Gene Roddenberry's Original Pitch For Star Trek 2 Will Blow Your Mind

Roddenberry’s Star Trek II: Kirk Meet JFK

Star Trek the Wrath of Khan Captain Kirk William Shatner

Instead of opening with an explosive no-win scenario with Kirstie Alley at the helm, Roddenberry’s “Star Trek II” opens with the U.S.S. Enterprise arriving at Earth with Spock’s parents Sarek and Amanda Grayson aboard. But something is wrong. Instead of a pristine technocratic utopia, planet Earth is now a desolate wasteland inhabited by savage de-evolved former humans.

The Enterprise crew then discovers that Klingons have used the Guardian of Forever to travel back in time to successfully undermine human history. But before the Enterprise can travel back in time, they are attacked by the dreaded Klingons resulting in the death of Spock’s parents.

Somehow, the Enterprise is able to travel through the Guardian of Forever and crash lands in Canada on November 22, 1963 --the day of the Kennedy assassination. However, instead of participating in the parade that will result in his assassination, Kennedy is quickly diverted to the White House to examine new U-2 spy plane reconnaissance of a UFO ---which is actually the Enterprise. Captain Kirk is whisked to the Oval Office and meets President Kennedy before beaming him up to the bridge of his own ship.

The surviving details of this pitch contradict in how the movie ends. Some accounts claim that Kirk and the Enterprise defeat the Klingons and return to the Twenty-Third Century with a resurrected President Kennedy and a love interest for Dr. McCoy whom he marries after taking her back to the future. What is that Temporal Prime Directive, anyhow?

However, several other accounts of the pitch aggressively claim that Roddenberry’s Star Trek II ending was reminiscent of “The City on the Edge of Forever” in which President Kennedy must die to maintain the integrity of the timeline. Apparently, the unknown shooter on the grassy knoll was an Enterprise crewmember. After Kennedy’s death, the Enterprise defeats the Klingons and returns to the Twenty-Third Century.

With these details in hand, Roddenberry marched into the Paramount executives ready to bring his vision to the silver screen. Except that didn’t happen.


Aloha and NuqneH (the Klingon equivalent of "hello"), As a professional public historian, it is my job to get the non-academic public involved in the process of historical interpretation. In the Pop Culture universe, my specialty is uncovering abandoned Star Trek TV projects and postulating how their presence would have affected the Trek universe --both creatively and financially-- if they were actually produced. As I am also an inner-city high school teacher, I am a member of the Teachers Talking Trek Network so feel free to follow me on Twitter @TrekTeachers. Mahalo Nui Loa (deepest thanks in "Hawaiian") and Live Long and Prosper!