The Enterprise boldly going where no man had gone before.
Star Trek collectively refers to six science fiction television series spanning 727 episodes, ten motion pictures, and hundreds of novels, video games, and other works of fiction all set within the same fictional universe created by Gene Roddenberry in the early- to mid-1960s. It depicts an optimistic future in which humankind has overcome sickness, racism, poverty, intolerance, and warfare on Earth; the central characters explore the galaxy, finding new worlds and meeting new civilizations, while helping to spread peace and understanding. Star Trek is one of the most popular names in the history of science fiction entertainment, and one of the most popular franchises in television history.
Star Trek originated as a television series in 1966 There have been five live action Star Trek series and an animated series, altogether comprising (as of May 2005) a total of 725 individual aired episodes (not including the original unaired pilot) and thirty seasons worth of television.
Star Trek (1966-1969)
Star Trek debuted on NBC on September 8, 1966. Created by Gene Roddenberry and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, it told the tale of the crew of the starship Enterprise from the United Federation of Planets and their adventures "to boldly go where no man has gone before". Initially, it was not successful; ratings were low and advertising revenue was lackluster. However, when threats of cancellation loomed in the show's second season, the show's devoted fanbase conducted an unprecedented campaign, convincing NBC to produce a third season. The last episode aired on June 3, 1969. The series subsequently became phenomenally popular in syndication.
To distinguish this first series from the sequels which followed, it has in recent years become known as Star Trek: The Original Series, abbreviated as ST:TOS or TOS.
Star Trek (1973-1974)
The series was aired under the name Star Trek, but it has become widely known as Star Trek: The Animated Series (or abbreviated as ST:TAS or TAS). It was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons with a total of twenty-two half-hour episodes. It featured most of the original cast performing the voices for their characters. While the freedom of animation afforded large alien landscapes and exotic lifeforms, budget constraints were a major concern and animation quality was poor. A few episodes are especially notable due to contributions from well-known science fiction authors. The series is not considered to be canon, which has caused controversy among some fans. However, elements of the animated series have worked their way into canon, such as Kirk's middle name, "Tiberius," first revealed in TAS and made official in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Star Trek: Enterprise has also incorporated several TAS concepts into canon.
Star Trek: Phase II (1978; unproduced)
Star Trek: Phase II was set to air in 1978 as the flagship series of a proposed Paramount television network, and 12 episode scripts were written before production was due to begin. This series would have put most of the original crew back aboard the Enterprise for a second five-year mission, save for Spock as Leonard Nimoy did not agree to return; a full-blooded Vulcan named Xon was planned as a replacement, although it was still hoped that Nimoy would make guest appearances. Sets were constructed and several minutes of test footage was filmed. However, partly due to the popularity of the recently-released Star Wars, Paramount decided to make a Star Trek film instead of a weekly television series. The first script formed the basis of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, while two others were eventually adapted as episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)
The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
Star Trek: The Next Generation (also known as ST:TNG or TNG) is set nearly a century later and features a new starship (also named Enterprise) and a new crew. It premiered on September 28, 1987 with the two-hour pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and ran for seven seasons, ending with the final two-part episode "All Good Things..." on May 29, 1994. The show gained a considerable following during its initial run. Even during its initial run, the show was produced solely for syndication.
Star Trek: The Next Generation was the highest rated of all the Star Trek series, and was the number one syndicated show during the last few years of its original run.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9 or DS9) ran for seven seasons. It introduced Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko, the first African-American in the commanding role of a Star Trek series. It chronicles the events surrounding the space station Deep Space Nine. In the first episode, the crew discovers the presence of a nearby stable wormhole which provides immediate travel to and from the distant Gamma Quadrant. This immediately makes the station an important tactical asset, as well as a vital center of commerce with the largely-unexplored area of space. Deep Space Nine sheds some of the utopian themes that embodied the previous versions of Star Trek, and focuses more on war, religion, political compromise, and other modern issues. Due to its generally darker theme, many fans of the generally light Next Generation failed to return as an audience. This was the first Trek series to be established without any input from Gene Roddenberry.
Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
Star Trek: Voyager (also known as ST:VOY, ST:VGR or VOY) was produced for seven seasons, and is the only Star Trek series to have had a female captain as a lead character. The series follows the adventures of the USS Voyager and her crew who have become stranded in the Delta Quadrant, seventy-five thousand light-years from Earth. Unless they can find a shortcut, it will take them seventy-five years to return to known space. Although Voyager's ratings were initially solid, they fell dramatically as the show progressed.
Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)
Star Trek: Enterprise (named simply Enterprise during its first two seasons, and abbreviated as ST:ENT or ENT) is a prequel to the other Star Trek series. The pilot episode, "Broken Bow", takes place ten years before the founding of the Federation, about halfway between the events shown in the movie Star Trek: First Contact and the original Star Trek series. This series depicts the exploration of space by a crew that is able to go farther and faster than any humans had previously gone. It presents situations not entirely unfamiliar to Star Trek fans, but which allow its characters to face them unencumbered by the experience and rules which have built up over the following years of Trek history. Ratings for Enterprise were never particularly strong, and - like the original series - fan support during its second and third seasons helped keep it on the air, but ultimately the series was cancelled after four seasons.
A total of ten Star Trek movies have to date been produced by Paramount Pictures.
A common opinion among fans is that the even-numbered Star Trek films are superior to the odd-numbered Star Trek films. This rule of thumb is most easily applicable to the first few films: Star Trek II and IV are usually at or near the top of the fan favorites, while I and V are usually at the bottom (though I has since received quite a bit of positive reevaluation in the wake of an acclaimed "Director's Edition" revision released on DVD). An exception to the "even number" rule is Nemesis, the tenth film, which had the lowest box office proceeds of all ten films and is one of the most criticially derided films of the series.
As of March 2005, preproduction is underway on an as-yet untitled Star Trek XI. Although American releases of the films were no longer numbered following the sixth film, European releases continued numbering the films.
An uncertain future for the franchise
Predictions of the demise of Star Trek are nothing new. As early as 1993-1994, when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine failed to generate the high ratings of its predecessor, magazines such as Entertainment Weekly predicted the end of the franchise. The near-cancellation of Star Trek: Voyager in the mid-1990s led to more such predictions. Enterprise was widely reported in the media to be on the verge of cancellation after each of its first three seasons.
However, due to the cancellation of Enterprise and the poor showing of the 2002 film Nemesis, executive producer Rick Berman has stated that Paramount intends to rest the franchise (film and television) for at least three years.
Many Trek fans want Berman and the other executive producer Brannon Braga to be replaced. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, former Star Trek writer Ronald D. Moore, and current Enterprise executive producer Manny Coto have been suggested as possible replacements. In an ironic twist to the fan-based efforts to bring back Trek in the 1960s and 1970s, there are groups of fans who feel that the concept has run its course and who are actively seeking the end of Star Trek.
Reruns of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine are aired regularly on Spike TV in the United States, while TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager air daily in Canada on Space: The Imagination Station, which has also purchased Enterprise for daily rebroadcasts starting in the fall of 2005.
Cast members and fans have suggested that even if there are no further Star Trek series or movies, the franchise may continue in television movies, mini-series, specials, and other forms of media.
Future sequels to the original series
There is some desire among fans to bring back the character of Captain Kirk, as played by William Shatner, to give him a more dignified end than that shown in Star Trek: Generations.
George Takei and fans have made frequent attempts to convince the studio to create a series based on Captain Sulu's voyages on the Excelsior, but, despite support from fans, it has enjoyed little success. Sulu and the Excelsior appeared in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager ("Flashback") as a way of measuring fan response but this did not lead to a new series.
Future sequels to The Next Generation
Next Generation stars Marina Sirtis, Patrick Stewart, and Jonathan Frakes have suggested that no more TNG films will be produced; Brent Spiner is also no longer interested in reprising the character of Data. However, Spiner portrayed Arik Soong, an ancestor of the creator of his character Data, in Enterprise's fourth season, and both Sirtis and Frakes reprise their TNG roles for the Enterprise finale. It has also been reported that Spiner will play a "speaking, off-screen" role in the finale, but it is not known if he will play Data or another character.
