And while you might come up with some great examples of that cultural phenomenon, we might be beating around the bush here a little bit. We’re all here for Star Trek and we know it. After all, you probably stumbled upon this article after reading our previous tell-all about Star Trek and felt like dishing a little more. Well, your wish is our command.
Stephen Hawking Made a Cameo Appearance
As the only person to ever play himself in the “Star Trek” franchise, Stephen Hawking shows up on the episode, “Descent” in “The Next Generation.” He played a poker game with Data, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton, a soiree conjured up by Mr. Data.
Hawking wins the hand by bluffing Einstein. Although he wasn’t really bluffing, he put down the winning cards. The famous physicist was a fan of science fiction but also believed concepts like time travel could exist in reality.
The Klingon Language is a Thing
The Klingons’ native tongue was so embraced by Trekkies that a dictionary, including a grammar and pronunciation guide, was published in 1985. Linguist Mark Okrand invented the language, basing it on the way actor James Doohan spoke it in “The Motion Picture.”
Now it is spoken at Star Trek conventions. It is the most widely spoken fictional language in the world. Okrand said that after writing the Klingon dictionary, he thought it would just be a novelty coffee table book. But then he found out people were serious about it. “Thanks to the internet, people were meeting on message boards to talk in Klingon,” he said.
The Millennium Falcon Shows Up in ‘First Contact’
The Industrial Light & Magic people went a little ludicrous with this one. In “Star Trek: First Contact,” special effects are stuck in the trusty “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon. These people are known Easter egg planters, no doubt. But this is the mothership of the Force. What a prank!
The Millennium Falcon can be spotted near the beginning of the 1996 film allied with the Federation in the opening battle scene against the Borg. It’s a little blurry, but some people say it is canon.
Marlon Brando Showed Interest in ‘First Contact’
As unbelievable as it seems, Marlon Brando was being considered for the role of the evil megalomaniac Soran. Writer Ronald Moore was informed by Rick Berman who said, “I just heard from Paramount and there’s a chance that Marlon Brando might be interested in doing this.”
While it never came to pass, many big names were open to parts in “Star Trek.” For instance, Tom Hanks is another heavyweight who was under consideration. If his schedule allowed, he would have been Zefram in “First Contact.”
‘TNG’ Writers Overruled Roddenberry With Locutus of Borg
While creator Gene Roddenberry’s health was ailing, writers of “The Next Generation” were able to bring on board a character idea that the creator adamantly opposed. Roddenberry’s vision was a humanistic one and he believed technology should only be used for the betterment of mankind and that no one in the main cast should ever be portrayed as a villain.
The Borg occupied Captain Picard as the Locutus of Borg, wiring his mind to the Borg collective hive in the episode, “The Best of Both Worlds.”
Roddenberry Gave Fan Favorite Worf a Thumbs Down
Creator Gene Roddenberry maintained a lot of creative control as the Star Trek storyline evolved into “The Next Generation” on television. He was very much opposed to the idea of having Worf, a member of the enemy Klingon race, as part of the Starfleet crew.
Roddenberry put in writing that aliens like Klingons should not be included in the new show. Regardless, writers went forward with Worf’s character and fans are glad he did. Worf evolved into a leading element of the Star Trek narrative, featured prominently in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Patrick Stewart Went Full Method Mode in This Torture Scene
In the episode, “Chain of Command, Part II,” Captain Jean-Luc Picard finds himself captured by the Cardassians who held and tortured him.
Actor Patrick Stewart, in his personal life, is a strong supporter of Amnesty International. To portray the scene as authentically as possible, the actor viewed footage of actual scenes obtained by Amnesty. Stewart felt that in order to be true to those who experienced torture, he should completely commit and pay homage to those who suffered torture.
The Last Time the Opening Monologue Aired
“Space, the final frontier,” those epic words from the opening monologue that was voiced by Captain Kirk, aired for the last time in 1969. With the close of the original “Star Trek” series, that introduction would only be heard again in syndication.
However, Leonard Nimoy voiced a version of the monologue for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Albeit, substituting the words “five-year mission” and “to seek out new life” with “ongoing mission” and "to seek out new lifeforms.”
Robin Williams Wanted to Be on the Television Series
In 1991, the beloved comedian indicated that he was interested in appearing on an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” So, Rick Bergman wrote the episode “A Matter of Time” just for Robin Williams. He was slated to play Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a time traveler from the past who fakes being from the future.
Williams reportedly loved the television series. Alas, the legendary actor was double-booked and went with doing a film instead. At the time, he was an A-lister at the top of his game with “Good Morning, Vietnam” and an Oscar nom.
In J.J. Abrams's 2013 “Star Trek” movie, “Into the Darkness,” R2-D2 can be seen very briefly floating through space. The scene includes the little robot and several crewmen being ripped out of the ship into the atmosphere.
It happens in a battle scene that takes place just over an hour and fifteen minutes into the film, the part when the Vengeance fires a hit into the Enterprise. Credit for R2’s cameo goes to the Industrial Light & Magic effects people.
