For just over 50 years, Star Trek has been the science fiction property by which all other mainstream sci-fi is judged. Even Star Wars arguably wouldn’t have been possible had the bedrock for adventure-driven sci-fi not been established by Trek in the first place. Sporting political idealism and diverse, progressive choices throughout all of its iterations, Star Trek means more to its fans than simply being a goofy old sci-fi show. So, now, the fannish pressure is on for the next version of Trek: the upcoming show Star Trek: Discovery. Since its announcement, Trekkies and causal fans alike have been clamoring for any shred of data about the next installment of a sci-fi phenomenon that has lived long and prospered for much longer than anyone expected.
From the cast to the writing to the ship itself, here’s literally everything we know so far about Star Trek: Discovery.
Editor’s Note: This article is updated as new information about Star Trek: Discovery is released.
[5/19/2017 Update] First Teaser Trailer Shows the Klingon War
War with the Klingon Empire looms large in the first Star Trek: Discovery trailer. First Officer Michael Burnham comes into her own as the burgeoning captain of her own ship and conflict looms.
[5/19/2017 Update] First Photo Released Has Classic Communicator on Desert Planet
Captain Philippa Georgiou and First Officer Michael Burnham are exploring the surface of a strange, new world in the first in-character photo from Star Trek: Discovery. And tucked away in Burnham’s belt is a classic, chunky flip-top communicator.
Of all the Star Trek series to date, Discovery’s creative team has undergone perhaps the most public scrutiny. On February 9, 2016, Bryan Fuller was announced as the showrunner of the next Trek series and fans celebrated. Not only did Fuller have amazing credibility from his work on Pushing Daisies and Hannibal, he had previously written episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Fuller described his enthusiasm by saying he got into writing in the first place not to be a writer but a “Star Trek writer.” But, by the end of 2016, Fuller was no longer the showrunner of Discovery. Citing scheduling conflicts, he stepped down from the role on October 26, 2016.
Following Fuller’s departure, he confirmed that Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts would act as the showrunners. Alex Kurtzman of the Abramsverse Trek films is also a producer. The writing staff of Discovery includes Akiva Goldsmith, Star Trek novelist Kristen Beyer, as well as famed writer and director of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Nicholas Meyer. When hired by Fuller in February, Meyer said the series is “innovative and different.”
The writers’ room for Discovery has their own Twitter account, which occasionally reveals minor tidbits.
In January, 2017, Edward “Ted” Sullivan also joined the growing writing staff of Discovery. Other writers also include Erika Lippoldt, Bo Yeon Kim, Craig Sweeny, Sean Cochran, and Tyler Dinucci.
Characters and Cast
“Number One” (Sonequa Martin-Green)
The characters of Star Trek: Discovery have almost uniformly been announced at the exact same time as the casting. That is, with the exception of the lead character, mysteriously referred to as “Number One.” On August 29, Bryan Fuller said the female lead of Discovery would be named in “honor” of the character Majel Barrett played in the unaired pilot of the original Star Trek: “The Cage.” While it’s fairly clear that this is not the same character, the connection as to why this character is called by this title is unclear. Some fans believe “Number One” is a codename, while others have pointed out that Starfleet captains have often called their first officers “Number One.” On [December 15, 2016, Sonequa Martin-Green of Walking Dead fame was cast in this starring role.
Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh)
Even though this is the first Star Trek which will not consider its captain as the main character, there is nonetheless a captain. On November 29, 2016, Variety confirmed Michelle Yeoh would be [playing Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou. Notably, Georgiou does not start the show as captain of the Discovery, leading to rampant speculation as to what will happen to this other starship.
Lt. Saru (Doug Jones)
The science officer aboard the USS Discovery, Doug Jones’s Lt. Saru is going to be playing a “new breed” of alien that has never been seen in any version of Star Trek before.
Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp)
As far as the prime universe is concerned, Stamets will be Star Trek’s first gay character in a regular TV series. He’s also been given the job as an astromycologist, meaning he studies fungus in space. He is a member of the crew of the Discovery.
