On September 8, 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s Sci-Fi classic Star Trek debuted on NBC and helped transform television.
From tired science fiction stereotypes to ethnically diverse characters, that dealt with real-world issues.
Star Trek grew from a failed series that lasted only three years to a worldwide phenomenon.
Here Are 10 Star Trek Facts That Will Shock Even Trekkies
#1 Before Kirk, William Shatner Was Evil
Prior to venturing into space as James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise.
William Shatner appeared in a variety of dark film and television projects.
In Roger Corman’s underrated film The Intruder, he played a racist agitator in a Southern town who pushes things too far.
In Incubus, a film shot entirely in the Esperanto language, he played a good-hearted man with whom a succubus falls in love, angering her sister and setting about retribution.
He also appeared as a man terrified of a gremlin on the wing of a plane in an episode of The Twilight Zone is famous.
But William Shatner also made a turn in possibly the best horror TV episode ever, “The Grim Reaper” on Thriller.
Playing a man who warns his aunt that the previous owners of the portrait of the titular character, which she now owns, have died violently.
#2 Spoke Originally Was A Red-Skinned Vulcan.
While Spock’s skin has a slight green tint due to him being a green-blooded Vulcan.
Gene Roddenberry originally envisioned Spock as having red skin.
But when Star Trek Debuted in 1966, a majority of households still had black and white televisions, so his skin would appear very dark when viewed on their sets.
In one early episode titled, ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before.’ Spock looked really green after someone messed up the color palette.
#3 William Shatner and Lenord Nimoy Both Got Tinnitus On Set
After an explosion on the set of the TOS episode “Arena,” both stars developed tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears that is often permanent and can be debilitating for some sufferers.
I personally suffer from Tinnitus and while you do get used to it, the moment you aren’t distracted by such things as work or watching television the ringing returns.
It’s also especially bothersome when trying to go to sleep. Which is why I always have a fan turned on. Not for the breeze, but for the noise it makes which helps drown out the ever-present ringing.
#4 Star Trek Sci-Fi Tech Becomes Reality
If one looks at the original series, much of the technology being used ultimately became real.
- The communicators are like modern cell phones.
- Uhura’s earpieces are basically today’s Bluetooth earbuds.
- The Universal Translators are echoed by the use of modern voice recognition software.
- Tricorders have become the LOCAD-PTS, a portable biological lab used by NASA, and the use of interactive video screens (telepresence) is akin to current video conferencing.
- While Enterprise crew members recorded audio on hard-cased cassette tapes, they looked like soon-to-be modern floppy discs, which are now outdated in our digital era.
#5 There Are Over 125 Star Trek Related Video Games
Since 1971, more than 125 video games based on or inspired by the Star Trek series have been created.
Beginning with a text game written in BASIC in 1971. Followed by a standup arcade game in 1972.
Later Star Trek games were made for everything from early computer and gaming systems like the Commodore 64 and Atari 5200. And they’ve continued being created today for PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
Many of the titles are quite colorful, like The Kobayashi Alternative, Klingon Honor Guard, and Delta Vega: Meltdown on the Ice Planet.
#6 Spock’s Vulcan Salute Is Actually A Hebrew Blessing
Leonard Nimoy created the Vulcan salute(greeting) for Star Trek’s season two opener “Amok Time.”
Knowing this would be the first time the audience would see Vulcan’s, Nimoy thought they should have a special greeting.
While trying to create something so unique. Nimoy borrowed from something he had witnessed as a child when he was attending a service at an Orthodox Jewish synagogue with his family.
Nimoy stated that the hand gesture represents the Hebrew letter Shin, which represents the word Shaddai, a name for God.
When reminded of how popular the Vulcan greeting had become among Star Trek fans. Nimoy quipped: “It looks like a lot of people have been blessing each other without knowing it.”
#7 Dr. McCoy’s Immortal “I’m a doctor, not a…” Was Taken From A 1933 Film
“I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!” Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy always griped when asked to do something outside of his medical expertise.
It is one of many Star Trek lines that has become a permanent part of the pop culture lexicon.
However, the idea originated with a 1933 film called The Kennel Murder Case, which starred William Powell and Mary Astor.
In the film, the character of Dr. Doremus utters these quips: “I’m a doctor, not a magician.” “I’m a doctor, not a detective.” “I’m the city butcher, not a detective.”
Bones McCoy offered many similar variations throughout the Star Trek TV and film series, and without question, Deforest Kelley made the line his own.
#8 Star Trek’s Connection To 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Before he appeared as an astronaut on the Jupiter mission sequence of ’s classic sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Gary Lockwood appeared in the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which was the third episode of season one.
His character attained godlike powers that made him drunk with power and posed a grave threat not just to the Enterprise, but to the galaxy itself.
#9 Malcolm McDowell Received Death Threats After Killing Kirk In Star Trek: Generations
Malcolm McDowell was on the receiving end of Star Trek fans’ wrath when his character, Dr. Tolian Soran, killed Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Generations.
Generations were the first film that featured the cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation series.
Star Trek Generations was supposed to bridge TOS and STNG onscreen.
In 2010, McDowell admitted that he was shocked at the vitriol of devout Trekkies—and that he actually received death threats.
During an interview, McDowell said after receiving the death threats he told the studio execs that he “didn’t them seriously,” adding:
“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.'”
#10 Majel Barrett Roddenberry Work On Every Star Trek Series Even After Her Death in 2008.
As every Star Trek fan knows that “The First Lady Of Star Trek” Majel Barrett Roddenberry starred in the original series (TOS) as Nurse Christine Chapel.
Following that, she had roles in every Star Trek series even past her death in 2008
After playing Nurse Chapel, Majel Barrett Roddenberry appeared on:
- Star Trek: The Animated Series as Lt. M’Ress, and other characters.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (STNG) as Lwaxana Troi and the voice of the Enterprise Computer.
- As the computer voices on Deep Space Nine (DS9), Voyager, and Enterprise.
Barrett Roddenberry also appeared as Dr. Chapel in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and as Commander Chapel in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and she provided voice work to other films (including the 2009 reboot) and various video games.
After her husband, Gene Roddenberry died in 1991, she served as executive producer on two series he had created: Earth: Final Conflict (1997-1999) and Andromeda (2000-2005).
Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away in 2008, but not before recording—you guessed it—the Starfleet Computer voice for J.J. Abrams’s 2009 movie reboot.