R2-D2 Trolls ‘Star Trek’ as Space Junk
In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, R2-D2 can be seen floating randomly in space in J.J. Abrams's 2009 “Star Trek” movie. It happens in the scene in which the Enterprise struck down Nero’s ship, just after the destruction of Vulcan.
Given that Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company founded by George Lucas, worked on the “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” franchises, it’s clear the visual effects crew was having some fun with it.
The Internet Is Convinced Brent Spiner Improvised an Epic Scene
But Brent Spiner says that Mr. Data singing “Pretty Little Life Forms” was in the script. Spiner said he did not make up the song. His direction was to sing, “Life forms, your tiny little life forms.” At a 2012 Q&A session, a fan asked him about it. He said he merely added onto the lyric and created a little melody.
The internet said that he made it up on the spot and that director David Carson left it in because of the shocked expressions caught on the faces of the crew. Not so.
Was Whoopi Goldberg Snubbed by ‘First Contact’ Production?
Whoopi Goldberg was not included in the cast of “Star Trek: First Contact” according to producer Ronald D. Moore because, he said, she did not fit the story they were telling, even though Guinan was a popular character. Whoopi found out she would not be on board with the new movie by reading the newspaper.
Most people agree that she would have added to the “First Contact” narrative since the movie featured the Borg. Guinan’s race, El-Aurian, had been attacked by Borg. Also, she was a confidant of Captain Picard.
‘Star Trek Generations’ Was the First Movie to Have a Website
It looks primitive today, but the 1994 Star Trek web page is considered to be the first website ever marketed by a major motion picture. The “Star Trek Generations” web page included only five links. Each was listed on a chunky, sunny-yellow bar offering the following options: “Movie Preview,” “Sights and Sounds,” “Behind the Scenes,” “Star Trek Shop,” and “Your Input.”
The yellow bars interface design may look old-fashioned but the idea of clicking a link with a graphic was a new-fangled concept. The site was published in 1994, three months before the film premiered.
Transporter Pads Reused for Set of the TV Series
Transporter pads from the set of “T.O.S.” were repurposed for use in the transporter room in “The Next Generation.” To cut back on costs, production reused the space-age transporter pads that could teleport crewmembers throughout the galaxies and back to the Enterprise.
To switch it up for a fresh look, the round lights that were on the floor in “Next Generation” were used for transport pad lights on the ceiling.
Transporters, Ironically, Were a Low Budget Fix
Out of all of the sci-fi technology fictionalized in the original series, the transportation room yet captures the imagination. The way it came about, however, is a surprise. The budget constraints were tight, so it wasn’t feasible to create scenes of intergalactic travel.
The idea to teleport crew members was the perfect solution. But even that was done on the cheap. The lights and magic that beamed them away was actually a special effect created by swirling glitter in water. The images were pre-taped and overlapped on the transportation room scene. They stood on stage spotlights.
Sci-Fi Tech From T.O.S. That Ended Up Being Invented
When “Star Trek” aired in the late 60s, the space-age gadgets and gizmos they used were a great fascination. Now, much of it is real. Communicators, small metal badges on the Starfleet uniform used to communicate messages like, “Beam us up,” is now known as a cellphone. Then, the crew of the Federation had universal translators to decipher interplanetary languages, now we just call them a translator app.
Tasers are common these days too. Not all sci-fi technology from the show has been invented by now, though. Transporters, sadly, remain in the realm of science fiction.
Captain Kirk Never Said, ‘Beam Me Up, Scotty’
Pop culture’s most frequently quoted catchphrase from the 1960s television series is “Beam me up, Scotty.” However, due to a technicality, the line was not exactly uttered by Captain Kirk. Shatner points out that he said, “Beam me up,” “Scotty, beam us up,” and “Beam them out of there, Scotty,” for instance, but never “Beam me up, Scotty.”
The saying was nevertheless used directly by Shatner as the title of his book in which he discusses the fact that he never said it.
The Strangest World Record to Come Out of Star Trek
Are you ready for this one? The record on the books for the Star Trek category is, “Most expensive kidney stone.” William Shatner passed a kidney stone in 2005 and then sold it in 2006. He auctioned it off to an online casino called GoldenPalace.com.
The stone was snatched up for $25,000. It’s kind of gross, but at least it went to a good cause. Shatner reportedly donated the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
The Original Series Has a Place in Guinness Book of World Records
“Star Trek” won several world records. Most significantly, the franchise won the title for “Most successful sci-fi television adaption” in 2013. “Star Trek: Into the Darkness” netting a phenomenal $467,381,584, became the most successful adaption for a sci-fi genre.
The program has 20 spin-offs. There is so much content, it would take a person 27 days, 651 hours, and 48 minutes to view every Star Trek show ever made.
How ‘Generations’ Procured a PG Rating
In making the 1994 film “Star Trek Generations,” it was scheduled to have a G-rating. In general, moviemakers want at least a PG-13. The “Generations” production team was hoping for a PG. During the crash-landing scene, that wild ride depicting the Enterprise saucer hurtling toward the surface of Veridian III, the opportunity to up the rating arose.
