Final Frontiers

Star Trek Is Ending Another Show — But Just Renewed Its Biggest Hit

The foundational sci-fi franchise is consolidating.

Originally Published: 
Anson Mount as Captain Pike in 'Strange New Worlds.'
Star Trek
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

2024 will see the series finales of not one, but two different distinct Star Trek series. In addition to the swan song of Discovery, it's now been revealed that Lower Decks will have its final season this year, too. At the same time, the most popular Star Trek series since The Next Generation — Strange New Worlds — will continue for at least two more seasons. If you're a casual fan, this announcement will likely be a shoulder shrug. If you’re a diehard Trekkie, you’re probably devastated.

As revealed on the official Star Trek website, the animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks will air its fifth season later in 2024, which, will become its finale. Simultaneously, the hit series Star Trek: Strange New Worldswhich is currently filming its third season — has been renewed for a fourth season. So, is Lower Decks really done? How long will Strange New Worlds last? And is the Star Trek TV renaissance over? Here’s what this (probably) means for the future of the Final Frontier.

Lower Decks comes to an end

Lower Decks is ending with Season 5, later in 2024.


Over on, Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan and producer Alex Kurtzman issued a joint statement, confirming that “this fall will be the fifth and final season of Star Trek: Lower Decks.” Tellingly, this statement mentions that “five seasons of any series these days seems like a miracle.”

While fans are already raging about this ending, it’s worth remembering that Mike McMahan warned fans about this very real possibility in 2023. In an interview with Inverse in October 2023, McMahan made it very clear how and why Lower Decks could end, saying:

“If people want more Lower Decks, they’ve got to tune in and get a couple of other people to tune in. So instead of a letter-writing campaign, let’s all watch Lower Decks right away, please. I’m working on Season 5 right now, but by the time people realize Lower Decks has been canceled, it will be too late. We do these seasons a year in advance. So the only trick here is early and consistent viewership. That will help me make more Lower Decks.”

For all of its philosophical musings about an ideological future, Star Trek is not a nonprofit organization. The reality is, in terms of streaming numbers, it would seem that Lower Decks simply didn’t find a broader audience beyond the core group of Trek fans who watch everything. “It’s not the largest fan base,” producer Akiva Goldsman told Variety earlier this year, noting that Star Trek’s numbers are not on the level of Star Wars or Marvel. McMahan’s comment about “getting a couple of other people to tune in,” seems to support this idea. Just like in every other previous decade — and just like any other media empire — Star Trek needs mainstream crossover success to sustain multiple TV series. It is not Lower Deck’s fault that it didn’t find that mainstream crossover audience.

Strange New Worlds rising

The crew of the Enterprise in the Season 2 finale of Strange New Worlds.


Since 2022, the debut of Strange New Worlds has represented a kind of shift for the new era of Trek on TV. If Discovery Seasons 1-3 and Picard Season 1 were Phase I, then Strange New Worlds definitely represented Phase 2. More colorful, more buoyant, and — crucially — more accessible than its immediate predecessors, Strange New Worlds is a back-to-basics Star Trek show, that is also somewhat unapologetic about its format. Unlike most of the other shows, Strange New Worlds is mostly episodic; you can skip episodes and not feel confused. This format describes most of TV prior to the end of the 20th century, but it also highlights what kept The Original Series alive in the 1970s, after it was canceled in 1969, and, also what made The Next Generation into a bonafide mainstream hit in the 1990s. In short, the Trekkie barrier to entry is less intimidating with Strange New Worlds than with any of the other new shows.

Cynics might say that Strange New Worlds plays it safe, and that’s why it’s so much more popular than the other new shows. But Strange New Worlds actually takes a lot of risks, including, but not limited to, a musical episode, an animated crossover episode, and an ongoing, radical reimagining of one of Trek’s most iconic aliens. The cocktail that is working with SNW is fairly easy to understand: It’s a risky show disguised as a familiar one. It looks like Star Trek and feels like Star Trek to a casual fan, but rewards and validates a longtime fan, too.

The future of Star Trek on TV

Ethan Peck as Spock in a preview scene from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 3.


Will Strange New Worlds last beyond its now greenlit Season 4? Right now, that seems very likely. Other than SNW, the only other new Star Trek series currently in production is the YA live-action series Starfleet Academy. Interestingly, Tawny Newsome — the voice of Mariner on Lower Decks — is in the writers’ room for Starfleet Academy, indicating that the Lower Decks flavor is certainly not leaving the franchise. Plus, both Kurtzman and McMahan are “hopeful” that the Lower Decks characters might pop up in other parts of the franchise. After their live-action debut in Strange New Worlds in 2023, the idea of seeing the Cerritos crew in other Trek shows feels less of a question of if, and more of a question of when.

But, for now, it seems that the Star Trek franchise on TV is consolidating a bit. Considering Paramount itself is up for sale, and possibly entering a merger with Skydance, this isn’t too surprising. The media economy isn’t exactly what it was five years ago, and the instability of the entertainment industry certainly isn’t unique to Star Trek.

This little sci-fi show has been canceled, shut down, and gone dormant before. Not having five TV shows on the air at the same time isn’t a sign of failure nor is it the end of the universe. Star Trek will endure because unlike some of its competitors, it's scrappy. That said, when you’re scrappy, you sometimes have to make hard decisions.

Lower Decks Season 5 will air on Paramount+ later in 2024. Strange New Worlds Season 3 is currently filming, while Season 4 is in development.

This article was originally published on

Related Tags