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Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series.The original Star Trek was an American television series, created by Gene Roddenberry, which debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons, following the interstellar adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Federation Starship Enterprise. These adventures were continued in an animated television series and six feature films. Four more television series were produced, based in the same universe but following other characters: Star Trek: The Next Generation, following the crew of a new Starship Enterprise set several decades after the original series; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager set contemporaneously with The Next Generation; and Star Trek: Enterprise, set in the early days of human interstellar travel. Four additional feature films were produced, following the crew of The Next Generation, and most recently a 2009 movie reboot of the series featuring a young crew of the original Enterprise set in an alternate time line.

The franchise also includes dozens of computer and video games, hundreds of novels, as well as a themed attraction in Las Vegas (closed in September 2008). Beginning with the original television series and continuing with the subsequent films and series, the franchise has created a cult phenomenon and has spawned many pop culture references.

Conception and setting

As early as 1960, Gene Roddenberry had drafted a proposal for the science fiction series which would become Star Trek. Although he publicly marketed it as a Western in outer space – a so-called "Wagon Train to the Stars" – he privately told friends that he was actually modeling it on Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, intending each episode to act on two levels: as a suspenseful adventure story and as a morality tale.

Star Trek stories usually depict the adventures of humans and aliens who serve in the Federation's Starfleet. The protagonists are essentially altruists whose ideals are sometimes only imperfectly applied to the dilemmas presented in the series. The conflicts and political dimensions of Star Trek sometimes represent allegories for contemporary cultural realities: Star Trek: The Original Series addressed issues of the 1960s, just as later spin-offs have reflected issues of their respective decades. Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, the value of personal loyalty, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, economics, racism, religion, human rights, sexism and feminism, and the role of technology. Roddenberry stated: "[By creating] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek: we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network."

Roddenberry intended the show to have a highly progressive political agenda reflective of the emerging counter-culture of the youth movement, though he was not fully forthcoming to the networks about this. He wanted Star Trek to show mankind what it might develop into, if only it would learn from the lessons of the past, most specifically by ending violence. An extreme example are the Vulcans, who had a very violent past but learned to control their emotions. His efforts were somewhat thwarted by the network's concerns over marketability. For example, they were opposed to Roddenberry's insistence on a racially diverse crew of the Enterprise, against the opposition of the studio.

Production history


In 1964 Roddenberry made a proposal for the original Star Trek TV series, to NBC as a "Wagon Train to the stars." The show's first pilot, "The Cage," starring Jeffrey Hunter as Enterprise Captain Chris Pike, was rejected by the network, however, NBC executives were still impressed with the concept and made the unusual decision to commission a second pilot: "Where No Man Has Gone Before".

The threat of cancellation loomed during the show's second season. The show's fanbase conducted an unprecedented letter-writing campaign, petitioning NBC to keep the show on the air. NBC renewed the show, but moved it from primetime to the "Friday night death slot", and substantially reduced its budget. Roddenberry reduced his direct involvement in Star Trek before the start of the season to protest the changed timeslot, and was replaced by Fred Freiberger.

The series was cancelled in its third season, despite the protests of a renewed letter writing campaign. Marketing personnel of the network complained to management that the series' cancellation was premature. New techniques for profiling demographics of the viewing audience later showed that Star Trek had been highly profitable for advertisers. The revelation came too late to resume production of the series.


When the show was cancelled, owner Paramount Studios hoped to recoup its production losses by selling the syndication rights to the show. The series went into reruns in the fall of 1972, and by the late 1970s had been sold in over 150 domestic and 60 international markets. The show developed a cult following, and rumors of reviving the franchise began.

The first new Star Trek was Star Trek: The Animated Series. The series was produced by Filmation in association with Paramount Television and ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974 on NBC, airing a total of twenty-two half-hour episodes.

The popularity of the syndicated Star Trek led Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry to begin developing a new "Star Trek Phase 2" series in May 1975. Work on the series came to an end when the proposed Paramount Television Service folded.

Following the success of the science fiction movies Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the planned pilot episode of Phase II was adapted into the feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The film was released in North America on December 7, 1979, with mixed reviews from critics. The film earned $139 million worldwide, which fell short of studio expectations but was enough for Paramount to propose a sequel. The studio forced Roddenberry to relinquish creative control of future sequels. In total, six Star Trek feature films were produced between 1979 and 1991.

In response to Star Trek's popularity in the movie theater, the series returned to the television in the critically acclaimed series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) in 1987. The show was unusual in that it was broadcast as first-run syndication rather than on a major network. Paramount and the local stations split the advertising time.

