1966: Star Trek debuts
Creator Gene Roddenberry’s first pilot — with a different captain, named Pike — was scuttled by NBC. Enter William Shatner as the dashing Captain Kirk, and Roddenberry’s ”Wagon Train to the stars” has liftoff.
Adorably furry creatures infest the U.S.S. Enterprise, and a nation’s hearts.
1968: Kirk and Uhura kiss
The first interracial smooch on American TV is, alas, caused by alien mind control.
1972: The first convention
With Trek episodes hitting warp speed in syndication, fans organize a gathering in New York. Thousands come, many in costume.
1973: Trek gets animated
The cartoon continuation of the live-action show features virtually all the original cast, but lasts just a year.
1976: NASA dubs its first shuttle the Enterprise
It’s only a test model, and never reaches orbit. As a Klingon might say: ”Aw, qu’vatlh!”
1979: Finally! A Star Trek movie! Zzzzz!
Although Star Trek: The Motion Picture grosses $82.3 million, fans call it a pretentious yawn. For one thing, the bad guy is a giant space cloud.
Ricardo Montalban (and his chest) juice Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to $78.9 million and a rep as the Best Trek Movie Ever. (Also, Spock dies. Sniff.)
1984: The Search for Spock
For the third Trek picture, Leonard Nimoy directs, the Enterprise goes kablooey, and Spock is resurrected. Audiences cheer, to the tune of $76.5 million.
1986: The Voyage Home
Kirk and Co. travel back to 20th-century San Francisco to capture humpback whales (just go with it), and Trek‘s fourth and funniest flick earns a franchise-record $109.7 million.
1986: Shatner tells fans to ”get a life” on SNL
Hilarious advice — and completely unheeded.
1987: Boldly going, again
Set 100 years after the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation — starring Patrick Stewart as the cerebral Capt. Jean-Luc Picard — premieres in syndication to 26 million viewers. Lasting seven seasons, the show, featuring Whoopi Goldberg as a bartender, would win an Emmy nod for Best Drama in 1994.
1989: Shatner directs — uh-oh
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, in which Kirk meets the Almighty (sorta), grosses less than half its predecessor.
1991: Roddenberry dies of heart failure
Some of his ashes are scattered in space.
1991: Nimoy guest-stars on TNG
Spock mind-melds with Picard and powwows about humanity with the android Data. Fans enter nirvana.
1991: The Undiscovered Country
The final film with the entire original cast features a Vulcan Kim Cattrall. It earns $74.9 million.
1993: Deep Space Nine
The moodiest, most complex spin-off series relocates to a space station and stars Avery Brooks as Trek‘s first African-American leader.
1994: Captain Kirk, say hello to Captain Picard
Star Trek: Generations kills off Kirk (gasp!) and launches the TNG cast onto the big screen, grossing $75.7 million.
The inaugural UPN series beams in Kate Mulgrew as Trek‘s first female captain and introduces Jeri Ryan as Borg babe Seven of Nine.
1996: ”Resistance is futile”
Considered the best of the TNG movies thanks to A-list baddies the Borg, Star Trek: First Contact banks a cool $92 million.
The doc takes a lovingly droll look at the subculture of die-hard Trek fans.
1998: Oh, another Trek movie. Zzzzzzz.
Although Star Trek: Insurrection, featuring the TNG crew, grosses a nice $70.2 million, fans grumble that it’s merely a glorified TV episode.
1999: Galaxy Quest
Starring Tim Allen as the Shatner-esque star of a sci-fi show, the satire is just as fun and successful as many Trek movies.
Set roughly 100 years before the original series, the UPN show, starring Scott Bakula as the first Enterprise captain, is canceled after four seasons.
2002: Where’d all the fans go?
Billed as the last TNG film, with a plot involving a cloned, evil Picard and (oh, no!) the death of Data, Star Trek: Nemesis should be a hit. Instead, it pulls in just $43.3 million and has many wondering if Star Trek has crashed back to Earth.
THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK
EW mind-melds with Zachary Quinto, the only logical choice to play Star Trek’s green-blooded Vulcan as a young humanoid.
He’s Sylar on Heroes and was a regular on 24, but now the 31-year-old actor is becoming only the second human ever to put on Spock’s pointy ears for a major role. ”Having Leonard Nimoy on the set helped a lot,” says the actor. ”People ask if that added pressure, but it was the contrary. And he gave me a wide creative berth to formulate the character for myself.” Says J.J. Abrams of Quinto, ”He was the first actor we cast. He just was Spock.”