Star Trek: The Animated Series

Star Trek: The Animated Series
Created by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by
Voices of
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 22 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network NBC
Picture format NTSC 480i
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 8, 1973 (1973-09-08) – October 12, 1974 (1974-10-12)
Preceded by Star Trek: The Original Series
Followed by Phase II
Related shows Star Trek TV series
External links
The Animated Series at

Star Trek: The Animated Series (originally known simply as Star Trek but also known as The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek) is a 1973 animated science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe following the events of Star Trek: The Original Series of the 1960s. The animated series was aired under the name Star Trek, but it has become widely known under this longer name (or abbreviated as ST: TAS or TAS) to differentiate it from the original live-action Star Trek. The success of the original live action series in syndication, and fan pressure for a Star Trek revival, led to The Animated Series from 1973–1974, as the source of new adventures of the Enterprise crew, the next being the 1979 live-action feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The Animated Series was the original cast's last episodic portrayal of the characters until the "cartoon-like" graphics of the Star Trek: 25th Anniversary computer game in 1992,[1] as well as its sequel Star Trek: Judgment Rites in 1993, both of which appeared after the cast's last movie together in 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. The series was critically acclaimed and was the first Star Trek series to win an Emmy Award, which it won for the episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth".[2]


The series was produced by Filmation, in association with Paramount Television, and ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974 on NBC, which aired a total of twenty-two half-hour episodes. An early Filmation proposal for this series had children assigned to each of the senior officers as cadets, including a young Vulcan for Mr. Spock. According to interviews with Norm Prescott, Paramount offered Gene Roddenberry a substantial sum of money to abandon creative control of the project and let Filmation proceed with their "kiddy space cadet" idea, but he refused. Filmation would later develop the idea into its own original live action program, Space Academy, in 1977.

The writers of the animated series used, essentially, the same writers' guide that was used for the live-action Star Trek: The Original Series. (A copy of the "series bible", as revised for TAS, is held in the science fiction research collection at the Samuel Paley Library, Temple University, Philadelphia.)

While the freedom of animation afforded large alien landscapes and believable non-humanoid aliens, budget constraints were a major concern and, as was typical of most Filmation productions, the animation quality was generally only fair, with liberal use of stock shots. There were also occasional mistakes, such as characters appearing on screen who were elsewhere, or a character supposed to appear on the bridge's main viewing screen appearing in front, indicating bad ordering of animation plates.

Voice casting

The series featured most of the original cast voicing their characters, except for Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), who was omitted because the show's budget could not afford the complete cast. He was replaced by two animated characters who made semi-regular appearances: Lieutenant Arex, whose Edosian species had three arms and three legs; and Lt. M'Ress, a female Caitian. Besides performing their characters Montgomery Scott and Christine Chapel, James Doohan and Majel Barrett also performed the voices of Arex and M'Ress, respectively.

Initially, Filmation was only going to use the voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Majel Barrett. Doohan and Barrett would also perform the voices of Sulu and Uhura. Leonard Nimoy refused to lend his voice to the series unless Nichelle Nichols and George Takei were added to the cast — claiming that Sulu and Uhura were of importance as they were proof of the ethnic diversity of the 23rd century and should not be recast. Nimoy also took this stand as a matter of principle, as he knew of the financial troubles many of his Star Trek co-stars were facing after cancellation of the series.[3]

Koenig was not forgotten, and later wrote an episode for the series, becoming the first Star Trek actor to write a Star Trek story. Koenig wrote "The Infinite Vulcan", which had plot elements from the original Star Trek episode "Space Seed" blended into it.

As is usual with animation projects, the voice actors did not perform together but recorded their parts separately to avoid clashing with other commitments. For example, William Shatner, who was touring in a play at the time, recorded his lines in whatever city where he happened to be performing and had the tapes shipped to the studio. Doohan and Barrett, besides providing the voices of their Original Series characters and newcomers Arex and M'Ress, performed virtually all of the "guest star" characters in the series, except for a few notable exceptions such as Sarek, Cyrano Jones and Harcourt Fenton Mudd, who were performed by the original actors from The Original Series. Other occasional guest voice actors were also used, including Ed Bishop (Commander Straker on UFO) who voiced the Megan Prosecutor in "The Magicks of Megas-tu", and Ted Knight who voiced Carter Winston in "The Survivor". Nichelle Nichols also performed other character voices in addition to Uhura in several episodes, including "The Time Trap" and "The Lorelei Signal".


