Star Trek: The Original Series

Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek
Star Trek title card (Season 1)
Format Science fiction
Created by Gene Roddenberry
Starring William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
DeForest Kelley
Theme music composer Alexander Courage
Opening theme "Theme from Star Trek"
Composer(s) Alexander Courage
George Duning
Jerry Fielding
Gerald Fried
Sol Kaplan
Samuel Matlovsky
Joseph Mullendore
Fred Steiner
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 79 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Gene Roddenberry
Producer(s) Gene L. Coon
John Meredyth Lucas
Fred Freiberger
Running time 50 min[1]
Production company(s) Desilu Productions (1966–1967)
Paramount Television (1967–1969)
Norway Corporation, owned by Gene Roddenberry
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original channel NBC
Picture format NTSC (480i)
4:3 1080p (remastered edition)
Audio format Monaural, Dolby Digital 5.1 (remastered edition), DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (Blu-ray)
Original run September 8, 1966 (1966-09-08) – June 3, 1969 (1969-06-03)
Followed by Star Trek: The Animated Series
Related shows Star Trek: The Next Generation,
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
Star Trek: Voyager,
Star Trek: Enterprise
External links
The Original Series at

Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions (later Paramount Television). Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969.[2] Although this television series had the title of Star Trek, it has acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: TOS or TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began. Star Trek's Nielsen ratings while on NBC were low, and the network canceled it after three seasons and 79 episodes. The show became a cult classic in broadcast syndication during the 1970s, leading to five additional television series, 11 theatrical films, and numerous books, games, and other products.

Star Trek follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew, led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), in the 23rd century. Shatner's voice-over introduction during each episode's opening credits stated the starship's purpose:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.


Creation and development

In 1964, Gene Roddenberry, a longtime fan of science fiction, drafted a proposal for a science-fiction television series that he called Star Trek. This was to be set on board a large interstellar spaceship in the 23rd century[3] whose crew was dedicated to exploring a relatively small portion of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Some of the influences on his idea that Roddenberry noted included A. E. van Vogt's tales of the spaceship Space Beagle, Eric Frank Russell's Marathon series of stories, and the film Forbidden Planet (1956). Other people have also drawn parallels with the television series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954), a less sophisticated space opera that still included many of the elements — the organization, crew relationships, missions, part of the bridge layout, and even some technology — that were part of Star Trek.[4] Roddenberry also drew heavily from C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novels that depict a daring sea captain who exercises broad discretionary authority on distant sea missions of noble purpose. Roddenberry often humorously referred to Captain Kirk as "Horatio Hornblower in Space".[5]

Roddenberry had extensive experience in writing for series about the Old West that had been popular television fare earlier in the 1960s and the 1950s, and he pitched his new show to the networks as "Wagon Train to the stars."[6] In 1964, Roddenberry signed a three-year program-development contract with a leading independent television production company, Desilu Productions. In Roddenberry's original concept, the protagonist was Captain Robert April of the starship S.S. Yorktown. This character was developed into Captain Christopher Pike.

Roddenberry first presented Star Trek to CBS, which turned it down in favor of the Irwin Allen creation Lost in Space. Roddenberry next presented his concept to the head of Desilu Studio—Herb Solow—who eventually accepted it. Solow then successfully sold Gene's vision of Star Trek to NBC, which paid for but turned down the first pilot "The Cage", stating that it was "too cerebral".[5] However, the NBC executives had still been impressed with the concept, and they understood that its perceived faults had been partly because of the script that they had selected themselves.[5] The NBC executives then made the unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, using the script called "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Only the character of Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was kept from the first pilot, and only two cast members, Majel Barrett and Nimoy, were carried forward into the second pilot. This pilot proved to be satisfactory to NBC, and the network selected Star Trek to be in its upcoming television schedule for the fall of 1966.

The second pilot introduced the rest of the main characters: Captain Kirk (William Shatner), chief engineer Lt. Commander Scott (James Doohan) and Lt. Sulu (George Takei). Paul Fix played Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot; ship's doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the cast when filming began for the first season, and he remained for the rest of the series, achieving billing as the third star of the series. Also joining the ship's permanent crew then was the communications officer, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), the first African-American woman to hold such an important role in an American television series. Walter Koenig joined the cast as Ensign Pavel Chekov in the series' second season.


The original starship Enterprise

The show's production staff included art director Matt Jefferies. Jefferies designed the starship Enterprise and most of its interiors. His contributions to the series were honored in the name of the "Jefferies tube", an equipment shaft depicted in various Star Trek series. In addition to working with his brother, John Jefferies, to create the hand-held phaser weapons of Star Trek, Jefferies also developed the set design for the bridge of the Enterprise (which was based on an earlier design by Pato Guzman). Jeffries used his practical experience as an airman during World War II and his knowledge of aircraft design to devise a sleek, functional, ergonomic bridge layout.

The costume designer for Star Trek, Bill Theiss, created the striking look of the Starfleet uniforms for the Enterprise, the costumes for female guest stars, and for various aliens, including the Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, Tellarites, Andorians, Gideonites and many others.

Artist and sculptor Wah Chang, who had worked for Walt Disney Productions, was hired to design and manufacture props: he created the flip-open communicator, often credited as having influenced the configuration of the portable version of the cellular telephone.[7] Chang also designed the portable sensing-recording-computing "tricorder" device, and various fictitious devices for the starship's engineering crew and its sick bay. Later into the series, he helped to create various memorable aliens, such as the Gorn and the Horta.