Continuation of Enterprise
In November 2004, Paramount announced that it would be offering the first four seasons of Enterprise, which will air its final episode in May 2005, in television syndication as well as on DVD in 2005.
A campaign by Enterprise fans was mounted to have the show aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, which was rumored to be interested in the show (although TV Guide reported otherwise). Berman, however, stated that Paramount is not interested in shopping the show around to other networks.
One campaign, Trek United, attempted to raise funds to finance a fifth season, raising pledges and cash donations of more than $3.1 million (U.S.) but its proposal which would have seen a fifth season jointly produced by Paramount along with Canadian and British production houses, was rejected by the studio. It has been reported that the decision to cancel Enterprise after its fourth season may have been made by Paramount as early as the 2002-2003 season, while lead actor Scott Bakula has gone on record as stating that management changes at Paramount in 2003-2004 left the Star Trek franchise without strong support at the studio. In April 2005, he claimed that up until 2003-2004 Paramount had actually intended for the cast of Enterprise to become the focus for the next Star Trek film.
New feature film
Rick Berman revealed in 2003 that preliminary work had begun on an eleventh Star Trek feature film. Rumors circulated that this film would be a prequel, perhaps titled Starfleet Academy or Starfleet Command, involving Spock, Captain Kirk, and Dr. McCoy played by new actors. Other rumors suggested the film would take place between the events of Enterprise and TOS, perhaps involving the Romulan War and featuring a new cast. However, rumors of such a prequel have circulated several times during the 1990s without result.
In late 2004, Paramount indicated that no plans were in place for a new film, and it was reported that the studio had rejected Berman's idea of a film featuring a new cast and crew, indicating that it preferred a film featuring familiar faces.
In late February 2005, Berman told Variety that pre-production of an eleventh Star Trek film was underway and that screenwriter Erik Jendresen, producer Jordan Kerner , and former Paramount Television president Kerry McCluggage were attached to the project.  Berman said the film would focus on new characters, rather than any from previous series, and would take place in a time period before the original Star Trek (as Enterprise did before it). Jendresen has since confirmed such reports. However, it is still uncertain whether Jendresen's script will be approved by Paramount executives; in January 2005 it was reported by some websites that the studio had rejected a similar proposal, though Berman denied this. 
In 1998, Viacom entered an agreement with Activision to produce Star Trek video games. Many games were released under this agreement, but in 2003, Activision filed a lawsuit against Viacom stating that they were not holding up to their end of the bargain because the Star Trek franchise was not as valuable as it once was. Activision cancelled the contract and sought compensation for losses.
In 2004, Perpetual Entertainment announced plans for an MMORPG based in the Star Trek universe. This will be the first game of this type to be based on Star Trek.
Pocket Books, publishers of officially licensed fiction based upon all the series (as well as numerous original Trek series of its own), plans to continue publishing original novels in the interim. However, soon after Enterprise was cancelled, the company announced that it was halving the number of Star Trek novels it would be publishing, down to only one mass-market paperback per month, plus several trade paperback editions throughout the year. Although book line editors stressed that the decision to reduce the number of books was made a year earlier and was not related to popularity/ratings problems within the franchise, the announcement was seen by some as another indication that the Star Trek franchise is on the wane.
- Main Article: Other Star Trek storylines
Although books, comic books, video games, and other material based on Star Trek are generally considered "non-canon", there are several which deserve mentioning, including fan-produced Star Trek films.
- http://www.startrek.com - The official Star Trek home page
- http://www.trekology.com - How Star Trek and other sci-fi space adventures persuade audiences
- http://www.trekunited.com - Site devoted to raising funds to renew Enterprise
- http://www.saveenterprise.com - Save Enterprise campaign site
- http://www.startrekfans.net - Star Trek fan site
- http://www.trekbbs.com - Star Trek discussion board
- http://www.trekweb.com - One of the oldest and most popular Star Trek fan sites
Starfleet - The International Star Trek Fan Association
- http://www.memory-alpha.org - Memory Alpha - a Star Trek wiki
A number of fan-made productions set within the Star Trek universe have been created for distribution over the Internet. None of these projects are licensed by Paramount, however the studio has reportedly loosened its stance on allowing them. See Other Star Trek storylines for more detailed information about these productions.
