18 Star Trek Screen Projects That Never Happened
Across film and TV, there have been many Star Trek projects that never got the greenlight. Such as these...
Since 1964 (yep), there have been Star Trek projects that simply didn’t make it to the big or small screen. And before Star Trek‘s second (proper) coming in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the franchise had more than its fair share of attempts to come to life.
In fact, Star Trek continuations and comeback projects are almost as legendary in series history as the shows and movies we eventually received in this universe.
Here are 18 Star Trek projects that never happened:
Star Trek – The (original) Original Series
Here’s a thought – the original Star Trek series wasn’t supposed to be the original Star Trek series.
The pilot that sold the show to NBC was in fact the second pilot, after the original, titled The Cage, filmed at the end of 1964, was deemed too cerebral. That’s on top of having other multiple issues that TV executives (and test audiences) of the time couldn’t cope with – you know, like gender equality in the workplace.
In fact if it wasn’t for the insistence not only of the whole Star Trek production team, and execs at Desilu studios, Trek wouldn’t have reached the first pilot, let alone the second.
The Cage was recycled into the two part episode of the original series Menagerie, which ironically went on to win a Hugo award for best dramatic presentation. I wonder how many Hugo awards a series following on from that very first pilot would have won.
The events of The Cage took place eleven years prior to James Kirk becoming the Captain of the Enterprise – so there’s a decade worth of stories, at least, that can be explored.
After a very early treatment where the starship was the USS Yorktown (hence the Enterprise-A being refitted and renamed Yorktown), the USS Enterprise’s first appearance in the story treatments were with her Captain being called Robert April (who would then go on to appear in Star Trek: The Animated Series.)
However by the time the first pilot was being filmed, The Starship Enterprise, complete with spikes on the front of the warp nacelles, was under the command of one Christopher Pike (who was suggested to have been Captain April’s first officer in later licensed works.)
Played by Jeffrey Hunter, Captain Pike’s first officer/first Lieutenant was simply referred to on-screen as “Number One,” as originally the Starfleet rank system followed a structure similar to that of the 18th-19th century Royal Navy rather than contemporary rank structures, and hence the terminology being used.
Number One was played by Majel Barrett, and at one stage was actually going to be the ship’s computer – Samuel Peeples even suggested it would be flirtatious (of course Majel went on to play the computer voice in many Star Trek incarnations, and there was indeed an episode of the original series where an upgraded computer gets all flirty with the Captain).
The other main characters depicted as the ship’s crew were Science Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the acerbic Doctor Philip Boyce (John Hoyt), a newly arrived Yeoman J M Colt (Laurel Goodwin), and the “maturing” ship’s Navigator Lt. José Taylor (Peter Duryea.)
Had the original Star Trek pilot sold, the original series would have been on air in 1965 rather than 1966, and would have had a very different tone. Additionally, Vulcans would not have been the logical race we are used to, as Spock was a smiling and much more animated and human character to balance the much more serious Pike and Number One.
Perhaps in that alternative universe, the cold, calculating, and logical empire of the Romulans would have featured?
Assignment: Earth (TV)
Gary Seven and his cat, Isis, were originally meant to go on to have their own series, should Star Trek be cancelled at the end of its second season (and the episode “Assignment: Earth” itself was the final episode of the second season.)
The series was to take the form of the tales of benevolent interference by an extra-terrestrial power in the development of Earth, with Gary Seven being the head of a team of agents similar to the two deceased ones mentioned in the Star Trek episode.
Sounds awfully non-prime directive, and indeed, in the end, it was the “interference” of Bjo Trimble and her organizing a massive fan write-in campaign to NBC/Paramount/ that got Star Trek‘s third season green-lit, albeit with a reduced budget, killing Assignment: Earth dead. Some of the ideas lived on however, in Gene Roddenberry’s Questor Tapes.
Star Trek: Planet Of The Titans (film)
After the success of the original Star Trek series in syndication (and the realization that the new ratings system – when applied back to the original transmission of the show – revealed it was actually a massive hit in the demographics that mattered), Paramount (who had taken over Desilu fully) wanted to reinvigorate the franchise.