After Roddenberry

Star Trek's creator, Roddenberry, died on October 24, 1991, of heart failure at the age of 70. Roddenberry granted Rick Berman, the executive producer of TNG, control of the franchise. TNG had the highest ratings of any of the Star Trek series and was the #1 syndicated show during the last few years of its original seven-season run.

In response to TNG's success, Paramount began production of a spin-off Star Trek series Deep Space Nine, which was released in 1993. While never as popular as TNG, DS9 had solid ratings, and it also lasted seven seasons.

In January 1995, a few months after TNG ended, a fourth TV series, Voyager was released. Viewer interest in Star Trek peaked in the mid-1990s with DS9 and Voyager airing concurrently and three of the four TNG-based feature films being released in 1994, 1996 and 1998. Voyager was the flagship show of the new United Paramount Network (UPN) and thus, the first Star Trek series since the original that was shown on a major network. The show lasted seven seasons until 2001, making it the longest running show in UPN's short history.

A new Star Trek TV series, Enterprise, set in years 2151 to 2155 (earlier than TOS), was produced after Voyager ended but did not enjoy the high ratings of its predecessors. By the series' third season, UPN threatened to cancel Enterprise. Fans launched a campaign reminiscent of the one that saved the third season of the Original Series. Paramount reacted to the fan requests the same way it did for TOS by renewing Enterprise for a fourth season, but moving it to the "Friday night death slot". Like the Original Series, Enterprise did not fare well during this time slot. UPN announced the cancellation of Enterprise at the end of its fourth season, and its final episode aired on May 13, 2005. Fan groups, such as "Save Enterprise", again attempted to save the series and even announced a drive to raise $30 million to privately finance a fifth season of Enterprise. Though the effort garnered considerable press, the fan drive was unsuccessful in saving the series. The cancellation of Enterprise ended an eighteen-year production run of Star Trek programming on television. This, along with the poor box office performance in 2002 of the film Nemesis, cast an uncertain light upon the future of the Star Trek franchise in general.

Berman, who had been responsible for many of the franchise's commercial successes, was relieved of control of the Star Trek franchise upon the box office failure of Nemesis.


In 2007, Paramount hired a new creative team to reboot the franchise. Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and Lost producer, J. J. Abrams, were given the freedom to reinvent the feel of Trek and alter the canonical timeline.

An eleventh film, titled Star Trek, was released in May 2009. The eleventh Star Trek film's marketing campaign targeted non-fans, even using the phrase "this is not your father's Star Trek" in the film's advertisements.

The film has earned considerable critical and financial success, grossing the most of any Star Trek film, even in inflation-adjusted dollars. The film's major cast members have signed on for two sequels. The script for the twelfth film is projected for completion around December 2009, with the film's release scheduled for mid-2011 coinciding with the 45th anniversary of Star Trek.

Abrams' was not the first team to propose a reboot. An attempt was also made by J. Michael Straczynski and Bryce Zabel to reboot the franchise with the crew of the original series, but Paramount ignored the proposal as they were not "even willing to talk about Star Trek".

Franchise ownership

The original series began production under Desilu Productions. With the merger of Desilu into Paramount Pictures, that studio assumed outright ownership of the Star Trek franchise until 2006, when CBS took over ownership of the franchise. Certain aspects (feature film and DVD distribution rights) are still owned by Paramount.

Television series

The core of the Star Trek franchise is six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. In total 726 Star Trek episodes have been produced across the 30 seasons of the TV series.

The Original Series (1966–1969)

Star Trek, also known as "TOS" or The Original Series, debuted in the United States on NBC on September 8, 1966. The show tells the tale of the crew of the starship Enterprise and its five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before." The original 1966–69 television series featured William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, James Doohan as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, George Takei as Hikaru Sulu, and Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov. During its original run, it was nominated several times for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and won twice: for the two-parter "The Menagerie" and the Harlan Ellison-written episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". After three seasons the show was cancelled and the last original episode aired on June 3, 1969.. It was, however, highly popular with science-fiction fans and engineering students, in spite of generally low Nielsen ratings. The series subsequently became popular in reruns and a cult following developed, complete with fan conventions. Originally presented under the title Star Trek, it has in recent years become known as Star Trek: The Original Series or as "Classic Star Trek" — retronyms that distinguish it from its sequels and the franchise as a whole.

