William Shatner explains why Star Trek's Captain Kirk was killed off

Hollywood will always boldly go where the money is.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

James T. Kirk had to go, William Shatner was told.


Klingons and Khan couldn't kill off Captain James T. Kirk, but big money can bring anyone down. 

William Shatner, who played Kirk in the original Star Trek , said Saturday that the character's death was all about the Benjamins, according to CNET sister site comicbook.com.

Spoilers for a 1994 movie ahead: Kirk, played by Shatner, dies in the feature film Star Trek Generations while working with Star Trek: The Next Generation captain Jean-Luc Picard to stop a deadly missile. 

Shatner said he was told the character would die whether or not he appeared in the movie. And if he didn't come back, Kirk would die offscreen. He agreed, but not until pressing the point of why this had to happen.

"So the producer said, 'We're going to kill Kirk because we think that The Next Generation will make more money at the box office,'" Shatner explained. 

But that wasn't enough for Shatner, who wanted to know why this couldn't happen with the character alive. The answer he was given is rather unsatisfying.

"'Ah, the box office, expenses, the budget, and the box office,'" Shatner says he was told. In short, the producers were ready to move on with focusing solely on the TNG cast, and felt the money tree for TOS was empty.

In August, CBS announced that Patrick Stewart, who played Picard, will return to that role in a new show on the streaming service CBS All Access. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

Shatner, 87, told the Toronto Star in August that he doesn't want to pull a Stewart and star in his own series, but he wouldn't rule out a guest appearance.

"It will have to pass through enormous hurdles including permission from Paramount and then they'll have to get back to me and see where things are at," he said.

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