The characters of TAS.

Similar to most animated series of the era, the 22 episodes of TAS were spread out over two brief seasons, with copious reruns of each episode. The director of the first season (16 episodes) was Hal Sutherland and Bill Reed directed the 6 episodes of season two.

All of this series' episodes were novelized by Alan Dean Foster and released in ten volumes under the Star Trek Logs banner. Initially, Foster adapted three episodes per book, but later editions saw the half-hour scripts expanded into full, novel-length stories.

Star Trek: The Animated Series was the only Star Trek series not to feature a cold open ("teaser") and started directly with the title sequence. Some overseas versions of the original live action series, such as those aired by the BBC in the U.K. in the 1960s and 1970s, ran the teaser after the credits.

The series' writing benefited from a Writers Guild of America, East strike in 1973, which did not apply to animation.[4] A few episodes are especially notable due to contributions from well-known science fiction authors:

Actor George Takei autographing an original animation cel from the series at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

Novelties in the series

In the original Star Trek series, the title character was given the name James T. Kirk. It wasn't until the animated series that writer David Gerrold replaced the "T", giving us Captain James Tiberius Kirk. It was purely coincidental that he chose "Tiberius" (on Gene Roddenberry's first series The Lieutenant, the principal character was William Tiberius Rice). According to Gerrold, he had been influenced by I, Claudius, and had approached Roddenberry with his choice of middle name, but it wasn't until 2014 that he learned of its earlier use.[5]

The animated series introduced a three-armed, three-legged alien member of the bridge crew with a long neck named Arex and a cat-like alien crew member named M'Ress.

The USS Enterprise in this series, while supposedly the same ship as from the original series, had a holodeck similar to the one introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was set about eighty years later. It only appeared once, in Chuck Menville's "The Practical Joker", and was known as the "Rec Room". This feature was originally proposed for the original series (see, e.g., Gerrold, The World of Star Trek) but was never used.

A personal force field technology known as the life support belt was seen only in Star Trek: The Animated Series. In addition to supplying the wearer with the appropriate atmosphere and environmental protection, it permitted the animators to simply draw the belt and yellow glow around the existing characters, instead of having to redraw them with an environmental suit. A version of the life support belt later appeared in an early Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, The Peacekeepers, where they were referred to as "field-effect suits".

The episode "The Lorelei Signal" provides a rare instance in early Star Trek in which a female took (temporary) command of a starship. Due to the male crew members being incapacitated, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise from Scotty. Other instances occurred on the first and last adventures ever filmed in the original series:

"The Lorelei Signal" and "The Infinite Vulcan", the latter written by Walter Koenig, are rare occurrences where Captain Kirk comes close to actually saying, "Beam me up, Scotty" (long erroneously believed to be a Star Trek catchphrase), when he commands "Beam us up, Scotty." Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home arguably comes closer to it by having Kirk say "Scotty, beam me in".

An anti-pollution public service announcement was created for nonprofit Keep America Beautiful featuring the ST:TAS characters and original cast voices. In the ad, the Enterprise encounters the "Rhombian Pollution Belt".[6] The ad ran during Saturday morning network programming during the series' run.

The animated series also dispensed with the original series' theme music, composed by Alexander Courage, in favor of a new theme credited to Yvette Blais and Jeff Michael (actually Filmation composer Ray Ellis, working under a pseudonym). This has never been publicly explained; one possible explanation is that the producers wished to avoid having to pay royalties for using the original theme.

Canon issues

Main article: Star Trek canon

At the end of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, all licenses for Star Trek spin-off fiction were renegotiated, and the animated series was essentially "decanonized" by Gene Roddenberry's office. Writers of the novels, comics and role-playing games were prohibited from using concepts from the animated series in their works.[7] Among the facts established within the animated series that were called into question by the "official canon" issue was its identification of Robert April as the first captain of the USS Enterprise in the episode "The Counter-Clock Incident".

