10 Surprising Facts About Star Trek You Never Knew
From Spock's skin to Martin Luther King Jr. giving advice, here are the ten most surprising facts about Star Trek even the most hardcore Trekkies may not know.
Star Trek is one of the most iconic and well-known franchises in the world and has been for the past 50+ years. It has seen some of the most iconic actors (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Patrick Stewart), coined some of the most famous lines, and has one of the biggest followings of any TV/movie franchise ever.
The newest fans of the famous space exploring saga are likely only familiar with how JJ Abrams saved the franchise, bringing it back to mainstream relevance and that Star Trek Discovery was renewed for a second season. While the latest three films were all great and the newest TV show has been successful, the overall history of the series is much richer than many know. There are a lot of facts about Star Trek that even the most well-versed Trekkies may be unaware of. Test yourself and your fandom and see if you know the ten most interesting, behind the scenes trivia of Star Trek.
Martin Luther King Jr. urged Nichelle Nichols to stay on the show.
Nichelle Nichols played Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series. Starting production in the late 60s, Nichols was subjected to discrimination from the studio and various studio staff members who worked in and out of the same the building. Nichols thought about quitting and eventually approached series creator Gene Roddenberry to make it official.
Enter, Martin Luther King Jr. King who urged Nichols, one of the only black female television stars of the time, to stay on as she was an example of the success and freedom he and his followers were fighting for. Nichols decided to stay and the rest is history.
Spock was originally supposed to have red skin.
Everyone knows who Spock is, even if you are not a fan of Star Trek. The right-hand man of Captain Kirk (William Shatner) is perhaps the most famous character from the Star Trek saga, arguably surpassing Kirk. What's most interesting about him is not his Vulcan background or his cold, calculating, logical mind, it's that he was supposed to have red skin.
One of the more surprising facts about Star Trek, it's hard to imagine the legendary Leonard Nimoy's Spock with red skin. I mean, there were some episodes where he appeared to have green skin (cameras are not as great as they are now), and Vulcans technically have green blood, but Spock's skin tone was usually always white. The red skin idea was dropped because the TVs of the time of its first season were still black and white, giving Spock a very dark complexion and not red at all.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were lifelong friends off-screen.
Captain Kirk had one of the best sci-fi sidekicks in the history of television with Lieutenant Commander Spock. Incidentally, the same can be said for their off-screen relationship. Nimoy and Shatner were close friends throughout their lives.
This culminated in Shatner's bookLeonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man, which came out in 2017, two years after Nimoy's unfortunate passing. It became a New York Times best-seller and is a fantastic account of the friendship between two of the biggest icons in television history.
The Vulcan salute is a Hebrew blessing.
Staying in the Leonard Nimoy aisle of fun facts about Star Trek, his most famous attribute was the Vulcan salute accompanied with the line "Live long and prosper." A pop culture phenomenon and cited in countless works since its appeared on Star Trek, it is easy to think that it was created by show writers specifically for those from Vulcan.
However, that is not the true story behind the salute and saying. Nimoy said, years after the show became a megahit, that he saw it at an Orthodox Jewish synagogue during a service. The hand salute is a blessing that represents Shaddai, a Hebrew name for God. So if you've ever used the Vulcan salute before, you unknowingly blessed all the people you showed it to.
Dr. Tolian Soran received death threats for killing Captain Kirk.
Malcom McDowell is an incredibly successful British actor and has starred in works such as A Clockwork Orange, Caligula, and Time After Time. He played the evilDr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek: Generations, a movie in which he famously killed Captain Kirk.
McDowell would go on to receive death threats from angry Trekkies due to his character's notorious misdeed. The Brit has since made his peace with the Star Trek fanbase but it's still hard to imagine receiving threats on your life for killing a fictional character. I'm not sure how George R.R. Martin does it so often.
The most famous line "Live long and prosper" has already been mentioned but what about the second most famous line? My dad is a huge fan of Star Trek and loves to say "Beam me up Scotty," any chance he can. I don't know if I have the heart to tell him that his favorite and most used line from the original show was never actually said.
You heard that right. "Beam me up Scotty," is a phrase that was never uttered word for word on the Star Trek: The Original Series. Of all the surprising facts about Star Trek, this is the one that made me scratch my head the most. And for that, I blame my father.
Gene Roddenberry didn't believe futuristic men would have chest hair.
Series creator Gene Roddenberry had the notion that men in the future would have no chest hair. It sounds odd but it's actually true. That's why in every episode where Captain Kirk has his shirt off, which is basically all of them, he has no chest hair.
However, this Roddenberry theory only applied to human males, which is why Spock did not have his completely shaved. Who knows, maybe when we're capable of space travel at warp speeds he'll be right, and every man will have no chest hair. We can only wait and find out.
It was not the first television program to show an interracial kiss.
Although you may have thought, or read on some facts about Star Trek article in the past, that the kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura was the first interracial kiss in television history, you are technically incorrect.
A televised play in Britain called Hot Summer Night in 1959 is now considered the first interracial kiss in history. However, that does not mean the kiss between Shatner and Nichols was not iconic, as Star Trek had huge viewership numbers. It is widely considered the "first big" interracial kiss in television history.
The kiss was supposed to be between Spock and Uhura.
As if this kiss did not have enough caveats around it, the original smooch was not even supposed to have William Shatner in it. The kiss was initially to include Spock and Uhura but as we all know now, that didn't quite go as planned. Most reports claimed, and Nichols later confirmed, that Shatner wanted to be a part of the monumental kiss, and being the star lead of the show, he made it happen.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy both developed tinnitus while filming.
Despite all the on-scene action sequences and physical altercations the stars of the show endured, it was a special-effects explosion that permanently damaged both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Perhaps the longest-lasting of the facts about Star Trek, Spock dealt with tinnitus, the perceiving ringing or buzzing in your ear since the accident occurred back in the 60s, and Kirk still deals with it to this day. If you don't know what I'm talking about still, check out the movie Baby Driver, it's a great example of how tinnitus can affect one's life.