Original Star Wars Producer: Star Trek Was An Influence For George Lucas


Gary Kurtz was the producer of the original Star Wars movie and the first sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, and in a new interview he talks about how George Lucas was influenced by Star Trek.

Star Wars Producer: Star Trek More Influential Than Joesph Campbell

In a new interview at Mashable, producer Gary Kurtz blasts a number of myths about the 1977 film Star Wars, one of which relates to the franchise that began a decade earlier: Star Trek. Mashable’s Chris Taylor asked Kurtz first about the influence of Joseph Campbell’s book on mythology "The Hero With A Thousand Faces," which Kurtz noted was overblown. They then went on to say that there was something else that was more influential…

But was Star Wars actually more influenced by the Star Trek TV series, which was undergoing a hugely popular revival in syndication in the early 1970s?
Yes. [George] did talk about that [show] quite a bit. I mean Star Trek, the early series, was pretty much all human drama. There was a touch of humor in it, but most of it was down to relationship stories. There wasn’t much in the way of intergalactic battles. They didn’t have any money.

But it was set in this kind of futuristic kind of environment that was inspiring. It freed up the mind to think about what would it be like to travel to distant galaxies and encounter other species. I think that that definitely was one of the influences — because that’s what Flash Gordon was like too.

Lucas Talks Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry

In Rod Roddenberry’s documentary Trek Nation, George Lucas himself has talked about Star Wars "stood on the shoulders" of Star Trek. Watch it in the clip below.

Trek Nation Director’s Cut — George Lucas from Scott Colthorp on Vimeo.

Star Trek and Star Wars friends – frenemies?

So even though both franchises have clearly influenced each other over the decades, much of the talk of the two seems to drift towards how they are rivals. But in the end most Trek fans like Star Wars and vice versa, so the rivalry is really more in good fun, as evidenced in this very clever video from IGN from last year.

POLL: Wars Fan?

What say you? Speak out out below and vote in the latest poll.

[poll id=”739″]


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


‘Nuff said!

Well since many of the plot elements and technology terms found on Star Wars were originally found on Star Trek, it wouldn’t surprise me.

It’s kind of obvious that Star Wars was influenced by Star Trek. I mean, they hardly even changed the title.

LOVE the original SW ’77 =)

…the prequel trilogy? not so much… =P

That’s Joseph Campbell they’re referencing. And if he borrowed from Trek, he trivialized hell out of it in the process. See a lot more BUCK and FLASH, but what TREK showed is that there was a MARKET for this stuff; that is what Lucas wanted to avail himself of. Everybody who put trek tech manuals and blueprints on the NYT bestseller list in 76 for months was in the que for STAR WARS, even if it was just to bitch about it.

@4. Well, we can agree on that, at least…

Big surprise on the poll. How many of us grew up on Star Trek and then to be followed by Star Wars?

I like the bigness of Star Wars, but I much prefer TREK because it is more grounded in things closer to home. That’s not to say the themes embodied in SW are not humane. But ST (at least the series) are more about ideas, morality and exploration of the universe as well as looking inward.

Star wars is fun and has it place I am not a big fan myself but I understand it and will watch the new films

Yeah I have never got trek v wars to me it just seems childish

Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Flash Gordon came out before Star Wars, but one thing Star Wars had was money. Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Flash Gordon had amazing concepts, characters, good drama, a sense of adventure, cool looking space ships, cool looking alien, monsters and etc, but Star Wars was the first major science fiction movie to have all those and a good budget.

Also it wasn’t just limited to Star Trek, but a lot of science fiction in those days were obviously influence and inspired by what was going on in the world past and present.

I have to vote “Equal Star Wars and Star Trek fan”…as long as we are talking live-action productions only. I’m not so much into the CGI series in the Star Wars realm, but I love all six movies and I’m looking forward to SW Ep. 7 and Star Trek 3 equally… I guess both franchise are going to return to their roots now…

I really think that “rivalry” between Trekkies and Warsies should end. Neither one of both is “better”, they’re just different (or supposed to be different) but there are many parallels, especially now, with both being resurrected by JJ.

