Star Trek Creator Nearly Banned From Paramount

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek roddenberry

Star Trek: The Original Series was created by Gene Roddenberry, and he was very protective of the later spinoff show The Next Generation. This meant he often clashed with Paramount executives, including arguing about how long the premiere episode “Encounter At Farpoint” should be. Facing Roddenberry’s refusal to write the two-hour episode the network wanted, the President of Paramount Network Television, John Pike, threatened to bar the franchise creator from the company lot.

No One Knows Why Roddenberry Made A Big Deal Of Things

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To this day, it’s not entirely clear why the Star Trek creator objected so strongly to the studio’s request, but Gene Roddenberry initially put his foot down about writing a longer episode. In John Pike’s memory of the discussion with Roddenberry, he doesn’t remember the other man being calm and collected during a meeting about this matter. Instead, he said, “I thought Gene was going to come across the table at me.”

Paramount Wanted TNG’s Premiere To Feel Grand

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Why was Paramount so adamant that Star Trek: The Next Generation needed a two-hour premiere despite the objections of Gene Roddenberry? The short answer is that the studio knew what a big deal a new Star Trek show would be for fans. They wanted the series to hit the ground running with an ambitious feature-length episode, but the series creator was (at first) having none of it.

A Risky Bluff

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Things came to a head between the Star Trek studio and Gene Roddenberry when John Pike told the franchise creator “Gene, quite frankly, if you do not do this, I will bar you from the lot.” In reality, Pike was bluffing and acting out of nervous anxiety–worrying that Roddenberry could walk away and end up costing Paramount millions of dollars. Executive producer Rick Berman stayed out of the conflict, and while the threat may have been a bluff, it spurred Roddenberry into a surprising solution. 


The Star Trek studio was willing to compromise with Gene Roddenberry to some degree, including making “Encounter At Farpoint” only one and a half hours. By the time it was all over, the episode would be written by Original Series writer D.C. Fontana at Gene Roddenberry’s direct request. However, this ended up causing nearly as much drama as Roddenberry’s original defiance of Paramount.

Roddenberry Wasn’t A Great Boss

The other Star Trek powers that be couldn’t decide on how long the episode would be when Fontana started writing, and Gene Roddenberry eventually told her to just write a one-and-a-half-hour episode instead of a two-hour one despite the fact that she was contracted to get a bonus if it was two hours. Later, the studio decided a two-hour pilot was best because it could later be turned into two one-hour episodes.

Fontana alleged that she was ready to expand her script but that Roddenberry told her he would take care of it. After she expressed concerns about losing out on her potential bonus, Roddenberry said he would take care of that, too, but she never saw that bonus and later ruefully said that she forgot that “working for Gene Roddenberry always costs me money.”

TNG Went On To Greatness… Eventually

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Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry never did get banned from Paramount but had it happened, writers like Fontana (certainly not the only writer he screwed over) might have considered that a form of karmic justice. It’s also a small miracle “Encounter At Farpoint” turned out so well considering all of the drama that went into its production. Ironically enough, The Next Generation wouldn’t hit its stride until the show hired Michael Piller as head writer and finally shed its reputation as a series where writers were treated like something the targ ate.

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