By the time Plant Of The Titans was being developed, The Animated Series had been and gone, and a second animated series had been considered. Further attempts to do TV movies, a TV series and full cinematic films had barely got from the written page, and Planet Of The Titans was the first attempt to actually get a movie reasonably developed.
The film was to be made in the UK to save costs, with British writers Chris Bryant and Allan Scott working on the film script, then rewriting it, before it was ultimately rejected. Philip Kauffman was attached to direct with Jerry Isenberg executive producing.
The rejected script was re-written by the director and would have seen the Enterprise going through a black hole, and ending up in orbit of Earth at the dawn of man, and in the worst possible break of the (temporal) Prime Directive would have seen the Enterprise crew revealed as those who gave man fire.
Thankfully even the re-re-written script was rejected and the project put to rest by the switch to developing a new live action TV show for a prospective new Paramount TV network.
However, while in development for over a year, a certain Ralph McQuarrie created some concepts of a re-fitted Enterprise (with some distinctly triangular influences) which would later take form as study models that would then show up as background vessels in Star Trek III and The Next Generation’s Best Of Both Worlds and Unification I.
Star Trek Phase II (TV)
Paramount wanted its own TV network, and decades before it would materialise as UPN with Star Trek: Voyager heading it up, the original Paramount Television Service plan was to launch the network in 1978 with Star Trek: Phase II (aka Star Trek II) as its flagship show.
The work done on Planet Of The Titans was developed and adapted into something that would work as a TV program – the uniforms from the original series were to be used with the odd alteration, but the Enterprise was to have a refit inside and out. Leonard Nimoy was ruled out of appearing as Spock due to various issues. The rest of the cast were due to return for the new show.
The treatment for the show was developed to introduce a new Vulcan science officer, fresh out of Starfleet Academy, called Xon. The 100 percent Vulcan officer was to be portrayed as having a hard time adapting to humans, and the show was to chart his journey in coming to understand humans, and attempting to emulate them, from his starting point of having being forced to interact with them for a handful of years at Starfleet Academy.
With Ensign Chekov becoming the head of security, and with it getting a promotion to Lieutenant, a new navigator was to come on board by the name of Ilia.
Hailing from Delta IV, Ilia was to be portrayed as having extra sensory perception (suggested to take the form of empathic contact) and be very highly intelligent. Deltans were to be depicted as a very sexual race, with their sensuality intermixed with most of their culture, and control of their pheromones. Thus, Deltans in Starfleet were required to take an oath of celibacy.
It was decided that a young Commander (in his early 30s) was to be the first officer/executive officer in the form of Willard Decker, son of Commodore Matt Decker, who had been killed attempting to save the Enterprise after his own ship was crippled by The Doomsday Machine in the episode of the same name of The Original Series.
Captain Kirk was to mentor Will, to get him ready for his own command, and turn him into one of the best captains in the fleet, potentially to replace Kirk himself should he leave the Enterprise. Will had been stationed on Delta IV and had been romantically involved with Ilia before she joined the service. Along with Ilia, Will Decker turned up in Star Trek: The Motion Picture as Captain of the Enterprise before being pushed back down by Admiral Kirk taking the centre seat.
Nurse Chapel was to have become a doctor, while Janice Rand was also to return, along with other yeoman characters. Uhura and Sulu were to receive promotions to Lieutenant Commander, while the writer’s bible stated that Leonard McCoy was now a grandfather!
Phase II was significantly along the development path when the plug was pulled. Xon and Illia had been cast with actors David Gautreaux and Persis Kambata having been brought in for costume and screen tests (with a bald cap to complete the look of Ilia.) Sets had been built, and a model of the refitted Enterprise as redesigned by Matt Jeffries (the designer of the original Enterprise from the prior series of Star Trek) had been made at great cost. Even half the first season had scripts (though at various states of development.)
A lot of Phase II was salvaged in one form or another, and not only for its replacement project, that became Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The pilot for Phase II, “In Thy Image” became the base script for the film, while most of the sets built were re-purposed for The Motion Picture or later projects (including Star Trek: The Next Generation.)
The characters of Ilia and Will Decker were later reworked to create Deanna Troi and Will Riker for Next Generation, and two of the scripts, “The Child” and “Devil’s Due” ended up being rewritten for the adventures of the Galaxy class Enterprise.
