The Star Trek franchise is one of the largest and most successful franchises in the entertainment industry. Unlike Star Wars, which is a very popular movie franchise, Star Trek crosses both film and television boundaries. Star Trek precedes Star Wars by about 10 years, having been developed in the mid-1960s for television.
The original Star Trek series was a ground-breaking show that addressed many sensitive issues that existed in the 60s. The show featured a multi-cultural cast that included white, black, Asian, and female actors. This was unheard of in the 60s. During that time period, nearly all shows on American TV had only white cast members. The few minority actors in these shows usually had minor roles that depicted them as gardeners, butlers, outlaws, or misfits. For the first time in television history, minority members of society had positive role models depicted on TV. This diversity led, in large part, to the popularity of Star Trek.
The original series ran for only three seasons, but gained a large fan base in the years following its cancellation in 1969. It spawned many future series. In all, there have been five television series and 11 films in the Star Trek franchise, which is nearly twice the number of Star War films to date.
Some of the issues covered in the original series were racism, homosexuality, gender bias, religion, and drugs. The series developers did not shy away from these important social issues. The original creator of the series had a difficult time selling his show to the networks because of this. TV executives felt American viewers were not ready to bring these issues into their homes, but the series became very successful soon after it was launched.