Star Trek is one of the best-known sci-fi franchises ever created with a long and fascinating history. That being said, there are many unusual facts about the show that even longtime fans may not be aware of. So what are some things you don’t know about Star Trek other than the fact that red shirts are almost always as good as dead? Here are 10 facts about the franchise that just might surprise even the biggest Trekkie.
1. Spock and Uhura were supposed to have the first interracial kiss on U.S. television
The series will forever go down in history for having the first interracial kiss on American television in 1968. The kiss was between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura, but originally the kiss was supposed to be with Spock! But once William Shatner got a whiff that history was going to be made without him, he immediately got it changed.
“Bill Shatner saw what was going on,” Nichelle Nichols said, according to Blastr, “and he said, ‘Woah, woah, woah. If anybody is gonna get to kiss Lieutenant Uhura it’s gonna be me.’ And he had the whole thing changed so the first interracial kiss was with Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk.” After that it seemed like he was really nervous and wanted to make the scene perfect.
“Bill wanted to rehearse all the time,” continued Nichols. “He said he wanted to get this right! I said to him, ‘It’s right, it’s right. I promise you, it’s right.’ And the camera was shaking and the director was laughing his head off. We really had a good time.”
2. Spock’s skin was originally going to be red
In the original television series the iconic character could have looked a lot different. Gene Roddenberry pictured Spock with not only high eyebrows and tapered ears, but also red skin, according to Trek FM. This plan however fell through after screen tests showed that the red came off as jet black with the black and white television. They then made the switch to yellow, which came off as green on the screen.
3. Eddie Murphy turned down a Star Trek role
The comedian has a long list of awesome projects under his belt. But that list is missing one huge one because he turned it down! According to I Am Spock, Paramount offered Murphy a contract to star in a Star Trek movie after his success on Saturday Night Live. Murphy was open about wanting to be a part of the franchise so multiple scripts were drafted, but he wasn’t impressed with what they came up with. He instead starred in The Golden Child, and the writers switched the movie’s tone to be more serious and wrote Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
4. Stephen Hawking is the only person to play himself on Star Trek
The appearance happens in the episode, “Descent” where Data, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Stephen Hawking are playing poker. Hawking is pretty much the jokster while Newton is a total buzz kill. You can find out who wins the game by watch the interesting scene on YouTube.
5. William Shatner has never watched the series
It’s not that uncommon for actors to not watch their own work. But this could be very heartbreaking to devoted Trekkies. The star of the hit show hasn’t bothered to watch one episode of his work. “I never watched Star Trek,“ the actor said in an interview. “I have not even seen any of the Star Trek movies. I don’t watch myself. When I direct and have to look at filmed scenes of myself, I suck.”
6. Gay story lines were reportedly blocked
The sci-fi show repeatedly pushed the envelope on society’s prejudices because the show is supposed to take place in a utopia. However one thing they dropped the ball on was featuring gay characters. This however wasn’t because there wasn’t a demand. Fans did ask for these characters. But executive producer Rick Berman reportedly blocked these stories after they were pitched by writers.
“Berman was ultimately responsible for killing almost every pitch for gay characters,” claimed openly gay writer Andy Mangels, according to Logo, “And in interviews, was mealy-mouthed and waffling about the need for GLBT representation. At the very least, he was gutless and didn’t care about GLBT representation. From the information and evidence I’ve seen, heard, and read, I believe that Berman is the reason we never saw gays on Star Trek I shed no tears that he’s gone, except that he did his best to ruin the franchise on his way out.”
7. Zachary Quinto couldn’t do the Vulcan salute
Everyone knows the iconic Vulcan salute, but the latest actor to take on the role just couldn’t really nail it without some tricks. “Zach could do the salute some of the time,” an insider said according to Daily Mail, “but only after he’d positioned his fingers the right way off-camera. In some scenes he has to do the salute while speaking his lines so they ended up using skin-protective superglue, like they use in hospitals, to stick his fingers together. It was the only way they could make it work.”
8. James Doohan (Scotty) created the Klingon language
The show is notorious for creating an entire language for its fictional Klingon alien species. How this came about was Doohan made the grammar and vocabulary for the language. They then brought in a linguist Mark Okrand to finish up the language.
“I started by looking at Star Trek: The Motion Picture, because that’s where Klingon was actually first spoken,” Okrand told StarTrek.com. “There are perhaps a half dozen lines in Klingon with subtitles at the beginning of the film. I wrote down those lines as best I could, made a list of the sounds in the words and figured out what a legitimate syllable was. That was the beginning.” He then explained, “When I met Mark Lenard, the actor who spoke them in that film, he told me that they were devised by James Doohan. So James Doohan actually originated Klingon. I came along and fleshed it out.”
9. There was a disagreement on set about Vulcans and chest hair
When you create a whole species, you might want to give them specific attributes. Gene Roddenberry decided Vulcans don’t have chest hair so actors would have to manscape. This however was against what was in style at the time so Lawrence Montaigne put up a fight when he got the role for Stonn.
“They told me to shave my chest, that Vulcans didn’t have chest hair,” he explained, according to Trek Today. “Well, this Vulcan has chest hair. So they called Roddenberry. Gene was a big man, a former cop. He talked down to you, like he was about to give you a citation. But I still refused, so they called my agent. They worked it out, but by then everyone hates me and Gene won’t talk to me.”
10. Leonard Nimoy created the Vulcan pinch and salute
Not only was the actor the first to bring this character to pop culture, but he also created some of the most iconic aspects of Spock. “The episode was ‘The Enemy Within.’ Kirk was split into two personalities and his evil side was attempting to kill his good side,” Nimoy told Star Trek. “Spock was supposed to sneak up behind the bad guy and hit him on the back of the head with a phaser … Not very Vulcan. So I invented the nerve pinch. The mind meld was a Gene Roddenberry creation, and I added the Vulcan hand salute from my own background.”
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