It happened in the scene in which Mr. Data looks out the window and sees the ship hurtling toward land. His line, “Oh, sh*t!” was uttered just at this point. That was all they needed to get the PG-rating.
The Enterprise’s Crash Landing
When the Enterprise crashed into the jungles of Veridian III in “Star Trek Generations,” it was a major CGI feat. The ship plowed into the planet as crew and passengers got tossed about inside. The dramatic crash landing was originally conceived for and written into an earlier television episode of “Next Generation.”
It was planned as a cliffhanger for the end of season 6. But the TV show’s visual effects crew did not want to try to do it with those budget limitations, so they saved it for the film.
The Ferengi Were Meant to Be a Fearsome Race
The Ferengi were brought in on the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” television series as adversaries, akin to the Klingons. Quark ruined that. Armin Shimmerman, who played the feisty Ferengi, said he “failed miserably.” They were never meant to be a “comical race,” according to the actor, and his portrayal failed to deliver the three-dimensional character the script called for.
In the end, the grotesque appearance of the Ferengi, like Gollum in “LOTR,” made it difficult for audiences to take the creatures seriously as a mean and nasty race.
Data Twin Originally Conceived as a Female Android
The character Lore, Data’s evil twin, was initially conceived as a female android. The idea was, she would be Data’s love interest. As it happened, Brent Spiner played Data’s brother Lore and, of course, Data.
For many years, the Star Trek fandom believed it was the actor’s idea to make Lore his evil twin, but Spiner corrected the record in a 2014 interview with “StarTrek.com.” He said that the idea was all Gene Roddenberry’s.
LeVar Burton’s VISOR Impaired His Vision
Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge used the space-age VISOR to correct blindness. The fan-favorite character wore the futuristic-looking contraption in all seven seasons of the “Next Generation” television series and in one of the four “Generations” films made.
Ironically, the prop was not conducive to seeing and the actor found himself tripping over things. On the other hand, no one could tell that he got in a few naps here and there during long shoots. At a 2015 Star Trek convention, he divulged that he would fall asleep with the VISOR on during long takes.
The Klingons’ Shifting Foreheads
In “The Original Series” Klingons looked fearsome, but their foreheads were no different than a normal-looking human. Then, in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” ferocious ridges were introduced for the first time. It is speculated that T.O.S. was too cash-strapped to afford prosthetics for every Klingon.
Since their new look emerged, the ridges have remained a defining feature of a Klingon and fans accept the difference because it looks awesome, and it is how the race should have originally been represented. There was a slight alteration to the look on “Star Trek Discovery” and in the Kelvinverse.
Kirk’s Passing Was a Huge Disappointment for Shatner
The person who was perhaps the most unhappy with Captain Kirk’s passing was William Shatner himself. Shatner desperately wanted to be cast in future Star Trek movies, but he hit a major speed bump ending his life in the first one. He wanted to be a part of the new era of Star Trek films and did everything he could.
He even wrote books with alternate trajectories, penning several novels for the sole purpose of resurrecting Captain Kirk. In a 2012 Comic-Con interview, Shatner said straight out that he wished he could’ve starred in a J.J. Abrams version of the legendary sci-fi story.
Captain Kirk’s Passing Elicited Threats
When Dr. Tolian Soran, the evil villain played by Malcolm McDowell, slew the captain in “Star Trek: Generations,” fans left theaters enraged. Lots of people did not like that ending. Even McDowell didn’t like it, calling it “cheesy.” Nevertheless, disgruntled Trekkies hated it bitterly and McDowell became the target of their ire.
A slew of threats prompted Paramount to hire security for him. Fan indignation would’ve been better directed at Paramount and producer Rick Berman. Yet, Berman stood solidly behind the ending saying, it was an “effective and exciting climax” to the movie.
Blooper Reels Are Full of Door Fails
As the doors were not operated automatically, stagehands would pull settings to open the doors. These stagehands sometimes missed cues to open doors and it happened on too many occasions. Actors were scripted to walk briskly toward the door, so when it wouldn't open, a loud “bonk” and a burst of laughter ensued. There are blooper reels dedicated to featuring cast members walking into doors that failed to open. Sometimes the bonk elicits a curse word or two.
For unknown reasons, the franchise never brought automated doors up to speed on the Enterprise, and these door fails happen in every iteration of the classic sci-fi.
The Secret Behind the Enterprise’s Automated Doors
This high-tech special effect was decidedly antiquated in real life. On the show, whenever a crewmember approached a door on the Enterprise, it whisked open. Behind the scenes, there were stagehands pulling ropes and cables. When they missed their cue, actors walked into doors.
Not only were Enterprise portals very low tech, but they made loud, clunky sounds opening and closing. Therefore, actors could never speak a line while walking through doors because the clunky sounds had to be cut by sound editors and then replaced with that space-age “whoosh” we all know and love.
