Captain Kirk led the Enterprise during the original Star Trek series, but was preceded by Captain Pike. This is how Kirk inherited the captaincy.
Star trek has featured a host of memorable starship captains ordering fan-favorite Starfleet ships to boldly go where no one has gone before. None compares to the Starship Enterprise, however, and when audiences first tuned in to the original series 55 years ago, they were greeted by William Shatner’s James T. Kirk as the ship’s captain. However, both in-universe and behind the scenes, Kirk was not the first person to captain the Enterprise. Initially it was Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter, sitting in the captain’s chair.
Gene Roddenberry’s first pilot for Star trek, titled “The Cage”, had a troubled Pike lead his crew to investigate a distress signal on the planet Talos IV. Pike was abducted by the native Talosians for further observation, where he was forced to live out his dreams and unresolved trauma through telepathically induced visions. In the end, Pike would break free and continue his expedition through the stars on the Enterprise, however the network passed to the pilot. Lucille Ball, co-owner of Desilu Production, of I love lucy Fame, which produced the pilot, convinced NBC to make the rare move of commissioning a second pilot, titled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” The second pilot, however, faced a major hurdle: He needed to recast his lead actor.
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Hunter retired from the series during pre-production of the second pilot, citing a disappointing experience with his past television work starring in the western Houston Temple, a dislike for the long commitment required to direct a television series and his interest in returning to film work. Roddenberry took the opportunity to introduce an entirely new set of characters, save for Leonard Nimoy’s Vulcan science officer, Mr. Spock. This included Captain James T. Kirk, the role for which Shatner was cast. The second pilot impressed the network, which decided to commission the series, and the rest is television history.
While Chris Pike was not the protagonist of the original series, the character and his story added to the overall myth of the show, including his mission to Talos IV with Spock. The two-part episode “The Menagerie” revealed that Pike suffered a terrible accident sometime after Kirk took command of the Enterprise that left him paralyzed and disfigured. Footage from “The Cage” was reused as flashback sequences and stock footage in the episode, and Sean Kenney played Pike in a silent performance.
Most recently, the Kelvin timeline featured Bruce Greenwood as Pike, who recruited Kirk to enroll in Starfleet Academy in 2009. Star trek before being assassinated by Khan Noonien Singh in 2013 Star trek in the dark. Also, the second season of Star Trek: Discovery further explored Pike’s role in Starfleet, with Anson Mount playing the character while serving as the acting captain of Discovery before returning to command the Enterprise in the season finale.
Christopher Pike may not have played a prominent role in the original Star trek But the character has certainly earned his fair share of fans decades after the franchise’s first pilot was rejected by the network. In that time, actors like Greenwood and Mount have breathed new life into the venerable Starfleet officer while making the character very much his own across the franchise’s two different timelines. And now, with Mount’s version of the character taking center stage in the next series. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the increased visibility fulfills the initial promise that Pike would sit in the captain’s chair for an extended period.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stars Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn. The series has yet to receive a release date.
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