Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment series and media franchise. The Star Trek fictional universe created by Gene Roddenberry is the setting of six television series including the original 1966 Star Trek, in addition to ten Star Trek feature films (with an eleventh Star Trek in pre-production), dozens of Star Trek computer and video games, hundreds of Star Trek novels and other fan stories, as well as a themed Star Trek attraction in Las Vegas. The Star Trek TV series alone is said to be one of the biggest cult phenomena of modern times.
In the Star Trek "universe", humanity developed faster-than-light space travel following a post-apocalyptic period in the mid-21st century. Later, humans united with other sentient species of the galaxy to form the United Federation of Planets. As a result of alien intervention and science, humanity largely overcame many Earth-bound frailties and vices by the twenty-third century. Star Trek stories usually depict the adventures of human and alien beings who serve in the Federation's Starfleet.
The Star Trek protagonists are essentially altruists whose ideals are sometimes only imperfectly applied to the dilemmas presented in the series. Gene Roddenberry was an adherent of humanism and Star Trek reflects this philosophy of human good will, optimism tempered with realism, and self-reliance. The conflicts and political dimensions of Star Trek form allegories for contemporary cultural realities; the original Star Trek television series addressed issues of the 1960s, just as later Star Trek spin-offs have reflected issues of their respective eras. Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, racism, human rights, sexism and feminism, and the role of technology.
Star Trek originated as a television series in 1966, although it had been in the planning stages for at least six years prior to that. Although The Original Star Trek Series was cancelled after its third season due to low ratings, it has served as the foundation for five additional Star Trek television series. Altogether, the six Star Trek series comprise a total of 726 episodes and ten theatrical films (with an 11th in the works) across twenty-two different television seasons (twenty-nine, if one separately counts seasons running concurrently), making it the second most prolific science-fiction franchise in history after Doctor Who.
Star Trek debuted in the United States on NBC on September 8, 1966. The show, starring William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, tells the tale of the crew of the Starship Enterprise and that crew's five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before." In its first two seasons, it was nominated for Emmy Awards as Best Dramatic Series. However, after three seasons, Star Trek was cancelled and the last episode aired on June 3, 1969.
Star Trek: The Animated Series was produced by Filmation and ran for two seasons. Most of the original cast performed the voices of their characters from Star Trek The Original Series, and many of the original series' writers, like DC Fontana, wrote for the series.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is set nearly a century after The Original Star Trek Series and features a new starship, the Enterprise-D, and a new crew led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is set during the same timeframe as The Next Generation and ran for seven seasons, debuting in 1993. It is the only Star Trek series to take place primarily on a space station, rather than aboard a starship. The show chronicles the events of the station's crew, led by Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, living on the Cardassian-built, Bajoran spacestation, Deep Space Nine, near a uniquely stable wormhole that provides immediate access to the distant Gamma Quadrant. Recurring plots include the repercussions of the lengthy and brutal Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, Sisko's unique spiritual role for the Bajorans as the Emissary of the Prophets, and a war with the Dominion. Deep Space Nine stands apart from other Trek series for its lengthy serialized storytelling and conflict within the crew--both of which were elements that Roddenberry had forbidden in earlier StarTrek programs
Star Trek: Voyager was produced for seven seasons from 1995 to 2001 and is the only Star Trek series to feature a woman as the commanding officer: Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew.] Voyager takes place at about the same time as Deep Space Nine. The series' pilot shows the USS Voyager and its crew stranded in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light years from Earth. Faced with a 75-year voyage to Earth, the crew must avoid conflict and overcome challenges on its long and perilous journey home.
Star Trek: Enterprise (originally aired as "Enterprise"), produced from 2001–2005, is a prequel to the other Star Trek series. The pilot episode takes place ten years before the founding of the Federation, about one hundred years before the original Star Trek series
Paramount Pictures has produced ten Star Trek feature films, with an eleventh film currently in production. The first six films continue the adventures of the The Original Series cast, while the next four feature The Next Generation's cast.