Published May 4, 2019
'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' May Have More in Common Than You Think
From cameo appearances to special effects, have crossed paths more than a few times over the years.
By Maria Jose and John Tenuto
A previous article we wrote for Star Trek.com detailed the relationship between Star Wars and Star Trek. Fans of both franchises have much to look forward to during the next few years: more Star Wars anthology movies and episodes will follow the successful The Last Jedi, and Star Trek fans can look forward to a third season of Discovery, a new show about Jean-Luc Picard, and two animated shows, Star Trek: Lower Decks on CBS All Access, and a newly announced show debuting on Nickelodeon. To celebrate these upcoming events, here are seven of our favorite links between Star Trek and Star Wars, demonstrating that any falsely ginned up rivalry between the two franchises ignores the long history of symbiosis that exists between them.
What’s in a name?
The U.S.S. Kelvin from Star Trek (2009) was named in honor of Harry Kelvin, the grandfather of director J.J. Abrams. The name would again appear in The Force Awakens when droid BB-8 is warned by Rey to avoid the “Kelvin Ridge.”
“Don’t get technical with me!”
In Star Trek (2009), R2-D2 makes a cameo appearance floating in space after the destruction of Vulcan and the ensuing space battle between the Federation and Nero. R2 also appears similarly in Star Trek Into Darkness.
William Shatner and the Empire
In 2005, William Shatner sang “My Way” to Star Wars creator George Lucas at the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award celebration. Harrison Ford’s surprised expression is priceless. Afterwards, Shatner was carried offstage by the evil Empire’s stormtroopers. A decade later, Shatner would also appear in a stormtrooper costume during the November 2015 Country Music Awards.
Ships of the Galaxies
The special effects for most Star Trek feature films and for parts of the premiere episode of The Next Generation (“Encounter at Farpoint”) were supplied by Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects house created by George Lucas to make the first Star Wars film. It would go on to play a major role in revolutionizing Hollywood special effects. The ILM team even inserted the Millenium Falcon digital model to stand in for the Borg cube while rendering the battle sequences for Star Trek: First Contact. In July 2000, Wildstorm Comics published a comic book version of the popular Star Trek: Voyager video game Elite Force, featuring art by Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carini. The comic book includes a Star Wars Easter Egg, with an Imperial Shuttle appearing among the wreckage of starships.
Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas: Mutual Admiration
The documentary Trek Nation features an interview with George Lucas in which the director revealed that he was a fan of Star Trek, used to attend conventions and admired Gene Roddenberry’s ability to create so much despite limitations of budget, time and technology. Roddenberry helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars at an event run by Starlog Magazine and Creation Entertainment. The photo of Roddenberry and Lucas shaking hands at that event is pure fanboy/fangirl nirvana.
In Space, No One Can Hear You…
Ben Burtt, the Academy Award-winning sound effects designer and sound editor for the Star Wars films, was inspired by the incredible sound effects of the original Star Trek television show. Burtt also designed special sound effects for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness. His talented work is profiled as a bonus feature (“Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek”) on the Blu-ray Star Trek: The Compendium
Sulu and Scotty: Star Warriors
George Takei played the Neimoidian General Lok Durd in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars television show. Coincidentally, the name “Neimoidian” has long been rumored to be named in honor of Leonard Nimoy. Simon Pegg plays Unkar Plutt, the swindler junkyard boss from Jakku in The Force Awakens.
Maria Jose and John Tenuto are both sociology professors at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, specializing in popular culture and subculture studies. The Tenutos have conducted extensive research on the history of Star Trek, and have presented at venues such as Creation Conventions and the St. Louis Science Center. They have written for the official Star Trek Magazine and their extensive collection of Star Trek items has been featured in SFX Magazine. Their theory about the “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and research on Star Trek fans has been featured on WGN News, BBC Radio, and in the documentary The Force Among Us. They recently researched all known paperwork from the making of the classic episode "Space Seed" and are excited to be sharing some previously unreported information about Khan's first adventure with fellow fans. Contact the Tenutos at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.