The character work done on Xon would resurface later in Data, Tuvok and T’Pol, while David Gautreaux would at least get a cameo in The Motion Picture (as Commander Branch on the Epsilon IX space station) after Leonard Nimoy returned to the Enterprise. Xon would be immortalised later in more than one place, but appeared to be a Captain by the time of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, according to the personnel manifest by the Kobayashi Maru simulator (perhaps he’d started programming the simulation…)
As you may expect, the fan made web series, Star Trek: New Voyages, which has also done episodes under the Star Trek: Phase II banner, remade “The Child” in the classic Trek style. The two-part episode “Kitumba,” which was to lay down a lot of background story about the Klingon Empire in the official Phase II, was adapted into a single episode, following the establishment of many of the themes and details of the Klingon Empire by the journey Worf took through The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
The Enterprise model however did not survive, and a new model was commissioned based on a further redesign of the ship, perhaps a second refit, with Andrew Probert heading the refinement. This was at the behest of Ralph McQuarrie who couldn’t take up the invitation to return to the Star Trek offices, as he was a bit busy working on a little film called The Empire Strikes Back.
The Phase II Enterprise model/design appeared on The Motion Picture posters and marketing, and the legendary Tobias Richter, who worked on various CG projects including the HD/Blu-ray remastering of Star Trek: The Next Generation, adapted the Phase II model into a CG mesh used in the fan produced version of Phase II.
The further refinement of the Phase II Enterprise into the Enterprise refit we know from The Motion Picture involved a 14-month model build including the fantastic pearlescent paint job, creating the ship that is often cited as the pinnacle form of the Starship Enterprise – take that as a hint not to rush your own model building!
It’s just a shame that paint job was almost impossible to film and ended up being toned down. Andrew Probert then went on to design the Galaxy class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Star Trek II: War Of The Generations
If you think Star Trek II was a bit darker than Star Trek usually is and a bit overly action orientated, be glad we didn’t see the original concept for the film.
The original storyline by Harve Bennett would have pitted David Marcus as the leader of humans, who take on Starfleet, by rebelling against the Federation, though they are from a Federation world/Earth colony. Admiral Kirk, after saving Carol Marcus, is en-route and the Enterprise arrive to investigate the rebellion, only to find out David is Kirk’s son… and that the real force behind the rebellion is one Khan Noonian Singh.
The script was developed further into Star Trek: The Omega System involving a terrible weapon, which was then developed further to The Genesis Project (a slightly more Federation-like project than the Omega particles which later turned up in Star Trek: Voyager.)
Finally the script became what we now know as the second Star Trek film, a very different beast to that which had first been envisaged.
Star Trek: The First Adventure (film)
Originally meant to go into production after Star Trek V as the 1991 25th Anniversary project, the film was to be primarily set at the Academy and was also known as Star Trek: Academy and Star Trek: The Academy Years.
The general gist of the story was that the brash young James T. Kirk, far too cocky for his own good, gets into Starfleet Academy. His roommate is Leonard McCoy who he nicknames ‘Bones’ and he ends up in a rivalry with a half -Vulcan cadet called Spock. Along the way he meets Montgomery Scott, and between them they end up saving the old Enterprise, the predecessor to NCC-1701.
In development for over a year, before being cancelled in favor of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the story seems awfully familiar to us now, and the concept drawings for the old war horse ‘USS Enterprise’ look to be foreshadowing Enterprise NX-01.
Star Trek: Deep Space Five/Babylon 5 (TV)
J Michael Straczynski originally pitched the show that became Babylon 5 to Paramount (but notably not to the team that developed Deep Space Nine). If Paramount had taken the project on, it doesn’t take a huge amount of imagination to see how it would have been adapted into the Star Trek universe, perhaps turned into the space station into an equivalent of Nimbus III (the planet of galactic peace from Star Trek V.)