@9: “but one thing Star Wars had was money. Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and Flash Gordon had amazing concepts, characters, good drama, a sense of adventure, cool looking space ships, cool looking alien, monsters and etc, but Star Wars was the first major science fiction movie to have all those and a good budget.”

I doubt that you can reduce the difference between Trek and Wars to budget. The first Star Wars was made on a “shoe-string budget” of 11 million dollars, and even Eps 5 and 6 made made for 23 and 33 million dollars “only”… that’s not much compared to the 45 million Star Trek TMP cost… Of course SW had more money than a 60s TV show…but even the CGI-driven Prequel Trilogy cost $115 million each, which is a lot less than the $150+ budget of the Trek reboots…

So it’s not just the “money”…They are simply different in many ways…

Star Trek and Star Wars have had many different incarnations over the years. To me, TV-era TOS is the best of all, but that may be because I first saw it when I was eleven years old and took it all in uncritically. I was in college by the time Star Wars came out, and the era of my taking something in uncritically was long past.

So for me, it’s like this:

TV-era TOS > Episodes 4-6 > TOS movies > Reboot movies > Episodes 1 – 3

And then there are all the OTHER Star Trek series to be factored in….

This is great to hear. I love both SW and Trek. Each has their strengths and weaknesses.

I really love both franchises, but not equally, with Star Trek as the winner by a country mile. Can’t be beaten. Impossible.

@ spock84@comcast.net
“[…]Star Wars was the first major science fiction movie to have all those and a good budget.”

Two words: Forbidden Planet

I love both and I think that while there are similarities they’re very different and they were inspired by different stuff. Also, both became an inspiration for other things.

Star Trek shows an utopian future for the human society where we come in contact with other worlds and species. The goal is to depict that future as if it were, in a way, an actual possibility for us. It’s more realistic, perhaps, than star wars or at least tries to be realistic in context of the society they’re trying to depict and imagining what would happen if in the future humans were able to meet people from other worlds and travel space, and thus what would happen if our concept of society got expanded beyond the distance between the countries in our planet.
There are things we do use nowadays (like tablets, cellphones etc) that seem to be inspired by stuff that was put in star trek and it surely had a big influence in other fictional works that use similar themes.
In star trek, society consists in a series of planets and species whose conflicts are for the most part avoided and the main goal is co-exist in peace as much as possible.

Star Wars is more fantasy, but it shows a less utopian future. (in a way, the idea that there might always be conflicts even in a future so far away from us might be more realistic than trek’s idea that everything is in the past) It’s a space opera and it was inspired by King Arthur and Beowulf, I think. It’s less science and more fantasy, and does have strong allegories about religions and ‘destiny’ (just think about the whole thing about ‘the dark side of the force’ and the inner conflicts of the characters). In Star Wars you do have a galactic society like in trek, but there is always conflict for the most part because the conflict itself and the search for peace is, essentially, the story.
The movie was made in the 70s and even people that don’t like this franchise still recognize that in terms of history of cinema they did something incredible for the time and the limits the time had (special effects etc etc) and it surely inspired the way other ‘space operas’ movies were made later.

making a movie that combines the qualities of both franchises would be win because like someonelse said before me, they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Well Star Wars may have had some influence from the original Star trek, these days Star Trek resembles Star Wars a lot more and Star Wars itself look more like Looney Tune’s Space Jam…unfortunately Star Trek has recently taken on the persona also in it’s story’s and writing.

Way to go Orci!!!!

oh and speaking about their romances, I like both Han&Leila and Spock&Uhura but the latter gets more points from me because he *is* alien (and Uhura is a citizen of earth who is not white and she comes from the United States of Africa, rather than the United States of America ;) ). An alien/human couple seems more fitting, to me, for the theme of both franchises that, in either case, is still showing that in a possible future humans will interact with people from other worlds and not just humans that live in alien worlds.
Star wars didn’t have enough ‘fun’ with that and the potential of that. Even when it comes to other kind of relationships, even friendships are the most important between white humans.