Boldly Go Where Few Tourists Have Gone Before
For true Trekkies, this is a treat. In upstate New York, a set from the original “Star Trek” series is open for visits. Called the “Star Trek Original Series Set Tour” and warmly referred to as the Trekonderoga, earthlings can step onto a replication of the Starship Enterprise, located in Ticonderoga.
Created by James Cawley, a longtime Trekkie, this studio replica and museum room was constructed with authenticity. He was able to get a hold of the actual blueprints from the original Enterprise, as well as other sets, and has worked diligently to create this nostalgic destination.
The Voyages of the Starship Enterprise
Perhaps the most iconic contribution to the vernacular from TV derives from Captain Kirk’s opening monologue. William Shatner narrates those timeless lines that embrace 1960s ideals of faith and optimism in science to create a better future.
It’s no coincidence that the words, “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” nearly replicate a U.S. White House publication released in response to Russia’s 1957 Sputnik mission, hoping to inspire the space race. Other iconic lines are worth noting. “Live long and prosper,” derives from the Vulcan salute. “Resistance is futile,” comes from the terrifying and evil Borg.
Ensign Harry Kim was Nearly Booted
Actor Garrett Wang played Harry in “Star Trek: Voyager,” which was the fourth “Star Trek” series of the franchise. With 25 titles out there, there are a lot of stories. It was the beginning of the fourth Season when execs were looking to fire Wang and send him on his way. It nearly happened.
The actor was dissatisfied with the number of lines he got, and he had turned to the bottle on set. But then, saved by the bell, “People” magazine named the actor “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” Not wanting to go against that positive media image, production kept him.
Space-Time Continuum Alignment
The episode “Carbon Creek” from “Star Trek Enterprise” (2001) features a prequel story about Vulcans visiting Earth. In the episode from Season 2, a team of Volcans crashes into the United States during the 1950s. This is the first time in the timeline that Vulcans arrived on Earth. That’s all good and fine.
But one thing in the story doesn’t quite mesh. First officer T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) mysteriously feels sympathy toward humans. So, she gives one the patent for Velcro to help her financially. This takes place in 1957. Velcro, however, was already patented in 1952.
What Would Gene Roddenberry Say?
Gene Roddenberry died in 1991 at the age of 70. He would have turned 100 on his birthday in 2021. When “DS9” hit the air in 1993, talk within Trekkie circles speculated about Roddenberry’s approval of another “Star Trek” television series. People claimed he would have hated it.
Rick Berman admitted, unlike Roddenberry’s vision, it was darker with few “squeaky clean” characters. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” star Marina Sirtis came out and said “DS9” would never have been made if Roddenberry was alive. She claimed that he said “no” to it when the idea was presented to him.
Why Terry Farrell Left
Terry Farrell’s contract was set to expire at the end of the sixth season. She was getting bored and burnt out, so she talked to executive producer Rick Berman about some options. She was also looking into other gigs, including something with Jerry Seinfeld. In discussing her future on the “DS9” series, she offered the idea of being a recurring character.
Berman shut her down. He said she could take what she has or leave. She left. Her character was killed off leaving Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax no way back.
'Deep Space Nine’ Bravely Tackles Social Issues
“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (DS9) television series comes after “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in terms of timeline. It ran from 1993 to 1999. The episode “Rejoined” does its best to tackle same-sex relationships, and it was one of the first television shows ever to do so.
Originally aired in 1995, long before the gay rights movement, the kiss between two Trill species characters, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) and Lenara Kahn (Susanna Thompson) generated a lot of fan activity. Some were shocked but most fans lauded the move, though, for others, it did not go far enough.
But Why Did the Captain Have to Eternally Depart?
“Star Trek Generations” producers and screenwriters at first conceived the film as a transition from “T.O.S.” to its first major motion picture reboot. They hoped to cast the original Enterprise crew and make it a sort of changing-of-the-guard type of narrative. One storyline option was to have the former Starfleet crew battling the incoming team, Captain Kirk versus Captain Picard.
That idea was rejected because they needed a hero, and no Trekkie would accept Captain Kirk die a villain. As it was, fans were devastated, but the change had to happen.
The Captain Must Die
William Shatner said that he was told in negotiations that Captain Kirk would die in the 1994 film whether or not he starred in the role. And if he chose not to do the movie, producers of “Star Trek Generations” informed him, they would simply kill the character off, offscreen.
One producer from Paramount told the Starfleet actor that the sequel movie, “The Next Generation,” would make more money at the box office if his character was axed. Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, would be the captain now.
The Captain Died Three Times
But in “Star Trek Generations,” the 1994 film, it was for real. The first time, he was only believed to be dead. The second time, he was killed by radiation poisoning but revived with a special serum. In “Star Trek Generations,” Kirk was killed in a brutal battle with archenemy Dr. Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell), the villain set upon destroying an entire planetary system. Kirk fought valiantly.