"Bring Back Kirk"
- When Captain Kirk was killed in Generations, legions of Star Trek fans from around the world united to form the Bring Back Kirk campaign. The goal of the campaign is simple—to see Captain Kirk returned to the living, and to see the character have a happy ending. Star Trek has always been about possibilities. This short film is not so much an endorsement on a particular plot point, but an effort to show the exciting possibilities that Kirk’s return would bring. This nine minute trailer was created in 2004 and is truly an international effort, as it represents the combined work of fans from both the United States and the United Kingdom whose common bond is the desire to see Kirk return.
- Rather than using stock footage of the ships from any of the movies and television shows, the trailer features brand new CGI footage, created using meshes by Jason Turner and Wil Jaspers. This enabled the team to engineer all new space scenes and even show ships from the various different shows together on screen.
A recent entry into the fan-based series arena, featuring weekly episode releases in teleplay format. The series blends the spirit of adventure from the classic series and the dramatic, serialized storytelling of Deep Space Nine. The show follows a new ship and crew who set out to establish a network of transwarp gates in other galaxies, in an effort to expand the crumbling Federation forty years after the war with the Dominion.
A long-running fan-made series set in the Briar Patch, the wild region of space introduced in the film Star Trek: Insurrection. Currently in its sixth season (37 episodes produced), the series focuses on the starship Excelsior and its home base, Deep Space 12, as they fend off attacks from a powerful new alien race, The Grey, and mediate disputes between such races as the Tholians, Cardassians, Bajorans, the Son'a and the Breen. This video series is produced by volunteers in Southern California.
A live action video created and funded by a volunteer troupe of fans, the series picks up where the original series left off, putting fan actors into the original series roles. Two episodes are available for download. The group is incorporated as a non-profit organization; the producers invite donations to the Space Shuttle Children's Trust Fund, set up to benefit children of the astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia. This production reportedly has the approval of Gene Roddenberry's estate, and Paramount Pictures has also allowed it to continue. Several actors who once appeared on the original Trek series have appeared in this production, with Gene Roddenberry's son providing the voice of "The Timepiece Guard" in the second episode. In March 2005, it was announced that Walter Koenig had been signed to reprise his TOS character Pavel Chekov in an upcoming installment written by TOS/TNG writer D.C. Fontana.
A collaborative fan fiction project depicting events in the Alpha Quadrant after the Dominion War. With an original ship and crew, the series is a mixture of political intrigue, exploration, and character-driven drama with a strong story arc. It is written as a series of teleplays grouped into twenty-six-episode "seasons".
An online series of live action videos, produced by fans Jimm and Josh Johnson, which focus on the adventures of the starship Exeter (NCC-1706) in the TOS era. One episode has been released, and another is in production, due for release in mid-2005.
A series of Finnish parody movies created by Samuli Torssonen from 1992 onward. The first animation was simple and in 2D, but subsequent films were in 3-D and the latest movies make use of real (amateur) actors and bluescreen technology. The current Star Wreck project is a full-length, high-quality film that has been in production since 2000 but does not have a fixed release date.
"Tales of the 7th Fleet"
A new ongoing multigenerational fandom video project covering all timelines. Currently focusing on a small destroyer named the USS Justice in the late 23rd and early 24th centuries. Most of the cast are members of Star Trek fan clubs located in New Jersey.
"Voyager Virtual Season 8 Project
A collaborative fan fiction project continuing the story of the Voyager crew after they returned to the Alpha Quadrant at the end of the show. Written in the form of 25-45 page short stories (in Word or PDF format) grouped into two twenty-six-episode "seasons" (Seasons 8 & 9 if they aired on TV). This series was produced in 2001 & 2002.