Just a few short years ago, it would be hard to imagine yet another Star Trek prequel whipping the fandom into a lather. But even as Discovery Season 3 heads far into the future, one part of the Trek franchise is keeping a Starfleet boot firmly planted in its colorful past. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the next new series in the expanding family, and it's swimming in nostalgia even though not a single legacy actor is involved with the project.
One thing it does have: the classic Enterprise. And Spock. Here's everything you need to know about Strange New Worlds — even if you're not caught up on Discovery. Mild spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1 and 2.
What is Star Trek: Strange New Worlds?
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a new ongoing TV series set in the 23rd century right before the classic show. It was announced on May 15, 2020, in a video message from Ethan Peck, Anson Mount, and Rebecca Romijn. The cast repeatedly suggested this project came into being because fans wanted it. The show will take place in established Star Trek continuity, but during a period that has not been extensively depicted.
Why is it called Strange New Worlds?
The title "Strange New Worlds," is taken from Captain Kirk's opening narration from the classic Star Trek.
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!
In subsequent versions of Star Trek, this narration was changed: in TNG the "five-year mission" became "continuing mission" and "where no man" became "where no one." It's a good bet that if there's an opening narration from Captain Pike in Strange New Worlds, that he will say "five-year-mission" and "where no one has gone before." In canon, this speech is considered to be the motto of Starfleet, and in the J.J. Abrams movie Star Trek Into Darkness (which featured a different Captain Pike) it was called "the captain's oath."
How does it fit into the Star Trek timeline?
Strange New Worlds is both a sequel to Discovery and a prequel to The Original Series. Presumably, the show will chronicle a five-year-mission commanded by Captain Pike from roughly 2258-ish to 2263-ish. For context, this is how it shakes-out.
- 2150s-2160s Star Trek: Enterprise
- Early 2254: Short Treks episode "Q&A"; Spock's first day on the Enterprise
- 2254: "The Cage"; first (initially) unaired 1965 Star Trek pilot. Also, the first (filmed) appearance of Spock, Pike, and Number One
- 2256-2257: Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1 and 2
- 2258-2263(?) Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
- 2265-2270 Star Trek: The Original Series.
- 2270s-2290s Star Trek classic movies
- 2360s-2399: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, TNG movies, Lower Decks, and Picard.
- 3187: Star Trek: Discovery Season 3
Trek canon has established that Pike commanded two consecutive five-year-missions on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 prior to Kirk taking command in 2265. (Though in some old canon this was 2264.) The events of "The Cage" on Talos IV happen before Discovery and presumably Strange New Worlds, and the Short Treks episode "Q&A" happens before all of that.
In theory, Strange New Worlds could take place between 2254 and 2257, which would then make it a prequel to Discovery and a weird midquel to "The Cage." Why would the producers do this? Well, if Strange New Worlds happens post-2257, that means Pike is living with the knowledge of his crippling accident in the future, as depicted in the Discovery episode "Through the Valley of Shadows." If it happens pre-2257, he's never heard of a time crystal.
However, Akiva Goldsman said the showrunners are not "hitting the reset button," on the characters, which seems to imply the series will take place after Discovery. So, 2258 is a good bet.
Who is in the cast of Strange New Worlds?
The three principal cast members are:
- Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike.
- Rebecca Romijn as Una, better known as "Number One."
- Ethan Peck as Lt. Spock
Several other "new" Enterprise crewmembers of this era were glimpsed either in the Discovery finale or Short Treks. These include Lt. Mann (Hanneke Talbot), Lt. Nicola (Chai Valladares), and Yeoman Colt (Nicole Dickinson.)
Right now, none of these supporting actors have been confirmed for Strange New Worlds, but given that Samora Smallwood reprised her role as Lt. Amin for Short Treks, it certainly seems possible. Still, there are likely more cast members to be revealed, and some may be new actors playing familiar faces.
What did the cast do in Discovery and Short Treks?
