Star Trek is now one of the most famous television series of all time. But before the world fell in love with the intergalactic storyline, Star Trek was just a new show on TV that no one had heard of.
On December 12, 1964, shooting started for Star Trek’s original pilot titled “The Cage.” And although the episode was finished and ready to be aired by January 22, 1965, NBC rejected it. However, thankfully, they asked that another pilot be made instead of canceling the show.
In the episode, the starship crew makes their way to a far-off planet where another ship in the fleet had been shipwrecked eighteen years earlier. When they arrive, they must deal with a telepathic alien species which are looking to capture a human male for their menagerie.
Reportedly, NBC thought the original pilot was slow-moving and too based on intellectual information instead of being an action-packed adventure.
After “The Cage” didn’t make the cut, the footage was essentially tucked away, and an entirely new pilot was made with different actors, energy, and even different personalities for the characters.
Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was actually the only actor to keep his role in the following pilot that was made. But true fans noticed (after seeing “The Cage” years later) that they drastically changed his personality from eager and excited to logical and conservative.
The famous phasers were also originally called lasers, and many of the weapons and technology were changed after the first pilot didn’t get picked up.
“The Cage” was written by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Robert Butler, but after they got the news that it wasn’t to be used as the pilot, James Goldstone stepped in to direct the second pilot.
Luckily for everyone, NBC was extremely excited when they saw the second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” And as we now know, so was the rest of the world!
While the footage taken for “The Cage” was essentially just put to the side, the producers did end up using some of it for a later episode in the season called “The Menagerie.”
However, the actual episode as a whole was not released to the public until 1986 on VHS with a special commentary from Gene Roddenberry. And in 1988, the episode was finally aired on television for all Star Trek fans to enjoy.
Today, many people have seen the original pilot, “The Cage.” While many see its value in the series, it’s widely agreed that Star Trek’s direction after the episode was rejected made for far better television and truly made the show the success it is today.