclamation Plant

One of the most prominent real locations of Star Trek is the building and the Japanese Garden of the Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant in the San Fernando Valley. It was used for the first time to film the Edo Planet in TNG: "Justice".

With different upper stories the Tillman Plant appeared as two distinct buildings of Starfleet, namely of the Academy in TNG: "The First Duty" and as the supposed Headquarters in DS9: "Homefront". In DS9: "Paradise Lost", the building could be seen up close and without upper stories, so perhaps this is yet another Starfleet building of the same style?

The Tillman Plant was used for the devastated nameless planet in VOY: "Time and Again" and appeared one more time as Starfleet Academy (or a replica thereof) in VOY: "In the Flesh".

Looking at the photo of the real building, we can see the stone garden as it appeared in VOY: "Homefront" and also in VOY: "In the Flesh", although the building itself looks different in the two episodes.

Huntington Library Gardens

The Huntington Library Gardens were used as a filming location for at least three Trek episodes. They appear as the Edo planet in the famous flowerbed scene in TNG: "Justice", rather than the Japanese garden directly adjacent to the Tilman Water Reclamation Plant. The gardens can also be seen in TNG: "Ménage ā Troi" as Betazed and in DS9: "Meridian" as the planet of the same name.

Toronto City Hall

The then modernistic city hall of Toronto (opened in 1965) is one of the places showing up in the Iconian gate in TNG: "Contagion". It may be supposed to represent an alien planet here, rather than Earth, which was no place of interest at the time of the Iconians (at least none that we know of).

Many years later, the city hall appears as a photo on a tablet in SNW: "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow", here apparently supposed to represent the actual building as the episode is set in Toronto.

Brandeis-Bardin Institute

The Brandeis-Bardin Institute is a Jewish retreat located in Simi Valley, California. A matte painting of the futuristic building (apparently with some liberties) can be seen in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" as the Khitomer conference hall. It appears as a real location and as a matte painting (again with some modifications compared to the real building) as Lore's headquarters in TNG: "Descent II".

El Mirage Dry Lake

The El Mirage Dry Lake Bed in the Mojave Desert appeared as the moon Lambda Paz in TNG: "Final Mission". The location was filmed from the same angle for VOY: "Caretaker". The mountain range in both episodes is clearly the same.

Hanon IV rocks

VOY: "Basics I" shows a location shot for the planet Hanon IV. The same location (probably not stock footage) was chosen as the foreground of the Skagaran colony in ENT: "North Star".


See Also

Planet Surfaces in TOS and TOS Remastered - survey of the TOS matte paintings and how they were remastered

Re-Uses of the Angel One Matte Painting - observations about Star Trek's most frequently used matte painting

Re-Uses of the Vasquez Rocks Location - observations about Star Trek's most famous filming location

Locating Starfleet Buildings in San Francisco - matte paintings and their supposed real locations in and near the city

Re-Used Building Interiors - single walls, full sets



Thanks to Sebastian Prooth for the notification that we can see Bronson Canyon in "Ensign Ro". Thanks to David Schwarz for the hint about the species of the re-used "tree".


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