“Space. The final frontier….” With these words, narrated by William Shatner at the beginning of an episode entitled “The Man Trap” aired on September 8, 1966, Star Trek made its debut. A phenomenon was born, though given the show’s mediocre ratings throughout its three-year run on network television, no one knew it at the time. It was only after cancellation, and in the afterlife of syndicated reruns, that Star Trek truly found its audience. And once this bond was found, it was never lost. Today Star Trek encompasses nine TV series (with more to come), thirteen movies (with more to come), and hundreds of novels and comic books extending its adventures across mediums at warp speed. What was it about the original series that fostered such a passionate fan base? Over the years, many have credited the show’s imaginative, intelligent writing. Others have said it was the remarkable chemistry between the cast. Undoubtedly, those were powerful factors. But the core appeal of the original series was its optimism about the future of humanity—a perspective that feels as attractive today as it did 55 years ago. This is the story of how it all came together, starting with one writer’s vision and growing into the greatest sci-fi franchise in pop culture history.
TO THE 23RD CENTURY… AND BEYOND • The year 2021 marks several Star Trek milestones: the 55th anniversary of the show’s premier episode, the 90th birthdays of stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, and the 100th of creater Gene Roddenberry
GENE RODDENBERRY: A WRITER’S JOURNEY • The man who created Star Trek toiled away for years in the real world before pursuing the show that made him famous.
CREATING THE ENTERPRISE • Roddenberry’s vision was built from many influences—including literature, the movies, television and America in the 1960s
A VISION OF THE FUTURE • Gene Roddenberry’s groundbreaking show might never have been made without the help of scientists, TV executives, and an iconic comedienne
LEONARD NIMOY: FROM BOSTON TO VULCAN • The character of Mr. Spock would appear to be the most difficult crew member to cast, but Gene Roddenberry found the perfect actor for the role with relative ease
MAIDEN VOYAGE • The first pilot for Star Trek was not picked up. But Roddenberry’s vision was compelling enough to earn a second chance to get things right and make it to air
THE CAPTAIN • William Shatner was a successful actor with a long list of credits on stage and screen, but without a show or iconic role to call his own before he became Captain Kirk
STARFLEET’S FINEST • Star Trek’s diversity in casting was groundbreaking. It was also Gene Roddenberry’s attempt to signal to a divided America that, one day, such problems would be solved
THESE ARE THE VOYAGES… • Gene Roddenberry’s show succeeded in making it to series, but would last for only three seasons before running into problems and, eventually, cancellation by NBC
STAR TREK LIVES! • Not long after the show’s cancellation, a growing legion of fans let it be known that they wanted more—and that they would tune in and turn out if there was something new to see
TWILIGHT OF THE GODS • Fans wanted more time with their favorite crew in Starfleet. That wish was granted by a movie franchise that lasted more than 10 years.
THE ONGOING MISSION • In the final act of his life, Gene Roddenberry left his mark on Star Trek by creating a new series, and in so doing he set the franchise on a course that promises to last forever