Season 1 (1966–1967)

William Shatner as Kirk in action in the show's first episode, 1966.

NBC ordered 16 episodes of Star Trek, besides "Where No Man Has Gone Before".[8]:212 The first regular episode of Star Trek aired on Thursday, September 8, 1966 from 8:30-9:30 as part of an NBC "sneak preview" block. Reviews were mixed; while The Philadelphia Inquirer and San Francisco Chronicle liked the new show, The New York Times and Boston Globe were less favorable,[9] and Variety predicted that it "won't work", calling it "an incredible and dreary mess of confusion and complexities".[10] Debuting against mostly reruns, Star Trek easily won its time slot with a 40.6 share.[11] The following week against all-new programming, however, the show fell to second (29.4 share) behind CBS. It ranked 33rd (out of 94 programs) over the next two weeks, then the following two episodes ranked 51st in the ratings.[12][13]

I am an avid fan of "Star Trek," and would simply die if it was taken off the air. In my opinion it is the best show on television.

—M.P., Oswego, New York, 20 February 1967[14]

Star Trek's first-season ratings would in earlier years likely have caused NBC to cancel the show. The network had pioneered research into viewers' demographic profiles in the early 1960s, however, and, by 1967, it and other networks increasingly considered such data when making decisions;[15]:115 for example, CBS temporarily cancelled Gunsmoke that year because it had too many older and too few younger viewers.[9] Although Roddenberry later claimed that NBC was unaware of Star Trek's favorable demographics,[16] awareness of Star Trek's "quality" audience is what likely caused the network to retain the show after the first and second seasons.[15]:115 NBC instead decided to order 10 more new episodes for the first season, and order a second season in March 1967.[8]:212[17] The network originally announced that the show would air at 7:30-8:30 PM Tuesday, but it was instead given an 8:30-9:30 PM Friday slot when the 1967-68 NBC schedule was released,[18] making watching it difficult for the young viewers that the show most attracted.[8]:218

Season 2 (1967–1968)

Spock, Kirk and the Enterprise, 1968.

Star Trek's ratings continued to decline during the second season. Although Shatner expected the show to end after two seasons and began to prepare for other projects,[19] NBC nonetheless may have never seriously considered cancelling the show.[20][9] As early as January 1968, the Associated Press reported that Star Trek's chances for renewal for a third season were "excellent". The show had better ratings for NBC than ABC's competing Hondo, and the competing CBS programs (#3 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and the first half-hour of the #12 CBS Friday Night Movie) were in the top 15 in the Nielsen ratings.[20][21] Again, demographics helped Star Trek survive.[15]:116 Contrary to popular belief among its fans, the show did not have a larger audience of young viewers than its competition while on NBC.[9] The network's research did, however, indicate that Star Trek had a "quality audience" including "upper-income, better-educated males", and other NBC shows had lower overall ratings.[15]:116[20]

What did surprise NBC was the enthusiasm of Star Trek's viewers.[9] The show was unusual in its serious discussion of contemporary societal issues in a futuristic context, unlike Lost in Space which was more "campy" in nature.[22] When rumors spread in late 1967 that the show was at risk of cancellation, Bjo Trimble, her husband John, and other fans organized an unprecedented effort which persuaded tens of thousands of viewers to write letters of support to save the program.[23]:377-394[24] The network had already received 29,000 fan letters—more than for any other except The Monkees—for the show during Star Trek's first season.[8]:218 NBC received almost 116,000 letters for the show between December 1967 and March 1968, including more than 52,000 in February alone.[25][8]:218 Newspaper columnists encouraged readers to write letters to help save what one called "the best science fiction show on the air."[26] More than 200 Caltech students marched to NBC's Burbank, California studio to support Star Trek in January 1968, carrying signs such as "Draft Spock" and "Vulcan Power".[27] Berkeley and MIT students organized similar protests in San Francisco and New York.[26] The letters supporting Star Trek, whose authors included Governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller,[28] were different in both quantity and quality from most mail that television networks receive:

The show, according to the 6,000 letters it draws a week (more than any other in television), is watched by scientists, museum curators, psychiatrists, doctors, university professors and other highbrows. The Smithsonian Institution asked for a print of the show for its archives, the only show so honored.[26]


Much of the mail came from doctors, scientists, teachers, and other professional people, and was for the most part literate–and written on good stationery. And if there is anything a network wants almost as much as a high Nielsen ratings it is the prestige of a show that appeals to the upper middle class and high brow audiences.[19]
And now an announcement of interest to all viewers of Star Trek. We are pleased to tell you that Star Trek will continue to be seen on NBC Television. We know you will be looking forward to seeing the weekly adventure in space on Star Trek.