The Star Trek Chronology by production staffers Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda does not include the animated series, but does include certain events from "Yesteryear" and acknowledges Robert April as first captain of the Enterprise.[8] The timeline in Voyages of the Imagination dates the events of the series to 2269-2270, assuming the events of the show represented the final part of Kirk's five-year mission, and using revised Alan Dean Foster stardates. In the updated October 1999 edition of their book: The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, Michael and Denise Okuda state that:

In a related vein, this work (i.e. book) adheres to Paramount studio policy that regards the animated Star Trek series as not being part of the "official" Star Trek universe, even though we count ourselves among that show's fans. Of course, the final decision as to the "authenticity" of the animated episodes, as with all elements of the show, must clearly be the choice of each individual reader.'[9]

Since Roddenberry's death in 1991, and the subsequent firing of Richard H. Arnold (who vetted the licensed tie-ins for Roddenberry's Star Trek office at Paramount during its later years), there have been several references to the animated series in the various live-action series. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Once More Unto the Breach", Kor referred to his ship, the Klothos, which was first named in the TAS episode "The Time Trap". Other DS9 episodes to make reference to the animated series include "Broken Link", where Elim Garak mentions Edosian orchids (Arex is an Edosian) and "Tears of the Prophets" where a Miranda class starship is called the USS ShirKahr (sic) after ShiKahr, the city from "Yesteryear". David Gerrold, who contributed two stories to TAS, stated in an interview his views on the canon issue:

Arguments about "canon" are silly. I always felt that Star Trek Animated was part of Star Trek because Gene Roddenberry accepted the paycheck for it and put his name on the credits. And DC Fontana—and all the other writers involved—busted their butts to make it the best Star Trek they could. But this whole business of "canon" really originated with Gene's errand boy. Gene liked giving people titles instead of raises, so the errand boy got named "archivist" and apparently it went to his head. Gene handed him the responsibility of answering all fan questions, silly or otherwise, and he apparently let that go to his head.[10]

Writer-producer D. C. Fontana discussed the TAS Canon issue in 2007:

I suppose "canon" means what Gene Roddenberry decided it was. Remember, we were making it up as we went along on the original series (and on the animated one, too). We had a research company to keep us on the straight and narrow as to science, projected science based on known science, science fiction references (we didn’t want to step on anyone's exclusive ideas in movies, other TV shows, or printed work). They also helped prevent contradictions and common reference errors. So the so-called canon evolved in its own way and its own time. For whatever reason, Gene Roddenberry apparently didn’t take the animated series seriously (no pun intended), although we worked very hard to do original STAR TREK stories and concepts at all times in the animated series.[11]

More DS9 references to the animated series include the episode "Prophet Motive" where the title of healer is resurrected from "Yesteryear" as well. Vulcan's Forge is also mentioned in "Change of Heart", in which Worf wants to honeymoon there with Jadzia Dax, as well as in episodes "The Forge", "Awakening" and "Kir'Shara" from Star Trek: Enterprise.

The Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "The Catwalk" and "The Forge" included references to "Yesteryear", the latter featuring a CGI rendition of a wild sehlat. The remastered Original Series episode "Amok Time" featured ShiKahr in the background as Spock beams up at the episode's end,[12] and the remastered version of "The Ultimate Computer" replaced the Botany Bay-style Woden with an automated grain carrier from "More Tribbles, More Troubles."

The 2009 film Star Trek also references "Yesteryear", featuring a nearly identical scene in which a young Spock is confronted by several other Vulcan children, who bully and provoke him for being part human.

Carter Winston, from "The Survivor", has a small but important role late in the 1984 tie-in novel The Final Reflection by John M. Ford. In recent years, references to The Animated Series have also cropped up again in the licensed books and comics. M'Ress and Arex, characters from the animated series, appear in the Star Trek: New Frontier novels by Peter David, in which M'Ress and Arex are transported through time to the 24th Century, and are made officers on board the USS Trident. (David's previous use of these characters, in TOS movie-era comics published by DC Comics, had been ended by Gene Roddenberry's office.[13])

A race introduced in the episode "The Jihad", represented by a character named M3 Green, is named the Nasat in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers e-book novellas. These stories feature a regular Nasat character, P8 Blue. The Vulcan city of ShiKahr also appears in many books. Paula Block, then of CBS Consumer Products, was responsible for approving proposals and all completed manuscripts for the licensed media tie-ins and granted many such uses of TAS material since Roddenberry's death.

