Star Trek is one of the most wildly successful TV and movie franchises, but even it had some missteps along the way. Here's the story of the never made Star Trek sequel series that tried to get itself off the ground almost 40 years ago — and how some of its plotlines eventually did make it to TV after all.
In a Kinja discussion on the TV shows that (thankfully) never made it to the screen, a discussion began about the Star Trek sequel series, Phase II, that was in development in the late '70s, but just missed making it to television. Here are some theories about just what an alternate history in which it was made might look like, plus the story of how a few of the stories and characters from the never made series ended up on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
As the biggest Star Trek fan in the world, this may sound like a weird one, but Star Trek Phase II. Mostly because I love TNG so much and I'm not sure TNG would've come into existence if Phase II had been a thing.
Someone theorized that if Star Trek Phase II had gotten off the ground and lasted a year or two, we would have never gotten the "classic" movie franchise of the '80s or The Next Generation... but there might have been a big-budget movie reboot (a la Abrams Trek) circa 1996 or so.
It's probably worth pointing out that many of the characters created for Phase II did end up appearing in greatly modified form on TNG. Xon, the emotion-free Vulcan, inspired Data, Commander Decker became Riker, Ilia became Troi, albeit with very elaborate hair instead of a bald head. And a couple of Phase II scripts ended up being repurposed for TNG during the 1988 Writers' Strike, so in a number of ways the abandoned '70s series lived on through its official and hugely popular descendant (not to mention the 1979 movie).
That's an interesting alternate reality of Trek fandom. I would bet that it would have been a TV reboot rather than a movie reboot though. Execs would have said "There's no way this is marketable on the big screen." Then Ronald D Moore or JMS would have exec produced a TV show reboot.
During the '90s, every other show from the '60s and '70s was getting a big movie adaptation. It's highly possible that Paramount would have considered Star Trek as a candidate, with an A-list director and cast, thanks to its fanbase.
We also probably would not have gotten Wrath of Khan.
It's funny, I was watching an OLD SNL from the 70s... maybe 1979, and there was a stand-up comedian doing a bit and his whole thing was about how excited he was for Star Trek Phase II because Star Trek was about the only show that was on wherever he went and he was sick of seeing the same 79 episodes over and over again. I never realized how close that show came to being real until I saw that.
Image: Concept art of the new Enterprise for Phase II, via Star Trek wikia