5 Reasons Why William Shatner’s Star Trek Role Was So Important

Photo by Dom Talbot on Unsplash

William Shatner is an Emmy Award-winning actor, director, writer, and spokesperson. He played Captain James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek television series and in seven of the subsequent movies.

Shatner’s role as Captain Kirk was not only important to his own career, but also to science fiction fans everywhere. Here are five reasons why William Shatner’s role on Star Trek was so significant:

1) The Show Changed TV History

In 1966, Star Trek was the first U.S. television series to show a black woman and an Asian man as equals with white people (a Russian and a Scotsman). The series used science fiction to depict racial equality and cultural diversity long before such topics became popular in mainstream entertainment — not only on Star Trek but in society as a whole.

2) He Made Sure LGBTQ Characters Appeared On TV Before Anyone Else Did

William Shatner is among those who deserve credit for making sure that LGBTQ characters appeared on TV before anyone else did. While he played an often heterosexual Kirk, he insisted that the series’ writers include gay characters, too. The second Star Trek film, “The Wrath of Khan,” featured a same-sex kiss between two male actors (Nichelle Nichols and George Takei).

3) He Inspired A Generation Of Scientists

The late astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was inspired to become an astronomer, in part, because of Shatner’s role as Captain Kirk on Star Trek. During a taping of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” with host Jerry Seinfeld, Tyson said that his mother accepted his interest in astronomy when he told her it was connected to the captain of the USS Enterprise.

4) Largely Due To Shatner, Star Trek Became A Phenomenon

Star Trek is still known for its cultural impact even today because of William Shatner’s role as Captain Kirk in 1966. The show ran for only three seasons but spawned countless films and TV series, as well as books, comics, and conventions.

5) He Had A Major Role In The Stardate System’s Creation

While Shatner’s role in the creation of the stardate system is not extremely significant when you look at his entire career, but it remains a part of Star Trek history that cannot be ignored. In the second pilot episode, Shatner’s character of Captain Kirk provides a voice-over log entry that establishes — or rather, coins — the stardates that would be used in every subsequent Star Trek series and film.

Indeed, William Shatner plays a very important role in science fiction history and pop culture. His legacy will live on for a very long time.



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Gary Mike Adams

Gary Mike Adams


I am an eclectic writer with many interests and topics that go through my head daily. I am extremely passionate about my craft and always want to push further.