In fact there have been (unproven) allegations that Paramount may have used elements that they knew about from the Babylon 5 pitch to “guide” Rick Berman and Michael Piller, but even JMS himself has said that he does not believe that Berman and Piller were aware of the Babylon 5 pitch at the time Deep Space Nine was developed.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Movie
The title alone makes me glad this one didn’t get very far, but it appears the idea for the film from Maurice Hurley would have had Captain Picard recreating James Kirk on the holodeck to assist in dealing with an inter-dimensional species that was causing havoc by crossing into our universe. Species 8472 anyone?
A competing script treatment from Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore was favored and eventually became Star Trek: Generations.
Star Trek: IMAX (‘short’ film)
This 40 minute-ish film was to be a showcase of IMAX and CG effects technology centred around Chief O’Brien, and featuring David Warner as Chancellor Gorkon once again (so that would necessitate time travel in some form I would guess.)
A script was completed on this 1997 project but it was put on the back burner… it seems the gas was turned off at some point after that.
A series of TV specials (TV movies) was considered briefly that would have put Captain Sulu back in command of the USS Excelsior. Especially after the interest show in the 50th Anniversary episode of Star Trek: Voyager, “Flashback,” which featured George Takei and Grace Lee Whitney, as well as some of the Excelsior crew actors from Star Trek VI.
Later versions of the idea called for Sulu to be in command of the Enterprise NCC-1701-B with his daughter, Demora, also a member of the bridge crew. Development of the idea appears to have never got further as a live action project than internal memos at Paramount though, unfortunately…
Star Trek: Lions Of The Night
A CG animated series was in development in 2003 and would have brought George Takei in as a voice actor. Jimmy Diggs, the writer who created the concept, referred to it as “Captain Sulu takes command of the USS Enterprise-B and must stop a Kzinti (as featured in Star Trek: The Animated Series) invasion of Federation Space.”
Considering the warm reception of Voyager‘s “Flashback” and apparent fan-thirst for something Captain Sulu, it’s a massive shame this didn’t happen.
Star Trek 11 – Nemesis Sequel (film)
A follow-on from the tenth Star Trek film, here Data’s personality and memories surface in B-4, and the refitted and upgraded Federation flagship under Captain Picard’s command is joined by Admiral Janeway and the USS Voyager at Deep Space Nine.
A plot device or two results in the Enterprise, Voyager and Defiant assisting Captain Riker’s USS Titan in Romulan space. The failure of Star Trek: Nemesis at the box office killed this completely.
Star Trek (11): The Beginning (film)
This 2005 project was supposed to bridge the gap between Star Trek: Enterprise and the original series. Featuring one Tiberius Chase, an ancestor of Jim Kirk (by my reckoning, he’d have to be the father of Jim Kirk’s great paternal grandmother, and not be a young man in the film) he would be the leader of a small group of humans during the Terran/Romulan War in a script by Erik Jendresen of Band Of Brothers fame.
This project was killed off by a change in the top brass at Paramount, with the new team eventually bringing in one JJ Abrams to reboot Star Trek on the big screen.
Star Trek: Enterprise Season 5+ (TV)
As The Beginning was being developed plans were still being made for Enterprise‘s fifth season, with the critical response to what had been seen of season four being favorable.
Season five was meant to see the Enterprise get a major refit (perhaps including the secondary hull as shown in The Ships Of The Line calendar/book series, and Polar Lights model kit). There may perhaps have even been a crossover with a certain BBC property that one Russell T Davies had a hand in, and had reportedly made an initial approach to Paramount about (though not pitched) prior to Enterprise‘s cancellation.
Other story ideas included the war with the Romulans, having Alice Krige guest star as a medical technician working on a Borg corpse (I don’t have to spell that one out, do I?), the construction of the first Starbase, and various direct prequels to episodes in The Original Series and The Animated Series. Revelations may have included the discovery that T’Pol’s father was a Romulan and a visit to Denobula.
At one stage the entire fifth series was being discussed as one Mirror Universe arc, featuring Empress Sato, though this was developed more into a mini-arc of multiple episodes scattered through the season just prior to the cancellation of the show. Perhaps the biggest loss is that outside scripts were going to be accepted once more to bring in new writing talent.
Star Trek: Final Frontier (animated web series)
The year is 2528 and the Federation has crumbled into near ruin following a war with the Romulans. The Klingon Empire was overrun by the Romulan Empire, Andoria is gone and due to negotiations for reunification, the Vulcans are no longer part of the Federation that is now in two disparate pieces.