The Animated Series (1973–1974)

Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974. Most of the original cast performed the voices of their characters from The Original Series, and many of the original series' writers, such as D. C. Fontana, David Gerrold and Paul Schneider, wrote for the series. While the animated format allowed the producers to create more exotic alien landscapes and lifeforms, the liberal reuse of shots and musical cues as well as animation errors have tarnished the series' reputation. Although it was originally sanctioned by Paramount, which became the owner of the Star Trek franchise following its acquisition of Desilu in 1967, Roddenberry forced Paramount to stop considering the series canonical . Even so, elements of the animated series have been used by writers in later live-action series and movies. As of June 2007, the Animated Series is once again part of the official canon, as confirmed by the official website;

TAS won Star Trek's first Emmy Award on May 15, 1975. Star Trek TAS briefly returned to television in the mid-1980s on the children's cable network Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon's Evan McGuire greatly admired the show and used its various creative components as inspiration for his short series called Piggly Wiggly Hears A Sound which never aired. Nickelodeon parent Viacom would purchase Paramount in 1994. In the early 1990s, the Sci-Fi Channel also began rerunning TAS. The complete TAS was also released on Laserdisc format during the 1980s. The complete series was first released in the USA on eleven volumes of VHS tapes in 1989. All 22 episodes were released on DVD in 2006.

The Next Generation (1987–1994)

Star Trek: The Next Generation, also known as "TNG", is set approximately a century after The Original Series. It features a new starship, the Enterprise-D, and a new crew led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). The series introduced alien races new to the Federation as crew members, including Deanna Troi, a half-Betazoid counselor played by Marina Sirtis, and Worf as the first Klingon officer in Starfleet, played by Michael Dorn. It also featured Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, LeVar Burton as chief engineer Geordi La Forge, and the android Data portrayed by Brent Spiner. The show premiered on September 28, 1987, and ran for seven seasons, ending on May 23, 1994. Unlike the previous television outings, the program was syndicated instead of airing on network television. It had the highest ratings of any of the Star Trek series and was the #1 syndicated show during the last few years of its original run, allowing it to act as a springboard for ideas in other series. Many relationships and races introduced in TNG became the basis of episodes in Deep Space 9 and Voyager. It was nominated for an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series during its final season. It also received a Peabody Award for Outstanding Television Programming for the episode "The Big Goodbye".

Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, also known as "DS9", is set during the last years and the immediate post-years of The Next Generation and was in production for seven seasons, debuting the week of January 3, 1993. Like Star Trek: The Next Generation, it aired in syndication in the United States and Canada. It is the only Star Trek series to take place primarily on a space station rather than aboard a starship. It is set on the Cardassian-built space station Deep Space Nine, located near the planet Bajor and a uniquely stable wormhole that provides immediate access to the distant Gamma Quadrant. The show chronicles the events of the station's crew, led by Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, and Major (later Colonel) Kira Nerys, played by Nana Visitor. Recurring plot elements include the repercussions of the lengthy and brutal Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, Sisko's spiritual role for the Bajorans as the Emissary of the Prophets and in later seasons a war with the Dominion. Deep Space Nine stands apart from earlier Trek series for its lengthy serialized storytelling, conflict within the crew, and religious themes — all of which were elements that were praised by critics and audiences but that Roddenberry had forbidden in the original series and The Next Generation. Nevertheless, he was made aware of plans to make DS9 before his death, so this was the last Star Trek series with which he was connected.

Voyager (1995–2001)

Star Trek: Voyager was produced for seven seasons, airing from January 16, 1995, to May 23, 2001, launching a new Paramount-owned television network UPN. It features Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway, the first female commanding officer in a leading role of a Star Trek series, and Commander Chakotay, played by Robert Beltran. Voyager takes place at about the same time as Deep Space Nine. The premiere episode has the USS Voyager and its crew pursue a Maquis ship (crewed by Federation rebels). Both ships become stranded in the Delta Quadrant about 70,000 light years from Earth. Faced with a 75-year voyage to Earth, the crew must learn to work together and overcome challenges on the long and perilous journey home while also seeking ingenious ways to shorten the return voyage. Like Deep Space Nine, early seasons of Voyager feature greater conflict between its crew members than is seen in later shows. Such conflict often arises from friction between "by-the-book" Starfleet crew and rebellious Maquis fugitives forced by circumstance to work together on the same ship. Eventually, though, they settle their differences, after which the overall tone becomes more reminiscent of The Original Series. Voyager is originally isolated from many of the familiar aspects and races of the Star Trek franchise, barring those few represented on the crew. This allowed for the creation of new races and original plot lines within the series. Later seasons, however, brought an influx of characters and races from prior shows, such as the Borg, Q, the Ferengi, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians as well as cast members of The Next Generation.

