Why It's Time For A Star Trek Holiday Special

Picard in Star Trek: Generations
(Image credit: HBO Max)

We’re in a golden age of Star Trek, and it was more evident this year than any prior. Fans were gifted new episodes from many shows for the better part of the year, and it’s looking like 2023 will be the same story based on the upcoming Star Trek TV shows. This franchise has come a long way from its hiatus following the ending of Enterprise, and while modern Trek has given its fans a lot, there’s still more to give. Among those things, I’m still waiting on a proper holiday special that I can watch every year when the snow starts falling and chestnuts are roasting on the nearest replicator. 

Sure, we have Star Trek Generations' small reference to Christmas, as well as some sparse other mentions across the shows. However, there’s nothing that really captures the true spirit of the holidays, or how Starfleet would acknowledge it. Some fans may wonder what the point in doing that would be, especially after decades of projects avoiding such a special, but I believe there are plenty of good reasons why one should happen, and now is the perfect time to “make it so.”

Michael Burnham standing in the snow on Star Trek: Discovery on Paramount+

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Star Trek Has A Lot Of Shows Capable Of Making A Great Holiday Special With

Star Trek has a lot of shows streaming at the moment, and even more on the way. The best part about that is all of these shows bring a different vibe and feeling despite coming from the same basic premise. In the context of crafting a holiday special, this is a huge advantage for Trek. Each and every series could do a holiday episode, and it would feel totally different from the others. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to see Captain Christopher Pike home at his cabin for the holidays watching some old Christmas classic? Or wouldn’t it be cool to see the Lower Decks crew trapped in some endless hologram simulation of A Christmas Carol? I also have a hunch that any Star Trek: Discovery holiday special would make me cry my eyes out, but that’s nothing new because that show always excels at bringing the feels. 

Having a lot of Trek shows is also a plus towards a holiday special because it means that one series can commit to a holiday special while others might be hard at work writing or in production on their next season. Hell, there’s even a possibility someone like actor and frequent Trek director Jonathan Frakes could be given charge over a holiday special and bring in some classic franchise cast members to make it happen while the other shows do their thing. These ideas are free, Paramount, don’t hesitate to use them!

Data dressed as Scrooge on the holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Star Trek Hasn't Touched Much On Modern Holidays Like Christmas, So There's Some Uncharted Territory To Explore

Star Trek hasn’t really touched on holidays like Christmas or other modern holidays a ton in its history, and there’s probably a big reason behind that. The franchise has often skirted around the topic of most real-life religions, likely in part because creator Gene Roddenberry has widely been described as a humanist, as well as an atheist (via Heavy). As such, one wouldn’t have expected holidays with a religious association to God to come up, though I will say one of the handful of times that Trek has mentioned Christmas occurred in The Original Series during the episode “Daggers of the Mind,” when Roddenberry was most involved in the franchise.  

The truth of the matter is that Star Trek actually deals with religion a good deal, but rarely religions that are rooted in Earth history. I can’t say that this new era of Star Trek has really bucked that trend, but this certainly is a time where many creative minds are re-defining and re-imagning what Star Trek is. Given that, I think there’s a way for one of these writers or showrunners to come up with a holiday special that is a treat for fans, but also something that doesn’t necessarily fly in the face of Roddenberry’s vision for Trek. Even if it did, William Shatner claims that Roddenberry Roddenberry wouldn’t care much for the new era of Trek anyway, so what’s one more affront to his vision if that’s true?

The fact that Star Trek has dodged holiday episodes and specials for so long means there’s a lot of uncharted territory to explore. Star Trek: Discovery showed with its jump to the future in Season 3 that shows can do a good deal of fun stuff with a blank slate to work with. Earth holidays are definitely more or less blank slate territory in this franchise. So wouldn’t it be great if someone “boldly” went and charted out a path for how best to handle holiday specials? 

Alien snowman in Star Trek: Enterprise

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Many Other Major Franchises Have Holiday Specials

While I can certainly understand why a franchise like Star Trek hasn’t been quick to emulate other franchises and their trends, times have changed. We’re living in an era where Trek is pumping out more content than Star Wars. And yet, Star Wars and other similar franchises that keep a constant presence in the public eye all have holiday specials, so I ask, why not Star Trek

In the past, the answer might’ve been the interest is too niche, and the lack of mass appeal would cause a network hesitation in airing it. Well, we now live in an age where Paramount+ is the home to all Star Trek television, and a place where a studio can drop a special on there with no regard for primetime scheduling, when to air it, and the audience that might be subjected to it. Paramount+ is a platform for Star Trek and should be the home for a holiday special! 

I can certainly acknowledge and foresee the complaint of many that most holiday specials aren’t good. In fact, the Star Wars Holiday Special most people are familiar with is actually quite terrible, but that’s ok. Besides the fact that  it feels unlikely Star Trek would fumble the ball with a holiday special in this golden era where we’re getting amazing things like updates on Janeway and Chakotay in a children’s show, these specials often get a pass. After all, the holidays are a time for forgiveness, and definitely a time where many subpar Christmas movies get airplay regardless of their prestige. I just really want a Trek holiday special I can watch every year, guys, so hopefully this can happen. 

Anyone with a Paramount+ subscription can binge their favorite secular Star Trek shows right now. Who knows if the day will come where a holiday special eventually arrives on the platform, but I can guarantee I’ll be one of the first people to binge it should that day ever come.

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.