William Shatner Could Appear On The New Star Trek TV Show Under One Condition

star trek kirk

The Star Trek franchise has been going strong for fifty years with a huge ensemble of characters. The most iconic character has to be Captain James T. Kirk, who kicked off the adventures into space where no man had gone before. Chris Pine has played Kirk in the last few big screen Star Trek movies, but the starring role belonged to William Shatner between the original series debut in 1966 through Star Trek: Generations in 1994. CBS has a newStar Trek show in the works, and a big question has been about whether or not Shatner could reprise the role of Kirk is some capacity for Star Trek: Discovery. According to the man himself, he could appear onDiscovery if a certain criteria is met. Here's what Shatner had to say about Kirk on Discovery:

If I were useful.

William Shatner shared his condition for a return to the Star Trek franchise as Kirk in a chat with TVGuide at the TCA fall previews. Frankly, his request is pretty reasonable. As much fun as any Kirk appearance on Star Trek: Discovery would be, a random cameo could feel like a stunt just to attract classic Trek fans to the new show. A Kirk appearance that's actually relevant to the plot could be great.

The actor elaborated on why he doesn't want to just pop in for a Discovery cameo, and it has everything to do with the late Leonard Nimoy. Shatner has this to say about Nimoy's role in the recent Star Trek films:

Leonard [Nimoy, who plays Spock in the franchise], my friend, did a cameo [in the new Star Trek movies]. I said to him, 'You know you're old when you go back in time and you're still old.' It was a cameo, and I thought, 'That's a waste of time. He's so talented. Why didn't they do something more with him?' So that's the way I feel about that.

Spock was instrumental in the plot of the the first movie in the Star Trek alternate timeline, but he was mostly a source of exposition rather than a full-fledged character. I can understand why William Shatner would want more to do in Star Trek: Discovery than what Leonard Nimoy was given when he reprised Spock. Hopefully Discovery will find a believable and acceptable way to bring back Kirk that could persuade Shatner to appear on the new series.

That said, Discovery might have to get creative to bring in Captain Kirk. The good captain actually died in the Trek universe back in 1994's Star Trek: Generations. Film producer J.J. Abrams has said that William Shatner's Kirk has no place in any of the new films because of the character's death. That said, Star Trek: Discovery might be set in a past timeframe that could allow a living Kirk to show up. The series may take place between the Undiscovered Country movie that had Kirk very much alive and the Generations movie that killed him off. If the registration number of the new ship is a clue, however, Discovery may actually be taking place before the events of the original series. Either way, time travel may need to play a big part in how Kirk could show up. Even if Kirk is still alive in the Discovery timeline, Shatner isn't exactly the svelte young man that he was in the 60s, and he doesn't cut the same figure he did in the 90s.

The new series will be very different from past installments in the small screen Trek ventures. In addition to airing on CBS All Access instead of a major network, the stories will be serialized and progressive rather than standalone. Discovery won't make its grand debut until January 2017, so be sure to check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch in the meantime.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).