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William Shatner Explains How “‘Star Wars’ Created ‘Star Trek’”

Yes, you read the headline right.

According to William Shatner, made famous for his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek, the seminal science fiction television show owes its success to Star Wars, even though George Lucas' blockbuster debuted over a decade after Trek was first broadcast.


"First of all, Star Wars created Star Trek. You know that?" Shatner commented at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.

It's probably safe to say that the attendees of the convention did not know this. No doubt some began theorizing that the star might be suggesting some kind of elaborate time travel event, while others simply dismissed his baffling comment as yet another moment of classic Shatner nonsense.

Shatner's insistence that Star Wars was responsible for the success of Star Trek hardly came at an appropriate time. The long-lived feud between Star Wars and Star Trek fans has bubbled under the surface of fandom for decades, having become particularly pronounced since the Galaxy Far, Far Away stole away director JJ Abrams from having a direct hand in the Star Trek reboot universe—a move which, depending on your opinion of the new movies, is either grounds for war or a heavenly mercy.

But, once fans had gotten over their disbelief at Shatner's seemingly insane comment, the actor explained himself:

"Every year there was the threat to be canceled. The third year, we were canceled, and everybody accepted it. At Paramount Studios they were running around bumping into each other: 'What do we got?! What do we got to equal Star Wars? This is a big thing! There was this thing that we canceled, under another management, it was called Star...Trek? Let's resurrect that!'

"It was Star Wars that thrust Star Trek into the people of Paramount's consciousness."

So according to Shatner, it was the boost in popularity that the science fiction genre enjoyed following Star Wars that allowed Star Trek to return from the dead.

This version of history at least doesn't feature a bizarre time paradox, although it does mean that Shatner went a little far by saying that Star Wars "created" Star Trek.


Ultimately, though, it's quite nice to see Shatner expressing a belief that media creations don't exist in a vacuum. Star Trek's continued popularity does owe something to Star Wars providing an easy, accessible entry point to science fiction, while Star Wars simultaneously has built upon tropes and icons created in Star Trek.

Shatner did go on to highlight the differences between the two franchises: Star Trek focuses on humanity and the relationships between people, according to Shatner, while Star Wars is built more on the spectacle of a grand space opera with phenomenal special effects.

This is an interesting comment, especially when the latest movies in each franchise are viewed together—Star Trek's latest films have relied more on explosive action, while The Force Awakens featured some of the most compelling relationship development that has been seen in a franchise that's typically known for its stunted dialogue and cheesy approach to romance.


So while Shatner's comments may seem at first glance like just another weird comment from an actor who has made a name for himself out of being a few Red Shirts short of a landing party, perhaps there really is something that Star Trek and Star Wars can learn from each other.

One thing's for sure - both franchises are definitely better than Dune.

Matthew loffhagen

Matthew Loffhagen

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