10 awesome unmade Star Trek projects we wish we could've seen

For a franchise that spanned five TV series, 11 movies and Roddenberry-only-knows-how-much erotic fan fiction, there was a lot of Star Trek we still never got to see.
 
A ton of different movies, spinoff and reboots were proposed but never hit the screen (especially after Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled). Here are the 10 we wish we were watching on DVD right now.


Assignment Earth

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Proposed by/Year: Gene Roddenberry, 1968

What it was: The closest thing that Star Trek ever got to a modern-day spinoff. Gene Roddenberry created this backdoor pilot that masqueraded as an episode of the original series. It followed Gary Seven (Robert Lansing), a human raised by aliens working to secretly help the human race keep from destroying itself. He's helped by sarcastic computer Beta 5, a cat that turned into a Playboy Playmate and human secretary Roberta Lincoln, played by Teri Garr with help from a ridiculously tiny miniskirt. It's worth noting that the series had a number of similarities to Doctor Who, specifically a intelligent alien type assisted by a perky young woman. (And he even had a handheld device plot device, "the servo," that's remarkably similar to  the sonic screwdriver.)

Why it never happened: The network never picked up the series, so Roddenberry just kept on going with Star Trek's final season ... the one where Spock's brain got removed and Kirk got trapped in the body of a woman.

Maybe Gene needed a break after all.


Planet of the Titans

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Proposed by/Year: Paramount, 1977

What it was: The original first Star Trek movie. This one featured the crew of the original Enterprise after their five-year mission as they battle the Klingons (with the Klingon leader written to be played by legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune) for a planet that's believed to be the homeworld of an extinct race called the Titans. After falling into a black hole, the Enterprise crew has to face off against a new race, The Cygnans, who supposedly killed off the Titans. After the Enterprise ends up going back in time again to defeat the Cygnans, they end up giving fire to primitive humans and realize they (gasp!) were the Titans all along!

Why it never happened: Paramount didn't like it. While a revised screenplay was being written when they pulled the plug, it never made it to final script form. Paramount then decided to go with a new TV series for a proposed Paramount TV network. (See below.)


Star Trek Phase II

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Proposed by/Year: Paramount, 1977

What it was: A sequel TV series. This series would've followed the now older (and thicker) crew of the USS Enterprise on an new mission into the unknown, along with a bunch of young new characters. They would've included Xon, a young Vulcan science officer (needed because Leonard Nimoy wouldn't sign on to the new series), first officer William "Will" Decker and Deltan empath Lt. Ilia. In addition to appealing to a younger (i.e. not middle-aged) demographic, the younger actors would've given the production more of a chance to continue if the original cast ever decided to leave.

Why it never happened: The series was meant to be the cornerstone of a new Paramount TV network, but when the network fell through (it would eventually come back as UPN in 1995), the series was left without a home. But after Star Wars became huge, Paramount decided to take the two-hour pilot for the series "In Thy Image," add more special effects and endless sequences of starships slowly moving and turn it into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
 
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Of all the unmade Star Trek projects, this one probably had the most material reused for other projects. Apart from everything they used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a lot of Phase II ended up being reused on The Next Generation. The characters of Will Riker and Deanna Troi were based on Phase II's Will Decker and Ilia, and they reused two Phase II scripts on TNG episodes: "The Child" and "Devil's Due."


Star Trek: The First Adventure

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Proposed by/Year: Ralph Winter, 1990

What it was: A proposed sixth original series film. While working on Star Trek V, producer Ralph Winter proposed a prequel film that would follow an old McCoy telling the story of how Spock and Kirk became friends to a bunch of Starfleet cadets. It would show a year of Kirk, Spock, Scotty and McCoy at Starfleet Academy, as they have to team up against another classmate, Kolibar, who is next in line for the throne of his slave-owning homeworld. The Starfleet cadets end up stealing an old starship from a federation museum for a showdown with Kolibar and to rescue an old starship that McCoy is stationed on, the USS Enterprise.

Why it never happened: The original cast hated the idea, mainly because they wouldn't be in it. (The first draft originally just had old DeForest Kelley in it, but revised drafts included bookend cameos from Shatner and Nimoy.) Gene Roddenberry said in interviews that he didn't like it because he wouldn't be able to cast the new actors. And in the end, Paramount decided to go with something more traditional for Trek's 25th anniversary, which became Star Trek VI.
 

Star Trek Academy

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Proposed by/Year: William Shatner, 2003

What it was: William Shatner's attempt to replace Star Trek Enterprise. Apparently Shatner wasn't a fan of Star Trek: Enterprise and pitched Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone his idea for a new series featuring the adolescent adventures of Spock and Kirk.  

Why it never happened: Viacom decided to not cancel Enterprise and it continued on for another two years. But it's not like Shatner to let a little thing like that stop him, so he simply pitched the idea to the Pocket Books, where it became the series Star Trek Academy, written by Shatner himself (with help by veteran Trek novelists Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens). Or it would've been a series, if more than the first book, Collision Course, ever hit the shelves. Rumor has it that Shatner didn't continue the series because he felt Pocket Books underpromoted it. Or it might've been that fans just didn't embrace a retcon where Spock and Kirk first bump into each other in a strip club.