—NBC announcer, 1 March 1968[28][9]

NBC—which used such anecdotes in much of its publicity for the show—made the unusual decision to announce after the episode "The Omega Glory" on March 1, 1968 that the series had been renewed,[15]:116-117[28] and asked viewers to stop writing. This prompted letters of thanks in similar numbers.[29]

Season 3 (1968–1969)

NBC at first planned to move Star Trek to Mondays for the show's third season, likely in hopes of increasing its audience after the enormous letter campaign surprised the network.[9] In March 1968 NBC instead decided to move the show to the 10:00 PM Friday night death slot, an hour undesirable for its younger audience,[24][30] so as not to conflict with the highly successful Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on Monday evenings.[31] In addition to the undesirable time slot, Star Trek was now being seen on only 181 of NBC's 210 affiliates.[32]

Roddenberry—who complained, "If the network wants to kill us, it couldn't make a better move"[24]—attempted to persuade NBC to give Star Trek a better day and hour, but was not successful. As a result of this, he chose to withdraw from the stress of the daily production of Star Trek, though he remained nominally in charge as its "executive producer."[33] Roddenberry reduced his direct involvement in Star Trek before the start of the 1968-69 television season, and was replaced by Fred Freiberger as the producer of the television series. NBC next reduced Star Trek's budget by a significant amount per episode, as the per-minute commercial price had dropped from $39,000 to $36,000 compared to the Season 2 time slot.[34] This caused a marked decline in the quality of many episodes for the 1968-69 season.[35] Nichelle Nichols has described these budget cuts as an intentional effort to kill off Star Trek:

While NBC paid lip service to expanding Star Trek's audience, it [now] slashed our production budget until it was actually ten percent lower than it had been in our first season....This is why in the third season you saw fewer outdoor location shots, for example. Top writers, top guest stars, top anything you needed was harder to come by. Thus, Star Trek's demise became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I can assure you, that is exactly as it was meant to be.
—Nichelle Nichols, Beyond Uhura, p. 189

The last day of filming for Star Trek was January 9, 1969,[8]:219 and after 79 episodes[36] NBC cancelled the show in February despite fans' attempt at another letter-writing campaign.[9] One newspaper columnist advised a protesting viewer:

You Star Trek fans have fought the "good fight," but the show has been cancelled and there's nothing to be done now.[37]

In 2011, the decision to cancel Star Trek by NBC was ranked #4 on the TV Guide Network special, 25 Biggest TV Blunders 2[38]


Although many of the third season's episodes were of poor quality, it gave Star Trek enough episodes for television syndication.[39] Most shows require at least five seasons for syndication, because otherwise there are not enough episodes for daily stripping. Kaiser Broadcasting, however, had already purchased syndication rights for Star Trek during the first season for its stations in several large cities. The company arranged the unusual deal because it saw the show as effective counterprogramming against the Big Three networks' 6 pm evening news programs.[40]:138[8]:220 Paramount began advertising the reruns in trade press in March 1969;[41] as Kaiser's ratings were good, other stations, such as WPIX in New York City, also purchased the episodes[42]:91-92 for similar counterprogramming.[15]:121

Since that dark day in 1969 when NBC brought the programming hammer down on Star Trek, there probably hasn't been a 24-hour period when the original program, one of the original episodes, wasn't being aired somewhere.

Chicago Tribune, 1987[43]

Through syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it had on NBC, becoming a cult classic.[40]:138-139 Airing the show in the late afternoon or early evening attracted many new viewers, often young.[44] By 1970, Paramount's trade advertisements claimed that the show had significantly improved its stations' ratings,[41] and the Los Angeles Times commented on Star Trek's ability to "acquire the most enviable ratings in the syndication field".[15]:121 By 1972, "the show that won't die" aired in more than 100 American cities and 60 other countries, and more than 3,000 fans attended the first Star Trek convention in New York City.[45][44] Fans of the show became increasingly organized, gathering at conventions to trade merchandise, meet actors from the show, and watch screenings of old episodes. Such fans came to be known as "trekkies", who were noted (and often ridiculed) for their extreme devotion to the show and their encyclopedic knowledge of every episode.[46] Unlike other syndicated reruns, prices for Star Trek rose instead of falling over time, because fans enjoyed rewatching each episode many dozens of times;[47][15]:122 by 1987, Paramount made $1 million from each episode in syndication,[8]:222 and by 1994 the reruns still aired in 94% of the United States.[48]

In the early 2000s, The Sci-Fi Channel broadcast a "Special Edition" of all The Original Series episodes in an expanded 90-minute format in which some material from the original NBC broadcasts that had been deleted during the show's syndication run was restored. Approximately 3–4 minutes of the original episodes were edited out of the syndicated shows in order to make room for additional commercial time. The Sci-Fi Channel's Special Edition broadcasts included not only the deleted scenes, but also introductory and post-episode commentary by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and interviews with writers, cast members, and guest stars who provided memories about the specific episodes (titled as "Star Trek Insights"). The episodes were broadcast in what was presented as the sequence from the original NBC broadcasts, but there were also some discrepancies between the Sci-Fi Channel's broadcast sequence and the original NBC broadcast sequence (for details on each episode's original airdate, see List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes).