Star trek is still not using that potential too much because, realistically, you just don’t have the time for so much character development for everyone in one movie (and they still did a good job with a romantic subplot that is not the be all and end all of the story) but at least trek tried.

Ehh. They both have their pros and cons. I just prefer Star Trek over Star Wars.

Star Wars is simply awesome. Period. The difference for me: Star Trek is like family, part of my life, part of who I am, forever there; Star Wars is like a couple of friends you party with occasionally. I definitely get more excited about SW, but there will never be the kind of love that I have for ST. Impossible.

Isn’t this old news?

As is the fact we got TMP instead of Star Trek Phase II because of the sucess of Star Wars.

Old news worth retelling if you still believe the p2/TMP thing. P2 happened BECAUSE of SW, Kaufman’s Trekfilm PLANET OF THE TITANS was cancelled the same month SW came out because Paramount realized they had screwed up and let Fox get their first and cash in on all the SF love trek had built up. It was only turned back into a feature when the tv plan didn’t generate interest and Eisner took the pilot notion of threatening earth and basically told them to turn it back into a feature.

Star Wars before the second trilogy was a much grander thing than Star Wars is today, after the second trilogy, as a Disney property and with JJ Abrams as the director, with all of the TV spin-offs and whatnot.

If the poll were comparing Star Wars when it was just the original trilogy vs. Trek, then I’d have to say that like them both equally.

Regarding the influence of SW on Trek, you catch little hints of things in TOS that Lucas borrowed for the original trilogy. Reference to a “cloaking device” in Empire is one that comes to mind. The Millennium Falcon’s “hyperdrive” vis-a-vis Trek’s warp drive is another. The “proton torpedoes” in the first movie are obviously derived from Trek’s photon torpedoes.

The two are very different and whilst I love Star Trek far more, you can’t deny the impact Star Wars has had on film making and the toy industry. It’s unparalleled in the way it has been marketed continuously over the last 30 odd years.

Star Trek in contrast has been just as influential, if not more so, in not just defining the modern Science Fiction genre but also with real world advances in technology. Whilst I feel it’s never been all that good at being marketed as well as Star Wars, it’s impact on the world has been simply unmatched by anything and its influence is clear to see, the name Enterprise has become synonymous with space travel and it is highly likely that given time, when humanity does indeed travel to strange new worlds, we shall be exploring them in a space ship named, ENTERPRISE.

Let’s see, at last check it was:

“More of Star Trek fan than Star Wars (but like SW) (70%)”

Well, after all this is a website devoted mostly to Trek so… What would be the results of the same poll on a Star Wars devoted site?

While I like Star Wars but to compare it to Star Trek is a joke really.

Star Wars influenced the film making industry.

Star Trek influenced generations to study science and hopefully has a lasting impact on humanity.

But I will say ‘The Clone Wars’ is pretty darn good. (I’ll thank my 11 year old for that one)

When it comes to Star Trek and Star Wars I always use the pulp fiction analogy. Star Trek is The Astounding Science Fiction of SF whereas Star Wars is The Planet Stories of SF. Astounding Science Fiction published more thoughtful SF, Planet Stories had more action packed blood and thunder type pulp fiction SF.


# 9. spock84@comcast.net – September 29, 2014

“…but Star Wars was the first major science fiction movie to have all those and a good budget.” — spock84@comcast.net

I’m not sure where you are getting this point of view? As I recall, Lucas’ first SW film started production with a budget far shy of what he asked for. The clever thing that he did, as I recall, was he hatched on a strategy of filming his strongest action scenes first and used WWII stock Fox footage to correctly convey what the FX would be able to do if FOX would just open their purse a bit more. But even at that, I don’t have a recollection of the 1st SW film’s circa mid 1970s budget being very exorbitant, even for a post 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY SF film?

Well, finally that arguement can be layed to rest…. lets just enjoy them both.

Although I do have to say that Star Trek came first for me, watching on TV in 1966 while growing up and wanting to be CPT Kirk. Star Wars did come into my life until after a graduated high school but I can say I still grew up with that too in a way.

