Star Trek proves animation is just as valid as live-action with Strange New World's crossover episode.
In the season 2 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode “Those Old Scientists,” the show crosses over with the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks. Even though Lower Decks is an animated comedy, Paramount has always been clear that it is as much canon as any other Star Trek show.
So it made sense to see the Lower Decks characters show up in live action, we’ve already seen the teaser photos. What no one expected is that the crew of the Enterprise would also cross over into animation.
It happens at the very end of “Those Old Scientists” after Ensign Boimler has already been sent back to his animated world. There’s no real explanation for why the Enterprise crew is suddenly rendered in animation.
When Boimler shows up in live-action during the episode, it’s because he gets sucked into a time portal. It has consequences, and there’s even discussion of things like why Spock smiles on the show. But this happens just because it’s kind of fun.
We end up seeing much of the show redone in Lower Decks animation style. They do a few great shots of a 2D animated Enterprise, and they even redo the show’s entire opening in animated form, complete with a Lower Decks signature Koala inserted in the credits.
Fun is something Star Trek: Strange New Worlds does well. Best of all, the show manages to have fun without sacrificing the basic structures of logical plot progression and storytelling.
Even though Lower Decks is an animated comedy, Paramount has always been clear that it is as much canon as any other Star Trek show.
That might seem like a given, but it’s something Star Trek: Discovery has been totally incapable of accomplishing. Maybe that’s why Strange New Worlds is still going while Discovery has been, thankfully, canceled.
If there’s a message here for Star Trek fans, it’s that animation is every bit as valid a medium for Star Trek storytelling as live-action is. It’s a view that the franchise has really always taken.
When the original Star Trek was canceled after only three seasons, the crew’s adventures continued in animated form with Star Trek: The Animated Series. That show is now also widely considered to be canon. Lower Decks is just following in its footsteps.
There’s more animation on Star Trek’s horizon, too. The franchise recently announced four upcoming shorts done in the animation style of Star Trek: The Animated Series.