The Star Trek Original Series Cast’s Best Non-Star Trek Roles

The cast of The Original Series went far beyond the Star Trek frontier.

Star Trek: The Original Series Cast
Photo: CBS via Getty Images

William Shatner. Leonard Nimoy. Nichelle Nichols. These names belong to some of the most influential actors in television history, but they are almost interchangeable with the names James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Uhura. For better or for worse, these names and faces are inextricably tied to the characters they played. 

That said, anyone who only knows the cast of Star Trek’s original series as the command crew of the USS Enterprise is missing out on some pretty fantastic acting work elsewhere. Every member of the cast had credits before the first season in 1966, and they all went on to other projects after the show’s cancelation in 1969, even as they reconvened for the feature films. If you don’t want to sift through hours of Westerns and police procedurals, here is a cheat sheet to the best non-Trek performances from the stars of The Original Series

As much as comedians love to mock him for his over-the-top line deliveries, no one gets the comedic potential of William Shatner better than William Shatner. Even as Kirk, Shatner got to show off his comic chops from time to time (“No, no, I’m from Iowa, I only work in outer space”). Several movies and series have used Shatner’s silly side to great effect, including an infamous Saturday Night Live episode. 

Shatner put his comedic and dramatic skills to use in The Practice spin-off Boston Legal, where he played Denny Crane, the uncouth and powerful partner of the central law firm. Shatner’s outrageous approach is on full display in the season five episode “Dances With Wolves,” in which Crane stood trial for shooting a mugger. Throughout the episode, Crane does everything from tote several guns to every form of overt sexism, but Shatner’s comfort with big characters allowed him to sell an outrageous person without breaking the reality of the series. 


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