Mike McMahan Talks “Amazing Sendoff” For ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ In Season 5, Hints At Potential Spinoffs

Paramount+ recently announced the upcoming fifth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks will be its last. Fans who have appreciated the show’s fusion of animated humor and Star Trek tropes are frustrated it is coming to an end, but the creator and showrunner is now offering a glimmer of hope.

The ending of a chapter…

Lower Decks executive producer Mike McMahan sat down with the team at The ‘Verse podcast to set expectations for the big wrap-up of the series. McMahan’s excitement over the upcoming season is apparent even as he restrains himself from revealing specifics about specific plotlines. Acknowledging earlier comments that he had a plan to take Lower Decks years beyond Season 4, McMahan went into Season 5 knowing the future of the show was uncertain and he couldn’t count on resolving story arcs years later. A balance had to be struck between crafting a satisfying single season and consciously wrapping up the whole series. As he said to The ‘Verse:

“The ending of season 5 it is the ending of a chapter that I knew I wanted to do. There are things that happen in it… I’m being very careful… that are sort of setting up spinoffs and setting up backdoor pilots. There’s characters I’m introducing that you’ll see clearly I wanted to do more with.”

Despite his high expectations for season 5, Mike McMahan shares in the the audience’s disappointment that Lower Decks is seemingly at its end. With each season’s poster art sequentially honoring a Star Trek movie, it’s suggested that Lower Decks had ambitions of going ten seasons. McMahan tempers that expectation, insisting that it was “a miracle” Lower Decks got the five seasons it did (and that miracle was one he attributed to fan support). He did, with trepidation, tell The ‘Verse that there’s still more to the Lower Decks story:

“Season 5… like, I almost couldn’t believe it would be the end, because these characters don’t feel like they’re ready to resolve for me. So like, season 5 feels like an amazing sendoff, but it certainly feels like… it feels like the end of a chapter, not the end of a series. I would always be into doing more seasons, movies, comics, novels…”

Continuing a Star Trek series through comics and novels is a long tradition, one Lower Decks has already embraced. Returning for new seasons or a movie is a more interesting proposition for Lower Decks, however, as its animated nature would make it much easier and cheaper to revive than one of its live-action counterparts. Indeed, it was suggested that Lower Decks could find itself in a Prodigy situation, where finding a different distribution channel might mean the difference between having a show and not. McMahan acknowledged the possibility, but chose not to weigh in on the likelihood:

“I don’t want to get into any of that. Listen, I don’t wear a tie, and that’s tie questions. What I would say is, these characters are like my heart and soul. I put all of myself into this show, I really really love it. And I’m always down to make more if the cards align.”

Conceptually, an animated show would be easier to bring back after a hiatus due to fewer practical concerns. There are no sets to rebuild and the actors aging is never a factor. McMahan did make references to Futurama and Family Guy, two other animated series that were brought back for new seasons under very similar circumstances.

From the Lower Decks season 4 finale (Paramount+)

Holding nothing back in season 5

Not everything McMahan has said about the next season has changed following the cancellation. Season 4 ended with the cliffhanger of D’Vana Tendi returning to Orion, seemingly leaving Starfleet behind. While some fans feared this would signal the character leaving the show, McMahan insists that is not the case, and that Tendi will continue to be a big part of season 5. In addition to promising more Tendi and T’Lyn, he suggested other classic Star Trek characters might appear:

“Pretty cool stuff with Tendi… There’s some cool stuff with T’Lyn… I got to work with some pretty cool legacy actors.”

Podcast hosts Lucas Longacre and Norm Felker fondly recalled the inclusion of Deep Space Nine actors Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, Chase Masterson, and Max Grodénchik on Lower Decks. McMahan is proud of the strong love for earlier Trek, and of Deep Space Nine specifically, and insists that Lower Decks wants to open its doors to the veteran actors if the show can offer their characters something both new for the actor and respectful of existing fandom. He explained:

“It’s tricky because, whenever we have legacy actors, I don’t want them to just pop in and be like ‘Hey, it’s me! Bye-bye!’ I want to expand them even just a little bit.”

