Total Nerd 16 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series  

Tamar Altebarmakian
4.6k views 16 items Embed

How good is your Star Trek: The Original Series trivia knowledge? You might know the title sequence narration by heart and mime the orchestra when the theme song picks up, but did you know that the theme song has official lyrics? Or that the words “Beam me up, Scotty” are never actually said on the show?

These facts about Star Trek: The Original Series will go beyond the basics and debunk some popularized myths about the show. They’ll discuss how it played a small, but significant role in the Civil Rights movement, how it almost didn’t make it onto the air, and how it helped build the foundation for modern fandom.

Even if The Original Series isn’t your favorite Star Trek, or even if sci-fi isn't your thing, there’s no denying that Star Trek was and remains one of the most important and groundbreaking shows in television history. Its cast, crew, and creator were committed to boldy going where no one had gone before. By doing so, they have left a lasting impact on our culture.

So grab some synthale or a cup of tea, Earl Grey, hot, and check out these Star Trek facts!

It Wasn’t The First Show To Feature An Interracial Kiss – But It Was Still Important

It Wasn’t The First Show To Fe... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 16 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series
Photo: NBC

Although Star Trek is often (erroneously) cited as the first series to feature an interracial kiss on television, the first show to do so was actually a British series called Hot Summer Night. Also, it should be noted that within the context of the episode, the kiss is not consensual. Kirk and Uhura are telekinetically forced to kiss one another by an alien race called the Platonians.

That said, it’s still an important part of television history and one that almost didn’t happen. The network wanted the crew to film two versions of the scene – one with a kiss and one without. According to the cast, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner deliberately flubbed the takes without the kiss so that the network would have to use the ones with the kiss. Nicely done.

The Original Number One Was A Woman

The Original Number One Was A ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 16 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series
Photo: NBC

In the first pilot, “The Cage,” the first officer was a woman –  an unnamed Number One played by Majel Barrett, who later became Roddenberry’s wife. Apparently, the character didn’t go down so well with the test audience, with viewers saying the character was too “pushy” and “annoying.” They were a progressive and open-minded people, those 1960s Americans. 

Although Barrett didn't stay on as the first officer, she did secure a role in the series as Nurse Chapel. She also supplied the voice for most of the onboard computers throughout the series.  

Martin Luther King Jr. Convinced Uhura To Stay On The Show

Martin Luther King Jr. Convinc... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 16 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series
Photo: Dick DeMarsico/Wikimedia Commons

Although Nichols didn’t face any discrimination on set, she endured a great deal of it in other parts of the studio. Nichols wasn’t allowed to enter the studio through the same gate as the rest of the cast and crew. Not only that, but some of the studio guards would harass her, telling her that the show had replaced her with a “blue-eyed blonde.” After dealing with this treatment for a year, Nichols told Roddenberry that she wanted to leave the show.

Fortunately, shortly after talking to Roddenberry, Nichols ran into a man who would change her mind. That man was civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. King, a big Trekkie, who approached Nichols at an NAACP fundraiser and gave the communications officer some words of encouragement. Nichols recounts the conversation: “He said I had the first non-stereotypical role, I had a role with honor, dignity and intelligence. He said, 'You simply cannot abdicate, this is an important role. This is why we are marching. We never thought we'd see this on TV.’”

Years later, Astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, would cite Uhura as inspiring her to pursue a career at NASA – a clear and concrete example of why representation matters.

The Vulcan Salute Is Actually A Jewish Blessing

The Vulcan Salute Is Actually ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 16 Surprising Facts About Star Trek: The Original Series
Photo: NBC

One of the many things Nimoy contributed to the show was the “live long and prosper” symbol. Although many people believe it to be a variation of the peace sign, it’s really a variation of a gesture made during a Jewish ritual.

Being Jewish himself, Nimoy witnessed the gesture when he was younger and chose to use it as a Vulcan greeting. He has said of the salute: "People don't realize they're blessing each other with this. It's great.” No, you're great, Mr. Nimoy. You're great.