The first episode of The American science fiction telvision series Star Trek, entitled, “The Man Trap”, debuted in the United States on NBC on September 8, 1966. Two pilot episodes were also made, “The Cage”, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike And “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and followed the interstellar adventures of Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew aboard the starship USS Enterprise, a space exploration vessel, built by the interstellar federal republic United Federation of Planets in the twenty-third century on their five-year mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” The original 1966–69 television series featured William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, James Doohan as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, George Takei as Hikaru Sulu, and Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov and During the series’ original run, it earned several nominations for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and won twice: for the two-parter “The Menagerie” and the Harlan Ellison-written episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”.
Gene Roddenberry drafted a proposal for the science-fiction series that would become Star Trek As early as 1964. Although he publicly marketed it as a Western in outer space—a so-called “Wagon Train to the Stars” he privately told friends that he was modeling it on Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, intending each episode to act on two levels: as a suspenseful adventure story and as a morality tale. Most Star Trek stories depict the adventures of humans and aliens who serve in Starfleet, the space-borne humanitarian and peacekeeping armada of the United Federation of Planets. The protagonists have altruistic values, and must apply these ideals to difficult dilemmas.
Many of the conflicts and political dimensions of Star Trek represent allegories of contemporary cultural realities. Star Trek: The Original Series addressed issues of the 1960s, just as later spin-offs have reflected issues of their respective decades. Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, the value of personal loyalty, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, economics, racism, religion, human rights, sexism, feminism, and the role of technology. Roddenberry was able to make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles By creating a new world with new rules. He intended the show to have a progressive political agenda reflective of the emerging counter-culture of the youth movement, though he was not fully forthcoming to the networks about this. He wanted Star Trek to show humanity what it might develop into, if it would learn from the lessons of the past, most specifically by ending violence. An extreme example is the alien species, the Vulcans, who had a violent past but learned to control their emotions. Roddenberry also gave Star Trek an anti-war message and depicted the United Federation of Planets as an ideal, optimistic version of the United Nations.
The Original Series was modeled on classical mythology within science fiction. It’s people looking for answers – and science fiction offers to explain the inexplicable, the same as religion tends to do… If we accept the premise that it has a mythological element, then all the stuff about going out into space and meeting new life – trying to explain it and put a human element to it – it’s a hopeful vision. All these things offer hope and imaginative solutions for the future. The continuing popularity of Star Trek is due to the underlying mythology which binds fans together by virtue of their shared love of stories involving exploration, discovery, adventure and friendship that promote an egalitarian and peace loving society where technology and diversity are valued rather than feared and citizens work together for the greater good. Star Trek is also noted for its cultural influence beyond works of science fiction and its progressive civil rights stances. The Original Series included one of television’s first multiracial casts.
While the original show initially enjoyed high ratings NBC canceled the show after three seasons; the last original episode aired on June 3, 1969. The petition near the end of the second season to save the show signed by many Caltech students and its multiple Hugo nominations would, however, indicate that despite low Nielsen ratings, it was highly popular with science fiction fans and engineering students. These adventures continued in the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series and six feature films. Four spin-off television series were eventually produced: Star Trek: The Next Generation followed the crew of a new starship Enterprise set a century after the original series; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager set contemporaneously with The Next Generation; and Star Trek: Enterprise set before the original series in the early days of human interstellar travel. The original series became popular in reruns and has since found a cult following.
The adventures of The Next Generation crew continued in four additional feature films. In 2009, the film franchise underwent a “reboot” set in an alternate timeline, or “Kelvin Timeline,” entitled simply Star Trek. This film featured a new cast portraying younger versions of the crew from the original show; their adventures were continued in the sequel film, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013). The thirteenth film feature and sequel, Star Trek Beyond (2016), was released to coincide with the franchise’s 50th anniversary. A new Star Trek TV series, entitled Star Trek: Discovery, can be seen on CBS All Access & Netflix.
Star Trek also has a wide range of spin-offs including games, figurines, novels, toys, and comics. Star Trek had a themed attraction in Las Vegas that opened in 1998 and closed in September 2008. At least two museum exhibits of props travel the world. The series has its own language, Klingon. Several parodies have been made of Star Trek. In addition, viewers have produced several fan productions. As of July 2016, the franchise had generated $10 billion in revenue, making Star Trek one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.