CBS Nearing Deal For Kid-Focused Star Trek Cartoon On Nickelodeon

Today the Hollywood trades, including THR, Variety, and Deadline, are reporting that the previously announced youth-focused Star Trek cartoon series in development has found a potential home in Viacom’s Nickelodeon cable network. According to reports, CBS and Nickelodeon are currently in negotiations, with a final deal close to completion.

Variety reports that plot details on the potential new series are being kept quiet. However, it has been revealed that the show is being developed by Kevin and Dan Hageman. The Hageman brothers are known for popular cartoons Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu and Trollhunters. The pair won an Emmy for their work on the Netflix animated series Trollhunters in 2016.

The Hageman brothers (Source: Twitter)

This potential new animated Star Trek series would be considered a tentpole for new Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins, who was recently brought in to get the Nickelodeon brand back up to speed with the competition from Disney and Cartoon Network.

The overseer of the Trek on TV franchise, Alex Kurtzman, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the need for a youth-focused Trek cartoon:

I go back to my childhood and Luke Skywalker, the [Star Wars] farm boy who looks out at the twin suns of Tatooine and imagines his future. Trek never gave me that, Trek was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are. And it never was aspirational that way. It’s important to me to find a way to go back and reach younger kids in a way that Trek should and never really has.

While the expansion of Star Trek on TV is a key component for the CBS All Access streaming service, cutting a deal with Nickelodeon makes sense for this new animated show. Nickelodeon is the number one network for children, and the logical home for the new cartoon as CBS has no network for children’s programming. This deal also shows some synergy between the former (and possibly future) corporate siblings, who were both under the Viacom roof until the CBS split in 2006.

CBS All Access is adult-focused and the demographics of the subscriber base skews middle-aged, so it was pretty clear they would find a different outlet for this cartoon. The adult animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks being developed by Rick and Morty‘s Mike McMahan, which picked up a two-season order last October, is set to premiere on All Access. Kurtzman has stated that Lower Decks will be an adult-targeted series, which fits with the All Access demographic. There are also plans for two animated Short Treks coming to All Access later this year.


Keep up with all the news on the upcoming Star Trek TV shows here at TrekMovie.com.

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Legate Damar

Neat. Its been a long time since I’ve wat hed Nickelodeon regularly. This should be neay.

Tiger2

While I’m not overly excited about the animation shows, this is a great thing for Star Trek because one of the biggest issues to me is that its always been seen as an adult show. I know many people here have watched Star Trek as kids, me included, but thats not the same thing as being FOR kids. Star Trek has always been a demographic aimed at older from TOS which was probably aimed at teenagers to college age adults to Discovery today which is clearly for adults as its mature rating suggest, although anyone over ten can watch it. And who To this day I never seen TAS but I never got the feeling it was primarily for kids but at least had them in mind.

But a cartoon aimed directly at children and ON a children’s network is setting a different precedent. I think they are looking at the Star Wars model they have gone in beginning with The Clone Wars and now have stuff like Rebels and now Resistance but SW have had cartoons for decades now. I even remember watching Droids and Ewoks back in the 80s as a kid. SW has always been more for kids but they done a great job of making that franchise for all ages from the beginning.

And it looks like thats what they are trying to do with Trek now as we have stuff like this and the Section 31 show being developed at the same time. So I’m definitely curious about it and it probably will be a more traditional cartoon than something like Lower Decks which sounds more niche and aimed at adults.

But so much Trek news these days. We haven’t gone one week since 2019 started without some major announcement somewhere.

Ben Adams

I liked seeing grown-ups doing cool stuff – kids my own age were little turds, I hated being around them for the most part, and I didn’t want to watch kids on shows.

And it’s weird – kids seem to enjoy playing with adult action figures just fine, right? Almost as if they want to grow up sometime….

Tiger2

Of course and why the biggest kid characters are usually adults from comic book heroes to action movie stars like Indiana Jones and James Bond. Characters that are iconic for any age. They make kids imagine themselves as being adults.

So it would be great for them to seeing Star Trek characters in that vein too, especially the under 10s which I’m guessing this show will be aimed for.

