Back in May of 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise ended its 4-season run to less than mediocre reviews. It was the end of an era. After nearly 40 years of (mostly) consistent programming, be it on television or the big screen, Star Trek’s impulse engines came to a full stop.
Thankfully, Star Trek returned the big screen in the 2009 J.J. Abrams alternate timeline/reboot, followed by Into Darkness in 2013 and Beyond in 2016. Though many Trek loyalists saw this new take as a far cry from the source material, it injected a much-needed boost of adrenaline in a staling franchise.
Cut to 2017, where the airwaves (or stream-waves, rather) are ready to activate their warp drives with Star Trek: Discovery, a new story in the prime timeline set 10 years before Kirk’s deep space mission on the Enterprise.
In that decade-plus gap, there have been many attempts to get Trek back on TV, as well as the big screen, that were not successful. Here’s a look at the shows and movies proposed to revive Star Trek between the time of the cancellation of Enterprise in 2005 and the premiere of Discovery this month.
Enterprise Season 5
Star Trek: Enterprise was an attempt to take Trek back to its roots; to rewind the clock back to when the Federation began to discover the spirit of adventure and exploration. It didn’t have an orchestral opening theme, but a crooning, soft rock track instead. It didn’t even have Star Trek in its title (at first).
Alas, the down-to-earth (for lack of a better term) series wound up being more of the same, and the series was almost cancelled after the second season. But the fans pleaded, and Paramount listened — for awhile. There were some changes to the series after that scare, including a new action-oriented plot, and putting Star Trek ahead of Enterprise in the title. Still, Enterprise could not find a clear course, and was officially cancelled after season 4 in 2005.
Enterprise writer and science consultant Andre Bormanis said at Star Trek Las Vegas last month that the show’s fifth season would have taken a look the relationship between Humans and Vulcans after the formation of the United Federation of Planets, showing it more like the way things were in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Executive Producer Brannon Braga said that the series would have also explored the Romulan War that led to the creation of the the neutral zone.
An eleventh Trek flick was planned during production of 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Nemesis co-writers John Logan and Brent Spiner intended to make a crossover sequel. Intended to be the fifth and final film for The Next Generation crew, it would have been a time-hopping adventure involving the greatest heroes and villains in the Trek universe.
Brent Spiner explained further, saying, “one of the ideas that John Logan and I had about what the next film would have been was a Justice League of Star Trek. Something would bring all the great Star Trek villains together, from Khan to Shinzon, and Picard is the only person who could stop them, and he actually has to go through time and pluck out the people he needs to help him. He goes back to the moment before Data blows up and takes him back to get Kirk and Spock, and go even further back and get Archer.”
However, after Nemesis failed at the box office, as well as the massive budget for a concept such as that, the project was cancelled.
Prior to the J.J. Abrams Trek reboot, Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski proposed a TV series with a similar concept. The initial concept of the reboot was to answer why Starfleet handed over their flagship to an inexperienced Captain fresh out of Starfleet.
Straczynski proposed they were sent on a top secret mission, so secret even the crew of the Enterprise (short of Kirk, Spock and Bones) didn’t know about it.
The proposal was made public on the internet, and is an interesting read on how a Star Trek reboot could have happened. Ultimately, Paramount passed on the proposal, not even willing to look at anything Trek related at the time.
Star Trek: The Beginning
Shortly before the green light for Abram’s 2009 Star Trek, Band of Brothers writer Erik Jendresen gave comprehensive details of a script he wrote in an Ain’t It Cool News interview in October 2007.
The Beginning is set shortly after the events of Star Trek: Enterprise, primarily covering the Romulan War. The script centered on Tiberius Chase (Great Grandfather of James Tiberius Kirk), a top-notch pilot in the UESN, a militaristic counterpart to Starfleet.
Jendresen intended to make this the first in a trilogy of films that would set the stage for The Original Series. Through a series of unfortunate events, however, the script was shelved.