Enterprise (2001–2005)

Star Trek: Enterprise, originally titled Enterprise, produced for an abbreviated four seasons airing from September 26, 2001, to May 13, 2005, is a prequel to the other Star Trek series, taking place in the 2150s, some 90 years after Zefram Cochrane developed the first warp-capable starship from a ballistic missile and about a decade before the founding of the Federation. The series shows how the first extraterrestrial contact with the Vulcans and subsequent guidance led to Earth's first warp-five capable starship, the Enterprise, commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer played by Scott Bakula, and Commander T'Pol, played by Jolene Blalock. For the first two seasons, Enterprise is mostly episodic, like The Original Series, The Next Generation and Voyager. The third season's "Xindi mission" arc carried through the entire season. Season 4 was especially known for showing the origins of several common elements in the other series, due to the producers having recruited as writers Trek experts Mike Sussman and the writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. In addition, season 4 rectified and resolved some core continuity problems in the series (some of which were created in season 1 of Enterprise), most notably the decades-old issue of the drastic change in the appearance of the Klingons between TOS and other Trek series. The fourth season's story arcs are often spread to two or three episodes. Ratings for Enterprise started strong but declined rapidly, although longtime viewers were pleased by the final season's many homages to other Trek series.

Feature films

Paramount Pictures has produced eleven Star Trek feature films, the most recent released in May 2009 with a twelfth in development, possibly to be released in 2011, which will celebrate the Star Trek franchise's forty-fifth anniversary. The first six films continue the adventures of the The Original Series cast; the seventh, Generations was designed as a transition from that cast to The Next Generation; the next three, 8–10, were exclusively Next Generation. Although North American and UK releases of the films were no longer numbered following the sixth film, European releases continued numbering the films up until Nemesis. The eleventh film, titled Star Trek, is a prequel-reboot, of TOS, set prior to Captain Kirk's graduation from Starfleet Academy and promotion to the rank of Captain. The 2009 film is the highest-earning and best-reviewed of the series so far. Due to its success, a twelfth film is currently in its early stages of production.

Title Release date
Star Trek:The Motion Picture December 7, 1979
The Wrath of Khan June 4, 1982
The Search for Spock June 1, 1984
The Voyage Home November 26, 1986
The Final Frontier June 9, 1989
The Undiscovered Country December 6, 1991
Generations November 18, 1994
First Contact November 22, 1996
Insurrection December 11, 1998
Nemesis December 13, 2002
Star Trek May 8, 2009
Untitled 12th movie 2011? (TBA)

Spin-off media

The Star Trek franchise has a large number of novels, comic books, video games, and other materials, which are generally considered non-canon.


Since 1967, hundreds of original novels, short stories, and television and movie adaptations have been published. The very first original Star Trek novel to be published was Mission to Horatius by Mack Reynolds, which was published in hardcover by Whitman Books in 1968.

The first publisher of Star Trek fiction aimed at adult readers was Bantam Books. In 1970, James Blish wrote the first original Star Trek novel published by Bantam, Spock Must Die!. Pocket Books is currently the publisher of Star Trek novels.

Prolific Star Trek novelists include Peter David, Diane Carey, Keith R.A. DeCandido, J.M. Dillard, Diane Duane, Michael Jan Friedman, and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Several actors and writers from the television series have written books: William Shatner, and John de Lancie, Andrew J. Robinson, J. G. Hertzler, and Armin Shimerman have written or co-written books featuring their respective characters. Voyager producer Jeri Taylor wrote two novels featuring backstory for Voyager characters, and screen authors David Gerrold, D. C. Fontana, and Melinda Snodgrass have also penned books.


Star Trek-based comics have been published by a number of companies almost continuously since 1967. Publishers include Marvel, DC, Malibu, Wildstorm, and Gold Key. Tokyopop currently is publishing an anthology of Next Generation-based stories presented in the style of Japanesemarker manga. As of 2006, IDW Publishing secured publishing rights to Star Trek comics and published a prequel to the 2009 film, Star Trek: Countdown.


The Star Trek science franchise also has numerous games in many different formats. Beginning in 1967 with a board game based on the original series and continuing through 2009 with online and DVD games, Star Trek games continue to be popular among fans. The series' most recent video games of the series are Star Trek: Legacy and Star Trek: Conquest. An MMORPG based on Star Trek called Star Trek Online is being developed by Cryptic Studios and will be published by Atari. It is set in the TNG universe and not the re-imagined Universe portrayed in JJ Abrams Star Trek , although it will take into account the events portrayed at the start of the film and in the prequel comics. The game is currently in the first round of Closed Beta Testing. Cryptic recently confirmed that a release date has been set to February 2, 2010.