Tumbler

TAS originally aired on Saturday mornings. So yeah, they probably had kids in mind when they made it. Smart kids, that is. :-)

Douglass Abramson

70s network Saturday morning. It was definitely aimed at kids, but written so most adults didn’t flee the room screaming. Hong Kong Phooey and Speed Buggy filled that niche. (Two of my favorite shows as a toddler, at the time.)

Tiger2

OK thanks Tumbler! Wasn’t sure.

A34

But they ended up voting for the orange con man.

Tumbler

We get it. You’re young and edgy. Move on.

A34

I just turned 40 :( But I’m still edgy.

Tumbler

My apologies. And my sympathies.

Levi 90028

Star Trek TAS was clearly aimed at kids in the 70s.
While I am happy to see Trek in Animation again. I have to give pause to his Star Wars reference. I loved both Trek and Wars as a kid but it was Trek that inspired me not Star Wars.

Tiger2

I think he’s just saying Star Wars is a kid fantasy: space wizards, exotic planets, fun space battles and good vs evil. There is obviously more there but as a kid you don’t need to understand anything more than what you see in front of you. Its a fun adventure with fun characters and thats all it needs to be for a five year old.

Star Trek is more cerebral, kids can get into it (I was watching TOS reruns at 6 although I doubt I understood it all lol) but it does have bigger science concepts, more technical and you have to pay attention. Half the missions are actually boring bureaucratic grunt work, they just find ways to make the conflict from it interesting. But starfleet ships spends a lot of their time dropping off supplies to colonies, moving diplomats around or observing space phenomenon. They usually only fight the Klingons or the Borg every other other week unlike the rebels where fighting the Empire is a full time job.

And think about the analogies the shows deal with from racism to genocide. Its about a lot of heavy stuff. SW always had the Nazi overtures but again you don’t have to get that to enjoy it because the bad guys are just really bad lol.

However, the major difference between the two and why I think Trek is more positive for kids is because while Star Wars inspires them its mostly just in the world of SW itself. Star Trek however inspires kids to become real life astronauts, engineers, doctors, etc. But not all kids want to watch a show to be inspired in that way either. Honestly I just loved Kirk karate chopping everybody lol. It took years to understand the other stuff.

ML31

That was something TOS had. It worked well so that as a kid I loved seeing Kirk punch and do his flying kicks and it was cool when the Enterprise fired phasers from time to time. And even as a kid I liked The Devil in the Dark because the creature wasn’t just some wild creature. There was a reason it was acting like it did. I also liked that Trek was a future show among a lot of dystopian post nuclear sci-fi. It was far more positive than that stuff. And then as I grew older, many shows actually took on a deeper meaning. Which I appreciated and made me love the show even more. Star Wars is fun. But it’s a different type of sci-fi. It was very black and white (and there is nothing wrong with that as I enjoy it along with most others) while Trek was far more grey.

Holden

I’ll bet Avengers is another model here. It was huge as kids TV programming long before the MCU debuted in 2008. There was a whole generation of kids who were already much more familiar with Iron Man and co. than the average moviegoer back then.

I think this could be a smart move. There’s a much better shot at “growing” the fanbase this way than in potentially diluting the original brand to try and reach a “wider” adult audience via the other films and shows. Now that I think about it, TAS reruns could have been my gateway to Trek at a super young age as much as the others.

ML31

I honestly do not think TOS was aimed at any particular demographic. NBC just put on a show they thought a lot of people would watch. As it turns out, a large hunk of their audience was 18-35. At that time, that was not the age group advertisers coveted. And so…

TAS is a strange bird. It was part of the Saturday morning cartoon line up. (younger people may not be familiar with Saturday morning cartoons from the networks). Yet looking back at them as an adult and I find many of them would have made pretty good hour long episodes. They were fast paced at a half hour but did not dumb things down for kids. And as bad as the animation was, I liked them watching them as an 8 year old.

albatrosity

I agree with you that SW always managed to appeal to kids; that’s one thing it gets right, indoctrinating them at a young age. But I disagree with Kurtzman’s assessment that Trek didn’t inspire kids, obviously, since I got into Trek basically out of the womb and I always wanted to be like the crew of the Enterprise. Generations of fans would disagree with his comment, in fact. But this — this is huge, Trek on Nickelodeon. It honestly makes me giddy.