This 2005-2007 developed series would have seen another off-shoot of the Chase-Kirk family in the form of Alexander Chase being the Captain, trying to bring the essence of Starfleet back – going where no-one has gone before.
Along with Captain Chase, there were a few developed characters including Mr. Zero (an energy-based lifeform in a travel suit), Commander Barren Holden (a very by-the-book Starfleet officer who’s there to balance Chase), Lt. Kaylen Donal (a security officer from the Yar mould, but with a Borg derived communications implant, like all Starfleet security officers of the era), and protocol officer William Preston (a former ship’s chief engineer whose job it is to uphold the new Federation/Starfleet protocols and morale and try and curb Captain Chase’s old Kirk-style frontier attitude and desire to seek out strange new worlds, and boldly go, in contravention of orders from Starfleet Command).
The original target for the series was as exclusive content for startrek.com, but with most of the website’s staff being laid off while Paramount reshuffled, the project’s future looked bleak. The development of the 2009 film laid this one to rest completely.
Fortunately there is a huge amount of archive for this particular lost Trek, with the development team behind it having made it available at www.startrekff.com
Star Trek: Federation (TV)
Developed separately from Final Frontier (though seems to have a similar theme) and never actually fully pitched to Paramount, this project, developed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns, etc.), Christopher McQuarrie (Edge Of Tomorrow, The Usual Suspects, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and Robert Myer Burnett (Free Enterprise, Star Trek: The Experience) developed a series idea set in the year 3000. Further script ideas and development were completed by Geoffrey Thorne (various Star Trek novels, Law And Order: Criminal Intent, Leverage.)
The Federation is crumbling under its own weight as humanity loses its way with many core-planets such as Betazed, Vulcan and Bajor leaving the United Federation of Planets due to its internal corruption and human-centric approach. As the Vulcan and Romulans reunify, and with the Klingons and Cardassians following a more spiritual path, a new enemy simply known as ‘The Scourge’ attack the outdated USS Sojourner and two colonies. The only survivor is one Lieutenant Commander Alexander Kirk.
Admiral Nelscott commissions a new USS Enterprise and on its maiden voyage the Captain and First Officer are killed leaving the Commander who is third in command to rise to Captain – and gets the official promotion too. Captain Alex Kirk leads the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-? into a new era of exploration while dealing with the Scourge and in later outlined episodes, the Klingons.
The announcement of the development of Star Trek for release in 2008 (which then slipped to 2009) by Bad Robot and Paramount basically stopped the development of Federation in its tracks and the 25 page proposal document never got handed to Paramount. Perhaps it’s time to do that?
Star Trek: The New Animated Series
With the primary writers of Star Trek 2009 already having got Transformers: Prime off the ground as a tangent from their work on the Transformers live action films (and Prime being light years better story-wise), Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pitched an animated Star Trek to CBS. It was similar in style to the Transformers show, which incidentally had Brunt, FCA himself (as well as Weyoun, Shran and others) Jeffrey Combs playing the Autobot doctor, Ratchet. However it was commented that a single film’s success may not pave the way for a successful animated series, and that CBS probably wouldn’t do a TV project until the films had run their course.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Worf Chronicles
Michael Dorn has been trying to extend his official stint as Worf (after seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, four seasons of Deep Space Nine and five films if you count General Worf, father of Mogh, father of Worf, turning up in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.)
Referred to sometimes as Captain Worf by the fan base, the script that Michael Dorn and his team have been working on would depict Worf being in a position of power in the Klingon Empire which is working ever more closely with the Federation (perhaps with Martok still as Chancellor?)
Worf’s main challenge in this idea would be to try and balance holding on to what makes Klingons Klingons, while attempting integration with the United Federation Of Planets… all while helping Vulcan and the rest of the Dominion War allies with dealing with a refugee crisis from the Romulan Empire, I would surmise. #WeWantWorf indeed!
There were of course other attempts at other official Star Trek productions, but these were the most developed, and who knows, there may be yet many more to come…
This article first appeared on Den of Geek UK in 2015.