Producers allowed Shatner to add one last line to Captain Kirk’s death scene. Gazing into the future, he utters, “Oh, my,” thereby dying with the trademark curiosity and optimism we’ve learned to love about Captain Kirk.
Shatner Did Not Watch a Single Episode
Nor has he watched any movie or TV show he’s done. The man, apparently, does not like to see himself on the screen. He calls it a “painful” experience. He did view one, the 1989 “Star Trek V” film, but only because he directed it. He divulged his little secret recently to “People” magazine when he turned 90.
He said he just does not like watching himself on television. Oddly, he also said that he has saved nothing from his time making the original sci-fi series, not one tunic nor one bit of memorabilia.
John Barrymore Was Cast as Lazarus
John Barrymore was hired to play Lazarus in “The Alternative Factor,” an episode from the first season. On the day of the final costume fittings, the actor was given a revised script. He left for a lunch break and never came back. According to casting director Joe D’Agosta, Barrymore rejected the role after reading the revised script. He absolutely refused to come back to the set.
Production was irate. It was a crucial time to lose an actor. They petitioned the Screen Actors Guild and had Barrymore suspended for six months.
Oops! A Misfire With Dr. Mccoy’s Wardrobe
In the episode “Mudd’s Women,” Harry Mudd, the intractable baddie takes center stage. He sends over a trio of sirens to seduce Enterprise crewmembers. McCoy (Jackson DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), and Spock are faced with the entrancing women. As a Vulcan, Spock is most curious about his crewmates’ reactions. However, in the shoot, the Starfleet’s chief medical officer’s demeanor did not elicit the effects showrunners desired.
So, they used found footage that portrays a more fitting expression. The only problem is that his wardrobe is different from the original when they cut to it. Another result of budget constraints.
More From the Trek Budget
“Star Trek” was cash-strapped and expensive to make. The network demanded crew adventures on different planets, but those cost money. There was barely enough money to costume the crew. Costume designer William Theiss did his best. He would shop for used fabric, but it was still too much to have the Enterprise tunics tailored.
His solution was to go behind the union-only network policy to get them made. He set up a little (undocumented) workshop in a nearby apartment building. The nonunion seamstresses would work all night and furtively deliver the costumes through the back window of the studio.
Nichelle Nichols Faced Prejudice
As Lieutenant Uhura, Nichelle Nichols depicted a leader of great intelligence. She said it truly was a groundbreaking role remarking how folks were marching in the south with Dr. King bravely leading the cause, and here she was, “in the 23rd century, fourth in command of the Enterprise.”
At the same time, the prejudice she experienced at the studio was another reason she almost quit. The actress was turned away at the gate and forced to walk all the way around for security. One guard told her she had been replaced with a white woman.
The ‘Shore Leave’ Adventure
Filming “Shore Leave” on location with a Bengal tiger was even more exciting than expected. William Shatner anticipated the proposed scene in which he wrestles the tiger with machismo. That is until he witnessed the 150-pound wildcat ripping into a large chunk of raw meat. Then, the tiger got loose. Cast and crew stood petrified.
According to Shatner, he felt “sheer abject terror.” A grip on the set triggered the beast by stumbling with film equipment. The tiger loosened the stake of its chain! Luckily, the trainer appeared and grabbed the chain.
Sneaking Scenes by the Censors
Some writers at “Star Trek” used resourceful means to get preferred scenes on the air. Screenwriters Herb Solow and Robert Justman were adept at this. In the episode called, “A Private Little War,” there were bold references to the Vietnam War. Captain Kirk specifically compares the conflict he witnesses on Planet Neural to “wars on the Asian continent.” During this time, any reference to America’s very unpopular war would not make it past censors.
So, this is what they did. A very racy scene with Kirk kissing a woman who was not fully dressed was taped just to distract the censors. It did, and the war reference stayed.
Lucille Ball Backs ‘Star Trek’ Up
“Star Trek” won the initial support of Desilu Productions. Lucille Ball believed in the project and delivered the backing for the first pilot episode. When NBC rejected it, Ball, as head of Desilu Studios, pulled strings and got it financed for the second pilot episode. The rest is history.
NBC was interested in working with the legendary comedian, so this added to Ball’s effort to launch the show. She was certain it was going to be a hit, and by the second season, it was. But the Desilu/Trek adventure would not last. In 1967, Gulf and Western bought Desilu Studios, and “Star Trek” went to Paramount.
The Kiss That Was Dismissed
NBC complained about too many provocative scenes in the series. This was one of them. And it wasn’t only NBC, the BBC flatly refused to air this episode. But the actors on the show felt strongly about making this statement, as they saw it, in the midst of the civil rights and feminist movements.
Actors intentionally flubbed their lines for the scene that NBC wanted to use in its place. Therefore, with no other option, the kiss between Shatner and Nichols had to be used.
The Infamous Kiss
While “Plato’s Stepchildren” (1968) holds a spot on the list of bad episodes, it has one redeeming quality. This is the episode that is now celebrated for inclusivity. At first, showrunners wanted Spock to plant the interracial kiss upon Lt. Uhura. That’s when Shatner’s narcissistic side took over.