Ben Adams

I must be imagining watching and being enthralled by Star Trek as a kid.

tacotuesday

Cool — time to grow the fan base!

Who cares

My kids watch Trollhunters, its not bad, I’ll be willing to see what tbese guys come up with.

Ian

Setting aside the inevitable franchise fatigue whispers, this isn’t a bad thing. Star Trek (until Discovery IMO) was always a family-oriented franchise, but it was very much on the cerebral side starting with TNG, and that made it a bit less accessible to kids, and certainly hampered its merchandising potential. This could create a new generation of fans the All-Access shows aren’t catering to.

AJinMoscow

Of all the good and near-cockamamie ideas that have come out to make Trek appeal to a wider audience (Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, for example), THIS is the one that was always out there as a potential hook for new life-long fans worldwide. Star Wars, Marvel and DC have done it for eons, and it works. My only hope is that it will emulate the spirit of TAS as something that is not “dumbed-down,” but instead nuanced and intelligent enough by design to be appealing to parents (and grandparents) as well. And merchandise the hell out of it.

albatrosity

Agree, they can’t “dumb it down” so to speak. But the question is…will it be CANON?!?!?

John in Canada, eh?

What a bizarre quote from a showrunner and overseer of a franchise. “Let me tell you how much I liked another franchise, and how this one really never worked for me.”
I fell in love with Trek as a kid. To say that this new series is the show to “reach younger kids in a way that Trek should and never really has” is, at best, shortsighted, if not insulting.
I hate how much bashing the JJ movies get, and Discovery gets, and Kurtzman gets. I always wished that fandom was more open to new concepts and less inclined to dismiss parts of the franchise they don’t understand or enjoy: but this is the first time I’ve had to say that about the showrunner, too.

Oh, it’s definitely insulting. You’re right to feel insulted.

VZX

Yes, I did feel it was a little bit of Trek-bashing. It reminds of how JJ Abrams and Damon Lindeloff used to say they wanted to make Star Trek more like Star Wars back in 2009. They said that Trek was like classical music and Wars was like rock n roll, and they wanted more of that rock n roll in Star Trek.

sigh

Danpaine

It’s insulting. I was one of those younger kids it reached.

OneMissingNeuron

Danpaine, I too was one of those younger kids. I was hooked on TOS in syndication on summer afternoons, starting at about age 7. When I read his comments I didn’t feel insulted so much as I felt disappointed. I get it that more kids/people are into Star Wars. I just wasn’t one of those kids. I remember at age 7 or 8 the neighbor kid my age kept praising Star Wars. I asked him if it was as good as Star Trek. He said it was way better than Star Trek. Truly, as an 8 year old, I was so disappointed when I finally saw Star Wars. I was impressed with the special effects, but after the build up, I thought the story and some details were kind of kiddish, and Luke was just downright annoying – lol. No offense to Star Wars fans, it was just not my cup of tea. I never saw Star Wars as science fiction – it’s sword and sorcery with spaceships. I can’t argue with my eight year old self. I wish them the best of luck, and I hope they don’t dumb it down, because smart kids need something to get excited about, too.

Danpaine

Agreed, OneMissingNeuron. I went and saw the original Star Wars several times in the theater when it came out, but it was never on-par with Trek for me, like you said it was just simple entertainment with (at the time) mind-blowing sfx. Anyway, what a lot of people here are saying is right. Times are certainly different now, and Trek needs to change with those times to create new fans for the future. This Nick/Kids show isn’t geared towards us anyway – hope it does well.

Holden

The part that bothered me was the continuing need to compare ‘Trek’ (as usual, unfavorably) with ‘Star Wars.’ I wish people would stop doing that, since the franchises are just too radically different ideas. I think you could even make the argument that they don’t even belong in the same genre (sci-fi vs. fantasy).

