There have been many iterations, reboots, and re-imaginings of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise since they first took to the skies on September 8th, 1966. The galaxy-spanning saga transformed science fiction stereotypes and brought it into the homes of the masses in a brand new way. Though people weren’t quick to love it at the time, it has since developed a loyal cult following that has only recently found its way into the mainstream.
Whether you’re a fan of the original series, the many movies, or are excited to check out the new offerings coming this fall, these 15 facts should be right up your alley!
15. Kirk has a dark past.
William Shatner appeared in a variety of dark projects, for both television and film, before taking on the role of Captain Kirk. They included The Intruder, Incubus, The Twilight Zone, and Thriller.
14. A lot of the original technology has become reality.
The communicators look like modern cell phones, their earpieces resemble Bluetooth devices, the Universal Translators might remind you of voice recognition software, and video screens and calls are obviously everywhere – the similarities go on and on!
13. Kirk and Spock are also bonded in real life.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (who played Kirk and Spock, respectively) were great friends off-screen as well as on.
Shatner said in a 2016 interview that he had never had a close friendship with another man until meeting Nimoy on the set.
“I had that with Leonard, and that was the only time I had it. I envied it for the longest time, achieved it, then the book continues on. It’s a very interesting aspect of life, developing a friendship. Not the ‘Let’s go get a beer’ friendship, but deep, deep down. ‘Here’s my problem, I need your help.'”
12. The show strove for ethnic and gender diversity, but it wasn’t perfect.
Creator Gene Roddenberry pushed the envelope whenever he could, but women still had to be sexy onscreen.
11. The episodes are not in chronological order.
The story was never intended to be told in order – the stardates for each episodes are all over the place.
“I came up with the statement that ‘this time system adjusts for shifts in relative time which occur due to the vessel’s speed and space warp capability.
It has little relationship to Earth’s time as we know it. One hour aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise at different times may equal as little as three Earth hours.
The stardates specified in the log entry must be computed against the speed of the vessel, the space warp, ad its position within our galaxy, in order to give a meaningful reading.”
10. Captain Pike was the original head of the ship.
The pilot episode (the un-aired “The Cage”), featured an almost entirely different cast and crew (Spock being the lone crossover).
The episode was eventually aired on video in 1986.
9. Spock was originally meant to have reddish skin.
The fact that most people viewed the show on black-and-white televisions in the 60s made a shift to a slight green tint more palatable.
8. It has spawned more than 125 video games.
Since 1971, more than 125 video games inspired by the show have hit the market – the first a text game in 1971, then arcade games, Atari, and finally PS3 and Xbox 360.
7. It paved the way for shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Like shows like Buffy and Angel, Star Trek didn’t top the ratings every week – but it did reach a key demographic with each airing, which still made it appealing to advertisers.
Star Trek was cancelled after only three seasons, but in today’s market, it would likely have lasted longer.
6. Actor Mark Leonard played three different alien races.
His dramatic flair lends itself to space opera, and on Star Trek, he played a Romulan, a Klingon, and a Vulcan.
5. The original number one was a woman.
In the pilot, Roddenberry’s future wife, Majel Barrett, played Kirk’s first officer.
Test audiences didn’t care for her pushiness or her trying to act like a woman – complaints that most likely wouldn’t surface with today’s audiences.
4. Both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy got tinnitus on set.
An explosion on set caused both actors to develop a ringing or buzzing in their ears that can be permanent or debilitating.
For a time, Shatner had to wear a hearing device that produced white noise to help him cope.
He went on to be the official spokesperson for tinnitus and helped others struggling to live with the issue.
“I’ve talked people down from suicide. A famous musician got a hold of me cold. I didn’t know him. He knew I got it because I was the official spokesman for tinnitus at one period, and I talked him down and encouraged him to do habituation, you know, the white sound, because when I was asked when I first got it how it affected my life from 1 to 10, it was 9 1/2.
Now I don’t hear it except when you and I are talking about it.”
3. The Vulcan salute is actually a Hebrew blessing.
The popular “Live Long and Prosper” salute was borrowed from something Leonard Nimoy witnessed as a child in synagogue.
“Five or six guys get up on the bimah, the stage, facing the congregation. They get their tallits over their heads, and they start this chanting – I think it’s called duchening – and my father said to me, ‘Don’t look.’ So everyone’s got their eyes covered with their hands or they’ve got their tallit down over their faces … And I hear this strange sound coming from them. They’re not singers, they were shouters. And dissonant. It was all discordant … it was chilling. I thought, ‘Whoa, something major is happening here.’ So I peeked and I saw them with their hands stuck out from beneath the tallit like this [he does the salute with both hands] toward the congregation. Wow. Something really got hold of me. I had no idea what was going on, but the sound of it and the look of it was magical.”
The gesture represents the Hebrew letter Shin – Shaddai, a name for God.
2. One of the show’s signature lines was lifted.
Bones had a million variations of “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!” when asked to do something outside his training and medical expertise – so many, in fact, that the saying has become engrained in pop culture.
The writers of the show, however, did not invent it – it came from a 1933 film called The Kennel Murder Case.
1. Malcolm McDowell received death threats after killing Captain Kirk.
McDowell’s character, Dr. Tolian Soran, killed Kirk in Star Trek: Generations, a film that bridged two television stories.
In 2010, he recalled being shocked at the vitriol being aimed his direction, but embarrassed by the studio’s reaction.
“I didn’t take it seriously. The studio took it seriously. I suppose they had to because they didn’t want a lawsuit. They assigned two detectives to come with me to New York to do the press. It was a complete waste of time and quite funny. I kept telling the guys to go home, and they were going to stay outside my room the whole night at the Carlyle Hotel. I went for a walk, and they came with me. I literally came out of the Carlyle at 10 o’clock at night. I looked this way and that way, and there wasn’t one person on the street. Not one. I went, ‘Wow, this is some death threat.’ I said, ‘I feel embarrassed that nobody’s tried to kill me, for Christ’s sake! I feel like I’m letting the detectives down.'”
I’m looking forward to exploring new frontiers with old friends!
Are you going to watch Picard or any of the other new shows coming up? Are you a new fan or old? Tell us in the comments!