The American sci-fi media franchise, Star Trek, was first brought to our screens way back in 1966, and it became a phenomenon that people followed with a cult mentality.
The franchise began with Star Trek: The Original Series, which made its debut on September 8, 1966 on the NBC network and lasted three seasons.
Actors Willaim Shatner and Leonard Nimoy became the superstars of the show and Star Trek icons for years to come, thanks to their roles as Captain Kirk and Spock.
Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, who in 1964, drafted a short for a science fiction TV series that he called Star Trek. Thanks to Herbert Solow, the show was given a pilot episode with NBC in May 1964.
The first pilot was known as The Cage, and NBC turned down the series after the pilot. NBC then made an unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, with only Leonard Nimoy as Spock returning for the second pilot.
The second pilot became known as “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and introduced many of the other main characters, such as Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Commander Scott (James Doohan), and Lt Sulu (George Takei).
The second pilot was a lot better in the eyes of NBC. Thus the series was born and scheduled for release in the fall of 1966 under the name Star Trek.
The original series followed the voyages of a space exploration vessel known as the starship USS Enterprise, built by the United Federation of Planets in the 23rd century. It was tasked with the mission of exploring strange new worlds.
The show gained a following in the science fiction world, yet the ratings were still less than impressive. In earlier years, NBC may have been tempted to cancel after the first season due to Star Treks’ low ratings, but it was given a second season.
During the second season, Shatner started the preparation to find another project as he was confident the show would be canceled as the ratings continued to drop. Nonetheless, it was given a third and final season on NBC.
After seventy-nine episodes, NBC canceled the show in February of 1969, despite a fan’s attempt at a letter-writing campaign.
Through syndication, i.e. being played on local television channels, Star Trek had found a larger audience than on NBC, becoming a cult classic with a follower base known as Trekkies.
A television revival began in the 1980s, with three sequel series titled Star Trek: Next Generation, following a new crew on the Enterprise a century after the original series.
Today’s franchise is worth over $10 billion thanks to the multiple spin-off series, movies, and merchandise and has become one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.
Star Trek began with the three-season original series of NBC, and fans stuck with the series for multiple decades, turning it into one of the largest sci-fi franchises in history.