It never happened, but we all know that William Shatner almost returned as Capt. Kirk in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (albeit as a holographic message)—and now we've learned the reasons why that planned scene was ultimately dropped from the 2009 movie.
Fear of being seen as pandering to fans is one of the main reasons Star Trek writer Roberto Orci gave in a roundtable interview with The Hollywood Reporter as to why the scene that was written for Bill Shatner, which would have heralded his "return" as the original James T. Kirk, was dropped entirely from the movie:
We wrote a scene for William Shatner at the end of the movie where Spock, played by Leonard, gives his young self, played by Zach Quinto, something he'd kept with him. And it was basically a recording of Kirk singing "Happy Birthday" to him for the last time before he went off to die in Star Trek VI*. J.J. had determined early on that he felt it might seem like it was, a) too small, and b) pandering to the fans a bit. But we wrote it anyway because as a fan you're always trying to protect that thing where you want to be able to look fans in the eye and say, "We were ready."
*Take note it may be a typo here as Kirk died in Star Trek Generations, which was Star Trek VII.
Back in 2009, Trek Movie released the planned scene (called "Alternate Scene B"), which would have taken place toward the end of the movie, when Spock (Zachary Quinto) meets Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) in the hangar, as well as during the award ceremony when Kirk (Chris Pine) receives official command of the Enterprise from Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Apparently, Shatner was never shown the scene.
Here's a bit of that birthday song scene:
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...
I know I know, it's illogical to celebrate something you had nothing to do with, but I haven't had the chance to congratulate you on your appointment to the ambassadorship so I thought I'd seize the occasion... Bravo, Spock -- they tell me your first mission may take you away for awhile, so I'll be the first to wish you luck... and to say...
I miss you, old friend.
Head over to Trek Movie in order to read the entire "Alternate Scene B."
So what do you think? Do you agree that adding a scene with the original Capt. Kirk would have been pandering too much to the fans?