Last updated on April 13, 2022
Human beings have always found a fascination with space. All over history is the venture of humans to make their way into space and explore it to its fullest. Yet, this fascination with worlds beyond our own isn’t only found in dry books and the news. It’s seen on big and small screens around the world.
Two of the most famous franchises have been ongoing on this platform for decades. Even today, both Star Trek and Star Wars have extensive legacies and production. But that begs the question, how different are the two of them, and which is better?
To answer that, we need to look at both series.
On September 8th, 1966, Star Trek was first introduced to television screens. With a science fiction lens, it offered a commentary on societal issues. At the same time, it dreamt up a better world for humans to live in. Many of the missions that the starship, the U.S.S Enterprise, and her crew went on were fantastical. They were all designed to explore new lands. Despite this, The Original Series of Star Trek only lasted for three seasons because of a lack of demand. Many thought that June 3rd, 1969, would be the last time they could ever see the series.
But that wasn’t the last of the show. Flash forward to 1987 when The Next Generation makes an entrance with a new cast of characters. Following this, there was a resurgence of Star Trek shows. Between these shows, many movies were created for the big screen.
As a result of its innovative ideas, Star Trek has millions of fans (Trekkers and Trekkies) and a legacy. A legacy that is sure to be a lasting one.
Years later, another franchise popped up that had as much impact as Star Trek.
The first Star Wars retitled Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, introduced itself on the big screen on May 25th, 1977. Directed by George Lucas, it was revolutionary. This was due to the use of the half-magical, half-science special effects techniques. Considered to be science fantasy, it stunned audience members. And young boys found an idol in the main character, Luke Skywalker. Following its release, it became an immediate success at the box office. Since then, many new additions to the universe have come out.
With comic books, bound books, and video games, Star Wars doesn’t only occupy the movies. Much of it imbues itself with other media and still does. The lore that its fanbase prides itself upon is deep and everlasting, even if the majority found its obsessions starting with the original set of movies.
Unlike Star Trek fans, Star Wars fans don’t have a fun nickname. Still, they too are passionate about their recognizable figurehead of the stormtrooper.
Regardless, the general public’s propensity to like Star Wars has extended. Even to newer generations, who see new special effects and still appreciate the old. This is a testimony of how classic Star Wars is.
With each “Star” established, it’s important to acknowledge the similarities between them. Starting with the obvious, both Star Trek and Star Wars share similar names and take place in outer space. Within both of them, the themes of war, friendship, and love are all explored and questioned. There are many generations and added plot lines that give characters increasing depth. But most important, Star Trek and Star Wars come from a place of mystics and magic. Both came out with their respective thoughts to push the boundaries of science and technology.
These similarities are all pretty vague for a reason. Because despite their first appearances, Star Trek and Star Wars are nothing alike.
Star vs Star
From a genre standpoint, Star Wars is science fantasy, while Star Trek is science fiction. The distinction between these two is that fantasy is more whimsical and magical. And fiction bases itself more on understandability and science. Fantasy will never happen, while fiction, even if embellished, might be able to happen. Of course, it is doubtful that one-day human beings will achieve warp-capable spaceships. Or that aliens will land on our planet to teach us how to advance ourselves, but that’s not the point.
Star Trek’s relatability is considerable compared to Star Wars. One of the reasons for this is that the universe it takes place in is ours. It features Earth, the Moon, Mars, and unknown planets beyond our reach. Instead of the Milky Way, Star Wars offers the Cularin system. Something which exists only on television screens and in the hearts of many. While both show very fantastical settings, relatability is one aspect that has allowed Star Trek to sit on a higher pedestal.
Important to realize is the focus of each franchise. Star Wars always has one main character that the movie, or many, revolves around. But, Star Trek features an entire crew that usually gets somewhat equal coverage. Of course, there are fan favorites who show up more often, but there is no one hero who shows up to save the day. To be heroes, they all must work together. Because of this, idealists appreciate Star Wars, and realists find similarities in Star Trek.
Diversity in a Growing Universe
In a world where television has deep-reaching influences on the youth, representation is important. Even seeing characters who reflect their identities on the screen is magical in and of itself. Still, the idea of diversity is one that many industries have struggled to meet.
In Star Trek, the crew tackles the idea of diversity with the mindset that it is the future. Earth is diverse, so the show utilizes a diverse cast. Star Trek, in a historical moment, featured the first biracial kiss on television. Although, there are still issues within the show, such as the display of Ferengis in Deep Space 9. The Ferengi are a species that believes earning profit and stimulating the free economy to be the reason for living. Unfortunately, their beliefs and appearances mimic horrible Jewish stereotypes. A similar comparison is the goblins from Gringotts in Harry Potter.
Star Wars started with an all-white crew. While diversity is ever-evolving, Star Wars has yet to have a main character who is not white. Otherwise, Star Trek had two significant Black captains of starships, one of them a woman. Still, it would be remiss to not acknowledge that the cast for Star Wars has seen diversity in recent years. This occurred with Oscar Isaac playing Poe Dameron and John Boyega playing Finn. Also, women have started to become main characters instead of secondary. Yet, dwarfed is the progress made by Star Wars in comparison to Star Trek. The latter has many queer couples, transgender, and nonbinary characters weaved throughout. These defining details are not brushed to the side but given adequate space to grow. It is this thoughtfulness that marks Star Trek as more representative.
It is worth mentioning that the treatment of the elderly in Star Trek is far better than that in Star Wars.
Both Star Wars and Star Trek have been revolutionary. They continue to influence popular culture and media with their innovation. Despite similar sounding names and environments, the differences between the two prove extensive. There are many reasons that Star Wars and Star Trek fans appreciate their respective franchises. Despite this, it often comes down to diversity and what the world viewers want to see.
Alas, even fans of both admit that only one can come out on top. The true winner, though, is up to you!