The Season 1 finale of Discovery ended with the arrival of the USS Enterprise, though we didn't see anyone inside. Season 2 introduced Pike, Spock, and Number One. Captain Pike was in every single episode of Discovery Season 2, the adult Spock started appearing from episode 7 onward, and Number One appeared in three episodes.
After that, Pike appeared in three Short Treks, "Q&A," "The Trouble With Edward," and "Ask Not." Number One and Spock only appeared in "Q&A" and at the very end of "Ask Not."
These versions of Pike, Spock and Number One are the in-canon versions of the characters previously portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter (Pike), Leanord Nimoy (Spock) and Majel Barrett (Number One) in the TOS episodes "The Cage" and "The Menagerie."
Who are the showrunners of Strange New Worlds?
Strange New Worlds will be produced by Alex Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman. It appears that Goldsman will be acting as showrunner, and is cited as the co-creator. At least one episode, probably the premiere episode, will be written by Jenny Lumet.
"I’ve had great experiences with all three of them. Anson and I worked through finding Captain Pike. And Ethan and I worked through finding who Spock was. And the mantle of Spock, in particular, was so complicated and so emotionally taxing and was such huge shoes to fill, and Ethan felt it. Rebecca and I have a long relationship from back on The Librarians, and we have a fabulous working shorthand, so it will be great getting back to the floor with three old friends."
In addition to directing two Trek films in the '90s (First Contact and Insurrection) Frakes directed episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Discovery and Picard. He has also directed at least two episodes of the forthcoming Discovery Season 3.
How many episodes will be in Strange New Worlds Season 1?
We don't know yet. But it's a good bet that we'll get at least 10 episodes (like Picard Season 1), and maybe as many as 15. (Like Discovery Season 2.)
How will this show be different from other new Star Trek shows?
One of the biggest departures for Strange New Worlds will actually be a return of sorts. Since 2017, new Trek series have focused on heavily serialized seasons in which each episode must be watched in order to avoid being totally confused. Strange New Worlds is poised to return to stand-alone, episodic stories, a type of sci-fi storytelling that defined The Original Series and The Next Generation.
"We're going to try to harken back to some classical Trek values, to be optimistic, and to be more episodic," Akiva Goldsman told Variety in May 2020. "Our plots will be more closed-ended than you’ve seen in either Discovery or Picard. I imagine it to be closer to the original series than even DS9. We can really tell closed-ended stories. We can find ourselves in episodes that are tonally of a piece."
Something Goldsman pointed out while on the official Star Trek aftershow, The Ready Room, was that the subgenres of Discovery and Picard were somewhat fixed, while TOS and TNG could hop genres week-to-week. Goldsman labeled Discovery as "science fiction/action-adventure" and Picard as "science fiction/drama." Some episodes of TOS and TNG are outright comedies("Trouble With Tribbles," or "Q-Pid"), while others are murder-mysteries with barely any science fiction elements at all ("The Conscience of the King," or "Suspicions").
This is all to say that modern Trek seasons scan more like 10-15 hour long single episodes, whereas Strange New Worlds will focus more on self-contained episodes.
Where can I watch Strange New Worlds?
Strange New Worlds will stream exclusively on CBS All Access in the United States. It seems likely it will stream globally with Amazon Prime, but that's not entirely clear. Discovery Seasons 1 and 2 streamed on Netflix globally in 2017, 2018, and 2019. But in 2020, Picard switched the global distribution to Amazon.
When will Strange New Worlds Season 1 come out?
Short answer: Nobody knows. Since the series was announced during the pandemic, the stars and the creators have not offered any specific timeline as to when production or filming will begin. That said, assuming all the Enterprise sets built for Discovery Season 2 — including the iconic bridge — are still standing (which seems to be confirmed by the 2019 Short Treks episode "Q&A,") then in theory, once the cast is filled-out and assembled, the series could start filming fairly quickly. Super-optimistic launch date: late 2021. Realistic launch date: 2022, or 2023.