I guess the other part that bothered me was his condescending generalization that kids *only* relate to, or are inspired by, media that consciously panders to them. Kids are just as influenced, if not more so, by media which doesn’t talk down to them, and which models more “grown-up” behaviors and ideals.

Those criticisms aside, I think Kurtzman does have the right idea here in terms of targeting more youthful audiences.

albatrosity

AMEN, kids don’t necessarily like being pandered to all the time. Trek was the first adult show I ever watched, and it obviously worked wonders on me.

Garth Lorca

“Trek was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are.”

Only if you ignore Wesley Crusher and Jake Cisco… Those two characters played a very important part in getting to like Star Trek when I was 13… I know, Wesley got a lot of bad WOM, but I actually liked him. Wesley, Jake and SeaQuest’s Lukas were the bridge to the genre for me.

It’s hard to imagine what it must feel like if your childhood heroes are actually Eleven, Carl Grimes or Bran Stark today… Gives me sort of the creeps…

skyjedi

It also denies the cadets who served on the Enterprise when she was a training vessel. Almost as if they never saw Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan.

Luke Montgomery

Please don’t let this be canon. The animation should be like novels and comics… fun but not part of the serious Trek mythos.

Tumbler

So what if it is zany and off-the-wall AND is canon? A lot of Trekkies already have those areas of canon they like to pretend don’t exist. Just drop it in that file and move on.

Tiger2

Luke, up until now I don’t think I’ve ever seen you give one criticism about Trek EVER about anything in any post I read.

Its not until the animated shows were announced is the first time I seen you upset about something lol. This must reeeeeaaaally bother you. I said it myself, I’m not looking forward these shows the most (that definitely the Picard show X1000 ;)), but same time they will be easy to ignore if you don’t like them. No matter if they are canon or not they will stay in their own world simply by being animated so you won’t be forced to watch them.

But who knows, as Matt said, some of the best Star Wars has been the animated shows. I’ve never watched either The Clone Wars or Rebels but listening to big SW fans they are providing some of the best stories people wish the live action films do and many proclaim TCW is what the prequels should’ve been in the first place. So who knows, maybe these will be good. Its hard to judge until we actually learn something about them and how they will be shown.

But think of it this way, even if you don’t care about this cartoon, imagine all the kids who will watch it and in time become bigger Trek fans in the future just like the SW cartoons did for those fans. In other words, this is for them, NOT for us.

Holden

I was thinking about this idea earlier. One of the things that excites me about this idea the most is that it might open up a narrative space coexisting, but not directly interacting, with the stories and characters we already know. That means: 1) a whole new world of Trek rooted in Federation traditions and ideas, etc, but not beholden to any previous (or future) events, and 2) no serious worries about canon since it’ll be its own narrative line of flight.

albatrosity

Okay well you could say the same thing about the Lower Decks concept, like can we take it seriously as canon if it’s just a bunch of jokes? Maybe it and this kids show will exist in their own “Trekimated” universe where everything is a little less serious. But to me that would dilute the brand. I think it should all be canon, and some crews get into some sillier things than others. That’s fine with my brain.

More Troubles More Dribbles

As long as Kurtzman follows the formula he is using now ‘franchise fatigue’ will not be an issue. The problem with the Rick Berman era was that all the series from TNG to ENT looked the same thematically and visually (for the most part). You can only reuse a prop so many times before it starts to stick out like a sore thumb. The series were, and always will be great, but they all began to mesh into one show towards the 2nd season of ENT. I, personally hate the fact that ENT was axed just as it was getting it’s legs. It should have been given the same treatment and longevity as the other Berman era series. IMO of course.

albatrosity

That’s funny cuz the end of season 2 ENT is when Trek actually decided to do something different for once.

“Trek never gave me that, Trek was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are. And it never was aspirational that way.”

Of course it was. This guy has zero clue what he’s talking about.

So glad he’s the one running the franchise now.

Kennelly

I really liked Trollhunters, which definitely wasn’t dumbed down (apart from a few burrito-related jokes), so this makes me somewhat optimistic.