Performer Role Position Rank
William Shatner James T. Kirk Commanding officer Captain
Leonard Nimoy Spock First officer
Science officer
DeForest Kelley Leonard "Bones" McCoy Chief medical officer Lieutenant Commander
James Doohan Montgomery "Scotty" Scott Second officer
Chief engineer
Lieutenant Commander
Nichelle Nichols Nyota Uhura Chief Communications officer Lieutenant
George Takei Hikaru Sulu Helmsman
Walter Koenig Pavel Chekov Navigator
Security Officer
Tactical Officer
Grace Lee Whitney Janice Rand Captain's yeoman Yeoman
Majel Barrett Christine Chapel Head Nurse Lieutenant

Sulu and Uhura were not given first names in this series. Sulu's first name, Hikaru, was revealed non-canonically in Vonda N. McIntyre's Pocket Books novel The Entropy Effect. The name was "officially" put into the canon by George Takei in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Uhura's first name was never mentioned on screen, but the name Nyota was used in fandom and in Pocket Book novels. It was finally put to canon in the 2009 movie chronicling the origins of the crew. Kirk's middle name was never used in the series until the Animated Series episode "Bem". Owing to internal disagreements on the status of The Animated Series as official Star Trek canon, Kirk's middle name ('Tiberius') would not become canon until the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. A tombstone in the second pilot intended for Kirk reads "James R. Kirk". However, this is often explained by Gary Mitchell, the person who created the tombstone, not knowing Kirk's actual name.[citation needed]

Majel Barrett also provided the voice of the computer in TOS and many other Star Trek series and movies. She also played (as a brunette) the part of Captain Pike's First Officer in the pilot episode "The Cage". Barrett and Roddenberry married in 1969.

It was intended that Sulu's role be expanded in the second season, but owing to Takei's part in John Wayne's The Green Berets, he only appeared in half the season, with his role being filled by Walter Koenig as the relatively young, mop-topped Russian navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov. When Takei returned, the two had to share a dressing room and a single episode script.[49] The two appeared together at the Enterprise helm for the remainder of the series. There may be some truth to the unofficial story that the Soviet Union's newspaper Pravda complained that there were no Soviets among the culturally diverse characters. This was seen as a personal slight to that country since the Soviet Russian Yuri Gagarin had been the first man to make a spaceflight. Gene Roddenberry said in response that "The Chekov thing was a major error on our part, and I'm still embarrassed by the fact we didn't include a Russian right from the beginning." [5] However, documentation from Desilu suggests that the intention was to introduce a character into Star Trek with more sex appeal to teenagers, especially teen girls.[5] Walter Koenig noted in the 2006 40th anniversary special of Star Trek: The Original Series that he doubted the rumor about Pravda, since Star Trek had never been shown on Soviet television. It has also been claimed that the former member of The Monkees, Davy Jones, could have been the model for Mr. Chekov.[50]

In addition, the series frequently included characters (usually security personnel wearing red uniforms) who are killed or injured soon after their introduction. So prevalent was this plot device that it inspired the term "redshirt" to denote a stock character whose sole purpose is to die violently in order to demonstrate the dangerous circumstances facing the main characters.


Promotional photo of the cast of Star Trek during the third season (1968–1969). From left to right: James Doohan, Walter Koenig, DeForest Kelley, Majel Barrett, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and George Takei.

Star Trek made celebrities of its cast of largely unknown actors. Kelley had appeared in many films and television shows, but mostly in smaller roles that showcased him as a villain. Nimoy also had previous television and film experience but was also not well known. Nimoy had partnered previously with Shatner in a 1964 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Project Strigas Affair", and with Kelley (as a doctor) in a 1963 episode of The Virginian, "Man of Violence", both more than two years before Star Trek aired for the first time. Before Star Trek, Shatner was well-known in the trade, having appeared in several notable films, played Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, and even turned down the part of Dr. Kildare. However, when roles became sparse he took the regular job after Jeffrey Hunter's contract was not renewed. After the episodes aired, many performers found themselves typecast because of their defining roles in the show. (Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Michael Dorn stated in 1991, however: "If what happened to the first cast is called being typecast, then I want to be typecast. Of course, they didn't get the jobs after `Trek.' But they are making their sixth movie. Name me someone else in television who has made six movies!"[39])

The three main characters were Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, with writers often playing the different personalities off each other: Kirk was passionate and often aggressive, but with a sly sense of humor; Spock was coolly logical; and McCoy was sardonic but always compassionate. In many stories the three clashed, with Kirk forced to make a tough decision while Spock advocated the logical but sometimes callous path and McCoy (or "Bones," as Kirk nicknamed him) insisted on doing whatever would cause the least harm. McCoy and Spock had a sparring relationship that masked their true affection and respect for each other, and their constant arguments became very popular with viewers.[51]:153-154 The show so emphasized dialogue that writer and director Nicholas Meyer (involved with the Star Trek films) called it a radio drama, showing an episode to a film class without video to prove that the plot was still comprehensible.[39]

The character Spock was at first rejected by network officials who feared his vaguely "Satanic" appearance (with pointed ears and eyebrows) might prove upsetting to some viewers. The network had even airbrushed out Spock's pointed ears and eyebrows from publicity materials sent to network affiliates. Spock, however, went on to become one of the most popular characters on the show, as did McCoy's impassioned country-doctor personality. Spock, in fact, became a sex symbol of sorts[52] – something no one connected with the show had expected. Leonard Nimoy notes that the question of Spock's extraordinary sex appeal emerged "almost any time I talked to someone in the press...I never give it a try to deal with the question of Mr. Spock as a sex symbol is silly."[53]

Original Series cameo roles in later series

The sequel to the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which premiered in 1987, was set approximately 100 years after the events of TOS. As that show and its spin-offs progressed, several TOS characters made appearances:

  • Leonard "Bones" McCoy, now a 137-year-old admiral, inspects the Enterprise-D during its first mission in "Encounter at Farpoint".
  • Scotty, now chronologically 147 years old, but still only physically 72 years old after spending 75 years trapped in suspended animation, is rescued by the Enterprise-D crew and resumes his life in "Relics". Working along with Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, Scotty uses some creative engineering to save the Enterprise. A grateful Captain Picard indefinitely lends him a shuttlecraft.
  • Spock, now a Vulcan ambassador, goes underground in the Romulan Empire in hopes of fostering peaceful coexistence with the Federation and reunification with Vulcan society ("Unification, Parts I and II"). Eventually, the Romulan homeworld, Romulus, and the United Federation of Planets are threatened with destruction by a supernova, but Spock proposed a solution to deal with the potential catastrophe. Unfortunately, Spock is unable to prevent Romulus from being destroyed. The Romulan Nero, who observes the tragedy, blames Spock for the loss of his planet and family. Enraged, Nero pursues Spock but is caught in the artificial black hole created by the "red matter" and the supernova. As a result, Nero's ship is sent 154 years into the past, where it encounters the USS Kelvin in the year 2233 and destroys it, thereby altering history to create an alternate timeline. Ambassador Spock also enters the black hole, but only travels 129 years back in time. This results in a timeline with two Spocks, the "original" young Spock, and the older Ambassador Spock from the future. (Star Trek)
  • Sarek (portrayed by Mark Lenard), Spock's father, continues to be an ambassador for the next century, finally retiring to Vulcan where he dies during the events of "Unification". Mark Lenard also appears as Sarek in several of the movies, as well as playing the Romulan commander in the ST:TOS episode "Balance of Terror", and as a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
  • James Kirk disappears in 2293 during the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B but 78 years later Kirk is recovered from The Nexus, an alternate plane of existence, by Enterprise-D Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Kirk's time in the 24th century is short however; he is killed by Dr. Soran in Star Trek Generations.
  • Kang, Koloth, and Kor, the three Klingons featured in "Day of the Dove", "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "Errand of Mercy", continue to serve the Empire well into the 24th century. They appear in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath" in which Kang and Koloth are killed. Kor later appears in two more episodes: "The Sword of Kahless" and finally in "Once More Unto the Breach" where he dies fighting in the Dominion War. A younger version of Kang, from the era of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, later appears in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback".
  • Sulu, promoted to captain of the USS Excelsior in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, reprises his role from that performance in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback". Grace Lee Whitney also reprises her role as Janice Rand in that same episode.
  • Walter Koenig returns to the role of Pavel Chekov in the second episode of the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages, "To Serve All My Days", an episode written by D. C. Fontana. Pavel saves Scotty from a plasma eruption in engineering and this affects a dormant virus (contracted in the original series episode "The Deadly Years") which causes him to age considerably faster. Chekov dies in the closing minutes of this episode, as this was intended to be Koenig's "on-screen" death of him portraying the character. However, many fans of the New Voyages series responded negatively to both the death of Chekov and Fontana's dismissive attitude towards the complaints. New Voyages producer James Cawley was nevertheless urged by the sheer number of complaints to add a post-credit scene where it is revealed that the events of To Serve All My Days was merely a nightmare brought on by Chekov having imbibed with a bit too much vodka the night before.
  • Arne Darvin, the Klingon disguised as a human in "The Trouble With Tribbles", appears in "Trials and Tribble-ations" with the intent to return to Deep Space Station K7 in 2267 and assassinate Kirk, whom Darvin blamed for his disgrace within the Klingon Empire.

Besides the above examples, there have been numerous non-canon novels and comic books published over the years in which TOS-era crew are depicted in the TNG era, either through time-travel or other means. In addition, many actors who appeared on TOS later made guest appearances as different characters in later series, most notably Majel Barrett, who not only provided the voice for most Starfleet computers in episodes of every spin-off series (including a single appearance on Enterprise, where the computers normally did not speak at all), but also had the recurring role of Lwaxana Troi in TNG and DS9. Diana Muldaur played Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Muldaur was also a guest star in the episodes "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" of the original Star Trek series.

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig all played themselves in an episode of Futurama called "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", a parody of the extensive fanbase and devotion to the series.


In terms of its writing, Star Trek is notable as one of the earliest science-fiction TV series to utilize the services of leading contemporary science fiction writers, such as Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison, and Theodore Sturgeon, as well as established television writers. Series script editor Dorothy C. Fontana (originally Roddenberry's secretary) was also a vital part of the success of Star Trek-- she edited most of the series' scripts and wrote several episodes. Her credits read D.C. Fontana at the suggestion of Gene Roddenberry since he felt a woman might not be taken seriously because the majority of science fiction writers were men.

Several notable themes were tackled throughout the entire series which involved the exploration of major issues of 1960s USA, including sexism, racism, nationalism, and global war. Roddenberry utilized the allegory of a space vessel set many years in the future to explore these issues. Although Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nancy Sinatra had briefly kissed on the December 1967 musical-variety special Movin' With Nancy,[54] Star Trek was the first American television show to feature an interracial kiss between fictional characters (between Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren") although the kiss was only mimed (obscured by the back of a character's head) and depicted as involuntary.[55]

Episodes such as "The Apple", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "The Mark of Gideon", and "The Return of the Archons" display subtle anti-religious (owing mainly to Roddenberry's own secular humanism) and anti-establishment themes. "Bread and Circuses" and "The Omega Glory" have themes that are more overtly pro-religion and patriotic.

