William Shatner lit up social media with the news that he is taking a flight into space, as part of Jeff Bezos' next Blue Origin space flight mission. While fans are celebrating William Shatner going to go into space (at age 90 no less!), his mission with Blue Origin has re-opened another topic of discussion: when will we see William Shatner back in the Star Trek franchise?
Shatner made it abundantly clear to Comicbook.com that doing an entire Star Trek series is now beyond him. There's also the small problem that his character, Captain James T. Kirk, died helping Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the film Star Trek: Generations.
"...Doing a series is debilitating for a young guy, for a 25-year-old, which I was doing when I was 25 years old." Shatner said in 2019. "It's a physical wrecker, it's a mental wrecker, and it's a homewrecker 'cause you're working 14, 18 hours a day... no, I would not be interested in doing a series, per se."
That all said, the new Star Trek Universe that is being built on Paramount+, as well as the movies also in development, all offer opportunity for William Shatner to show up in some important (or just downright fun) ways. Here are a few ideas:
One of the quickest, easiest, and yes cheapest ways to get William Shatner in for a fun Star Trek appearance is as some kind of Hologram figures or monuments in any of one of the future-set episodes of current Star Trek Universe series Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard. Those shows have already featured various Easter egg monuments to Star Trek's past, and Shatner could really ham it up in a quick dialogue bit to honor his legacy as Kirk.prevnext
Similar to the idea of Kirk returning as a Hologram figure, is the idea that he could return as a synthetic android. Both Picard and Discovery have had storylines dealing with rogue A.I. threatening the universe, with Picard Season 2 transforming Jean-Luc into a synthetic man after his body's death, with the prophecy of a robot apocalypse still hanging over the series.
If Captain Picard can go on as an android, who's to say Captain Kirk (and 90-year-old Wiliam Shatner) could return in that form as well - be it as friend or foe to Picard (we'd prefer the latter).prevnext
Dead Man's Spirit
The plot of Star Trek: Generations saw Kirk seemingly "die" in his own time, only for Picard to find him trapped in the "Nexus," a spiritual realm Kirk has been treating as heaven. Even though Kirk left that realm and died in the "real world" aiding Picard in battle, it would almost be a sweeter Swan Song to have the now-synthetic Picard somehow return to the Nexus (or some such realm) and once again encounter his old friend and fellow captain. You wouldn't be able to hold bag he fan tears.prevnext
Look, we all saw what Star Wars did with The Mandalorian season 2 finale: de-aging a much older Mark Hamill for an epic cameo as Luke Skywalker from the era of Return of the Jedi. If they can do that for Hamill, there are absolutely zero reasons that VFX can't turn William Shatner back into a younger Captain Kirk (at least from the era of the Star Trek movies). The upcoming Star Trek: Strange New Worlds prequel series will examine the missions of Kirk's predecessor on the Enterprise, Captain Pike, and a younger Spock. If that show includes some kind of cameo (or two) from a young Kirk, it would make it feel that much more complete.prevnext
This would be a neat (and cost-effective) little idea: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds could arguably benefit from having a narrator who introduces (and closes) its episodes. Shatner's best quality in Star Trek has always been his vocal mannerisms, making him a potentially great surprise narrator for the stories of Strange New Worlds, as Kirk retelling the stories.prevnext
Star Trek: Discovery introduced the alternate universe timeline of the Terran Empire, a dark war-mongering vision of Earth's expansion into the universe. After seeing how much fun Terran versions of Star Trek characters and lore can be, what fan WOULDN'T want to see "Terran Kirk" as a vicious (yet lovably funny) warlord?prevnext
Okay, obviously not as THE God - but you know, one of those almighty omnipotent entities that we find in the Star Trek Universe. If Picard has his Q, why can't Michael Burnham or other current heroes of the Star Trek franchise meet an entity that models itself after a certain famous space captain and iconic explorer. It may be the only role worthy enough to lure Bill Shatner back...prevnext