He would not allow anyone else to partake in something that would be considered groundbreaking in 1968. He believed that he should do the kiss scene because, as he put it, “If anyone’s going to be part of the first interracial kiss in television history, it’s going to be me.”
More Episodes in the Final Season That Are Considered Bad
Even showrunner Fred Freiberger admitted it. Looking back, he said that some of the episodes they made were wonderful but there were others he wasn't proud of, as he said. Most Trekkies agree that episodes, “And the Children Shall Lead,” “The Way to Eden,” and “Plato’s Stepchildren” were subpar.
Most of the disappointments that came out of the third season are the result of budget constraints.
When the Actors Protested the Script
Freiberger called it a mutiny. With all the cutbacks, actors started complaining. Nimoy and Shatner led the protest. Freiberger said that when he arrived on set, Shatner and Nimoy refused to do the scene.
It was the episode, “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” and the two actors in charge of the U.S.S. Enterprise said the script was unacceptable. They threatened to walk off the set until it was rewritten.
Shatner's Roddenberry Problem
Shatner complained about Roddenberry during the third season. He wrote in his book “Star Trek Memories,” that the show was “getting sloppy”. He complained that scripts were wanting and blamed it on Roddenberry for drifting away from the show.
He reserved most of his ire towards Roddenberry for cashing out on merchandising, or as he put it, saying he tried to “milk every possible cent” from “his dying cash cow known as Star Trek.”
NBC Canceled the Show
Despite the high-quality television programming of “Star Trek,” NBC was determined to get rid of it. While held accountable by those fan letters, the network nevertheless plotted its end. Network executives disliked Roddenberry. He publicly confronted the execs about their decisions on budgets, creative control, and time slots.
They believed he promoted the letter campaign. The network also had a problem with the showrunner’s provocative content, claiming it was too racy for a television audience. However, the network aired reruns of the show the very summer it was canceled.
Star Trek had ‘Doomed’ Written All Over It
As executive producer, Roddenberry kept his hand in the game, but he essentially sat there watching his life’s work fall apart. With the shakeup and the budget cuts, key people were let go. D. C. Fontana, a significant talent, was cut. Producer Gene L. Coon, who had been instrumental in the show’s success, was also dropped. Sci-fi authors were jumping ship.
It was the beginning of the end. Those 100,000 fan letters saved the show, but NBC only kept it going for another season to plan its demise. It disappeared from the air the first week of September in 1969.
Roddenberry Stepped Down
With the decision to air the show on the Friday night “death slot” while cutting the budget back by $10,000 per episode, Roddenberry jumped ship. He said he “couldn’t bear another moment” and said the “double-cross” by NBC was the last straw.
Fred Freiberger stepped in as showrunner for the third and final season. An experienced television writer and producer, Freiberger had a reputation for churning out episodes on time and on budget.
Nichelle Nichols Almost Quit
Nichelle Nichols was getting bored. She didn’t have many lines, she hated working with Shatner, and she was thinking about moving to Broadway. She wanted a change and then this happened. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta King stopped by to visit. The influential activists congratulated the show for representing their community with dignity. M.L.K., Jr. was Nichols’ hero.
To hear them say that they allow, and even encouraged their children to watch “Star Trek” was all Lt. Uhura had to know. And, besides, the prominent leader told her not to leave the show.
Roddenberry Theme Song
Some shady deals went down under Gene Roddenberry. This one revolves around the epic “Star Trek” theme song, written by Alexander Courage. The instrumental piece playing over the opening and closing credits was originally titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” It is voiced in Captain Kirk’s opening monologue. Roddenberry didn’t want to pay Courage royalties, so he went behind the songwriter’s back and added lyrics to the song.
The words were never used, Roddenberry only composed them so that he could be credited as the lyricist, thereby funneling royalties his way. The songwriter thought it was unethical but never filed a lawsuit.
Roddenberry was a Known Womanizer
‘Star Trek’ creator Roddenberry had affairs with Nichelle Nichols and Majel Barrett while being married to Eileen Roddenberry. He hoped to have an open relationship with both Nichelle and Majel (although hidden from his wife) but Nichelle bowed out saying she doesn’t want to be the other woman to the other woman.
Roddenberry shacked up with Majel in an apartment near the Desilu studios. He paid his secretary staff to lie to his wife Eileen and Majel while he was having extra, extramarital affairs.
‘Star Trek’ was Quality TV, but at What Price?
Both cast and crew were convinced that the NBC network wanted to ax the show. Fans were concerned. The loyal following organized a letter campaign, and 100,000 letters came pouring in. The very first Trekkies pleaded with NBC not to cancel “Star Trek.” It worked. Because of this outpouring, the network aired it for another season, but it came with a price.
The already cash-strapped budget was cut by one-third, and, for all intents and purposes, the show was demoted. NBC moved it to the 10 pm, Friday night slot a.k.a. “the death slot.”