Amarillo Design Bureau has—as part of its license for the Star Fleet Universe series of games—incorporated many aspects of The Animated Series into its works, not least being the inclusion of the Kzinti, although in a modified form. In addition FASA used elements from The Animated Series in its sourcebooks and modules for its Star Trek role-playing game.

Star Trek: Enterprise producer Manny Coto has commented that had the show been renewed for a fifth season, the Kzinti would have been introduced.[14] Starship designs were produced which closely resemble the Kzinti/Mirak ships from the Star Fleet Universe, a gaming universe that includes the boardgame Star Fleet Battles and its PC analogue Star Fleet Command.

On June 27, 2007, Star Trek's official site incorporated information from The Animated Series into its library section,[15] clarifying, finally, that the animated series is part of the Star Trek canon. Both David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana have stated that the animated series is essentially the fourth season that fans wanted originally.[16]


Star Trek: The Animated Series was named the 96th best animated series by IGN. They declared that although the series suffered from technical limitations, its format allowed the writers far greater freedom and creativity than was possible in the original live-action series.[17]


This was Filmation's only show to air for two consecutive seasons on NBC. The other eight shows: (The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty, Archie/Sabrina Hour, Young (Space) Sentinels, Fabulous Funnies, Batman & The Super 7, The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!, and Sport Billy) lasted one season or less. The New Adventures of Flash Gordon lasted two separate seasons (1979 and 1982).

According to the Nielsen ratings, the animated series was not popular enough with young children. According to series' producers it was intended to be enjoyed by the entire family. The series did receive critical acclaim and a Daytime Emmy award, the first such award for the franchise. According to both Roddenberry and an NBC press release, this was the justification for six additional episodes being ordered by the network for the series' second season.

Home video

See also


  1. "Star Trek: 25th Anniversary - Review - Adventure Classic Gaming - ACG - Adventure Games, Interactive Fiction Games - Reviews, Interviews, Features, Previews, Cheats, Galleries, Forums". Adventure Classic Gaming. Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  2. Star Trek: TAS - Awards
  3. George Takei. To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei. Pocket Books.
  4. D. C. Fontana (1991). Introduction to Star Trek: The Classic Episodes, Volume 1.
  5. Silverman, D. S. (2015). Always bring phasers to an “animated” canon fight: Star Trek’s animated adventures on Saturday mornings. In D. Brode & S. Brode (Eds.) Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The original cast adventures. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. ISBN 978-1-4422-4987-5
  6. Lost PSA: Star Trek TAS for Keep America Beautiful!. YouTube. June 14, 2010.
  7. Ayers, Jeff (2006). Voyages of the Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 1-4165-0349-8.
  8. Okuda 1996, p. 41-42.
  9. Michael & Denise Okuda, The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, Updated and expanded edition, October 1999, Pocket Book (a division of Simon and Schuster), p. iii
  10. "Star Trek: The Animated Series".
  11. "D.C. Fontana On TAS Canon (and Sybok)".
  12. "ShiKahr (background image)". Retrieved May 5, 2013.
  13. Star Trek, Series II issue #1 lettercol, DC Comics, September 1989
  14. "Star Trek: Enterprise". Memory Alpha.
  15. "Star Trek".
  16. Silverman, D. S. (2015). Always bring phasers to an “animated” canon fight: Star Trek’s animated adventures on Saturday mornings. In D. Brode & S. Brode (Eds.) Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The original cast adventures. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. ISBN 978-1-4422-4987-5
  17. "96, Star Trek: The Animated Series". IGN. January 23, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  18. "Star Trek: TAS announced on Netflix Twitter account".


  • Alexander, David (February 16, 1995). Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry. Roc. ISBN 0-451-45440-5. 
  • Okuda, Mike; Okuda, Denise (1996). Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53610-9. 

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