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Star Trek’s William Shatner has boldly never watched an episode of the original series

By Vanessa Armstrong

William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk has boldly gone where no man has gone before. William Shatner as himself, however, has never watched an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, the show he starred in that ran from 1966 to 1969.

In an interview with People magazine, Shatner revealed that watching the original show was just too painful. "I have never watched Star Trek," he said to People. "There are many episodes I don't know, there are some movies I don't know."

Shatner, who just turned 90, hasn’t even watched any of the subsequent films, with one exception. "I directed one of the movies — No. 5 [Star Trek V: The Final Frontier] — I had to watch that one," he shared. "But it's all painful because I don't like the way I look and what I do." 

Considering Kirk's place in sci-fi history, it’s a shame that Shatner isn’t able to watch and enjoy his iconic performance. The early Star Trek captain is revered by fans for his emotive style and ability to get romantically entangled with many, many humanoids across the galaxy.

Perhaps the first Kirk (aka Shatner) can stomach watching someone else in the role. It’s unclear whether he’s seen the relatively recent J.J. Abrams iterations of Star Trek, for example, where Chris Pine takes on the Kirk mantle. Captain Kirk is also rumored to make appearances in the Star Trek: Discovery spinoff, Strange New Worlds, which focuses on Captain Pike (Anson Mount), the U.S.S. Enterprise captain just before Kirk.

But even though Shatner won’t watch himself as Kirk, that doesn’t mean his performances do not exist. They more than exist, in fact — they have left an indelible mark on the Star Trek universe and pop culture at large. So much so, that many a fan continues to watch them repeatedly.