William Shatner Explains Star Trek's Continued Popularity: "We're on the Verge of Extinction"

For more than 50 years, even though eras when the franchise was in a lull, Star Trek fandom has been vibrant and strong. Upon his 90th birthday, and turning himself into artificial intelligence, original Star Trek series star William Shatner reflected on why Gene Roddenberry's vision has so firmly stood the test of time and why it seems to resonate even more strongly today. Shatner was blunt with the situation we find ourselves in during an appearance on PeopleTV's Couch Surfing, stating that "We're on the verge of extinction. We are poisoning ourselves out of life, and the Earth will survive and this little cancer, mankind, that's growing all around her will die off the way a body gets a temperature and kills the germs off. Mother Earth will get rid of us because we're a pestilence. But we don't have to be. And we can join with the rest of life that makes it here on Earth with equanimity."

Our current situation and the hope that we can turn things around is, in Shatner's view, part of why Star Trek's optimistic vision of the future feels as vital as it does. "The fact that Star Trek exists 400 years from now is sort of a promise that if we do those things, we will, your children, your grandchildren will continue to live and live in fairly decent circumstances if you follow what we're supposed to follow," he said. "Star Trek says we exist 400 years from now, so there's hope. That's what the audience gets, is the hope. That's the message of Star Trek, and that's why I think Star Trek is popular."

Shatner will celebrate his birthday with a two-day belated celebration with some Star Trek fans at the Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tours location in Ticonderoga, New York later this year. He also remains proud of his time in Star Trek, as he expressed while accepted the Emmy's Governors Award on behalf of the franchise in 2018.

“Thank you so much. 52 years. What a gift. We’re grateful," Shatner said. "Star Trek has endured because it represents an idea – one that’s greater than the sum of our parts….we watch and we reach to see the best version of ourselves…. Star Trek is a phenomenon… I accept this award with honor.”

What do you think of Shatner's assessment of Star Trek's longevity? Let us know in the comments.