Star Trek: Federation
Back in 2005, Bryan Singer got together with screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie and director Robert Meyer Burnett (Free Enterprise) to talk about pitching a new Star Trek series. Burnett later brought on screenwriter Geoffrey Thorne to help create a 25-page series proposal outlining the show.
The series would have been titled Star Trek: Federation. The series was described as consisting of of serialized stories focusing on “compelling stories about our world today,” as opposed to standalone episodes dealing with the Trek universe.
Federation would have taken place in the year 3000, when a new threat called “The Scourge” compelled Starfleet to commission a new Starship Enterprise — the first in over 300 years. One of the central characters would’ve been Commander Alexander Kirk, an aggressive officer with a “checkered past” who was the sole survivor of a run-in with The Scourge.
The team finished the proposal in early 2006, but was beat to the punch by J.J. Abrams. The proposal was never even pitched, and became a part of the ‘what-could-have-been’ Trek history.
Rikers in Space
Another pitch that fell by the wayside to make room for the Abrams-verse films, Jonathan Frakes developed an idea for a Star Trek series that was rejected.
Based on his statement, Frakes seemingly had an idea centering on his own character, William Riker, as Captain of the USS Titan, which he received during Nemesis. Deanna Troi and a family of Rikers may have been the focus of the series as well.
“I had a Star Trek that I developed for TV, and we were told in no uncertain terms that they said no to Bryan Singer television Star Trek, they said no to a William Shatner television Star Trek,” said Frakes in a UGO interview back in 2011. “They feel at CBS Paramount that they don’t want to make the same mistake that’s been made before, which was watering down the brand by having a TV show and a movie. That’s what happened with Star Trek: Nemesis, and that’s why I think Star Trek: Enterprise didn’t last the way they expected to. It was the classic corporate greed of “we’ve got something good, so let’s continue to milk it” and we milked it so dry that the fans had no appetite for a movie. So I think what they’ve done by taking time off before the Abrams Star Trek, and they’re doing it again because they haven’t even begun to shoot the second one, is a much smarter business plan. Much to my chagrin! Not that I wouldn’t love the Titan, or the Rikers in Space, or any of those shows on the air.”
Kelvin Timeline Animated Series
After the release of the 2009 Star Trek, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman pitched an animated series to CBS, showing the continuing adventures of the alternate timeline versions of Kirk, Spock, and Uhura.
However, Orci said the success of the first film did not prove an animated series would be viable. “One movie doesn’t make a trend,” Orci said in an interview with Trek Movie in 2012. “Two movies starts to indicate that there is a trend and its viable. It will become more real as the year goes on.”
After a less than positive response for Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013, the animated series was put on an indefinite hold.
The Worf Chronicles
Another Next Generation alum, Michael Dorn pitched The Worf Chronicles, a spin-off which initially would have shown Worf as a commanding officer in the Klingon Empire, as they attempted to integrate with the Federation.
“The Worf Chronicles idea was right in that wheelhouse, because the Klingon Empire is gritty,” said Dorn in an interview with Den of Geek in 2015. “It does have a dark quality. It’s Shakespearean, it’s about assassinations and coups, the power behind the throne.”
Dorn had big plans for The Worf Chronicles, looking to bring back fan favorite characters from previous series.
However, he also added, “[the series that would eventually become Discovery] probably is the final nail in the coffin for Worf.”
American Trek Story
Back in November 2015, a brand new Star Trek series was given the greenlight. Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, American Gods) was at the helm. However, the concept that would eventually evolve into Discovery didn’t start out that way.
“The original pitch was to do for science fiction what American Horror Story had done for horror,” Fuller said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly earlier this year. “It would platform a universe of Star Trek shows.”
Initially, the Discovery story was only meant to last for one season, followed by a new crew on a new ship in a different era in the prime timeline, and so on and so forth.
CBS executives were wary about the concept, and opted to move forward with a straightforward Discovery series, with each season having an overarching story. Fuller, not too happy with that decision, stepped down from running the show in October 2016, but would stay on as a writer and consulting producer.
However, as production began, Fuller drifted further away from Discovery, having numerous disagreements with CBS’s decisions. Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts eventually took over as showrunners.