Happy Near Miss Day, everyone! Yes, it's a thing. It actually commemorates the day—March 23, 1989—that a massive asteroid missed striking the Earth by just 500,000 miles. That may sound like a great distance, but it's not in the big scheme of the cosmos. To celebrate the day, we're listing a few Star Trek-centric Near Misses—of the real and fictional kind—and we invite you to add to our list in the comments section below:

Deforest Kelley as Spock It's true. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry invited Kelley to take his pick between McCoy and Spock. And he chose Bones. Martin Landau also turned down the role of Spock.

The Whales... Died— What if the whaling vessel chasing George and Gracie in Star Trek IV had succeeded in harpooning the whales? What if the Enterprise crew hadn't brought the whales back to the future to communicate with the alien probe?

Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike— This one not only came close to happening... it happened. Roddenberry tapped Jeffrey Hunter to play Captain Pike in the first Star Trek pilot. NBC rejected that initial pilot, but commissioned another one. Hunter opted out of his contract and... a ... certain... Canadian... with swagger... and a knack for... dramatic pauses... became Captain Kirk. Ladies and gentlemen, we present... William Shatner (who was among those originally considered to play Pike).

Worf Permanently Paralyzed— Worf faced the prospect of life-long paralyzation in the TNG episode "Ethics." Could you imagine how it would have impacted the series if Worf remained paralyzed... for a few episodes, for a season, for the rest of TNG's run?

Nichelle Nichols Beamed off Star Trek It's a story for the ages. Nichols, unhappy with the limitations of her role as Uhura on Trek, intended to quit. It took no less than Dr. Martin Luther King himself, a Trek fan and admirer of Nichols', to convince her to stay by pointing out, among other things, the importance of young black people seeing a face of color on television, in a role that was not that of a maid.

By a Split Second— It's a classic dramatic trope, and not just in sci-fi... the last-minute rescue. A transporter malfunction nearly prevented Kirk from beaming off the Constellation as he rammed it into the planet killer in "The Doomsday Machine." Even though Shatner was the star of the show and they weren't going to write him off, we all sweated out this one.

NBC Canceled Star Trek After Season Two— It's quite possible that Star Trek still might have become the phenomenon it is even if there'd been no third season, but it's probably more likely that Trek would have faded from memory like so many other semi-failures before it. Star Trek got a third season in large part thanks to the efforts of Bjo and John Trimble, the super-fans—and current StarTrek.com guest bloggers—who led the letter-writing campaign by fans that resulted in NBC granting Trek its all-important third season.

Hitler Wins the War— If Kirk hadn't prevented McCoy from saving Edith Keeler, America would have joined World War II too late to have made a difference. Everyone's life would have been altered and, in fact, the Federation might never have been formed.

Brando as Soran— You've heard all the near misses when it came to big names almost appearing in Star Trek. Some have more validity than others. Genevieve Bujold as Janeway; she even shot a couple of scenes before departing. Sean Connery as Sybok. Eddie Murphy as a variation on the character played by Catherine Hicks in Star Trek IV. Nastassja Kinski as The Borg Queen in First Contact—and Isabella Rosselini, too. Shatner as Kirk on Enterprise. Reggie Jackson (!) and LeVar Burton as Geordi. Robert Picardo as Neelix. Tom Hanks in a cameo in either First Contact or Insurrection. Stephen Macht as Picard; Macht turned down a firm offer. James Marsters as Shinzon. Denise Crosby as Deanna Troi. But our favorite is just the notion that Marlon Brando could have played Soran in Generations. "I got a call from Brando’s agent saying that he was interested in doing it," Rick Berman confirmed to StarTrek.com back in 2011. "It was the biggest thrill of my life. But the studio was not willing to pay the money that Mr. Brando was looking for."

So, once again, happy Near Miss Day! And feel free to add your favorite near misses in the comments section below.

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Rick Berman
Genevieve Bujold
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