• Star Trek: Discovery revitalized the franchise, paving the way for multiple new TV series and cultivating a new era of inclusiveness.
  • The show broke the mold with its cinematic style, turning each episode into a mini-movie and gaining a foothold among the best serialized TV shows.
  • While Discovery will end with its fifth season, its success has created a strong foundation for future Star Trek series, including Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and potential spinoffs and movies.

Star Trek: Discovery saved the Star Trek franchise, and that’s a fact. In 2024, Discovery ends with season 5 – its final season – but before Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) flies off on her last adventure, Star Trek: Discovery deserves its flowers. Discovery is the torch that reignited the fire of Star Trek, making possible the modern franchise that, in 2022, saw a new episode of Star Trek stream every Thursday on Paramount+ from five different TV series. And, even as the film and TV industry is gripped in uncertainty, Star Trek: Discovery season 5 is poised to be a beacon of hope for Star Trek one last time.

Controversial and misunderstood, but also heartily appreciated by its loyal fans, Star Trek: Discovery was originally conceived as an anthology by creator Bryan Fuller. Behind-the-scenes creative differences led to Fuller’s departure, and Discovery season 1’s showrunners would also exit before the series was reaffirmed by co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise. Paradise would go on to lead Discovery‘s creative as the series left its original, troublesome mid-23rd century berth to trailblaze the 32nd century, the farthest point the Star Trek franchise has ever explored. Discovery is a landmark series that introduced LGBTQIA+ characters and relationships and furthered Star Trek‘s mission of inclusiveness. Although there were Trek TV series and films produced since 2000, it can be argued that Star Trek did not truly enter the 21st century until Star Trek: Discovery.

The State Of Star Trek Before Discovery Saved The Franchise

Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in Star Trek Beyond and Scott Bakula in Star Trek: Enterprise

Before Star Trek: Discovery‘s launch in September 2017, Star Trek was in a dire state on television. The final series of producer Rick Berman’s era, Star Trek: Enterprise, ended in 2005 as a victim of network reshuffling and an overall disinterest from Star Trek fans suffering from franchise fatigue. Despite a strong cast and a compelling macro-story about Starfleet’s first years exploring space that would lead to the founding of the United Federation of Planets, Enterprise was cut short and ended with a series finale that pleased almost no one. 12 years would pass until Star Trek returned to TV with Discovery.

Starting in 2009, however, J.J. Abrams’ trilogy of Star Trek movies provided a shot in the arm the franchise needed. Abrams’ reboot set in the alternate Kelvin Timeline proved Star Trek fans would accept iconic characters like Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock being recast with younger actors – recasting legacy characters is something Discovery would also find success with in season 2. Crucially, Abrams gave Star Trek the facelift it needed for decades; gone were low-budget, made-for-TV visual effects as Star Trek received the eye-popping sheen of multimillion-dollar blockbuster films. While Abrams’ great flaw was shedding the moral and ethical quandaries of the best Star Trek TV episodes in favor of relentless action, Star Trek was nonetheless more thrilling and visceral than ever before. A new audience found Star Trek, in turn, but Abrams’ movies flamed out after 2016’s Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek: Discovery Reinvented Star Trek TV

The USS Discovery and Captain Michael Burnham

Star Trek: Discovery premiered in 2017 with bold new ideas which certainly took some getting used to, and while some concepts like the reimagined Klingons didn’t work, other Discovery innovations won out. Discovery centered around Michael Burnham, a brilliant but flawed heroine who committed a grave sin that cost the galaxy and herself dearly. But Burnham fought her way back to redemption, and through Burnham’s personal journey, Star Trek: Discovery re-examined the time-honored values of Star Trek and found a new credence for a new era. Discovery seasons 1 and 2 were about re-learning and earning the highest ideals of Starfleet, which Burnham and the USS Discovery then embodied and taught to the broken 32nd century Federation in Star Trek: Discovery seasons 3 and 4.

Through it all, Star Trek: Discovery broke and rebuilt the Star Trek mold. Discovery brought J.J. Abrams’ cinematic flare to television, turning each episode into a mini-movie. Discovery premiered in an era of Peak streaming TV when Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead were the biggest shows on television. Thanks to Discovery, Star Trek gained a foothold among the best serialized TV shows, and its success propped up the fledging CBS All-Access streaming service, which transitioned into Paramount+ with Star Trek: Discovery as a flagship series. Yes, there were growing pains and creative missteps along the way, but Discovery‘s success turned Star Trek into a viable TV franchise once again. And what Discovery lacked as a series opened the door for new Star Trek shows to fill those voids.

Star Trek Remains Strong Despite Discovery Ending

Strange new worlds pike discovery captain burnham

Without Star Trek: Discovery, there would be no Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Anson Mount’s heroic performance as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 galvanized fans to demand a spinoff. Bright and colorful where Discovery was somber and conflicted, Strange New Worlds is a phenomenal, daring, and crowd-pleasing success poised to take over for Discovery as the flagship Star Trek series on Paramount+. Star Trek: Picard also followed Discovery‘s mold by embracing serialization, telling the story of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) return to galaxy-saving, which culminated in the roaring success of reuniting Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s cast in Star Trek: Picard season 3.

Star Trek: Discovery laid the foundation for a new universe where there is a Star Trek series for every type of fan. Star Trek now encompasses the fast-paced ribald comedy of Star Trek: Lower Decks to the majestic, all-ages adventure of Star Trek: Prodigy – perhaps the purest Star Trek show of the modern era. Discovery‘s ending also opens the door for made-for-streaming movies like Star Trek: Section 31 starring Academy Award-winner Michelle Yeoh, and Discovery‘s 32nd-century era is poised to continue with another spinoff, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Even the potential Picard continuation, Star Trek: Legacy, owes Discovery thanks. Star Trek: Discovery saved the franchise by boldly going first, taking the hits from critics and dissenters, and making Star Trek – past, present, and future – matter more than it has since the 1990s. Star Trek has a future worth being optimistic about thanks to Star Trek: Discovery.

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