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Star Trek: Lower Decks' Mike McMahan Talks Involvement With Strange New Worlds Crossover And His 'Off The Books' Contribution To The Show's First Season

Side-by-side pictures of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Lower Decks' main characters
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 is off to a promising start, and the fun and references to past major works like First Contact won’t stop after this season is up. We learned at San Diego Comic-Con that Lower Decks will crossover with the much-acclaimed Strange New Worlds but didn’t know a ton beyond that. Now, the showrunner for the latter series, Mike McMahan, is opening up his involvement in the crossover as well as his “off the books” contribution to Season 1 of the TOS prequel series. 

I spoke to Mike McMahan ahead of the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 premiere and, knowing that fans like myself are craving insight, I asked about his involvement in the Strange New Worlds crossover. McMahan shared what he’s been up to in regards to that and mentioned another Lower Decks alumni who is also involved: 

I was involved in the concept, like, approving [elements of the crossover]. ’This feels right to me’ kind of stuff. I got to give notes on the animated portions of it, and I got to sit in on the edit and punch out a ton of the script. The script was already a delight, it was co-written by Kathryn Lyn, who was on Lower Decks as a writer first and then went over to Strange New Worlds when we wrapped Season 2… I've been helping edit. I've been totally involved in it. Like, you know, it's still Henry [Alonso Meyers] and Akiva [Goldsman]’s show, they're kind of bringing me in to be like, ‘What do you think of this? What do you think of that?’ And I'm getting to kind of like, throw my opinion.

The producer noted noted that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds showrunners Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva Goldsman, and the entire Trek family in general, tend to be collaborative and supportive when it comes to projects. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the franchise keeps thriving (and that there always seems to be a reason to hold onto that Paramount+ subscription if you’re a fan). 

Some Trekkies will undoubtedly be excited to see a live-action Trek installment that  Mike McMahan had a hand in creating, but what they may not know is that he’s already covertly worked in live-action Trek. Mike McMahan mentioned during our conversation that he did some “off the books” work for Strange New Worlds for its first season and talked further about his reaction when their showrunners asked him about using Lower Decks’ Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Mariner (Tawny Newsome) for the crossover:

I love Henry and Akiva. They actually had me punch up a little bit of Season 1, off the books. There's a couple of funny lines that, if they feel a little Lower Decky, there's a chance that I may have made that happen in Strange New Worlds. And then when they asked me to have those characters come on the show for the crossover, it was such a natural fit because the Strange New Worlds writers and cast really get how to make it feel like Star Trek all the time and they can switch genre around… Literally, Jonathan Frakes and Tawny [Newsome] were texting me photos from set because my schedule didn't work out, I couldn't be there, teasing me about how much fun they were having cuz like it was just a love fest up there.

It sounds like Mike McMahan might’ve gotten a bit jealous about not being there, which should come as no surprise. McMahan is a passionate Trek fan who loves all the shows, plus, just about every Strange New Worlds actor CinemaBlend has really talked up Strange New Worlds Season 2’s quality. (Kirk actor Paul Wesley says the second season is "gonna shock a lot of people.") It sounds like we’re in for something special with this upcoming crossover though, even though the idea of such a mash-up may seem a bit weird.

With that being said, Mike McMahan indicates that it might not be so strange to see his characters alongside iconic TOS characters. McMahan talked about pairing his characters with Spock and Uhura and all the emotions he felt during the creative process:

It's surreal to have written words for Uhura or Spock to say, but at the same time, like, there's a part of it [that] just feels right. Like Boimler and Mariner are so Starfleet to me, but to get to see them with these other Starfleet officers who have been the heart of Star Trek through the entire time, you know, these iconic characters. My characters love those characters. Like it just felt exactly, right. But yeah, it fucked my brain up. It was amazing.

It’ll be some time before we get to see Star Trek: Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds cross over. The good news, however, is that there’s still plenty of Season 3 of the former to enjoy and, with a Deep Space Nine episode still to come, fans should have no problem being patient for this wild episode that’s on the way. 

Catch new episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks on Thursdays on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Also, be sure to watch Season 1 of Strange New Worlds along with the other great content from the franchise that's currently available to stream.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.