The Star Trek Universe

Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series. The original Star Trek was an American television series, created by Gene Roddenberry, which debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons, following the interstellar adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Federation Starship Enterprise. These adventures were continued in an animated television series and six feature films. Four more television series were produced, based in the same universe but following other characters: Star Trek: The Next Generation, following the crew of a new Starship Enterprise set several decades after the original series; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager set contemporaneously with The Next Generation; and Star Trek: Enterprise, set in the early days of human interstellar travel. Four additional feature films were produced, following the crew of The Next Generation, and most recently a 2009 movie reboot of the series featuring a young crew of the original Enterprise set in a parallel universe.

The Original Series (1966–1969)

Star Trek, also known as "TOS" or The Original Series, debuted in the United States on NBC on September 8, 1966. The show tells the tale of the crew of the starship Enterprise and its five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before." The original 1966–1969 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. During its original run, it was nominated several times 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". After three seasons the show was canceled and the last original episode aired on June 3, 1969. It was, however, highly popular with science-fiction fans and engineering students, in spite of generally low Nielsen ratings although later demographic profiling techniques indicated the series was appealing to a highly lucrative audience. The series subsequently became popular in reruns and a cult following developed, complete with fan conventions. Originally presented under the title Star Trek, it has in recent years become known as Star Trek: The Original Series or as "Classic Star Trek"—retronyms that distinguish it from its sequels and the franchise as a whole.

The Animated Series (1973–1974)

Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974. Most of the original cast performed the voices of their characters from The Original Series, and many of the original series' writers, such as D. C. Fontana, David Gerrold and Paul Schneider, wrote for the series. While the animated format allowed the producers to create more exotic alien landscapes and lifeforms, the liberal reuse of shots and musical cues as well as animation errors have tarnished the series' reputation.[28] Although it was originally sanctioned by Paramount, which became the owner of the Star Trek franchise following its acquisition of Desilu in 1967, Roddenberry forced Paramount to stop considering the series canonical.Even so, elements of the animated series have been used by writers in later live-action series and movies. As of June 2007, the Animated Series is once again part of the official canon, as confirmed by the official website, Startrek.com.

TAS won Star Trek's first Emmy Award on May 15, 1975. Star Trek TAS briefly returned to television in the mid-1980s on the children's cable network Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon's Evan McGuire greatly admired the show and used its various creative components as inspiration for his short series called Piggly Wiggly Hears A Sound which never aired. Nickelodeon parent Viacom would purchase Paramount in 1994. In the early 1990s, the Sci-Fi Channel also began rerunning TAS. The complete TAS was also released on Laserdisc format during the 1980s. The complete series was first released in the USA on eleven volumes of VHS tapes in 1989. All 22 episodes were released on DVD in 2006.

The Next Generation (1987–1994)

Star Trek: The Next Generation, also known as "TNG", is set approximately a century after The Original Series (2364–2370). It features a new starship, the Enterprise-D, and a new crew led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). The series introduced alien races new to the Federation as crew members, including Deanna Troi, a half-Betazoid counselor played by Marina Sirtis, and Worf as the first Klingon officer in Starfleet, played by Michael Dorn. It also featured Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, LeVar Burton as chief engineer Geordi La Forge, the android Data portrayed by Brent Spiner, and Dr. Crusher's son Wesley Crusher played by Wil Wheaton. The show premiered on September 28, 1987, and ran for seven seasons, ending on May 23, 1994. Unlike the previous television outings, the program was syndicated instead of airing on network television. It had the highest ratings of any of the Star Trek series and was the #1 syndicated show during the last few years of its original run, allowing it to act as a springboard for ideas in other series. Many relationships and races introduced in TNG became the basis of episodes in Deep Space 9 and Voyager. It was nominated for an Emmy for Best Dramatic Series during its final season. It also received a Peabody Award for Outstanding Television Programming for the episode "The Big Goodbye".

Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, also known as "DS9", is set during the last years and the immediate post-years of The Next Generation (2369–2375) and was in production for seven seasons, debuting the week of January 3, 1993. Like Star Trek: The Next Generation, it aired in syndication in the United States and Canada. It is the only Star Trek series to take place primarily on a space station rather than aboard a starship. It is set on the Cardassian-built space station originally known as Terok Nor, which was redesignated Deep Space Nine by the United Federation of Planets, located near the planet Bajor and a uniquely stable wormhole that provides immediate access to the distant Gamma Quadrant. The show chronicles the events of the station's crew, led by Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, and Major (later Colonel) Kira Nerys, played by Nana Visitor. Recurring plot elements include the repercussions of the lengthy and brutal Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, Sisko's spiritual role for the Bajorans as the Emissary of the Prophets and in later seasons a war with the Dominion. Deep Space Nine stands apart from earlier Trek series for its lengthy serialized storytelling, conflict within the crew, and religious themes—all of which were elements that were praised by critics and audiences but that Roddenberry had forbidden in the original series and The Next Generation. Nevertheless, he was made aware of plans to make DS9 before his death, so this was the last Star Trek series with which he was connected.

Voyager (1995–2001)

Star Trek: Voyager was produced for seven seasons, airing from January 16, 1995, to May 23, 2001, launching a new Paramount-owned television network UPN. It features Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway, the first female commanding officer in a leading role of a Star Trek series, and Commander Chakotay, played by Robert Beltran. Voyager takes place at about the same time as Deep Space Nine and the years following that show's end (2371–2378). The premiere episode has the USS Voyager and its crew pursue a Maquis ship (crewed by Federation rebels). Both ships become stranded in the Delta Quadrant about 75,000 light years from Earth. Faced with a 75-year voyage to Earth, the crew must learn to work together and overcome challenges on the long and perilous journey home while also seeking ingenious ways to shorten the return voyage. Like Deep Space Nine, early seasons of Voyager feature greater conflict between its crew members than is seen in later shows. Such conflict often arises from friction between "by-the-book" Starfleet crew and rebellious Maquis fugitives forced by circumstance to work together on the same ship. Eventually, though, they settle their differences, after which the overall tone becomes more reminiscent of The Original Series. Voyager is originally isolated from many of the familiar aspects and races of the Star Trek franchise, barring those few represented on the crew. This allowed for the creation of new races and original plot lines within the series. Later seasons, however, brought an influx of characters and races from prior shows, such as the Borg, Q, the Ferengi, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians as well as cast members of The Next Generation.

Enterprise (2001–2005)

Star Trek: Enterprise, originally titled Enterprise, originally aired from September 26, 2001 to May 13, 2005, is a prequel to the original Star Trek series, taking place in the 2150s, some 90 years after Zefram Cochrane developed the first warp-capable starship from a ballistic missile and about a decade before the founding of the Federation. The series shows how the first extraterrestrial contact with the Vulcans and subsequent guidance led to Earth's first warp-five capable starship, the Enterprise, commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer played by Scott Bakula, and Sub-Commander T'Pol, played by Jolene Blalock. For the first two seasons, Enterprise is mostly episodic, like The Original Series, The Next Generation and Voyager. The third season's "Xindi mission" arc carried through the entire season, bringing a darker tone and serialised nature not seen since Deep Space 9. Season 4 was especially known for showing the origins of several common elements in the other series, due to the producers having recruited as writers Trek experts Mike Sussman and the writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. In addition, Season 4 rectified and resolved some core continuity problems in the series (some of which were created in season 1 of Enterprise), most notably the decades-old issue of the drastic change in the appearance of the Klingons between TOS and other Trek series. The fourth season's story arcs are often spread to two or three episodes. Ratings for Enterprise started strong but declined rapidly, and although some longtime viewers were pleased by the final season's many homages to other Trek series, others felt that it was an indulgence, and that the mini-arc structure led to artificially padding out the stories. The finale in particular was reviled by both fans and the cast.