Comparison of Star Trek and Star Wars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Fans and scholars of Star Trek, owned by CBS Television Studios, and Star Wars, owned by the Lucasfilm division of The Walt Disney Company, compare the franchises' merits while merchandisers compete to sell rival products.[1] Media critics and analysts have compared and contrasted the two works in particular because of their great impact and similarities. The franchises are both large bodies of work that make up billions of dollars of intellectual property, providing employment and entertainment for millions of people.[2]


  • Star Trek was introduced as a television series in 1966. With the publication of novels, comics, animated series, toys and feature films, it grew into a full scale media franchise. Before that it was simply a television serial and known only as such that lasted three seasons.
  • Star Wars was introduced as a feature film in 1977, though an earlier novel based on the original script of the first film, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, was published about a year before the film. It was not until the release of the first film that Star Wars quickly grew into a popular media franchise.


  • Star Trek has its origin in television and was only known as a television series. The franchise was conceived in the style of the television Western Wagon Train and the adventure stories of Horatio Hornblower but adopted in the idealistic, utopian prospect of future human society. Star Trek‍ '​s main focus is giving a fictional depiction of space exploration and the system of a galactic society consisting of multiple planets and species. Conflict occasionally occurs. Star Trek occurs in the relative distant future (the 22nd through 24th Centuries, with occasional time travel backward and forward) in "our" universe, on an Earth that shares most of real history and throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Star Wars is an epic space opera that was inspired by works such as Beowulf and King Arthur, and the origins of myth and world religions.[3] Star Wars is a story that depicts a galactic society in constant conflict. Though there are periods of peace, this is not documented in the feature films but can be found in the comics and novels and spin-off films. Star Wars is set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" although many characters are human, occasionally use Earth metaphors, and exhibit typical human character traits.[citation needed]


Aside from having the word 'Star' in their respective titles, the two franchises also share many similarities:

  • Both stories depict societies consisting of multiple planets and species. The main galaxy in Star Trek consists of various planets, both human and non-human, united into a single state known as the United Federation of Planets. Star Wars depicts a galaxy that is mostly part of a single state known as the Old Republic, inhabited by both humans and countless other species, that later became the Galactic Empire and later reformed into a new society called the New Republic after a series of wars.
  • Both franchises promote philosophical and political messages, though Star Wars not as much as Star Trek. The main philosophies of Star Trek convey the ethics of exploration and interference and how to morally deal with a new situation when faced by it. Creator Gene Roddenberry was inspired by stories like Gulliver's Travels that implied a morality tale.[4] The main philosophical messages in Star Wars are the ethics of good against evil and how to distinguish one from the other. The philosophy of Star Wars also preaches against the totalitarian system and preaches in favor of societies that give equality to citizens.
  • There have been a few actors who appeared in films of both franchises.[citation needed]

Notable commentaries favoring one franchise over the other[edit]

  • In the book Star Wars vs. Star Trek Tim Russ, who played Tuvok in Star Trek: Voyager, argues that while both franchises are spectacular, Star Trek comes out better than Star Wars because it has a (fictional) setting in humanity's future and can connect with the audience better. Russ further goes to acknowledge that his former role as a Star Trek character could be a factor in such judgements.[6]
  • Science fiction writer David Brin in a 1999 piece criticized Star Wars, terming it as "elitist" and "anti-democractic" and accusing George Lucas of having an "agenda". He terms the Federation of Planets in Star Trek as progressive while criticizing both opposing sides in Star Wars, The Rebel Alliance and The Empire, as two sides of "the same genetically superior royal family."[7]

Influences on one another[edit]

  • The two franchises nonetheless have a "symbiotic relationship", states William Shatner, who credits Star Wars for the beginning of the Star Trek films.[8] The documentary Trek Nation features interviews where both George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry praise one another's respective franchises, with the former stating that Star Trek was an influence while writing the original screenplay for Star Wars.
  • A few references to Star Wars have been inserted into Star Trek films; for fleeting moments one can see ships and droids from Star Wars. Most Star Trek films and some TV episodes used Industrial Light and Magic, founded to provide effects for Star Wars, for their special effects.[citation needed]
  • When Gene Roddenberry was honored at a Star Trek convention late in his life, a congratulatory letter from George Lucas was presented by an actor dressed as Darth Vader. A few years earlier, Roddenberry had contributed an entry in honor of Star Wars and George Lucas at a convention honoring the latter.[citation needed]

Criticisms of both franchises[edit]

  • Star Wars has been repeatedly criticized by various people for what they see as its violent nature and its mythical portrayal as "a contradiction of religious values".[9][10] In a two-page essay Steve Johnson, a contributor for the Chicago Tribune, gave his perception that "Star Wars is overrated".[11] A guest critic on Decent Films Guide raised many issues he feels that Star Wars poses, especially around its growing commerce as well as other issues regarding morality and violence.[10]
  • Star Trek has been criticized by academics, journalists, critics and fans for its promotion of pseudoscience.[12][13][14][15][16] David Kushner is a journalist and author who has written for various publications, including The New York Times. He has been critical of the use of pseudoscience in Hollywood and criticized Star Trek for this reason.[17] Author Mark Juddary in his book Overrated: The 50 Most Overhyped Things in History includes Star Trek amongst the list.[18]

Comic relief[edit]

  • William Shatner was a presenter at George Lucas' AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony in 2007 and did a comical stage performance.
  • In 2011, Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and Shatner posted a series of humorous YouTube videos satirizing each other's franchises.


Both franchises are set to grow in the next few years.

  • Star Trek was rebooted with a series of feature films started with the 2009 film which was followed by a Star Trek: Into Darkness in 2013 and a number of sequels set to follow.


  1. ^ David M. Ewalt (2005-05-18). "Star Wars Vs. Star Trek". Forbes. Retrieved 2007-09-13. 
  2. ^ Richard Ho (May 14, 1999), "Trekkers VS Lucasites", The Harvard Crimson 
  3. ^ Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy. Star Wars Trilogy Box Set DVD documentary. [2005]
  4. ^ See David Alexander[disambiguation needed], Star Trek Creator. The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry and interview with Roddenberry in Something about the Author by Gale Research Company and chapter 11 of Trash Culture: Popular Culture and the Great Tradition by Richard Keller Simon
  5. ^ Lucas Shaw (2013-01-24). "J.J. Abrams Set to Direct Next 'Star Wars' Film (Exclusive)". The Wrap. 
  6. ^ Star Wars vs. Star Trek by Matt Forbeck
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dominguez, Robert (1999-05-17). "William Shatner's Trek Never Ends The Actor-author Keeps Seeking New Challenges While Feeding Fans' Hunger For All Things Kirk". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 2012-01-12. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  9. ^ "SPECIAL COMPARATIVE STUDY - STAR WARS: ChildCare Action Project (CAP) Media Analysis Report MAR07599". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Star Wars: Moral and Spiritual Issues". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Star Wars overrated: May the Force be dissipated". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Justin B Rye. "Star Trek: Mark Two (JBR Mega‐rant – 1)". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  13. ^ On Learning Science and Pseudoscience from Prime-Time Television Programming by Christopher Henry Whittle
  14. ^ Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy edited by William F. Williams
  15. ^ "5 Revolutionary Discoveries In Star Trek: The Next Generation That Were Completely Overlooked". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  16. ^ Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker By Jonathan C. Smith
  17. ^ "The Science of Pseudoscience". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Overrated: The 50 Most Overhyped Things in History

External links[edit]