Fifty years ago Thursday Gene Roddenberry's visionary TV series "Star Trek" debuted on NBC.
It was not an instant success — in fact, it was canceled just three years later — but a devoted fan base kept the sci-fi epic alive and it has since spawned numerous hit TV spin-offs and over a dozen blockbuster films that have dominated the box office for 35 years.
The show, which followed the exploits of a 23rd century crew of interstellar explorers, distinguished itself with its intricate plot lines that often featured prescient social commentary, and its colorful cast of characters including the logical half-human Spock, the compassionate Dr. "Bones" McCoy and the purely passionate Captain James T. Kirk.
U.S. & World
And, like so many other pop culture phenomenons, fans have projected all sorts of sociopolitical meanings onto "Star Trek" in the decades since it first aired, NBC News reported.