We Star Trek fans have no reason to complain. The last half century has given us seven Star Trek television series and 13 movies — with a fourteenth on the way, perhaps from Quentin Tarantino. This does not take into account the countless novels, video games, toys, conventions, clothing options, etc.
Yet, we might have had far more. While me might not have reason to complain, we can certainly feel bummed out that the following TV shows never came to fruition. Well, perhaps that sitcom was better left unmade.
Let's take a look through the Star Trek series that never were…
The Gary Seven Series
The season two Star Trek finale, originally airing in March of 1968, served as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off, "Assignment: Earth." The story centers around Gary Seven, played by Robert Lansing of the popular WWII drama 12 O'Clock High, a human sent back to contemporary earth from the future. By his side is the young and lovely Roberta Lincoln, a 1960s secretary, played by Teri Garr. Though, originally, the script had nothing to do with Star Trek. The draft, penned in the fall of '66, made no mention of the Enterprise or its crew. It was meant to be a stand-alone series. Roddenberry adapted it into the Trek universe, and took a more hands-on approach with the filming, serving as "Producer" not a more removed "Executive Producer." Roddenberry involved himself in the casting and even the costuming, paying particular attention to the length of Garr's skirt. She reportedly had a miserable time on set, somewhat due to the consternation over her miniskirt. She nearly avoided the experience — Dawn Well, a.k.a. Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island — almost nabbed the role. Roddenberry thought she was too famous.
The Harry Mudd Show
Harcourt Fenton Mudd remains one of the most beloved rogues in the Star Trek universe, even appearing in the new Discovery series, as played by Rainn Wilson of The Office. Roger Carmel, also a delightful Batman villain, originated the role. He was the only character aside from the Enterprise crew to appear in more than one episode ("Mudd's Woman" and "I, Mudd). No wonder NBC hoped to give him a spin-off. As Carmel himself recalled, "Gene Roddenberry was there and we started talking and Gene said, 'It’s a shame that series thing for you never worked out.' I said, 'What series thing?' He said, 'Oh, didn’t you know? Well, after the successful Harry Mudd episodes, NBC wanted to know if I would develop a spin-off series for you starring the Harry Mudd character. A space pirate, intergalactic con-man kind of thing.'" A flabberghasted Carmel asked, "'My God, Gene, I didn’t know anything about that. What happened?' He said, 'Well, the artists didn’t have enough time to develop it.'" Arg!
A hospital series in space? Why not? Hopeship, like Chicago Med, was proposed as a medical-focused spin-off. Writer Darlene Hartman had penned a Star Trek script titled "Shol" that eventually went unused due to similarities with "The Apple." While honing her script, she concurrently worked with Roddenberry on Hopeship, a series set aboard a Federation hospital ship of the same name. Doctor M'Benga, seen here, one of the few people who gets to slap Spock in the Original Series, was meant to be a major player aboard Hopeship. Hartman later used many of these unrealized Trek ideas in her own series of sci-fi novels, the Einai series, which are heavily, heavily Star Trek influenced. In fact, the captain's name is "Riker." In 1995, Hopeship became the fifth book in the series.
According to the book The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980), Paramount approached Roddenberry after the cancelation of the Original Series and asked him to produce a series centering around the Vulcans. It would feature Spock, back home on Vulcan, surrounded by other Vulcans. Roddenberry nixed the idea, pointing out the humanity was a necessary ingredient for Star Trek success.
Star Trek: Phase II
The story behind this scrapped Seventies sequel is a book in itself. In brief, the story goes like this. In 1975, Roddenberry began tinkering with Star Trek: The God Thing, his proposal for the first Trek film. That evolved into another movie dubbed Star Trek: Planet of the Titans which morphed into an entire new television series coined Star Trek: Phase II. The Enterprise crew was set to come back. Well, minus Spock, as Nimoy was not interested at the time. That would have been some hurdle to overcome. Roles were cast; scripts were written; sets were built… yet, obviously it never came to fruition. Much of the work and design was carried over to Star Trek: The Motion Picture — which fortunately brought back Spock.
Image: The Everett Collection
The Lwaxana Troi Sitcom
Gene Roddenberry was devoted to his wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry. He even considered giving her Next Generation character Lwaxana Troi, Deanna's mom, her own show. A comedy. No, really. As Starlog magazine, issue No. 177, pointed out in April 1992: "A fourth possibility — a SF sitcom starring Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi — had been mulled by Barrett, Gene Roddenberry and The Sci-Fi Channel as a project for that cable network. But Roddenberry's death and SFC's start-up delays have sidelined that idea for now."
The Original Series Reboot
Five years before the popular J.J. Abrams big-screen reboot hit cinemas, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and Dark Skies showrunner Bryce Zabel had big plans for the Star Trek series. The duo wanted to bring back Kirk, Spock and crew. This 2004 series hoped to update the classic for a modern audience, while seeking answers to the ultimate mysteries of the universe, the "common origin of all lifeforms everywhere, the truth that will unite a galaxy."
Image: The Everett Collection
Star Trek: Federation
After Enterprise got the axe in 2005, another series was quickly proposed, this one from the minds of X-Men director Bryan Singer and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation director Christopher McQuarrie (pictured). Screenwriter Geoffrey Thorne was brought aboard the project, and he explained, "I pictured a Federation that had hit its plateau and stayed there for three hundred years. Utopia has occurred and everything has stagnated." Eight main characters and four episodes were fleshed out — before Paramount opted to go with a J.J. Abrams cinematic universe instead.
Image: The Everett Collection
Star Trek: Final Frontier
The animated corner of the Star Trek universe is sadly overlooked and underexplored, certainly compared to its rival Star Wars. Alas, we almost got to see a follow-up to Star Trek: The Animated Series in 2006, when this cartoon was pitched. Final Frontier was to be set in the year 2528, picking up after the final Next Generation film. The action was to center around a war between the Federation and the Romulans. A new Enterprise, helmed by Captain Alexander Chase, would deal with the conflict. The show was pitched as a web series, and CBS expressed interest. In the end, this, like Federation, was scrapped to put the focus squarely on J.J. Abrams' flick.