Chekov’s Star Trek: TOS & Picard History Explained

The character of Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) has been part of the fabric of Star Trek since he joined the crew of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series season 2. Apparently, Gene Roddenberry had changed Chekov's character from English to Russian in response to a complaint from a correspondent in the Soviet Union. This explanation, given by Star Trek writer Gene L. Coon in his book The Making of Star Trek, has since been disputed by actor Walter Koenig in the 1995 documentary, William Shatner's Star Trek Memories.
In the film, Walter Koenig rightly pointed out that, at the height of the Cold War, American TV would have been banned in the USSR, and suggested that Roddenberry made Chekov Russian to honor the Soviet Union's considerable successes during the Space Race. Initially, Chekov was added to the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series to fill in for George Takei, whose commitments to the movie The Green Berets limited his screen time as Star Trek's Mr. Sulu. Thanks to Koenig's incredibly likable performance in the role, Chekov went from being a seat filler for Sulu to becoming a much-loved Star Trek character who continues to influence the franchise in 2023.


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