Unnamed Conn Officer (Emily Coutts)
On January 30, Inverse reported on Emily Coutts being listed on Discovery’s IMDb page as a “Conn Officer.” It is unclear if her character is a series regular or only in two episodes. The conn officer is essentially a pilot of a starship.
Sarek of Vulcan (James Frain)
Though Bryan Fuller had made mention of Spock’s mother, Amanda Grayson, possibly appearing on the show, Trekkies were shocked when it was announced Spock’s father Sarek would be a regular cast member. On January 18, CBS revealed James Frain would be playing Sarek. The appearance of this classic Star Trek character probably won’t mean Spock will be in the show, because at this point in the timeline, Sarek and Spock aren’t speaking.
In addition to characters aligned with Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets, Discovery will also feature three members of the Klingon Empire as part of the regular cast. On December 12, CBS announced these three Klingons would be played by Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo and are respectively named T’Kuvma, Kol, and L’Rell. Little is known about these Klingons other than they are hoping to “unite the houses” on the Klingon homeworld. Because the Klingons in the original Star Trek looked more human than the “lobster-forehead” Klingons of the rest of Star Trek, it’s unclear if these Klingons will be of the smooth-headed variety or not.
Premise, Setting, and Continuity
Because of the preponderance of Klingons in and around all discussions of Discovery, many fans and critics have speculated that the premise of the show will involve Klingons and Federation members teaming up for a secret peace mission. Bryan Fuller described the show’s theme as an effort for races to “understand each other,” while Nicholas Meyer has said his 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was a “touchstone” for Fuller. The Undiscovered Country dealt with the Federation and the Klingons finally forging a peaceful alliance after decades of a cold war.
Discovery is also set ten years before the original series Star Trek, which would put it at the right time to see the beginning of the Federation’s war with the Klingon Empire at its worst point. But there’s a wrinkle: Bryan Fuller also mentioned that the episode “Balance of Terror” is a big influence on Discovery, which is an episode all about the Federation’s war with the Romulans, not the Klingons.
Notably, Romulans and Vulcans both evolved from the same race originally, which is why they have pointed ears, too. The same actor who played Sarek in the original series, Mark Lenard, also played the first Romulan commander in this episode.
Discovery will take place in the “prime” Star Trek universe, meaning it follows chronology of all of the six previous TV shows and the first ten feature films. It does not adhere to the split continuity of the “Kelvin Timeline” from the three films starring the rebooted original series crew.
The Ship and Costumes
At the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2016, a special panel on Discovery revealed test footage of the titular starship from the new show. While the basic design retained elements familiar to most Star Trek ships, fans noticed striking similarities to an unused design for the Enterprise done by famed Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie back in the ‘70s. Other fans have noticed the ship looks like a combination of a Federation ship and a Klingon ship, lending more credence to the idea that Klingons will team up with Starfleet in secret. Additionally, the registry number of the Discovery is NCC-1031, making it a lower number than the Enterprise’s NCC-1701. But, the number “31” has created all sorts of theories that Earth’s clandestine organization “Section 31” could be involved.
Longtime scenic designers of previous Star Trek shows, Denise and Michael Okuda, also told Inverse in December that they sent some of their “old files” to the people working on Discovery, implying an attention to detail on the design continuity is a huge part of the look of the show.
Meanwhile, because the show will take place before the original series, but after the show Enterprise, many fans are baffled by what the uniforms will look like. The show can’t very well go full retro and sport 1960s spandex, but then again, there is canon to consider. Bryan Fuller has said that the costumes “won’t be what fans expect.”
Controversially, Star Trek: Discovery is supposed to air exclusively on CBS All Access. This means, in order to watch the show viewers would need to have subscriptions to this service. However, in December 2016, CBS executive Les Moonves confirmed that Netflix funded the entire production budget of Discovery. How this will affect its distribution remains unclear.
Intially scheduled for release in February 2017, on September 15, 2017, it was announced by CBS that the show was getting pushed back to May 2017. However, after the casting of James Frain as Sarek on January 18, 2017, the release date for Discovery was delayed indefinitely. As of January 27, 2017, there has been no set release date for the show.