William Shatner Invoked Gene Roddenberry's Name In Shading New Star Trek Shows, And Fans Definitely Had Thoughts

At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Star Trek dropped some big reveals, including the first looks at the returning cast of The Next Generation in Picard and an ambitious Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds crossover. However, franchise veteran William Shatner was the one who really made headlines. Shatner invoked creator Gene Roddenberry’s name when he spoke during his panel about the new era of Trek shows, and fans definitely had strong thoughts about what he said. 

CinemaBlend was present at William Shatner's “Shatner On Shatner” panel, where he revealed some thoughts that are still causing a stir amongst Star Trek fans. Shatner spoke about the new shows and his relationship with the late creator and essentially said that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t be pleased with aspects of the new shows:

I got to know [creator] Gene Roddenberry in three years fairly well. He’d be turning in his grave at some of this stuff.

Those are some strong words, to say the least, so it’s understandable that fans of both the classic and newer shows (who most likely have Paramount+ subscriptions) would feel a way. Perhaps the most prevailing opinion online was that because Shatner has openly admitted he doesn’t follow Star Trek, his comments on the late producer should be viewed in that light: 

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The 91-year-old star might only have a vague idea of what’s going on in the world of Trek nowadays. So one can honestly understand why people wouldn't view him as an authority on how the franchise is staying true to its roots. Others on Twitter, like Jessie Earl, are of the thinking that he might be right. However, they also noted that that Gene Roddenberry disliked many things about Trek that others have enjoyed:

Yeah, but Gene Roddenberry was upset about Wrath of Khan & Voyage Home and turned down many good ideas for TNG, wouldn’t like DS9, not to mention his sometimes sexist attitude. He did great work and helped make a great series but he’s not the end all.

Some fans believed that William Shatner wasn’t being intentionally malicious with his statement but only being honest. Shatner might not know for certain what his late colleague's thoughts on modern Star Trek would be, but it can't be denied that he did know his personality and thinking better than most of us:

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The two definitely worked together closely, but many have also been quick to point out that the two had their disagreements. In fact, folks are sharing the producer's memo to the James T. Kirk icon in relation to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the film the star directed himself. Gene Roddenberry mentioned in the memo that he didn’t appreciate the movie's storyline and overall direction. In other words, it's being suggested that if the actor knew what Roddenberry wanted from Trek, he wouldn't have received those critiques in the first place:

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This isn’t the first controversial opinion that William Shatner has shared about the space saga, and I’m sure it won’t be his last (Shatner also takes humorously classic shots at Star Wars). When it comes to the actor, it seems most fans are willing to appreciate that he helped launch Star Trek as a franchise while also acknowledging that he’s not always on top of what’s happening in the franchise. Some would rather just shut him out completely and ignore the online discourse altogether: 

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If it’s any consolation, William Shatner did have some kind things to say to Paul Wesley, who couldn't even tell Shatner he'd be playing Kirk on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds when they first met. So all in all, I'd say that Shatner has a place in his heart for the franchise. And who knows? Maybe he’ll take a look at some of the upcoming Trek shows and share his thoughts at a later date. 

Fans can stream the Star Trek franchise over on Paramount+. Because there’s a small gap between Strange New Worlds and the next new series, now might be a great time to catch up or binge some old favorites.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.