Cultural impact

The Star Trek media franchise is a multi-billion dollar industry, currently owned by CBS. Gene Roddenberry sold Star Trek to NBC as a classic adventure drama; he pitched the show as "Wagon Train to the Stars" and as Horatio Hornblower in Space. The opening line, "to boldly go where no man has gone before," was taken almost verbatim from a USmarker White Housemarker booklet on space produced after the Sputnik flight in 1957. The central trio of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy was modeled on classical mythological storytelling.

Star Trek and its spin-offs have proved highly popular in television repeats and are currently shown on TV stations worldwide. The show’s cultural impact goes far beyond its longevity and profitability. Star Trek conventions have become popular, though they're often merged now with conventions related to other genres and series. Some fans have coined the term Trekkies to describe themselves. Others, however, prefer the term Trekkers. Fans of Deep Space Nine are better known as Niners. An entire subculture has grown up around the show which was documented in the film Trekkies. Star Trek was the top rank cult show by TV guide.

The Star Trek franchise has influenced the design of many current technologies, including the Tablet PC, the PDA, mobile phones, and the MRI (based on Dr. McCoy's diagnostic table). It has also brought to popular attention the concept of teleportation with its depiction of "matter-energy transport." Phrases such as "Beam me up, Scotty" have entered the public vernacular. In 1976, following a letter-writing campaign, NASAmarker named its prototype space shuttle Enterprise, after the fictional starship.

Beyond Star Trek's technological innovations, one of its greatest and most significant contributions to TV history is its creation of a cast different races and cultures in the sets. This became common in television shows in the 1980s such as L.A. Law but was controversial and daring in the 1960s. On the bridge of the Enterprise was a Japanese helmsman, a Russian navigator, a female African-American communications officer, and a Vulcan-Earthling first officer - among other members. Also, controversial at its time (in the episode Plato's Stepchildren), was Captain Kirk's kiss with Lt. Uhura which became a defining moment in television history as it was American TV's first interracial kiss.


Notable parodies of Star Trek include the Star Wreck movie series, the internet-based cartoon series Stone Trek, the Star Wreck novel series, the song Star Trekkin' by The Firm, the feature film Galaxy Quest, an episode of Futurama called "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" which featured several characters from the original series, and the episode of Family Guy titled "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", which featured the entire cast of Star Trek The Next Generation, as well as an episode of The Simpsons titled "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie", featuring some of the cast of the original Star Trek television series. The news satire site The Onion created a Star Trek XI based clip just before the release of the film.

Awards and honors

Of the various science-fiction awards given for drama, only the Hugo award dates back as far as the original series. Although the Hugo is mainly given for print-media science-fiction, its "best drama" award is usually given to film or television presentations. The Hugo does not give out awards for best actor, director, or other aspects of film production. Prior to 2002, films and television shows competed for the same Hugo, before the split of the drama award into short drama and long drama. In 1968, all five nominees for a Hugo award were individual episodes of Star Trek, as were three of the five nominees in 1967 (the other two being the films Fahrenheit 451 and Fantastic Voyage). The only Star Trek series to not get even a Hugo nomination are the animated series and Voyager, though only the original series and Next Generation ever actually won the award. No Star Trek film has ever won a Hugo, though a few were nominated. In 2008, the fan made episode of Star Trek: New Voyages entitled 'World Enough and Time' was nominated for the Hugo for best short drama, where it competed with professional episodes from shows such as Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.

The prestigious science-fiction Saturn award did not exist during broadcasting of the original series. Unlike the Hugo, the Saturn award does give out prizes for best actor, special effects, music, etc. Also unlike the Hugo (until 2002) movies and television shows have never competed against each other for Saturns. The two Star Trek series to win multiple Saturn awards during their run were The Next Generation (twice winning for best television series) and Voyager (twice winning for best actress- Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan). The original series retroactively won a Saturn award for best DVD release. Several Star Trek films have won Saturns including categories such as best actor, actress, director, costume design, and special effects. However, Star Trek has never won a Saturn for best make-up.

The Star Trek series has also won 31 Emmy Awards.



  • Bernier, Michelle;(2009) "All about Jeffrey Hunter"; Createspace;isbn 13: 9781442172876

External links

  •—The Official Star Trek website
  • Memory Alpha—A Star Trek encyclopedia that uses information only from canon sources licensed by Paramount.
  • Memory Beta—A Star Trek encyclopedia that uses information from both canon and non-canon sources licensed by Paramount.
  • CBS Video—Free full-length Star Trek: The Original Series episodes provided by CBS (only available in the United States)

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