Why William Shatner Turned Down A Big Bang Theory Appearance

william shatner star trek

Because its characters are interested in all things nerd culture, The Big Bang Theory can boast a large number of guest stars from the worlds of science, science fiction and comic books. But, perhaps surprisingly, William Shatner hasn't ever popped in for a cameo, despite the show's affection for Star Trek. It turns out that's because Shatner himself has already turned down the opportunity. Here's why the actor refused a potential Big Bang cameo.

I've had several conversations with the creators, and what they wanted me to do, didn't seem to be exactly right, so I said 'find something that's better'. They may have taken umbrage at that, I'm not sure. . . . They wanted me to play myself a little obliquely, and they said it would work out, but I needed more assurance on that.

The "self-aping celebrity cameo" is a TV trope at this point, and The Big Bang Theory is definitely guilty of painting some of its guest stars in quite the silly light. But apparently whatever angle showrunner Steve Molaro and his writing team cooked up for William Shatner was not in line with how he wanted to see himself portrayed. Makes some sense.

After all, William Shatner has already dipped into self-parody in his career in the past, but he hasn't gone that route as much in recent years. And to go on The Big Bang Theory is to be seen by as big a TV audience as there is for scripted broadcast TV. So one can understand him needing to make sure the part is as on the money as possible in order to agree to it. I'd really love to know what the pitch was, though. It probably involved a Gorn costume.

Shatner's words to Digital Spy imply that he would still be down to make an appearance if someone came to him with a different script and scenario. And unless an exec really did take umbrage with the actor for his refusal, it seems like an effort would be made to spin a more agreeable storyline for Shatner to sign up for. And if that doesn't work, just have former guest star George Takei wear a Captain Kirk mask.

big bang theory george takei

Even though we might not see William Shatner on any CBS comedies in the near future, that doesn't mean he's a stranger to TV in 2016 and beyond. He was featured on a episode earlier this year of Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen, and his reality show Better Late Than Never was renewed recently for a second season, so we'll get to see him mixing it up with George Foreman, Henry Winkler and Terry Bradshaw again next year. Plus, he's expressed some interest in Bryan Fuller's upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek Discovery, and we'll get to hear him at some point in the animated feature Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders 2 as a big villain. That last one isn't TV, but it's still hella exciting.

The Big Bang Theory airs Monday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET, though it will shift back over to its normal Thursday night slot on October 27. To see when everything else will head to the small with and without William Shatner, head over to our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.