Some of you out there might have heard the term “a television series Bible.” No, that doesn’t mean the King James version on the set of Young Sheldon. It means the extensive documents which form the backbone of a television series’ premise and characters. And no shows have had Bibles as extensive as those for Star Trek.
Now, the official Star Trek site (via Gizmodo), has shared the Bibles of four of the post-original series Trek shows. You can now read the Bibles for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, by clicking on their respective links.
As the original article details, a TV series Bible is often just the guidebook for what the creators want the show to be. More often than not, a show’s cast, and the logistics of filming, change that original intent. Nowhere was this more true than on TNG. This also was also the last Star Trek series creator Gene Roddenberry personally worked on. His vision of the future wasn’t always easy to implement.
According to that show’s Bible, TNG was originally much more focused on the idea of families in space. Although that was always there, it often got sidelined. The show’s Bible also describes Riker as the series “co-lead.” That ultimately turned out to be not true. Data and even Worf got just as much screen time as Number One did. Speaking of Worf, he’s not even in the original series Bible! He was a very late addition to the series. It’s hard to imagine TNG without him now.
One very dated part of the TNG Bible is that Doctor Beverly Crusher is first described as “extremely attractive.” This above all of her other personality traits. For a show against sexism in theory, that’s pretty blatantly sexist. There was even a rule about no original series aliens popping up. Of course, that notion quickly got dropped too. Worf is proof of this.
The other three series stayed a little truer to their Bibles than TNG. But there were still some significant changes. DS9’s promenade was not as alien and dingy as they planned. Resembling the market seen in Blade Runner was the original idea. It was probably cost-prohibitive. The notion of special equipment needed for ships to pass through the Bajoran wormhole also does not make the cut either.
The holographic Doctor on Voyager originally was going to shift personalities. He’d have a different persona each time they activated him. Captain Janeway’s original first name was Elisabeth and not Kathryn. Did Kate Mulgrew’s casting change that? She has quite a vocal resemblance to Katharine Hepburn after all. And Enterprise’s Vulcan crewmember T’Pol? Originally, she was T’Pau, from the original series episode “Amok Time.” T’Pol later appeared in season four. And there are several other odd examples of things that almost were.
Sadly, no such show Bibles are available for current Trek shows like Discovery or Picard. We’d love to see how those shows differed at the concept level. We know that Bryan Fuller’s Discovery differed in many ways from the final product. But we may have to wait until years after those series have ended to see those. The last thing the producers probably want is to see things they dropped they might still have a chance to do. But we hope we get to see it someday.