Star Trek is enjoying a bit of a revival after the positive reception of Star Trek Beyond and an upcoming new television series from CBS. However, as Captain James T. Kirk himself explained at a Star Trek convention in Las Vegas over the weekend, Star Trek would be nothing if not for Star Wars.
In fact, William Shatner says Star Wars created Star Trek. It's a controversial statement at a Star Trek convention, to be sure, but Shatner goes on to explain his point.
"Every year, there was the threat to be canceled," Shatner told fans about the first season of the Star Trek television series (via iO9). "The third year, we were canceled, and everybody accepted it."
It was actually the widly-popular reception of Star Wars in 1977 that caused Paramount to bring the show back from the dead, as it sought to replicate the success of George Lucas' smash hit.
"At Paramount Studios, they were running around bumping into each other. ‘What do we got?! What do we got to equal Star Wars?'" Shatner said. "There was this thing that we canceled, under another management, it was called Star Trek? Let's resurrect that!"
The result was the birth of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which released in 1979. It wasn't on the same level as Star Wars (Shatner himself called the film "flawed"), but it served its purpose of reigniting interest in the sci-fi series. Next came Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982, and since then, the franchise has existed in some shape or form ever since, with the most recent example being the third film in the Star Trek reboot series, which has made nearly $200 million at the worldwide box office thus far.
According to Shatner, Star Trek's continued existence comes down to the type of stories the franchise likes to tell.
"Star Trek, at its best, tells human stories," he said. "Star Wars was grand, like opera. It was huge with great special effects. It was a marvelously entertaining film, but it wasn't specifically about people the way those Star Treks were."
Star Trek Beyond is currently in theaters, while the new TV series, Star Trek Discovery, is set to debut in 2017. The next Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, hits theaters this December.