Star Trek Legends Assemble For 50th Anniversary Panel At Comic-Con

William Shatner, Scott Bakula, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan and Brent Spiner joined Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer Bryan Fuller.
Posted on Jul 23, 2016 | 03:30pm
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Star Trek beamed down to San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, joined by a Starfleet crew's worth of Trek vets: William Shatner (Star Trek), Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise), Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek: Deep Space Nine), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager), and Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Meanwhile, Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer, Bryan Fuller served as moderator.

Watch the full panel here (or pick from other highlights further down):

Fuller launched the panel with an important distinction. "I didn’t want to be a writer," he said, "I wanted to be a Star Trek writer." Introducing the actors, he continued, "These folks are the faces of the future."


The future was a recurring theme during the panel. Fuller cited Star Trek as a blueprint for a bright future, and emphasized that Star Trek was instrumental in tackling social issues head on. 

Kicking off the discussion with Shatner, the iconic Captain Kirk was asked if he would he be game to reprise his role, assuming his character could be brought back to life.

"Hell yes!" he answered.

Spiner, who played Data on The Next Generation, was asked about one of his android character's most memorable episodes, "The Measure of a Man." He noted how relevant that episode remains today. "Star Trek in general has been about individual rights, about respecting everyone for who and what they are," he said. "A lot of our politicians and citizens could take a page from Star Trek."

Dorn, who started his Star Trek career as the Klingon Lieutenant Worf on The Next Generation, said series Creator Gene Roddenberry hoped that people in the future "had moved on" from certain contemporary issues. He pointed out that the Berlin Wall came down around the same as Next Gen, and that the show still found ways to reflect society's concerns of the time. For example, he pointed to the bigotry displayed towards Klingons.

Jeri Ryan, who played Seven of Nine, began with an observation about her character's Borg race: "I will say one thing for the Borg... they absolutely respected every species... They certainly weren’t exclusionary."

While Shatner was the franchise’s original captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the first in the timeline was Bakula’s character, Jonathan Archer. What was it like for Bakula filling those Starfleet boots?

"Being the first captain, that's what sold me [on the role]," he said before offering perspective on the franchise's legacy. "We're all one unified species. I am and continue to be hopeful and positive that somehow, even when it’s dark and seems impossible, that we as a species will figure it out," he said. "The scientists help us and the dreamers help us."

"Science fiction—some of it is optimism," added Shatner. "And yet the time has come to figure it out. It’s approaching the late hour."

Best Captain?
As a general question to the panel, Fuller asked who each actor’s favorite Captain was.

"I can't imagine that I would be," Shatner said, garnering laughs from the crowd of thousands. "I did a documentary called The Captains... and they were incredible individuals. Every single one are superb human beings."

Fuller then rephrased the question: Second favorite captain?

"Second favorite captain? Picard!" Bakula answered.

"Each one, I thought, was great in their time," Dorn said. "When I first watched Trek, you couldn’t beat Kirk… Each one has maintained the area he [or she] is great in."

Regarding The Original Series and The Next Generation, Dorn remarked, "To watch them back to back, it’s so different. Kirk would go down to the planet and start punching people out." Dorn followed that with a pretty good Picard impression, but it might be impossible to top Spiner's impression of the Next Gen captain.


Fuller had his own response: "Before them all, we had Captain Archer, who made the path… I love all the captains, but my favorite is Kate Mulgrew [as Captain Janeway]."

Favorite Trek Tech?
What about each panelist's favorite piece of Star Trek technology? Watch what they had to say:


"We had iPads on [The Next Generation]." Dorn mentioned, and Ryan noted that the late Steve Jobs said it was modeled after what was on the show.

"I want transporters," Ryan said. "I want a damn transporter!"

"I like the idea of the replicator, particularly where food is consumed," Spiner said. "I like to think of the replicator as a metaphor for what is possible… So many charities require help, financial help... but food seems easy. We have food. I don’t know how, especially in this country, people don’t get food. So, if everyone had a replicator, that would be solved."

"We had his glow-in-the dark blue gel that we could rub on each other and decontaminate," Bakula said.

"The communicator," Shatner joked, mimicking someone on a smartphone. "If somebody would just invent this..." 

Favorite Alien Species?
Moving on to fan questions, the panel was asked what their favorite Star Trek species was. They had some fun answers:


Bakula enjoyed the "blue guys" with antennas -- the Andorians. Others agreed.

“I like the Borg," Ryan said. "They were badass."

"And they understood togetherness," Dorn chimed in.

"I like the androids," Spiner answered, and adding, jokingly, "I think one was enough."

"The tribbles," Shatner replied. "They remind us of the dangers of the world."

Regarding Discovery...
Looking ahead, Fuller talked a bit more about the new series, Star Trek: Discovery, and what it will offer viewers. "Star Trek has always been an intimate adventure," he said, "an adventure of humankind. What the new series needs to do is continue to be progressive, push boundaries and tell stories that give us hope for a future."


Fuller went on, "We’ve got new things; we're telling stories in a brand new way. We're not going to be doing it episodic. We're going to be telling stories like a novel."

Of course, Star Trek holds up a mirror to society and makes us look at it in a critical way. How does Fuller see the new series being a mark of hope and comfort to people in uncertain times?

"One of the most beautiful things of Star Trek is that you have people who see this show and they want to be scientists, they want to make it into space," Fuller said. "We have to celebrate a progression of our species, because it seems right now we as a species need a little help. There's nothing like the guiding light that Gene Roddenberry hung high in the sky."

A Moment of Silence
At the end of the panel, Fuller asked the audience to join hands and promise to uphold the morals and destiny of Star Trek, which was followed by a moment of silence for the recently deceased Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on The Original Series, and Anton Yelchin, who portrayed Pavel Chekov on the rebooted series of movies up to this year's Star Trek Beyond.

Watch Fuller's pledge:


After that, Fuller debuted a brand new teaser for Star Trek: Discovery, featuring a test flight of the series' new starship, the U.S.S. Discovery, which was met with huge applause from the crowd.


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Stream the entire first season of Star Trek: Discovery, exclusively on CBS All Access.