Gene Roddenberry’s Original Sci-Fi Show Before Star Trek Revealed In Historic Document, Read It Now

By Robert Scucci | Published

gene roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry

Most legends come from humble beginnings, and in some cases, their early works from before their big break resurface years later for us to read in awe. Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, is no exception to the rule, and a recent IndieWire exclusive gives us a look at one of his earliest pitches in the science-fiction genre.

Gene Roddenberry’s first sci-fi pitch was with “The Transporter”

Predating Star Trek: The Original Series by over a decade, the pitch was called “The Transporter,” and was intended to be an installment on the Ziv TV anthology series, Science Fiction Theatre.

This early document, which you can see below and access through IndieWire in PDF form, is a brief, yet significant insight into the mind of Gene Roddenberry, who started writing for Ziv TV in 1955. Before he shifted gears to science fiction, he functioned as a liaison for the LAPD because he worked as a police officer in the early ’50s.

During his early days working for the network, he worked with the writers for Jack Webb’s Dragnet, a popular series that was centered on LAPD exploits and operations.

Working on Dragnet was how Gene Roddenberry cut his teeth as a writer early in his career. During this time, he took actual LAPD cases and distilled them into short treatments that would then be fleshed out and developed by Jack Webb’s writing staff and turned into full scripts.

Gene Roddenberry originally worked and wrote for Dragnet

As his career took off, Roddenberry continued to work with the network under the pseudonym “Robert Wesley,” and worked as a technical advisor for series like Mr. District Attorney and Highway Patrol, both of which he wrote and sold scripts for.

Having proven himself as a writer, Gene Roddenberry eventually wrote a treatment for “The Transporter,” and for the first time ever we can read the document that not only reads like a pilot for Star Trek but also contains notations in pencil that were written by Roddenberry himself.

As the title suggests, the episode would have been what sounds like a rough sketch of the holodeck that would be further explored in Star Trek: The Animated Series, and The Next Generation decades later.

Though this initial treatment wasn’t picked up when he first pitched it, Roddenberry must have known that he was onto something special because it’s clear that the mind behind Star Trek was already thinking about bigger and better things.

This just goes to show you that sometimes you just have to wait for a brilliant idea to gestate, develop, and take on a life of its own. Gene Roddenberry’s estate has reason to believe that “The Transporter” was his first attempt at writing science fiction.

He was just only beginning to explore this new and exciting territory, his writing still had room to grow into what would become the iconic Star Trek franchise that’s just as relevant today as it was at its inception.

The important takeaway from viewing this document is that every great writer has to start somewhere, and Gene Roddenberry is a prime example of somebody whose imagination and early vision would go on to have a profound impact on science fiction and pop culture that simply cannot be overstated.

So if you’re pitching your own ideas and are discouraged by the seemingly never-ending process of rejections and revisions, just think about the world we’d be living in if Gene Roddenberry didn’t believe in himself.