Kirk’s TOS Success Made Pike’s Debut Star Trek’s First Prequel

  • Star Trek: The Original Series introduced Captain Christopher Pike as the Enterprise's first commander before Captain Kirk took over.
  • The initial pilot episode, "The Cage," was rejected for being too cerebral, but it was creatively retconned as a prequel in later episodes.
  • "The Cage" has become an official part of Star Trek canon and has influenced subsequent series, with multiple prequels exploring events before The Original Series.
The success of Star Trek: The Original Series starring William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk meant that the then-only mission of the USS Enterprise commanded by Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) became Star Trek's first prequel. Produced a couple of years prior, Star Trek’s initial pilot episode, “The Cage,” introduced Pike, who was originally intended to be the star of the series, along with an earlier Enterprise crew rotation on a mission to Talos IV. By the time Star Trek starring Captain Kirk hit the airwaves of NBC in 1966, the series already had a prequel story that would be repurposed into the Star Trek: The Original Series two-part episode, "The Menagerie."
Network executives rejected Star Trek's original pilot as being too slow and too cerebral (read: boring), also expressing concerns over casting and character choices that were perhaps part-rooted in attitudes and social values of the time. However, NBC commissioned a second pilot episode balancing a greater focus on action and a renewed crew. Star Trek: The Original Series' second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before” succeeded with William Shatner's more dynamic, approachable, and impulsive – more emotional - Captain Kirk at the Enterprise helm. The series was ordered, and Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise embarked on their exploratory mission to seek out new life and boldly go.


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