Muse

I’ve literally lost track of all these Trek shows in development now (is it 4 or 5 now?). Franchise fatigue is a legitimate concern. This totally happened with Star Wars in the space of 3 years. But, hey…this could be cool. A show aimed at a younger audience could be a blast of fun and innocence.

One thing I think they should avoid is making the kids too contemporary seeming, basically transplanting the behaviour of the modern pre-teen/teen into a Trek setting. While I get why it’s done – to be relatable, nothing pulls me out of a sci-fi show faster. I watched the new She-ra reboot on Netflix partly out of nostalgia. While it was generally entertaining, some of the characters were totally unbearable (ie, Glimmer) because they basically behaved like the stereotype of the whiney, obnoxious modern day kid.

ML31

I don’t think SW has hit franchise fatigue. I just think it was more that Solo was a mediocre movie. I think the Resistance cartoon is aimed at an even younger audience than Clone Wars and Rebels was. So young that even I can’t watch it.

VZX

Will this new Trek animated show also be on CBS All Access, or only on Nickelodeon? I cut the cord a while back, so I don’t get Nick anymore. :(

ML31

The article, I thought, plainly stated the show would be on Nickelodeon. If you pulled your plug unless you subscribe to a streaming service that provided Nick then you are out of luck.

VZX

Yes I read the article, but I was hoping someone might know there was something about it being on CBSAA as well.

Bummer.

Davidson

surprised it taken so long for paramount to exploit this with all the other franchises having toons on screen.

and they don’t have to be ‘just for kids’, as the 90s ‘batman’animated series proved.

Jonboc

Geez, these guys are trying way too hard. Too many focus groups telling them how to make something that kids will like. Try to step out of that pretentious box you’re trapped in, Kurtzman, and just hollow the blueprints already in place. Kids bought Trekntoys in the 70’s because they loved TOS. With baited breath, (and fewer choices) the kid-dom collective rushed home after school to watch the afternoon rerun…same time…sane channel, 5 days a week. Then neighbors met outside afterwards or on Saturday’s…Megos in hand, or communicator walkie talkies…or phaser water-guns…and, after rehashing the previous week’s episodes, would play Star Trek. Playground equipment became the Enterprise. Kids fought, deciding who would be Kirk. If it was raining, you would stay inside and build an Enterprise model with your friends while pouring over blueprints or photo novels. TOS wasn’t “made for kids”. But kids embraced it…the bright colors, the aliens, the action and adventure…the sheer imagination of the show took kid’s imagination where no series had taken them before. It didn’t have a teenage Kirk to identify with and we didn’t need a teenage Kirk to identify with. The show was fun, exciting, adventurous and, while we didn’t really know it, it was teaching us a thing or two about dignity, honor and acceptance. The animated series was fun, but nowhere near as influential as the live action that played daily around the same time. Can a new animated series aimed directly at children work?? Who knows, it’s never been tried. TAS was written for adults. Did kids in the 70’s suffer because we didn’t have a “Star Trek Babies” series? Not in the least. Make it fun and exciting and don’t dumb it down or go too cutesy with it. Kids talk. If the show is good, they’ll find it.

Danpaine

Well put, Jonboc. Many, many a rainy Saturday was spent in my house as a kid, building cardboard sets and ‘playing Star Trek’ all over the house. Good days.

ML31

While I whole heartedly agree I feel I must also point out that times do change. For example, I used to just walk down to a local park on any weekend with my glove and ball and an impromptu baseball game would form from all the kids there. We didn’t even have to know them. It just happened. When my kid was that age it just didn’t happen. Which saddened me a bit. The point is, just because we did those things in our youth doesn’t mean today’s kids would react the same. They must be reached differently. Not going to argue if it’s better or worse. It’s just different.

Jonboc

I don’t think the kids have changed, ML31, but there’s no denying the times have altered the environment around them. A kid will still play in a cardboard box…but if that parent sees it as trash and never gives the kid a big cardboard box… then it’s off to Xbox land. A child’s imagination is vivid and always present. What’s missing are the tools that used to ignite it.

