Last week, Star Trek: Picard showrunner Terry Matalas tweeted about his idea for a spinoff show called Star Trek: Legacy. The theoretical series would be set in the 25th century and focus on both old favorites and the next generation. It can be very hard to tell what’s successful these days because streaming numbers are opaque. But if internet chatter and critic reviews are any indication, Paramount Plus has a bona fide hit on its hands with Star Trek: Picard’s third season.
From the moment this season was announced, the cast, and Matalas himself, has been asking people to watch the show, making it clear that the numbers matter if we want to see more of our favorite kind of Trek. Right now, Paramount Plus has what looks to be the rare show that has critics and viewers happy, one that’s welcoming to new fans but also hits those deep wells of nostalgia. This balance is what we need in the Star Trek franchise. It’s good for viewers, it’s good for the network, and it grounds the “next generation” of shows with something tied into the overarching mythology of a time period that people feel nostalgic about and want to see more of. It’s the rare marriage of giving the fans what they want and good business.
The question is, then, why hasn’t it been greenlit already? The stars of the show are even on board.
There are a few possible answers: The unexpected cancellation of Star Trek: Discovery has sparked discussions of possible cost-cutting at Paramount. We also know there are new shows on the horizon: A long-discussed Starfleet Academy show, a will-it-ever-happen Michelle Yeoh-fronted Section 31 show, and more are supposedly in the works. These will likely be announced sooner rather than later, as Star Trek: Picard is ending with season 3.
It’s clear that Star Trek is here to stay, in whatever form (and to be clear: It’s all Star Trek, even if you don’t especially like it). But with rumored and oft-speculated announcements come questions about what the future of the franchise might be. Will it be in the past, like with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds? Will it be in Star Trek: Discovery’s future? Or will it be in what many people consider the “present,” the 25th century?
Part of the tension in any long-running franchise is how to satisfy longtime fans while also being welcoming of new viewers. (Star Wars is also clearly grappling with this, telling a key part of The Mandalorian’s story from this season in another show altogether.) Under Alex Kurtzman’s watchful eye, the Star Trek franchise has balanced this incredibly well so far. Star Trek: Discovery charted its own course, while Strange New Worlds has balanced canon and creative storytelling beautifully. The animated shows, Lower Decks and Prodigy, build on what came before while also not being afraid to deliver their own unique narratives. Each of these shows has a different relationship with the overall Star Trek lore, which is a good thing: Canon should be flexible to allow for creativity.
Within this umbrella, though, there’s room for a show that caters to longtime fans to replace Star Trek: Picard. I’m not talking about the fringes of the fandom irate about inclusivity and representation in shows like Discovery. I’m talking about the people who grew up on ’90s Trek who want to see their favorites (and their favorites’ kids!) on the bridge of a starship. It seems as though there’s a reluctance to exist too long within that “present.” Maybe, to those in charge, it feels as though we’ve spent too much time here because of 1990s Trek, but I’d argue that whether you’ve spent a lot of your life watching the franchise or are relatively new to it, the 25th century has a special place in your heart.
It doesn’t have to be strictly nostalgia for a legacy series to work, either. Terry Matalas has shown with this third season of Star Trek: Picard that he can balance fan service with genuinely good, creative storytelling that adds dimension to characters we’ve known all our lives. These don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and in fact, this kind of show can be brilliantly good.
Let’s get Star Trek: Legacy on our streaming devices already!