For the past 52 years, Star Trek has been a media staple in people’s homes across the globe. From Captain Kirk to Captain Janeway, the show has always pushed boundaries when it comes to entertainment, diversity and capturing the imagination of its audience. Despite having some highs and lows, along with a hiatus that about grounded the series for good, Star Trek has always prevailed.
As fans of Star Trek here at Funnyand, we wanted to present some really interstellar facts about the show that you might not know about. With a rich history spanning five decades, we discovered some amazing facts about the show that are sure to pique your interest.
50. The Original Pilot Did Not Have Captain Kirk
When Star Trek was first conceived, the unaired pilot titled “The Cage” featured a much different storyline with a new cast and crew led by Captain Christopher Pike played by Jeffrey Hunter. Spock was the only character that appeared in the original pilot to be carried over to the series after it was retooled.
The episode featured Captain Pike being abducted by telepathic aliens and lacked the action the studio was hoping for. The cast also lacked chemistry, which led NBC to reject the pilot and ask for it to be retooled by creator Gene Roddenberry.
49. The Original First Officer
In the second pilot crafted for Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry’s girlfriend (Majel Barrett) was Captain Kirk’s first officer. Allegedly, the test audiences found her character too pushy and didn’t like her attempts to model herself after the men on the bridge. Of course, today’s audiences would love such a character but back then a strong woman was usually frowned upon. This character would be written out when the show finally aired but returned in a two-part episode titled “The Menagerie.”
48. The Dark Past of Captain Kirk
Before reaching for the stars and the final frontier, William Shatner played a variety of dark roles. He appeared in Roger Corman’s film The Intruder, where he was cast as a racist agitator and also starred in a famous episode of The Twilight Zone as a man terrified of a gremlin on the wing of a plane. It’s interesting that Shatner went from such dark, mature roles to the shlock of Star Trek, but we couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Captain Kirk.
47. Spock’s Greenish Skin was Originally Red
In the colorized version of Star Trek that began once it was in syndication, Spock’s skin had a greenish hue to it. However, the original plan was for his skin to be red. The problem with this was that most homes still had black and white televisions at the time, and the red makeup appeared very dark on the TV screen. Therefore, it was changed to a light green.
Fun fact: One episode that aired had a malfunction with the color palette, which resulted in Spock’s skin to be super green. We’re guessing that technician was fired.
46. A Fair Amount of Technology Featured in the Original Star Trek Exists Today
What’s interesting about the original series is quite a bit of the tech featured on the show actually became real. The communicators resemble modern cell phones, the wireless earpieces worn by Spock and Uhura are similar to today’s Bluetooth devices. We even have universal translators, interactive video screens and many other cool pieces of technology featured on the show.
Sadly…no holodeck that was featured on Star Trek Voyage. One day…pretty please?
45. Star Trek Video Games Are Quite Popular
There have been over 125 video games released since 1971 that are based on or inspired by Star Trek. From arcade games to action games and even an online multiplayer title, Star Trek’s universe continues to be popular among video game enthusiasts even to this day. Some of the more popular titles were Klingon Honor Guard and Delta Vega: Meltdown on the Ice Planet.
44. The Truth Behind the Vulcan Salute
This may come as a surprise to some of you, but Leonard Nimoy did not create the famous Vulcan salute. The infamous “Live Long and Prosper” symbol was actually inspired by something he had witnessed while attending a service at an Orthodox Jewish synagogue as a child. The gesture actually represents the Hebrew letter “Shin” which is the word Shaddai, another name for God. Who knew people were blessing one another all this time?
43. The Kirk/Spock Friendship was Very Real
One of the greatest pairings on the original show was the fantastic friendship between Kirk and Spock and this translated into a friendship off-camera as well. While Spock seemed like a loner on the show that needed a human connection, which he found in Kirk, in reality, it was actually the opposite. In an interview, Shatner admitted that he had never had a close, intimate friendship with anyone before then.
“I had that with Leonard, and that was the only time I had it,” he revealed. “I envied it for the longest time, achieved it, then the book [Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man] 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.'”
42. Star Trek: The Original Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
While Star Trek was a science fiction show set in space, it was very similar to Buffy and Angel in the way it didn’t have huge ratings but continued to hit a very specific core demographic. Star Trek would end up being canceled after three seasons but would go on to have a cult following that expanded into a huge fanbase over time. The same can be said for Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Angel, whose fandom is still very passionate to this day.