Spiked Canon

Elegant post, but it’s a different time now

Danpaine

“Trek never gave me that, Trek was always fully formed adults, already in Starfleet and people who have decided who they are. And it never was aspirational that way. It’s important to me to find a way to go back and reach younger kids in a way that Trek should and never really has.”

What a flawed generalization. He really comes off as a Tool here.

Besides the fact I totally disagree as I grew up watching ‘fully-formed’ TOS as a little kid and absolutely loved it AND embraced its messages, this show won’t matter to me because I’ll very likely never seek it out and watch it. I would probably find it unbearable if I did. Hopefully kids will like it, though.

The more Kurtzman speaks, the less I like him.

PEB

You had me at Trollhunters. I was pleasantly surprised when it first came on Netflix. Thought I would’ve been more excited if you said it was the team behind Netflix’s Voltron but I’m game for this.

Phil

Smart decision. For all the ‘nose in the air, Trek is more cerebral’ comments, it gets lost that any entertainment (yes, entertainment) property is also a business. Without new fans, the franchise dies. That’s not good for anyone.

Mark Calcagno

The Clone Wars, Rebels, Batman the Animated Series, Justice League (Ultimate as well), Young Justice, Gargoyles, X-Men, Full Metal Alchemist, and more I now I’m forgetting.

These are shows made for kids that follow adults or young adults facing moral decisions with a lighter tone.

This could definitely work.

odradek

“…and more I now I’m forgetting.”

You forgot “Captain Future” but probably you never saw it? You might have liked it.

DataMat

I think Clone Wars is superior to Rebels overall and the fact that Clone Wars has been resurrected speaks volumes on its popularity with the fans.
Batman TAS is as adult as Animation has been probably.

ML31

This is an uncommon Kurtzman quote that I think is right on the money. Trek could use something that speaks to those in single digit age range. Unfortunately, my kid is way too old to get use out of it (and isn’t a nerd like his old man :) ) but hopefully a new generation might get turned onto the franchise who otherwise might not. And being on Nickelodeon makes it much easier to access. So that is a good thing as well. The next thing is that even though it is aimed and the youngins I still hope it is smart enough to not speak down to them. Fingers crossed.

Danpaine

If anything, this article is bringing out some good old Trek nostalgia from us ‘older viewers.’ :)

Ricky

kid focused??? hell you’re going to have grown men & women tuning in..lol

Tumbler

I don’t have a problem with a Trek show for kids or the whole family, but Kurtzman is off the mark when he suggests kids can’t identify with “fully-formed” adult characters. It’s something of a fallacy to believe a show or movie MUST have a kid in it for kids to find interest. There’s a lot of evidence to the contrary.

VZX

I just remembered that Nickelodeon used to air the original Star Trek animated series back in the early 1980s. That was actually my first exposure to Star Trek as a kid and I have been a fan ever since, so it is kind of cool that it will back on Nick for a new generation. If the new series is something similar to Star Wars Rebels then I am sure it will be fine. Yay!

albatrosity

Didn’t realize Nick used to play TAS, that’s pretty cool!

albatrosity

AWESOME NEWS, this is so exciting. Honestly the kid in me who grew up watching Nickelodeon for 6 hours a day in the ’90s is giddy with excitement. I think I’m actually looking forward to this show perhaps the most out of all the Trek shows in development. Maybe a kid-focused animated Trek can reach the level of Adventure Time, an epic series with adult themes but plenty of fun kid-friendly content. I have the fondest memories of Nickelodeon, and I think this is the most important move the franchise is making right now. We need more KIDS YALL!

Does this mean that Wesley will be Scrappy Doo?

kmart

Need to save Wesley to run s31 in the Picard show

The River Temarc

We don’t need kiddie-Trek any more than we need kiddie-MAD MEN or kiddie THE CROWN or kiddie-DOWNTON ABBEY. This is the route to franchise fatigue and eroding a great property.

It’s not going to draw kids in. It WILL ultimately alienate the fanbase.

Joe Cool

Unless they somehow add a new unknown element to animation – the best in graphic

illustration artists with decent stories then they better hang it up now….Star Trek going

this route spells one tremendous headache otherwise.