Star Trek isn’t just about spaceships and ray guns. Although, there is plenty of swashbuckling action adventure as the characters planet hop through the galaxy. But there’s always been a spark of optimism and humanity in a franchise that’s spanned five decades and several shows and films. A shining beacon pointing to a better tomorrow.

As Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry once said:

Star Trek was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins not just to tolerate, but take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms.

A sentiment that’s expressed in so many episodes of Trek.

The greatest danger facing us is ourselves — our irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown. Only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.

—Captain James T. Kirk, “The Corbomite Maneuver”

Sure, Trek is just a TV show. It’s not a philosophical opus. But for a show about pointy-eared aliens and starships, it sure managed to slip in a prominent message or two. Mainly, that we can be better than we are today. And it’s possible for us to create a utopia where we all come together to explore the universe.

And that was the theme of Thursday’s Star Trek Universe virtual panel for San Diego Comic Con at Home.

‘Star Trek’ Has Always Been Aspirational

The diverse casts of Star Trek: Discovery, the upcoming Lower Decks, the in pre-production Strange New Worlds, and Picard appeared on the panel.

The panel introduced the initiative Star Trek United to highlight organizations and movements, such as Black Lives Matter, that are working toward building a better tomorrow. In fact, the Comic Con event was also a benefit for the NAACP and their Legal Fund, which you can learn more about and donate here.

Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Discovery lead Michael Burnham, said it  best during the panel:

We stand by the truth that Black lives matter. This moment and this movement will be forever remembered, and change is now.

Martin-Green continues to embody the best of what Star Trek is all about. Other members of the cast and crew echoed her sentiment.

Executive Producer Heather Kadin added:

I think in the case of Star Trek, thematically, it’s just been baked into what Star Trek is about: a better hope, about equality, gender equality, racial equality, sexual equality.

And others saw it as an honor and a great responsibility to create Star Trek during these unprecedented times.

Wilson Cruz, who plays one of the first regular gay Trek characters, said:

Star Trek has always been this aspiration for our society, for our country, that it has always set a goal, and that it’s been our job to help not only imagine that future, but to create it…

Star Trek: Picard‘s Michelle Hurd, who plays former Starfleet officer Raffi Musiker, said a common Trek theme is  an “understanding of how valuable life is.”

Whatever you may say about the actual shows during this new Golden Era of Trek, you can’t deny that this cast and crew get the Star Trek dream and are helping to keep it alive.

As a life-long Trekkie, I’m glad to see the latest production team support the NAACP and fight for Roddenberry’s tomorrow, both on and off the screen.

In Other ‘Star Trek’ Highlights…

Star Trek Prodigy

Star Trek: Prodigy debuts on Nickelodeon in 2021. (Photo Credit: CBS)

A lot of other interesting Trek bits were revealed. Here’s a roundup:

  • Star Trek: Prodigy. The Nickelodeon Trek animated show specifically aimed at kids gets a name. The CG-animated show follows some lawless teens on a derelict Starfleet vessel as they search for adventure and salvation. It will debut on Nickelodeon sometime next year.
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. According to Star Trek Universe Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman, 10 stories have been broken for the recently announced show that follows Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romjin), and a young Spock (Ethan Peck) on the Enterprise years before Captain Kirk takes charge.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks. Fans got a sneak peek at the show with an exclusive clip. Each of the cast introduced their characters, and I can tell Tawny Newsome’s Ensign Mariner is going to be my favorite. The show debuts on CBS All Access on August 6.
  • Star Trek: Discovery. No word yet on when season three will air. However, Martin-Green said Burnham’s journey to discover herself will continue. We’ll also see more of Trek’s first gay couple, Culber and Stamets, played by Cruz and Anthony Rapp respectively.
  • Patrick Stewart prefers PStew as a nickname. The cast of Picard affectionately refers to Sir Patrick Stewart as SPS. But Stewart prefers the nickname PStew.
  • Marina Sirtis can still take the piss out of Stewart. During the panel, I was living for how Sirtis gave Stewart crap, demonstrating the lifelong friendship of the TNG cast.  At one point, the moderator called Santiago Cabrera’s character a space cowboy. But Sirtis reminded everyone she was the original space cowboy, referring to her Holodeck stint as Durango in a TNG episode. She added she was happy to chuck the spacesuit (aka Starfleet uniform) in her Picard guest spot.