41. The Stanley Kubrick Connection
Long before Gary Lockwood starred in 2001: A Space Odyssey, he appeared in an episode of Star Trek titled, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” In this episode, the third of the first season, he played a man who obtained godlike powers that soon posed a threat to the Enterprise. As his powers grew and his lust for control, he would soon go on to be a threat to the entire galaxy. Of course, Kirk and his gang defeated him like always.
40. Star Trek Strived for Diversity, But…
While the original Star Trek made every effort to push boundaries in terms of ethnic diversity, the show did require all the women to be sexy. Rather than having costumes that were functional, most of the women were forced to wear skin-tight dresses with a very high skirt line. Thankfully, the roles for women and their looks changed in later Star Trek series, allowing for them to be actual characters than objects for men.
39. Effects From the Original Series Were Upgraded in 2006
In the fall of 2006, Paramount was preparing to re-release the original series for the first time in HD. They decided to go all-out for the new release, upgrading all of the Enterprise flying sequences and background shots of space. Many of the environments were also upgraded or replaced as well. While some fans balked at the changes, others appreciated the attention to detail that was utilized.
38. Malcolm McDowell Received Death Threats for Killing Kirk
In Star Trek: Generations, McDowell played Dr. Tolian Soran who killed Captain Kirk in the first movie that bridged the original series and The Next Generation casts. Of course, fans weren’t too pleased with this plot device and decided to make McDowell their target.
McDowell revealed, “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.”
37. Most Episodes Are Not In Chronological Order
If you’re a Star Trek enthusiast you may have noticed that the stardates for the episodes are not in order. Of course, this was not what was originally planned, but the show was never broadcast in production order which proved to be confusing to fans from time to time. According to Roddenberry, he made up an explanation that depending on the galaxy the Enterprise was in, the stardate would change.
36. Lucille Ball Played a Large Role in Star Trek’s Success
After NBC rejected the first pilot for Star Trek, Lucille Ball played a pivotal role in getting the show to air. Ball who co-owned Desilu productions believed in the project and felt it would be a great addition to the broadcasting lineup. She was able to convince the studio to give the show a second chance, thus Star Trek would go on to journey another day.
35. The Animated Series
Not long after Star Trek ended its three-season run, the studio decided to try out the series as a cartoon. The animated series would air in 1973 and featured most of the original cast returning to voice their characters, something that was unprecedented at the time. The series ran for two seasons with a total of 22 episodes produced and was critically acclaimed. In fact, the show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Entertainment – Children’s Series in its second season.
34. Star Trek: The Motion Picture Failed Originally
When the first major motion picture outing of Star Trek hit theaters, it wasn’t well received. Due to the film’s lack of action and slower plot, audiences weren’t really enthralled with Kirk and gang as they were when the series was on the air. Of course, the fact the movie came out right after Star Wars: A New Hope could have had something to do with it. Thankfully, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan turned the tide on the film series.
33. The Original Title That Never Was (Thank God)
Before being titled Star Trek, the series was originally called Wagon Train to the Stars in reference to the popular 1957 western, “Wagon Train.” Thankfully, this title was not very popular among the top brass at NBC and was later renamed to the show we know and love today. While we do consider Star Trek a space western in some sense, the title was a little too misleading if you ask us.
32. Spock Was Almost Cut from the Show
When NBC first viewed the pilot, they felt that the character of Spock was too “satanic” in appearance. They requested that the “guy with the pointy ears” be cut from the show, but Roddenberry stood his ground. This was definitely fate since Spock is a clear fan favorite. Can you imagine Star Trek without Spock?
31. The BBC Banned an Episode of The Next Generation
During Star Trek: The Next Generation’s first season, the BBC banned the episode “Conspiracy” because of the graphic death of Star Fleet Inspector Dexter Remmick. The character had become a host to a terrifying mother creature and the network felt it was too graphic in nature for the British audience. They would end up finally airing the episode in the country in 2007.
30. The Original Borg Designs
Before the Borg were introduced in The Next Generation, they were designed to look like insects. However, budget constraints required the design team to go back to the drawing board. They eventually came up with the Borg designs we know and love, but the idea of a “hive mind” remained. We definitely would have loved to see the original designs.
