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Star Trek Stories Gene Roddenberry Would Never Approve, According To William Shatner

As the first Starfleet captain to head up the Enterprise onscreen for an entire series, William Shatner knows a thing or two about Gene Roddenberry's vision for "Star Trek." According to the O.G. Captain James T. Kirk, the show's writing didn't always meet with Roddenberry's vision. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in March 2024, Shatner specially called out the franchise's relationships in later series as a move Roddenberry would hardly approve of. 

According to the actor, whose character created the original template for Starfleet lover boy long before Riker (Jonathan Frakes) would come along, Roddenberry would never have agreed with all of that canoodling to take place among fellow officers in later series. "He was in the military, and he was a policeman," Shatner explained. "So there was this militaristic vision of 'You don't make out with a fellow soldier.' "

The son of a Los Angeles police officer, Roddenberry had served in the military and police force for years at the time he created "Star Trek." Like many young men of his era, Roddenberry had enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor, where he flew combat missions in the Pacific Theater. He would also spend the better part of a decade working for the Los Angeles Police Department, with both experiences informing his writing on shows like "The West Point Story," "Dragnet," and "Highway Patrol" — not to mention Roddenberry's ideas about Starfleet operations.

"There are strict rules and you abide by the rules," Shatner said, referencing his own kiss with Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) as an early rule violation. "Well, as Star Trek progressed, that ethos has been forgotten ... I sometimes laugh and talk about the fact that I think Gene is twirling in his grave."

Star Trek has broken some of Gene Roddenberry's other rules

It's not just Kirk and Uhura's kiss or Riker and Troi's (Marina Sirtis) on-screen romance where "Star Trek" writers fumbled the Roddenberry Rules. One only needs to look at the writer's guide for Season 1 of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to see just how far they've strayed from their Trek god. Clocking in at 53 pages long, Gene Roddenberry's story bible for the Picard-helmed mission is a wondrous thing to behold, with the text covering everything from character backstories to technological advancements in the 95 or so years to pass since "Star Trek: The Original Series." Sandwiched somewhere between the mission and the ship's blueprints is a list of Roddenberry's "Star Trek" universe rules for writing the series. And pretty much all of them get broken at some point during the show's seven-season run.

Take Rule No. 2: "We do not do stories about psi-forces or mysterious psychic powers." To date, the "Star Trek" canon contains numerous examples of exactly that, along with a wealth of other psionic abilities. From the mental psychoprojectivity of the Halanans in the "Deep Space Nine" episode "Second Sight" to the Ocampans' telekinesis demonstrated when Kes (Jennifer Lien) boils water in the "Voyager" episode "Cold Fire," the franchise is full of examples. 

"The Next Generation" breaks its own rules about "fantasy" and "swords and sorcery" in "Qpid," paving the way for the "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" episode "The Elysian Kingdom," which sees Pike's (Anson Mount) crew transformed to a fantasy realm via an alien consciousness. And that's to say nothing of the candle ghost Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) hooks up with in the divisive "TNG" episode "Sub Rosa" — truly a horrifying "Star Trek" story. Other rules that get cast aside include plots involving past Trek crews, blatant prime directive violations, warfare with the Romulans and Klingons, and Vulcan-centric stories.