This year marks Star Trek's 50th anniversary. What started as a science fiction primetime program following space exploration a couple years before we'd landed on the Moon, became a pop culture phenomenon spawning other TV shows, movies, books, comics, games and plenty more. There have been some bumps over the years, but the franchise remains a way to not only show off cool action and unique aliens, but also explore interesting social issues and ideas. However, something so large may intimidate newcomers from wanting to partake in the fun. Don't worry, we've got you covered.

This Friday will finally see the release of Star Trek Beyond, the third movie in the reboot series and the 13th movie overall. To celebrate its release and the franchise's huge milestone, we've put together this guide, to go over all the important elements surrounding the franchise, with most of the focus resting on the "Original" characters, both from the '60s and the new versions that are currently on the big screen. Here are all the Star Trek basics you need to know before seeing Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek Original Series

Star Trek: The Original Series

After creator Gene Roddenberry made two pilots in 1964 and 1965, respectively ("The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before," both of which eventually aired/made available to the public), Star Trek finally premiered on NBC September 8, 1966. The series followed the Enterprise crew as they went on their five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man/no one has gone before. While the sets, effects and even some episodes may not have always been top-notch, the series made its mark by exploring themes and ideas that few TV shows at the time were willing to touch upon.

Star Trek: The Original Series ended in 1969, but it continued to impact viewers in reruns, and that, along with a short-lived animated series, led to the Enterprise crew reuniting in 1978's Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Five more movies followed, concluding with 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. That was the last time the original Enterprise crew were together, though all of the main characters, with the exception of Uhura, guest starred on one of the later TV shows and/or briefly appeared in the 1994 movie Star Trek: Generations.

James Kirk

James Kirk

William Shatner will always be best remembered for playing James T. Kirk for nearly three full decades, but for the reboot movies, Chris Pine has taken over as the captain of the Enterprise. His childhood may have been different thanks to the events of the 2009 movie (we'll get to that later), but at his core, the alternate timeline's Kirk is still the same as he was in the Prime Universe. He's cocky (becoming Starfleet's youngest captain no doubt boosted this), he's headstrong and he frequently thinks outside the box when solving problems. He's also notorious for breaking regulations, and if it were any other officer, they would have been sacked long ago. Fortunately, Kirk gets results, and while he has faced consequences for his actions on some occasions, the status quo usually reverts to normal.

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