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Star Trek: The Original Series facts for kids

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Star Trek
Star Trek TOS logo.svg
Created by Gene Roddenberry
Theme music composer Alexander Courage
Opening theme "Theme from Star Trek"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 79 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Gene Roddenberry
  • Gene L. Coon
  • John Meredyth Lucas
  • Fred Freiberger
Running time 50 min
Production company(s)
  • Paramount Domestic Television (1969–2006)
  • CBS Paramount Television (2006–2007)
  • CBS Television Distribution (2007–present)
Budget Season one
$190,000 per episode
(~$1.4 million in 2019)
Season two
$185,000 per episode
Season three
$175,000 per episode
Original network NBC
Picture format
Audio format Monaural, Dolby Digital 5.1 (remastered edition), DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (Blu-ray)
Original release September 8, 1966 (1966-09-08) – June 3, 1969 (1969-06-03)
Followed by Star Trek: The Animated Series
Related shows Star Trek TV series

Star Trek is a science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that aired from September 8, 1966 to September 2, 1969. Though the original series was just called Star Trek, it got the nickname Star Trek: The Original Series (ST:TOS or TOS) to make it different from the spinoffs, and from the Star Trek universe or franchise they take up. Set in the 23rd century, the first Star Trek follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew, led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), his First Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and his Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). William Shatner's voice-over introduction during each episode's opening credits stated the starship's purpose:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Early Years

When Star Trek first came on NBC in 1966, it was not successful to begin; ratings were low and advertising revenue was very little. Even at the end of the first season of Star Trek, there were already calls in the network to cancel the series due to its low Nielsen ratings. Bay Area Creature Features host John Stanley in his memoir I Was a TV Horror Host relates how Desilu head Lucille Ball at that time "single handedly" kept Star Trek from being removed from the NBC-TV lineup."

Close to the end of the second season the show was still in danger of being canceled. Its fans succeeded in giving it a third season; but NBC moved the show to the "Friday night death slot" at 10 PM. Star Trek was finally canceled at the end of the third season, making 79 episodes in total. However, this was enough for the show to be stripped in syndication, allowing it to become very popular and gather a large cult following during the 1970s. After the success of the program, five additional television series and eleven movies, including the newest movie Star Trek, which came out in May 2009. Guinness World Records lists the original Star Trek as having more spin-offs than any other television show in history.


Actor Character Position Appearances Character's species Rank
William Shatner James T. Kirk Commanding Officer Seasons 1–3 Human Captain
The captain of the USS Enterprise, born in Riverside, Iowa, in the year 2233. His two best friends are Spock and Dr. McCoy; one will advise Kirk with logic, while the other one uses emotional instincts.
Leonard Nimoy Spock First/Executive Officer
Science Officer
Seasons 1–3 Half-Human/Half-Vulcan Lieutenant Commander Season 1 Commander Seasons 1–3
The half-human, half-Vulcan First/Executive Officer and science officer as well as second-in-command. He is one of Kirk's best friends and uses logic to solve problems.
DeForest Kelley Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy Chief Medical Officer Seasons 1–3 Human Lieutenant Commander
The ship's chief medical officer, he is Kirk's other best friend and gives him advice with his human emotional feelings, whilst Spock uses logic.
James Doohan Montgomery "Scotty" Scott Chief Engineer Seasons 1–3 Human Lieutenant Commander
The Enterprise's Scottish Chief Engineer and second officer (i.e. third-in-command), who is very protective of the ship. Scotty's technical knowledge and skill allow him to devise unconventional and effective last-minute solutions to dire problems.
Nichelle Nichols Nyota Uhura Communications Officer Seasons 1–3 Human Lieutenant
The ship's communication officer. She is depicted as a capable bridge officer and readily manned the helm, navigation and science stations on the bridge when the need arose. Uhura was also a talented singer, and enjoyed serenading her shipmates when off-duty; Spock occasionally accompanied her on the Vulcan lyre.
George Takei Hikaru Sulu Helmsman Seasons 1–3 Human Lieutenant
Sulu is the ship's helmsman and has many interests and hobbies, including gymnastics, botany, fencing, and ancient weaponry.
Walter Koenig Pavel Chekov Navigator Seasons 2–3 Human Ensign
Chekov is a Russian-born navigator introduced in the show's second season.
Majel Barrett Christine Chapel Head Nurse Seasons 1–3 Human N/A
The ship's head nurse who works with Dr. McCoy.

Note: Barrett, who played the ship's first officer (Number One) in "The Cage", also voiced the ship's computer.

Grace Lee Whitney Janice Rand Yeoman Season 1 Human N/A
The captain's personal Yeoman.

Note: Although Rand appears in several promotional images for the show, she stopped appearing midway through the first season.

While still casting the roles, Gene Roddenberry did not mandate Bones McCoy and Spock be male. According to Nichelle Nichols, "They gave me a three-page script to read from that had three characters named Bones, Kirk and somebody called Spock, and they asked me if I would read for the role of Spock. When I looked at this great text, I said to myself, 'I'll take any one of these roles,' but I found the Spock character to be very interesting, and I asked them to tell me what she [Spock] was like."

It was intended that Sulu's role be expanded in the second season, but owing to Takei's part in John Wayne's The Green Berets, he appeared in only half the season, his role being filled by Walter Koenig as the relatively young, mop-topped Russian navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov. When Takei returned, the two had to share a dressing room. The two appeared together at the Enterprise helm for the remainder of the series. There may be some truth to the unofficial story that the Soviet Union's newspaper Pravda complained that among the culturally diverse characters there were no Russians, seen as a personal slight to that country since the Soviet Russian Yuri Gagarin had been the first man to make a spaceflight. Gene Roddenberry said in response that "The Chekov thing was a major error on our part, and I'm still embarrassed by the fact we didn't include a Russian right from the beginning." However, documentation from Desilu suggests that the intention was to introduce a character into Star Trek with more sex appeal to teenaged girls. Walter Koenig noted in the 2006 40th anniversary special of Star Trek: The Original Series that he doubted the rumor about Pravda, since Star Trek had never been shown on Soviet television. It has also been claimed that the former member of The Monkees, Davy Jones, was the model for Mr. Chekov.

In addition, the series frequently included characters (usually security personnel wearing red uniforms) who are killed or injured soon after their introduction. So prevalent was this plot device that it inspired the term "redshirt" to denote a stock character whose sole purpose is to die violently in order to show the danger facing the main characters.

Nathan Jung was a stuntman in this series.

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