Roddenberry also wanted to use the series as a 'Trojan Horse' to push back the envelope of NBC's censorship restrictions by disguising potentially controversial themes with a science fiction setting. Network and/or sponsor interference, up to and including wholesale censorship of scripts and film footage, was a regular occurrence in the 1960s and Star Trek suffered from its fair share of tampering. Scripts were routinely vetted and censored by the staff of NBC's Broadcast Standards Department, who copiously annotated every script with demands for cuts or changes (e.g. "Page 4: Please delete McCoy's expletive, 'Good Lord'" or "Page 43: Caution on the embrace; avoid open-mouthed kiss").[56]

The Original Series was also noted for its sense of humor, such as Spock's and McCoy's pointed, yet friendly, bickering. Episodes like "The Trouble with Tribbles", "I, Mudd", and "A Piece of the Action", however, were all written and staged as comedies. Star Trek's humor is generally much more subdued in the spin-offs and movies, with notable exceptions such as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Several episodes used the concept of duplicate Earths, allowing reuse of stock props and sets. "Bread and Circuses," "Miri" and "The Omega Glory" depict such worlds, and three episodes, "A Piece Of The Action", "Patterns Of Force", and "Plato's Stepchildren" are based on alien planets that have adopted period Earth cultures (Prohibition-era Chicago, Nazi Germany, and ancient Greece, respectively). However, "A Piece Of The Action" and "Patterns Of Force" show this as having resulted from contaminations of the native cultures of those planets, either before the imposition of the Prime Directive or by violations of it.

All 79 episodes of the series have been digitally remastered by CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) and have since been released on DVD. (Note: this is not to be confused with the Star Trek Remastered project, discussed below.) Paramount released Season One of The Original Series on Blu-ray on April 29, 2009. The Blu-ray release contains both Original and Remastered episodes by seamless branching.

Notable episodes

According to Entertainment Weekly, the following are the ten best episodes of Star Trek:[57]

  1. "The City on the Edge of Forever"
  2. "Space Seed"
  3. "Mirror, Mirror"
  4. "The Doomsday Machine"
  5. "Amok Time"
  6. "The Devil in the Dark"
  7. "The Trouble With Tribbles"
  8. "This Side of Paradise"
  9. "The Enterprise Incident"
  10. "Journey to Babel" listed its top ten:[58]

  1. "The City on the Edge of Forever"
  2. "Balance of Terror"
  3. "Mirror, Mirror"
  4. "Space Seed"
  5. "The Trouble With Tribbles"
  6. "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
  7. "The Enemy Within"
  8. "The Naked Time"
  9. "This Side of Paradise"
  10. "Arena" viewers voted on their top ten episodes in 2009:[59]

  1. "Mirror, Mirror"
  2. "The City on the Edge of Forever"
  3. "Space Seed"
  4. "The Trouble With Tribbles"
  5. "The Doomsday Machine"
  6. "Amok Time"
  7. "Balance of Terror"
  8. "The Enterprise Incident"
  9. "A Piece of the Action"
  10. "The Tholian Web"

As of 2009, the ten highest rated episodes on IMDB (note some episodes share the same rank) are:

  1. "The City on the Edge of Forever"[60]
  2. "Mirror, Mirror"[61]
  3. "Balance of Terror",[62]" Space Seed"[63]
  4. "The Trouble With Tribbles",[64] "The Doomsday Machine"[65]
  5. "Amok Time"[66]
  6. "The Menagerie",[67][68] "The Devil in the Dark"[69]
  7. "Journey to Babel",[70] "The Enterprise Incident"[71]
  8. "Errand of Mercy"[72]
  9. "Arena",[73]"Day of the Dove",[74] "All Our Yesterdays"[75]
  10. "The Corbomite Maneuver"[76]

"Star Trek Memories"

In 1983, Leonard Nimoy hosted a one-hour special as a promotional tie-in with the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in which he recounted his memories of working on The Original Series and explained the origins of things such as the Vulcan nerve pinch and the Vulcan salute.[77]


Theme song

The show's theme tune, immediately recognizable by many, was written by Alexander Courage, and has been featured in a number of Star Trek spin-off episodes and motion pictures. Gene Roddenberry subsequently wrote a set of accompanying lyrics, even though the lyrics were never used in the series, nor did Roddenberry ever intend them to be; this allowed him to claim co-composer credit and hence 50% of the theme's performance royalties. Courage considered Roddenberry's actions, while entirely legal, to be unethical.[78] Series producer Robert Justman noted in the book Inside Star Trek The Real Story, that work on the film Doctor Dolittle kept Courage from working on more than two episodes of the first season. However, Justman was unable to convince Courage to return for the second season and believed that Courage lost enthusiasm for the series because of the "royalty" issue.[23]:185 Courage did return to score two episodes of the third season.

Later episodes used stock recordings from Courage's earlier work. Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson recorded a jazz fusion version of the tune with his big band during the late 1970s, and Nichelle Nichols performed the song live complete with lyrics.

Dramatic underscore

For budgetary reasons, this series made significant use of "tracked" music, or music written for other episodes that was reused in later episodes. Of the 79 episodes that were broadcast, only 31 had complete or partial original dramatic underscores created specifically for them. The remainder of the music in any episode was tracked from a different episode. Which episodes would have new music was mostly the decision of Robert H. Justman, the Associate Producer during the first two seasons.