A Sign of the Wrong Timeline
“The City on the Edge of Forever” is a Trekkie favorite. In the story by Harlan Ellison, Spock, McCoy, and Kirk land in the United States during the Great Depression. With Dr. McCoy lost, the other two, dressed like homeless people, look for the doctor. Spock and Kirk end up at an apartment building. This is where the spacetime continuum hiccups.
There is a sign posted that we universally recognize as a radiation danger warning. These did not exist until the 1960s. So, the problem is, the Starfleet crew landed in the Great Depression, which has a 1930s timeline.
Roddenberry Borrowed Writers
Roddenbery sometimes did not credit the authors. Due to budget restraints, Roddenberry commissioned work from well-known sci-fi writers. But then he would rewrite the script until it was barely recognizable. Some writers had a problem with this. One such case is Harlan Ellison’s work, “City on the Edge of Forever.”
The final cut of that episode was so altered, the author requested a pseudonym be used for the credits. He was denied. Roddenberry included Ellison’s name in the credits. He was really peeved. He went so far as to publish his original 1967 script in 1995. He went to his grave with that grudge.
Scriptwriter Dorothy Fontana Was Disguised
Dorothy Catherine Fontana was an aspiring scriptwriter just trying to make it in Hollywood. She took secretarial work at the Star Trek set in hopes of making it. Her ideas impressed Roddenberry. She masterminded key episodes and was instrumental in developing Spock’s Vulcan identity. Yet, she was only tangentially recognized.
Things were different in the midst of the 1960s feminist movement. She went virtually uncredited. She wrote episodes under pseudonyms like “Michael Richards.” She said she used the gender-free “D.C. Fontana” credit to assuage Roddenberry and the network who, like the mainstream, weren’t gung-ho about women in important positions like television writing.
Who Owned All ‘Star Trek’ Merch Rights
Nimoy was paid two thousand dollars per episode. A solid paycheck in the late 60s. But the show was taking off. Nimoy had created Spock out of his own inventiveness and his likeness was appearing on all kinds of merchandise, all over the world. In London, his mug appeared on Heineken beer ads. The man was resentful.
He tried rewriting his contract, but the network did not want to give him a drop more. It drove him to the therapist’s couch to deal with his frustration.
Nimoy's Vulcan Salute
Spock was a method actor who, at 36, had never landed a significant role. He had been teaching acting and performing theatre roles for about ten years. When he was offered the top Vulcan in charge of the Enterprise, he took it. But the fame of Spock was tough to manage. As a method actor, he stayed in character.
Shatner complained that he spends more time as Spock than he does Nimoy. Nimoy created first officer Spock. He made up the Vulcan salute, which later came out to be derived from a sacred Hebrew sign he learned as a kid in the synagogue.
Spock Is Under Pressure
Meanwhile, Leonard Nimoy could not handle sudden fame and the barrage of fan mail. It would’ve been better served in Shatner’s mailbox. The anxiety led to a drinking problem. Nimoy started unwinding after the day’s shoot with one drink, but it led to more.
Nimoy said, that he eventually realized he became drink dependent. He handled the issue so well by never drinking at work. In fact, no one knew he had a problem until it came out in the memoirs.
Who Received the Most Fan Mail?
Spock got most of the show’s fan mail, much to the captain’s chagrin. Especially those by female fans. Shatner was so resentful and envious he not only took Spock’s lines, but he kept track of the lines on the script, making sure his character had the most. Shatner admitted those jealous feelings in his later years, saying he handled things poorly.
Nimoy diligently worked at responding to fan mail. He was shocked when he received a memo from the studio that said he was no longer allowed to use the studio’s pens and pencils for correspondence with newly budding Trekkies. An ominous sign of budget-tightening.
Shatner’s Contract Included Exclusive Terms
Shatner’s self-importance was also written into his “Star Trek” contract. It required Captain Kirk has the most lines in each episode. If the script fell short, other characters’ lines were omitted. Another exclusive stipulation gave Shatner higher prominence in the credits.
Dr. Spock was overshadowed by specified conditions in the agreement that stated Leonard Nimoy’s credit is to be “no more than 75%” of the typeface to William Shatner.
What Did Shatner Call Director J.J. Abrams?
J.J. Abrams, at the helm of his 2013 Star Trek movie, offered William Shatner a cameo. Needless to say, Shatner’s ego was tweaked. Abrams explained that there is no way to bring back the captain because of the timeline; Kirk died in “Generations.” Shatner lashed out, as expected, to the point Abrams wondered publicly why the actor would communicate over social media.
Specifically, Shatner called Abrams a pig, a franchise pig, because the director signed to a Star Wars movie as well.
Disrespect the Captain
In his later years, Shatner fessed up. He admitted that his ego, specifically, his narcissistic personality, is the cause of many of his problems getting along with others. The cast, crew, and production could have told him that, and they did. Much of the cast grumbled about his behavior during tapings.