Armin Shimerman in Lower Decks

McMahan is careful when bringing back legacy characters, like Armin Shimerman’s Quark in season 3. (Paramount+)

Crafted by Trekkies, for Trekkies

Whether discussing the past, present, or future of Lower Decks, McMahan asserts that the show found its niche by giving Star Trek fans something new wrapped in the humor of something they already love. The basic structure of Star Trek allows for a great deal of variety and innovation in what stories are told and how those stories can be framed. This was what sets Lower Decks  apart while still being unquestionably part of the legacy Star Trek universe. McMahan credits Gene Roddenberry for setting up the structure that let other shows follow:

“I think Gene Roddenberry created this really brilliant format. Not just the stuff he worked on, the type of storytelling as like a methodologically appealing thing for television and movies. He really, really nailed it.”

Though new stories in established universes always run the risk of upsetting canon, the balance McMahan spoke of earlier is what he credits to Lower Decks’ almost universal popularity with longtime fans. The audience wants something new, but they tend to not want to see what they already love being “undone.”  Even taking a new look at classic worlds, now a part of the Star Trek universe for decades, the same feel has to be kept. Using just one example from DS9, McMahan told The ‘Verse:

“We don’t want to homogenize anything. We like the idea of everything having its own kind of cultural impact and weirdness. So you’ll see in the background of our Ferenginar episode, there’s still Ferengi females who are just naked and walking around.”

Extra care is taken not to “undo” the worldbuilding done by earlier series (Paramount+)

The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Lower Decks is set to arrive on Paramount+ later in 2024, but the streaming service has not yet set a release date.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

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Can’t Wait. BRING IT ON!

Please give the Lower Decks crew *their own* send off. Don’t bring in a million cameos and make it some rehash of a previous Trek. Respect your own new characters enough to finish their story on this series, on their own terms.

This has never been something Lower Decks had a problem with so Im sure they’ll be fine on that front

Lol ok.

It would be hilarious if the Lower Decks finale pokes fun at the Enterprise finale.

Crisis Point 3 – The Search for a voyage home to the final frontier: the undiscovered country.

Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds are my two favorites of the new Trek things. I love Lower Decks so much, was so disappointing that it was canceled. Could keep going for years.

CBS doesn’t really have an animated sitcom, do they? Maybe they’d like to give that a try. Or Hulu for the opposite reason, they have a lot of animated sitcom stuff.

“The audience wants something new, but they tend to not want to see what they already love being “undone.”

This is why I’m a fan of both Mike McMahan and the Hagemann Brothers. They’re adding to the Star Trek story, not trying to change its history. I’m a fan of canon and what I wanted since 2016 was a continuation of the universe in the 24th/25th centuries, post nemesis.The animated shows filled that void. And yes, S3 Picard too.

I’m really hate to see it go, it’s the only modern Trek show I’ve consistently enjoyed.

Crossing my fingers that they at least got to make an hour-long finale.

Lower Decks was some good silly fun, but do we really need more? Rather than more animation, I’d love to see the characters return in live-action, even in a drama (with comedic undertones).

this show i was so skeptical of when it was announced and by the 3rd episode it had won me over and now its one of my fav ST shows and definitely the best of the new Paramount+ shows. its hard to spark that tone of ‘laughing with’ and not ‘laughing at’ and LDs does that perfectly.

I like the idea of a movie (or movies) using the South Park direct-to-stream “Specials” format. Maybe they need to dump the stupid Section 31 Yeoh garbage and just make an animated short series with clone Boimler and Mariner.

Season 1 left me excited for Season 2. Season 2 left me incredibly hyped for Season 3. Season 3 left me cautiously optimistic for Season 4. Season 4 left me ambivalent about Season 5.