Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. The franchise also includes eleven feature films, dozens of games, hundreds of novels, as well as a themed attraction in Las Vegas (opened in 1998 and closed in September 2008), and at least two traveling museum exhibits of props. Beginning with the original television series and continuing with the subsequent films and series, the franchise has become a cult phenomenon, initiated the creation of the fully functional constructed language Klingon and spawned many pop culture references.
The original Star Trek followed the interstellar adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of an exploration vessel of a 23rd century galactic "United Federation of Planets" – the Starship Enterprise. This series debuted in 1966 and ran for three seasons on NBC, after the network rejected an initial pilot film "The Cage" with a mostly different cast, though this pilot is now routinely packaged with the original series. Following the release of other series in the franchise, the Kirk-led series was retroactively referred to as "Star Trek: The Original Series". These adventures were continued by the short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series and six feature films. Four more television series were eventually produced, based in the same universe but following other characters: Star Trek: The Next Generation, following the crew of a new Starship Enterprise set a century after the original series; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, set contemporaneously with The Next Generation; and Star Trek: Enterprise, set before the original series, in the early days of human interstellar travel. Four additional feature films were produced, following the crew of The Next Generation, and, most recently, a 2009 movie reboot of the franchise featuring a young crew of the original Enterprise set in an alternate timeline.
The original Star Trek series began production under Desilu Productions. With the merger of Desilu into Paramount Pictures, that studio assumed outright ownership of the Star Trek franchise. CBS took ownership of the franchise in 2006, though certain aspects (feature film and DVD distribution rights) are still owned by Paramount.
As early as 1961, Gene Roddenberry drafted a proposal for the science fiction series that would become Star Trek. Although he publicly marketed it as a Western in outer space—a so-called "Wagon Train to the Stars" (like the popular Western TV series )—he privately told friends that he was modeling it on Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, intending each episode to act on two levels: as a suspenseful adventure story and as a morality tale.
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