Nichelle Nichols nearly quit the show because of him. George Takei, of course, disliked Shatner deeply. James Doohan once said that he liked Captain Kirk but, “I sure don’t like Bill.” Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov) still complains about Shatner, decades later.
Captain, What’s the Grudge About?’
The grudge dates to 2011. That’s when Nimoy stopped speaking to Shatner. The bone of contention was a film called, “The Captains.” It was Shatner’s brainchild, but Nimoy flatly refused. Nevertheless, a cameraman hired for Shatner’s passion project recorded shots of Nimoy at a convention and the footage was included in the documentary.
Leonard ghosted Shatner. Shatner says he doesn’t know why Nimoy cut him off and that he’ll always wonder about it with regret. Shatner boldly went on to publish, “Leonard: The Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man” in 2016, a year after he did not attend Nimoy’s funeral.
The Shatner/Nimoy Rivalry
The top two stars at the helm of “Star Trek” experienced an intense rivalry while the show aired but grew to be best buddies, post-production. They happily made appearances as Mr. Spock and Captain James T. Kirk and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. During production, however, Shatner once went to Roddenberry deeply concerned that Spock’s popularity might overcome his rank as Captain Kirk.
Roddenberry advised him not to fear working with well-liked and talented people. The feud ended on a sour note. When Nimoy died, Shatner did not attend the funeral due to a charity event. This everlasting slight earned Shatner the nickname “Captain Jerk,” from the desk of CNN.
Shatner vs. Nimoy
In a particularly petty incident, Shatner blocked a photographer, scheduled to do a profile shot of Leonard Nimoy, from entering the dressing room. Shatner had previously demonstrated Spock-envy. It’s worth noting, Shatner coopted lines meant for Spock because he wanted the Captain of the Enterprise to look smarter than everyone.
Obviously, Nimoy resented that. But, getting back to the dressing room tug-of-war, Nimoy boycotted going into makeup until Shatner let the dude in to do the shoot.
The Grudge Between George Takei and William Shatner
The rivalry between William Shatner and George Takei has simmered for decades. It’s said that they didn't get along from the get-go. According to George Takei, “We all had problems with Bill on the set. He was the star of the series. He knew it and he exercised those star powers.” Takei, who played the beloved Sulu, also said that Shatner was not a team player.
The rest of the cast worked together, but Shatner was always in it for his own self-promotion. The feud has endured. As late as 2008, Shatner was a no-show to Takei’s wedding.
The Change of Spock and ‘Number One’
In the first pilot episode, “Number One” (played by Majel Barrett) had a role similar to the one Spock would make legendary. Making the second pilot, Roddenberry had to make a decision between Spock and “Number One.” He chose Leonard Nimoy because he liked his “satanic-looking” demeanor with those pointy ears and diving eyebrows and felt that Spock would open up the storyline better.
In the first pilot, Spock’s personality was completely different. Roddenberry changed that. He gave the emotionally dispassionate personality of “Number One” to Spock.
Paramount Didn’t Really Want ‘Star Trek’
“Star Trek” made it through the door with a lot of support from Desilu Studios. The Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz studio produced both pilot episodes and Ball is said to have personally helped the project along. That all changed when Desilu sold to Gulf Western and Paramount Pictures in 1967.
Paramount did its best to off-load “Star Trek.” They offered to sell the rights to the production to Roddenberry. He could not afford it, so Paramount was stuck with it. Producer Herb Solow said the studio was trying to get rid of it because it was losing money and lacked enough shows to syndicate.
Dark Red Spock
Initially, Gene Roddenberry was set on having Spock look like a Martian by painting his skin red. Mars is the red planet, he thought, so he should have red skin. It didn’t work out. Back in the day, not everyone had a color TV, so everything you watched, was broadcasted in black and white.
If Spock's face would have been painted red, it would have looked like a culturally insensitive move and in addition to that, the makeup each morning would also be overly burdensome for Leonard Nimoy.
The First Pilot for ‘Star Trek’
The first “Star Trek” pilot was rejected by the network. But they loved the concept well enough that, in a rare move, another pilot was financed. The original production called “The Cage” is much different than “Star Trek” as we know it. For example, the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise is Christopher Pike. There is no Captain Kirk and Spock plays a scaled-back role.
The network complained to creator Gene Roddenberry that “The Cage” was too intellectual and too difficult for the audience to understand. The second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” made the cut, and “Star Trek” became what it is today.
‘Beam me up, Scotty’
The original sci-fi series aired on NBC in 1966. The struggling production was lucky to make it for three seasons. Ratings were strong and the show attracted a loyal fanbase but the massive popularity that launched the title-heavy Trek franchise kicked in later. In fact, it was not until the sci-fi series went into reruns, playing through the 1970s, that the Trekkie subculture blew up into a mass phenomenon.
It was huge. NASA’s first space shuttle was named “Enterprise.” Show creator Gene Roddenberry and his U.S.S. Enterprise actors attended the maiden voyage. And, Apple, Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak credits “Star Trek” for inspiring the original Apple computer.