Fifty years ago, NBC premiered a science fiction television show called Star Trek. Billed by its creator Gene Roddenberry as “Wagon Train to the Stars,” the hour-long space opera followed the exploits of Captain James T. Kirk and his diverse crew as they explored strange new worlds and civilizations.
The show was meant to be aspirational: Within the strife of the mid-1960s, Roddenberry wanted to present a future of what could be, if humanity could set aside its differences. Star Trek pushed boundaries, with Roddenberry constantly butting heads with the television censors and his own network in order to bring his vision to life.
This optimistic version of the future was not an instant hit. Though it developed a passionate (if small) fan base, “The Original Series,” as those first three seasons have since been dubbed, faced consistently low ratings. In 1969, after 79 episodes, it was canceled.
That should have been the end. Syndication, however, breathed new life into the brand. As the fan community grew and became more vocal, Paramount Pictures revived the franchise with a big budget movie, then another … and eventually, a new series.
As 2016 celebrates the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the Star Trek universe has become a cultural touchstone, with 13 films, more 700 television episodes (with more on the way), and millions of Trekkies and Trekkers all over the world.
Are you one of them? Test your Star Trek knowledge with the quiz below.
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