Screen credits for the composers were given based on the amount of music composed for, or composed and reused in, the episode. Some of these final music credits were occasionally incorrect.

Beyond the short works of "source" music (music whose source is seen or acknowledged onscreen) created for specific episodes, eight composers were contracted to create original dramatic underscore during the series run: Alexander Courage, George Duning, Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan, Samuel Matlovsky, Joseph Mullendore, and Fred Steiner. The composers conducted their own music. Of these composers, Steiner composed the original music for thirteen episodes and it is his instrumental arrangement of Alexander Courage's main theme that is heard over many of the end title credits of the series.

The tracked musical underscores were chosen and edited to the episode by the music editors, principal of whom were Robert Raff (most of Season One), Jim Henrikson (Season One and Two), and Richard Lapham (Season Three).[79]

The original recordings of the music of some episodes were released in the United States commercially on the GNP Crescendo Record Co. label. Music for a number of the episodes was re-recorded by the Varèse Sarabande label, with Fred Steiner conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and on the Label X label, with Tony Bremner conducting the Royal Philharmonic.


Although this series never won any Emmys, Star Trek was nominated for the following Emmy awards:

  • Outstanding Dramatic Series (Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon), 1967
  • Outstanding Dramatic Series (Gene Roddenberry), 1968
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor (Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock), 1967, 1968, 1969
  • Outstanding Guest Appearance (Frank Gorshin as Commissioner Bele), 1969
  • Individual Achievement in Art Direction and Allied Crafts (Jim Rugg), 1967
  • Individual Achievement in Cinematography (Darrell Anderson, Linwood G. Dunn, and Joseph Westheimer), 1967
  • Individual Achievement in Film and Sound Editing (Douglas Grindstaff), 1967
  • Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing (Donald R. Rode), 1968
  • Special Classification of Individual Achievement for Photographic Effects (The Westheimer Company), 1968
  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction and Scenic Design (John Dwyer and Walter M. Jeffries), 1969
  • Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing (Donald R. Rode), 1969
  • Special Classification Achievements for Photographic Effects (The Howard A. Anderson Company, The Westheimer Company, Van der Veer Photo Effects, Cinema Research), 1969.

Eight of its episodes were nominated for one of science-fiction’s top awards, the Hugo Award, in the category "Best Dramatic Presentation". In 1967, the nominated episodes were "The Naked Time", "The Corbomite Maneuver", and "The Menagerie". In 1968, all nominees were Star Trek episodes: "Amok Time", "Mirror, Mirror", "The Doomsday Machine", "The Trouble with Tribbles", and "The City on the Edge of Forever". Star Trek won both years for the episodes "The Menagerie" and "The City on the Edge of Forever", respectively.

In 1967, Star Trek was also one of the first television programs to receive an NAACP Image Award. In 1968, Star Trek's most critically acclaimed episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever," written by Harlan Ellison, won the prestigious Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Teleplay, although this was for Ellison's original draft script, and not for the screenplay of the episode as it aired.

In 1997, "The City on the Edge of Forever" was ranked #92 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[80]

In 2004 and 2007, TV Guide ranked Star Trek as the greatest cult show ever.[81][82]

Home video release

Episodes of the Original Series were among the first television series to be released on the VHS and laserdisc formats in North America in the 1980s, with all episodes eventually being released on both formats. With the advent of DVD in the late 1990s, single DVDs featuring two episodes each in production order were released. In the early 2000s, Paramount Home Video reissued the series to DVD in a series of three deluxe season boxes with added featurettes and documentaries. In February 2009 Paramount announced that they would release the Original Series on Blu-ray. Season one, two, and three were released on August 28, September 22, and December 15, respectively. The Blu-ray releases let the user choose between "Enhanced Effects" or "Original Effects" via technique called multi-angle.[83]

Star Trek: The Original Series “Remastered”

In September 2006, CBS Paramount Domestic Television (now known as CBS Television Distribution, the current rights holders for the Star Trek television franchises) began syndication of an enhanced version of Star Trek: The Original Series in high definition with new CGI visual effects.[84]

Under the direction of long-time Star Trek technical consultant Mike Okuda, the visual and special effects were recreated to give Star Trek: The Original Series a more authentic feel and modern look. Special attention was given to such elements as the Enterprise, alien planets and their images depicted from space, planets seen from orbit, alien spacecraft, and technology such as computer readouts, viewscreen images, phaser beams, etc.

The restoration and enhancement was performed by CBS Digital. All live-action footage was scanned in high definition from its first-generation 35 mm film elements. While it was possible to retouch and remaster some visual effects, others were recreated.

As noted in the "making of" DVD feature, first generation "original camera negatives" were used for all live-action footage but not for external shots of the ship and planets, etc. Notable changes include new space shots with a CGI Enterprise, and other new models (for example, a Gorn ship is shown in Arena), redone matte background shots, and other minor touches such as tidying up viewscreens.

A small number of scenes have also been recomposed, and in some cases new actors have been placed into the background of some shots.[85] In addition, the opening theme music has been re-recorded in digital stereo.

