10 Star Trek: The Original Series Episodes That Were Almost Made

What could have been for the Original Star Trek...

The Joy Machine Star Trek

When Star Trek finished its original run on NBC on June 3, 1969, there had been seventy-nine episodes ("and thirty good ones," at least according to Philip J. Fry). But not every story conceived for the show made its way to the screen — often for good reason.

As with all art, there is inevitably a good deal of intrigue for fans in what could have been. And from the scrap-heap of partially developed stories and episode concepts emerge a pack of interesting behind-the-scenes stories of the episodes that didn't come to be and why they were scrapped...

10. “Shol”

The Joy Machine Star Trek

Darlene Hartman was a New Orleans-based writer who got her foot in the door on Star Trek by submitting four spec scripts, the last of which was called "Shun-Daki.” Story editor D.C. Fontana felt that script, which featured Spock in a ritual duel and references to his father, infringed upon "Amok Time" and "Journey to Babel."

Furthermore, she believed it would take a page one rewrite (i.e. a complete rewrite from beginning to end) to be shootable. Associate producer Bob Justman had reservations, too, writing, "We have a lot of talk - we don't have enough physical conflict, or peril."

Nonetheless, Gene Roddenberry saw something in Hartman, telling producer Gene L. Coon, “I'm of the opinion that she is one of these rare examples of unsolicited manuscript writers who is worth some time and attention.” He invited her to pitch the show, and she submitted five story premises. Those were rejected, too, but Roddenberry stuck with Hartman, finally writing a story “springboard” with Gene Coon for her to turn into an outline.

As Hartman’s outline begins, a landing party beams down to a verdant planet and discovers a small colony of artists. Industry and agriculture seem alien to them; their every need is provided by something called Shol.

Kirk asks where they can find Shol, but the natives shrug, telling him, “When he wants you, you will know.” Soon thereafter, Uhura and Sulu turn up dead. “They joined Shol,” says one of the natives. After investigation, the crew discovers that the ecology of the planet is in complete balance, and the natives are in perfect health. There are also no elders among them.

Searching for Shol, McCoy and Scotty call Kirk with excitement — they have found him! By the time Kirk arrives, however, McCoy and Scotty are dead, too. Kirk is filled with rage, and sets off with a phaser to put an end to Shol. As Kirk is about to fire at Shol, who appears as a being of pure light, Spock knocks the phaser from his hand. Shol is not a malevolent alien, but the collected consciousness of thousands of beings — including the dead Enterprise crew.

Spock believes they can get them back if he, too, joins Shol. Spock’s scheme is risky, but it works, and he returns to life along with Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, and McCoy. All are overwhelmed by the experience, even Spock, who is “badly shaken, moved as he has never been moved before, and trembling visibly.” None of them can adequately describe their experience. As Kirk leaves, a native gives him a gift: "a bit of white marble, done faultlessly in the form of an apple, forever inedible."

Gene Coon rewrote Hartman’s outline, adding a subplot about McCoy having a nervous breakdown, and then sent Hartman off to write the script. She turned in two drafts, neither of which solved the story’s fundamental problem, which D.C. Fontana put best, writing, “has anyone noticed that Captain Kirk blunders around (a) at first only receiving information and (b) making a jerk of himself in the second half?”

When combined with the story’s similarities to the “The Apple,” which had already been filmed, it was decided to junk the script, rather than waste time on yet another rewrite. Hartman ended her association with Star Trek without a produced credit.


Michael is one of the founders of FACT TREK (www.facttrek.com), a project dedicated to untangling 50+ years of mythology about the original Star Trek and its place in TV history. He currently is the Director of Sales and Digital Commerce at Shout! Factory, where he has worked since 2014. From 2013-2018, he ran the popular Star Trek Fact Check blog (www.startrekfactcheck.blogspot.com).