Star Trek: Reboot The Universe

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Proposed by/Year: J. Michael Stracynski & Bryce Zabel, 2004

What it was: A proposed TV series that would've, um, rebooted the universe. Screenwriters J. Michael Stracynski (Babylon 5, Changeling) and Bryce Zabel (Dark Skies, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation) came up with their own idea for continuing the franchise after Star Trek: Enterprise, which included starting all over again with the original Enterprise's five-year mission in an alternate universe. While that might sound like the J.J. Abrams movie, this one would've been a five-year TV series and, like Babylon 5, would feature a planned out five-year storyline with plot lines set up from the very beginning. Interestingly enough, the proposal also suggests going back to the original series tradition of buying and adapting short-story ideas from leading SF stories for episodes. As the proposal explains:

Now imagine a new Star Trek calling upon the talents of writers like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, Kurt Vonnegut, Anne McCaffrey and others.

Sounds pretty good, eh?

Why it never happened: CBS/Paramount decided to go the feature film route with J.J. Abrams.

(Get used to that explanation. You'll be seeing it a lot.)


Star Trek: The Beginning

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Proposed by/Year: Erik Jendresen, 2005

What it was: A proposed 11th Star Trek film, set between Star Trek: Enterprise and the original series. Written by Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers), the film wouldn't have been a Star Trek: Enterprise movie, but would follow all new characters during the Earth-Romulan War. It was intended to be part of a trilogy following an all-new main character, an ancestor of James T. Kirk named Tiberius Chase. According to a script review from Ain't It Cool News, it involved a young Chase just getting out of the academy when Romulans attack the Earth, wanting to cleanse all Vulcans from the planet. Desperate to protect Earth, Chase steals a starship, the USS Spartan, and arms it with a nuclear bomb. The script ends with him heading toward Romulus to take the fight to them.

Why it never happened: There are two main theories. Some say that Paramount was wary about making a Star Trek film that featured no already established characters. Others say that Paramount just decided all Star Trek films for a couple years to let the franchise cool down for a bit. They certainly did that, as it was four years before J.J. Abrams' Trek flick hit the screens.


The Rikers In Space

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Proposed by/Year: Jonathan Frakes, 2005

What it was: No one's really sure. Frakes, a veteran Trek director (he's directed not only Star Trek Insurrection and Star Trek First Contact, but numerous episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager) reportedly came up with an idea for a new series at the same time Shatner and Singer were pitching theirs, but we have no word on exactly what the series would've been like, although Frakes has joked about doing a half-hour sitcom with "The Rikers in Space" and mentioned the idea of continuing the adventures of Will Riker as captain of the USS Titan.

Why it never happened: Two reasons: One, Paramount decided to go in a different direction, and also, Frakes never actually pitched it to them, which is a kinda important step for a TV series to get off the ground. In an April 2011 interview with UGO, Frakes mentioned his idea for Trek series, saying:

I had a Star Trek that I developed for TV, and we were told in no uncertain terms that they said no to a Bryan Singer television Star Trek, they said no to a William Shatner television Star Trek.  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.

But when the website Afterelton tried to contact Frakes to find out if his Star Trek would've featured any gay characters, they got a different reply, saying:

Frakes' reps tell me that he was misquoted by a lot of media outlets, and the series never got as far as being pitched to CBS/Paramount at all.

So, it looks like it never got as far we thought.


Star Trek: Federation

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Proposed by/Year: Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie & Robert Meyer Burnett 2005

What it was: A TV series that would've followed Star Trek: Enterprise. When CBS/Paramount had no plans for the franchise director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns), screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and director Robert Meyer Burnett (Free Enterprise) came up with their own idea for a new Star Trek series. Set in the year 3000, the Federation is in serious decline, having given up exploration. The Vulcans and Romulans have reunified, the Klingons have become a race of "warrior mystics," and the Ferengi have become more and more powerful over the last couple centuries. Then a new threat, the Scourge, attacks the Federation, destroying two colonies and the Starfleet ship USS Sojourner. There's only one survivor: a Lt. Commander Alexander Kirk.  This incident causes a number of worlds to leave the Federation, including Vulcan, Betazoid and Bajor. The Federation commissions a new USS Enterprise to return to exploration and fight the Scourge, led by captain Alden Montgomery, but after he is killed, command transfers to, you guessed it, Kirk.
 
Why it never happened: Well, while Burnett and McQuarrie wrote a 25-page first draft of a proposal, they never actually pitched it to CBS/Paramount. It turns out they were still working on it when Paramount announced that J.J. Abrams would be doing his movie. With him helming the franchise, Singer and the bunch decided the time to pitch a new series had passed, so they stopped working on the project.


Star Trek: The Final Frontier

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Proposed by/Year: Zero Room Productions, 2005

What it was: An animated webseries set in the future of Star Trek's, um, future. To help keep the franchise going, Star Trek.com proposed a series of five six-minute animated shorts (much like the original Star Wars: Clone Wars shorts or G.I. Joe Resolute) set 150 years after Star Trek: Nemesis. In this future, the Federation had stopped exploring the universe as the use of Omega Molecule weapons has made Warp travel impossible in much of the galaxy. So, while Starfleet is focusing more on protecting its territory instead of exploring the galaxy, the captain of the latest USS Enterprise, Capt. Alexander Chase, disagrees and gets assigned to the frontier to continue the whole "where no one has gone before" thing. The series was developed by Zero Room productions, made up of two Star Trek veterans, Dave Rossi (production associate/producer on every Trek series since The Next Generation) and Doug Mirabello (production associate on Star Trek Enterprise) and José Muñoz, co-ordinator of Warner Brothers Television Post Production.

Why it never happened: Well, according to the Zero Room's website, the staff of StarTrek.com was laid off and CBS/Paramount decided to hold off on any Trek projects until after the J.J. Abrams movie. But if you want to read the scripts and storyboards, they've put them up online at http://zeroroom.squarespace.com/ (They're currently going through and writing scripts for the series and putting them up on the site. Just don't hold your breath that it'll ever actually get animated.)