29. Warp Engine Facts
The warp engines in Star Trek work by mixing particles of matter and antimatter in a reaction chamber that is regulated by a dilithium crystal. As the particles begin to interact, they are destroyed, which gives off the energy that allows the Enterprise to warp into space. Sadly, this is just a work of fiction and can’t be successfully recreated in real life.
28. Warp Speed Has Its Limits
According to Star Trek rules, the Enterprise can operate safely between warp speeds of 1 to 9.2. However, in Star Trek: Voyager, traveling at Warp 10 resulted in humans mutating into salamander-like creatures. Though, it’s important to point out that the final episode of TNG featured the Enterprise traveling at Warp 13. Maybe the Voyager just wasn’t up to the task?
27. Data’s Ever-Changing Cat
At the start of Star Trek: Generation, the character of Data had a cat named spot that was a long-haired male. As the series went on, the cat would eventually change into a short-haired female cat. What’s strange about this casting change is that Data never noticed the cat’s appearance changed. Maybe his eyesight wasn’t so good?
26. The Brutal History of the Vulcans
According to Star Trek history, the Vulcans weren’t always a peaceful people. In fact, the race was initially extremely violent and based decisions on emotions rather than logic. A new philosophy would soon be introduced to the people, which triggered the Vulcan Time of Awakening. Anyone who did not want to follow this new way of thinking left the planet, eventually founding the Romulan Empire.
25. The Differences in Vulcan Anatomy
While Vulcans may look like humans, their anatomy is slightly different. The race has teeth that humans don’t have and their heart is located where the human liver is located. Their hearts also beat several hundred times per minute. It certainly would be strange to feel your heart beating in your abdomen, wouldn’t it?
24. Jeri Ryan Didn’t Want to Join Star Trek: Voyager
Jeri Ryan was approached over four times to play the Borg hybrid known as Seven of Nine during the show’s fourth season. Every single time she turned down the part, but she finally gave in and we’re so thankful she did. Could you imagine never getting Seven of Nine eating a piece of cheesecake?
23. The Vulcan Neck Pinch
The infamous neck pinch was actually created by Leonard Nimoy during an episode of the original series titled, “The Enemy Within.” Originally, Spock was to hit Evil Kirk over the head with a phaser, but Nimoy felt that was too boring and decided to come up with the Vulcan neck pinch. Let’s just say it became quite popular throughout the series.
22. A Klingon Divorce
If you’re a Klingon you don’t have to go through the hassle of hiring lawyers or signing papers when it comes to divorce. The process is actually quite quick. The divorce requires you to slap your spouse, recite the words “N’gos tlhogh cha!” which means “our marriage is done” and finish by spitting in your partner’s face. Seems easy enough and much less expensive.
21. Jefferies Tubes
The small corridors and tunnels that provided access to the important areas of the Enterprise were called the “Jefferies Tubes.” The name has always been a bit odd, but the truth is they were named after Matt Jefferies, the original series’ art director. He even designed the original Enterprise for the series. Definitely, a nice way to honor his legacy.
20. JJ Abrams vs. Zachary Quinto
When filming the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Zachary Quinto who played Spock struggled with perfecting the Vulcan salute. After many failed attempts, director JJ Abrams glued his fingers together so he would learn to get right. Talk about going to extreme measures to get the perfect shot!
19. A Female Captain was Always in the Cards
Although it took several series before we saw a female captain on Star Trek, the original idea for the show did feature a female captain by the name of April of the S.S. Yorktown. This character would eventually be reworked into the character of Christopher Pike who would then transform into Captain Kirk. As you can see, the evolution of the character took quite some time to perfect.
18. Various Titles
Before landing on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show went through several other titles. Some of these included Future Trek, Enterprise VII and The New Generation. Personally, we’re happy they went with TNG. It just seems right after all these years.
17. First Interracial Kiss
You may not have known this, but the first scripted interracial kiss occurred on Star Trek. The producers demanded that the scene was to be filmed with and without the kiss, but Shatner (Kirk) and Nichols (Uhura) made sure to kiss every single take so the network had to use it. We applaud them for their dedication.
16. Peace Out, Uhura is Done!
After the first season of the original Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols who played Uhura decided to quit the series. However, after a long conversation with a fan of the show who happened to be Martin Luther King, Jr., she reconsidered. We’re glad she did too or we might not have gotten the infamous kiss we mentioned previously.
