John Trimble, The Most Important Star Trek Fan Ever, Dead At 87

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

John Trimble Star Trek

Star Trek is perhaps the most venerable science fiction franchise ever made, premiering in 1966 and continuing to this day. However, that franchise would have died out with The Original Series if not for the contributions of John Trimble, making him the most important fan in Star Trek history.

Sadly, Trimble has now passed away at the age of 87, and fans have the chance to honor his memory by enjoying the franchise he helped to save.

John And Bjo Trimble Launch A Campaign

John Trimble Star Trek

How, though, did John Trimble save Star Trek? First off, he didn’t do it alone. He and his wife Bjo Trimble were major fans of The Original Series, but that show was in danger of being canceled after season two.

NBC would have ended the adventures of Captain Kirk and crew if not for the Trimbles, who launched a grassroots letter-writing campaign to help save the show.

Star Trek Getting Canceled?

John Trimble Star Trek

All of this happened mostly due to a stroke of luck when John and Bjo Trimble got the chance to visit the set of Star Trek: The Original Series during the production of season two.

At one point, they grabbed some food from craft services, an area that was a well-known nexus of what John called “underground gossip.” That day, the gossip said the show was getting canceled after season two, prompting John and Bjo Trimble to launch a letter-writing campaign to save Star Trek.

Had Work With Post Office

You might not think that a letter-writing campaign would be that difficult to pull off. However, the most difficult part was learning all the rules of the post office, including how to use the relatively new zip code system.

Fortunately for future fans, John memorized all the rules needed to pull off this unprecedented grassroots campaign.

Star Trek: The Original Series Gets Second Season

Thanks to John and Bjo Trimble’s letter-writing campaign, Star Trek: The Original Series got a third season, but NBC finally pulled the plug after that (I imagine episodes like “Spock’s Brain” made that decision fairly easy).

Because of that, you might wonder why John is now remembered as the man who saved the franchise. In short, what was the big deal with saving The Original Series for one measly season?

Simple: while NBC didn’t want to spend any more money making new episodes of Star Trek, they were happy to generate profits by broadcasting reruns. Three seasons meant that The Original Series went into syndication, with NBC keeping the show on the air long after its cancellation.

Syndication Gets New Fans

Thanks to syndication, Star Trek found a new generation of fans (many of them college students), and the renewed popularity of the old show led to the launch of an animated series.

Both the new Animated Series and the ongoing syndicated success of Star Trek: The Original Series helped the franchise become a pop culture fixture. That popularity helped Trek branch into films and spinoff TV shows, continuing the vision of Gene Roddenberry long after his death. None of this would have been possible without John Trimble, the man who saved Star Trek.

What A Difference A Fan Makes

Next time you tune into a new episode of Discovery or a beloved rerun of The Next Generation, think about the contributions of John Trimble.

He showed the world how much of a difference a fan can make and ultimately affected the lives of millions of fans. John will be sorely missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife and fellow Star Trek savior Bjo.

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