The first episode to be released to syndication was "Balance of Terror" on the weekend of September 16, 2006. Episodes were released at the rate of about one a week and broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Despite the HD remastering, CBS chose to deliver the broadcast syndication package in Standard Definition (SD TV). The HD format is currently commercially available through Blu-ray, or by download such as iTunes, Netflix, and Xbox Live.[86]

While the CGI shots have already been mastered in a 16:9 aspect ratio for future applications, they are currently broadcast in the U.S. and Canada – along with the live-action footage – in the original 4:3 aspect ratio television format to respect the show's original composition. If the producers chose to reformat the entire show for the 16:9 ratio, live-action footage would have to be recropped, widening the frame to the full width of the 35 mm negatives while reducing its height. Although this would add a marginal amount of imagery on the sides, much more would need to be eliminated from the tops and bottoms of the frames to fit.

On July 26, 2007, CBS Home Entertainment (with distribution by Paramount Home Entertainment) announced that the remastered episodes of TOS would be released on a HD DVD/DVD hybrid format. Season 1 was released on November 20, 2007. Season 2 had been scheduled for release in the summer of 2008, but it was cancelled when Toshiba (which had been helping finance the remastering of the show) pulled out of the HD DVD business.[87] On August 5, 2008, the remastered Season 2 was released on DVD only.[88] For this release, CBS and Paramount used discs without any disc art, making them look like the "Season 1 Remastered" HD DVD/DVD combo discs, despite having content only on one side.[89] Season 3 was released on DVD only on November 18, 2008.[90] On February 17, 2009 – Paramount announced the Season 1 of TOS on Blu-ray Disc for a May release to coincide with the new feature film coming from Paramount.[91] The second season was released in a seven disc set on Blu-ray in the U.S. on September 22, 2009.[92] The third season was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. on December 15.[93] With the release of the "Alternate Realities" box set, remastered Original Series episodes were included in a multi-series compilation for the first time. It is unknown if future compilation releases will exclusively use the remastered episodes or not.[94]

In region 2 and region 4, all three seasons of the remastered Original Series became available on DVD in the slimline edition (in the UK and Germany in steelbook editions) on April 27, 2009 as well as the first season in Blu-ray.[citation needed]

Star Trek 2.0 on G4

On April 10, 2006, an interactive version of TOS, known as Star Trek 2.0, began broadcast on the television channel G4, where members could participate in an online chat while watching the show. Messages from the online chat were sometimes shown during the broadcast along with trivia provided by the G4 staff. G4 also offered a "Spock Market" online game where participants could trade 24 stocks. In 2007, G4 stopped airing the show in its 2.0 format.

As a promotion for Star Trek 2.0, advertising agency 72andSunny created four 30-second stop-motion commercials using detailed Mego action figures of the Enterprise crew, which became enormously popular on video sites such as YouTube as well as's "Streaming Pile" site. Spock was voiced by Charlie Murphy (brother of Eddie Murphy). They also released a minute-long "Director's Cut" of the Cribs clip.[95][not in citation given]

On January 15, 2007, G4 launched Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0 at 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. ST:TNG 2.0 featured TNG trivia along with 32 (up from 24) new stocks for the Spock Market game.

An "urgent subspace message" on the Star Trek 2.0 Hailing Frequencies e-newsletter stated that Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0 was scheduled for a "refit". It no longer featured live chat, stats, or facts on screen.


The Original Series has been parodied many times in other television series: Saturday Night Live produced two famous sketches parodying the Original Series, "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise" in 1976[96] and William Shatner's own "Get a life" sketch in 1986 (which parodied the show's "trekkie" followers). "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise" is a twelve-minute sketch, written by Michael O'Donoghue. It was described by as "one of the best Star Trek parody sketches of all time".[96] TVSquad ranked Shatner's "Get a life" sketch alongside "The Last Voyage..." as one of the most famous parodies of the show.[97]

The series has also been parodied on The Simpsons[97] and notably in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", which was described by Wired magazine as a "touchstone" for fans.[98] The 1999 film Galaxy Quest portrays the lives of a once-popular television space-drama crew who are kidnapped by real aliens who have mistaken the fictional series as reality.[99][100] The main characters are parodies of Star Trek characters, and many of the plot elements refer to or parody popular 1960s TV-series customs.[101][102]

Fan productions

Star Trek has inspired many fans to produce stories for free internet distribution. Many of these are set in the time of The Original Series, including Star Trek: Phase II which was nominated for a Hugo Award and received support from actors and writers who were involved with The Original Series.

Online distribution

CBS Interactive is presenting all 3 seasons of the series via the iPhone app. The full-length episodes, without the new CGI but digitally processed to remove the original celluloid artifacts, are available to users in the USA at no charge but with embedded ads. Short clips from the shows are also viewable at their web site.[103]

In January 2007, the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series became available for download from Apple's iTunes Store. Although consumer reviews indicate that some of the episodes on iTunes are the newly "remastered" editions, iTunes editors had not indicated such, and if so, which are which. All first season episodes that had been remastered and aired were available from iTunes, except "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which remains in its original form. On March 20, 2007, the first season was again added to the iTunes Store, with separate downloads for the original and remastered versions of the show, though according to the customer reviews, the original version contains minor revisions such as special effect enhancements.[citation needed]

Netflix began online streaming of four of the five Star Trek television series on July 1, 2011. Deep Space Nine will follow on October 1.[104]

See also


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