15. Banned in Ireland
One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was banned from being broadcast in Ireland when the show referenced Ireland being unified in the year 2024. While this wasn’t a huge problem, it was the fact that the storyline depicted the unification as happening after a terrorist campaign. The episode still hasn’t aired in the country after all this time.
14. Development of the Klingon Language
You may be surprised to discover that the Klingon language was not created by the show’s writers. It actually was first developed by James Doohan (Scotty). He worked through what the basic sounds would be and then helped write the first words and phrases. Of course, this would be further developed and expanded across further seasons.
13. Budget Constraints
One of the reasons that Star Trek used teleportation for travel is the budget was very tight for each episode. Showing the ships landing and taking off from each planet would have cost way too much during the time the original series, so they developed the beaming up and down from the ship to the surface instead. Personally, we can’t imagine Star Trek without teleportation.
12. Eddie Murphy in Star Trek?
When Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was being developed, Eddie Murphy wanted a starring role in the film. The writers appeased him and wrote a part for the actor, but he wasn’t impressed with the role and passed on the project. To this day, Murphy admits this was a mistake and wish he had taken them up on the offer. Honestly, we’re happy he wasn’t in it. The comedian would have been too much of a distraction.
11. Doubts About The Next Generation
It seems hard to believe, but Patrick Stewart initially had very little faith in TNG when he first signed on. In fact, he thought the show would be a failure and not even last a full season. According to sources close to the actor, he only signed on for a “paycheck and a suntan.” Boy, did he get that one wrong, didn’t he?
10. First CGI Sequence
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was the first film in movie history to have an entirely computer-animated sequence. The effects artists who worked on the Genesis Device video in the movie would go on to found Pixar Studios. Talk about big things from small beginnings.
9. Chippendale Dancers Enter the Frontier
During the filming of The Wrath of Khan, the studio needed several attractive men to serve as Khan’s men. In the end, they hired Chippendale dancers to play the roles. We can definitely see how this would be true, the men are quite attractive.
8. The Spock Cut
After Star Trek the original series became a huge hit on TV, Leonard Nimoy’s dad began offering the Spock haircut at his barbershop. We can’t imagine why anyone would want that hairstyle in real life, but apparently, it was a big hit with the fans.
7. The Original Sequel Series
Long before The Next Generation was developed, a sequel series to the original Star Trek was in development. In fact, the series made it into pre-production with 13 episodes written and ready to. Sadly, the show was shut down in 1977. Producers believed that William Shatner would be too expensive to keep on a regular basis and Nimoy turned down returning to the show outright.
The series would eventually be retooled into what the first major motion picture of the series and would bring back the original cast.
6. Female Spock Reporting for Duty
When the character of Spock was originally written into the show, it was developed as a part for a woman. However, after failed auditions and test screenings, the role developed into a male. We’re happy the outcome was Nimoy because we couldn’t imagine anyone else as Spock.
5. Men in Skirts
The first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured some of the male crew members in the background wearing skirts. According to sources close to the show, it was a logical development, since equality both sexes would have progressed past gender roles in the 24th century.
4. Captain Kirk’s Origins
When developing the role of Captain Kirk, Gene Roddenberry was influenced by C.S. Forrester’s novels. He made a conscious decision to base Kirk off the main character of the books, Horatio Hornblower. Thankfully, Kirk’s name remained the same and didn’t transform into something more colorful.
3. An early Example of Fan Campaigns
After the first season of Star Trek aired, the network seriously considered canceling the show. However, NBC received over 29,000 letters of support. When the show was threatened with cancelation again during the second season, the network received over one million letters from fans asking for the show to continue.
2. No First Name for Sulu
When Roddenberry was creating the character of Sulu, he wanted the character to represent all of Asia. Therefore, he used the Sulu Sea as inspiration for names and kept the character as vague as possible. Eventually, the first name Hikaru would be used in Star Trek VI, although it was first revealed in a novel called “The Entropy Effect.”
1. Kate Mulgrew Was Not the First Choice for Janeway
When Star Trek: Voyager was first being conceived, the role of Captain Janeway went to French Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold. However, she quit on the first day of filming after realizing the rigors of working in television were too much for her. Kate Mulgrew would audition again with three other women before landing the part. We think Paramount made the right decision.