Since it’s debut in 1973, Star Trek the Animated series has been a thorn in the side of Trekkers and Trekkies alike, why? Because no one knows whether it’s canon or not.
Hello and Welcome to Truth or Myth… In today’s episode we’re going to take a look at canon and how it relates to the animated series and ask ourselves, does this make sense?
WHAT IS CANON?
Well as defined, when it comes to Star Trek, Canon is that which we see on screen, created by the Star Trek Show Runner, through Television Series or Movies that provides factual information on the Star Trek Universe itself. Things like Spock’s father’s name is Sarek for example. So Video Games, comics and novels are NOT canon and thus their information is not reliable are not facts as it pertains to the Star Trek Universe.
Well about comics like the Countdown series created by the Show Runners of Star Trek 2009? Sorry no, they aren’t. The showrunners themselves even said they weren’t and that leads to the term soft canon OR headcanon, which is basically a fan’s own perception of what is and isn’t canon.
What about Star Trek Online? It’s authorized by CBS after all. Again No, Star Trek Online is a video game and since canon is ONLY that which is seen on screen as a series or a movie, none of the events that happen in the game are canon. And if you’ve played that game and thought logically about it you’d agree that it wouldn’t make sense to be canon as too many events created to excite and engage the player base to occur to make it Canon…
OK, SO IS THE ANIMATED SERIES CANON?
That’s a loaded question. By definition alone it is. It was a Star Trek TV Series, animated or not, that was created and aired under the Star Trek Brand Name. But if this is true, why is there so much confusion around it?
The first problem that you encounter with the animated series is that it was designed for children, and that’s a huge problem for fans. Not that the stories weren’t engaging or well thought out, but simply that some crazy things that couldn’t really happen in real life occur.
Take the episode, “The Practical Joker,” for example. After encountering a strange energy field the Enterprise’s computer suddenly comes alive and starts to play practical jokes on the Crew. And the episode climaxes with the Enterprise creating basically a large balloon of herself in space to fool the Romulans. This obviously couldn’t and wouldn’t happen in Real Life. Not the computer being a sentient part though, but the Enterprise being able to create a balloon of herself out of the shuttlebay of the ship, and that the Romulans wouldn’t realize the deception with a simple sensor scan.
So situations like that just seem to be irreconcilable with Star Trek fans, and I understand that as well, groaning myself at that episode every time it comes up on my BluRay.
But that being said there are MANY events in Some of the Worst Trek Episodes Ever, from each series, that ALSO have these ridiculous plot points that really couldn’t happen, everyone remember the episode “Threshold,” from Voyager? But again the difference here isn’t the live action element but simply the childlike element of the animated series. It was created for Saturday Morning after all…
Also, it should be noted that some of the events and/ or elements created by the animated series have been confirmed in the subsequent series and movies. Spock’s childhood in the Episode, “Yesteryear,” the design of Vulcan cities as seen in that same episode. Even using the Transporter to de-age and restore crew members from the Episode “The Lorelei Signal,” bears a striking resemblance to what the TNG Crew do in the Season 2 Episode, “Unnatural Selection,” to save Dr Pulaski. Even the Holodecks make an appearance in the animated series…
The second problem was Gene Roddenberry himself. Yes, the Great Bird of the Galaxy planted the seed in fans minds that the Animated Series was not Canon at various conventions he attended. At least that’s the myth that’s grown…
In fact, the truth is slightly different than that. A Lot of people tend to forget that although brilliant Roddenberry was only a man, and he had flaws, just like us all. And a particularly interesting flaw of his was not being able to keep his stories straight. When at conventions, Roddenberry would take the temperature of the room, so to speak, and then that would tend to sway his opinions. So it’s actually recorded that Roddenberry did in fact state the Animated Series was not canon, but he also said it was and that it was also up to the individual fan, so in this argument, he was really no help at all.
So again, is the Animated Series Canon, and the answer is still yes, but why you ask?
Well, Gene Roddenberry didn’t actually have the power to make that decision at all. YES he created Star Trek, yes he owned part of it, however, canon is fact, like math for example. If Albert Einstein went in front of a class and said that 2+2=5, would that suddenly become true? No of course not, why? Because it’s already been established that 2+2=4 plain and simple…
So he may have been able to shape what was Canon before an episode aired, by cutting or adding things, but once that episode ran on TeleVision for the first time that was it, his power ended. That episode and all it contained became canon. He had no more authority to declare the animated series wasn’t canon then he did to declare water was actually wine.
Some people may find that hard to swallow or believe, in fact, they might find the mere suggestion that he couldn’t outright heresy, but it’s not… It’s merely a statement of fact, like 2+2 or what goes up must come down on this planet etc etc etc
And as for those of you, that think I’m being disrespectful for even suggesting that? It’s not disrespecting, in fact, it’s my great love for Roddenberry and Star Trek that drives me to make these videos, but I’m not here to lie or to sugar coat things for you, I’m here just to provide the facts.
So with all that being said the conclusion, the only conclusion is that YES the animated series IS, in fact, Canon, whether people like it or not. It existed, was created, was broadcast and branded by those that owned Star Trek, thus it’s Canon! I just need to remember that myself every time I watch the Romulans run away in fear at the large Balloon Enterprise…
Thanks for watching today’s episode of Truth Or Myth. I know this one was a hard one, and I’m sure a lot of people have an opinion on it, so please leave those opinions in the comments below, and I’ll try to respond to all of them. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to channel, and again thanks for watching, Live Long and Prosper…
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