I’ve always viewed Star Trek and Star Wars as their own things and find the need to choose a side silly. While I grew up on Trek, literally, having seen the show from it’s first broadcast episode, I was amazed by what Star Wars brought to the screen.

But to say you have to like one and dislike the other is like saying “Oh, you like pie. You must hate cake!” or “You like Jurassic Park. You must hate Godzilla.” What? Why?

Enjoy each thing for what it is. Everything builds on everything else. IDIC, man. IDIC.

And keep in mind one inverse influence. Lucas has said time and again that he wanted the Star Wars universe to look dirty, lived in — that too many other science fiction productions have everything looking shiny and new. TOS definitely has that shiny and new look he’s talking about. And then we also have to consider how Star Wars turned around and influenced Star Trek — more visible weathering on ships being only one example.

I like ’em both, and pretty much equally. They’ve both had huge impacts on my life.

“All power to the engines!” LOL, Futurama

14 Dunsel, When I finally saw “Forbidden Planet,” about 15 years ago, I was amazed/shocked/admiring of how much of the tone of that movie appeared in “Star Trek.” I’m pretty sure Roddenberry was heavily influenced by it ….

22 Cygnus, I agree with you. [How rare, and beautiful! ;-) ]

28, Dis, Yeah, I think SWIV was made on a pret-ty tight budget.

31, ADeweyan, “more visible weathering on ships” … yeah, more meteor/space particle wear. I like that aspect too. Lucas used the down -n- dirty look for the Rebel Alliance, where the threatening, all-powerful Empire had the most pristine, shiny floors …! I have mental pictures of prisoners with wax and buffers … ;-)

And that is one aspect of Wars that JJ imported to Trek, because until then the only “wear” I recall on Trek ships was the Klingon vessel in STIII/IV and the shuttles on “Enterprise.” You could see repair people on DS9, and the station was cruddy when they inherited it from the Cardies, but I don’t recall any wear on ships in “TNG.” Unless you count the movies, LOL.

SW shows the ancient past of a remote galaxy, and has no connection with our world.
ST shows mankind’s future, and connects to our real history.

The dangers of mixing too much of the SW formula with that of ST can readily be seen in the major disappointment that was STID, IMHO.

Not looking to re-open the STID “good or bad” debate…just my opinion and said by someone who enjoys both franchises, but ST is the definite preference :) .

Both “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” are pure fantasy.

People tend to forget about the Nexus, omnipotent beings (Trelane, Q), warp drive, transporters, etc.

I like both Star Trek and Star Wars, admittedly, it is kind of liking both the Yankees and the Red Sox or the Maple Leafs and the Habs, but I swing both ways.

Although, between the two, Star Wars for me is a giant modern mythological touchstone that reverberates throughout my entire life and Star Trek is something that I really really really like.

@16 (I Khan Believe it’s not Butter): Your lack of insight bores me.

I liked the first Star Wars movie in 1977. The other two were OK. The prequels, no thanks.

I’ve always been WAY more of a Star Trek fan than Star Wars.

I never really thought about whether Forbidden Planet was considered high budget for its day, but I will say that movie stands the test of time. Plus the special effects are amazing considering the pre-CGI era they were made in.

I grew up on SW and it was an obsession through my childhood. However when I became an adult Trek began to really speak to me in a way that SW was not designed to. To my mind there is no comparison. I love SW as a frosty mug of root beer. In comparison, Star Trek is a fine wine.

I have never seen ANY Star Wars. Never will.

No love for Space:1999?



Love the original trilogy. But I have always said Star Wars is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. Star Trek is science fiction.


They’re both “science fantasy”. Just read some of the posts on the recent Shatner threads and you’ll notice people suggesting re-using the Nexus as a way to bring back Kirk Prime from the dead.

There is one clear influence to Star Wars not usually mentioned. Space Battleship Yamato. The movie and series were produced about eight years before Star Wars and when you watch the influence is clear.