It's hard to believe that the original "Star Trek" television series lasted just three seasons and was cancelled in 1969 because of low ratings.
Since then, there have been five additional TV series and 12 motion pictures, including the second film in the J.J. Abrams reboot, "Star Trek Into Darkness," which opens today.
There have been books, toys, games, parodies, numerous cultural references and, yes, fans -- known as Trekkies or Trekkers, depending on whom you ask.
With a multibillion-dollar industry spawned from the original cult classic, it's nearly impossible to pick out the franchise's greatest moments. We've selected seven. See if you agree.
|The Captains Meet|
It was the moment many fans had waited for: when the two Starfleet captains, James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) from the series that came 21 years after the first, "Star Trek: The Next Generation," finally met. In his first appearance on the big screen in the 1994 film "Generations," Picard joined forces with Kirk to fight the film's villain, Dr. Tolian Soran. When Kirk is killed in the battle, the torch is passed to Picard to carry on the franchise for the next three films. But that wouldn't stop fans from debating who was the better captain.
|Picard's Ahab Speech|
When you have a Shakespearean actor like Stewart, it helps to give him a memorable speech like the one he delivered in the 1996 film, "Star Trek: First Contact," to engineer Lily Sloane, played by Alfre Woodard. When Sloane accused him of going after the Borg the way Captain Ahab hunted Moby Dick, Picard smashed into a display case and proclaimed, "The line must be drawn here!" Ironically, Stewart went on to play Ahab in the 1998 TV movie "Moby Dick" and earned an Emmy nod.
Few can forget the moment where Captain Kirk is forced to lock lips with Lt. Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols). Broadcast on the original series in November 1968, it was one of the first interracial kisses on U.S. television, and it nearly didn't get past studio executives who ordered the scene to be re-shot without a kiss. Instead, Shatner crossed his eyes during the key moment forcing the studio to go with the original take. In the end, Nichols wrote in her memoir, most of the mail they received about the episode was positive.
|Streets of San Francisco|
One of the more memorable "Star Trek" movies was 1986' "The Voyage Home," in which the crew of the Enterprise goes back in time, to 1986, to locate now-extinct humpback whales. Of course, they stand out like fish out of water when they first arrive on the streets of San Francisco. Who can forget Kirk trying to imitate a passing motorist's speech with "Well, a double-dumb a** on you!" or Spock facing down a young punk on a bus.
|The Death of Spock|
There was hardly a dry eye at the end of the 1982 film, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," when a dying Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) shared a final moment with his friend Kirk while separated by a safety glass. "I have been and always shall be your friend," Spock declared, in one of the most often repeated lines from the franchise, leaving a devastated Kirk to mourn his friend. Though Spock would be resurrected in the next film, "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," the moment he died still stands as one of the franchise's most powerful.
|The City on the Edge of Forever|
One of the most widely acclaimed episodes from the original series, "The City on the Edge of Forever" took the Enterprise crew back to 1930s New York, where Kirk fell for a woman named Edith Keeler, played by a young Joan Collins, while working on restoring history's timeline. In the episode's most wrenching moment, Kirk cannot save Edith from being hit by a truck without altering the course of history. Written by science fiction author Harlan Ellison, the episode won a Hugo Award and has been ranked by many critics as one of television's best.
To establish the 2009 reboot "Star Trek," Kirk was given an alternate beginning: his father, George Kirk, played by "Thor" actor Chris Hemsworth," sacrificed his life by ramming his starship, the USS Kelvin, into the heart of an attacking Romulan ship. Before doing so, he bids farewell to his pregnant wife and their unborn son, James T. Kirk, in one of the film's most emotional moments and sets the course for the younger Kirk's life.