Why It Took Star Trek: Lower Decks Three Seasons To Go To DS9
Star Trek: Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan reveals why the animated series didn’t visit iconic franchise location Deep Space 9 until season 3. The adult animated comedy series’ third season premiered on August 25 on Paramount+. Deep Space 9 was the central setting of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which aired from 1993 to 1999 and had appeared in both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager, before making its Lower Decks debut.
Located in the Denorios Belt in the Alpha Quadrant, Deep Space 9 is a key location within the lore of Star Trek with a storied history. Constructed to originally serve as a Cardassian refinery and outpost over Bajor, the station fell under the administration of the Federation and the Bajoran Provisional Government following the Cardassian retreat. Under the guidance of Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), the station is turned into a commerce and travel hub, as well as a staging ground for expeditions into the unexplored territories of the Gamma Quadrant. Star Trek: Lower Decks revisits the station in season 3 episode 6 « Hear All, Trust Nothing », giving audiences a glimpse at Deep Space 9’s current status following the events of the Dominion War, and the animated series’ showrunner has explained why the show has only just decided to feature the beloved Star Trek setting.
In an interview with EW, McMahan explained why the animated series waited until season 3 to visit Deep Space 9, revealing that he wanted to wait until Lower Decks had established itself before incorporating fan-favorite Star Trek legacy elements. The showrunner states that his priority when developing season 1 was to prove that a Star Trek animated comedy could be successful, while season 2 was in production before he could see season 1’s reception and decide whether to revisit fan-favorite characters and settings of the franchise. Check out McMahan’s response below:
« I think it took until season 3 for me to build up the courage to go up to such a hot show and hit on it. You know what I mean? That first season was me proving that the theory was real: we could do an animated comedy that was funny and original, but still felt like Star Trek. Then we’re making the second season before season 1 aired, so I didn’t know if it worked for anybody yet. I’ve said this before, if we have legacy characters come back or if we go to a legacy location, you have to treat it like going to Yosemite where you can enjoy being there. »
While McMahan may have resisted crossing over with other Star Trek entries during Star Trek: Lower Decks’ early seasons, the crew of the USS Cerritos is already set to crossover with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In an ambitious episode of Strange New Worlds season 2, Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) somehow step back in time and onto the deck of the Enterprise during Christopher Pike’s (Ansom Mount) tenure as captain, with both Newsome and Quaid portraying their characters in their live-action debut. While no other crossovers have currently been confirmed, Strange New Worlds showrunner Akiva Goldsman did offer insight into how Star Trek crossovers are decided upon, revealing that they are always looking out for how these stories can work narratively first and foremost.
Though McMahan may have been hesitant to visit Star Trek’s more familiar and iconic settings while Star Trek: Lower Decks was finding itself, the show has quickly proven itself to be a well-received series that pokes fun and lovingly pays tribute to all corners of the franchise history, from the 90s TV series to JJ Abrams’ Kelvin timeline movies. As such, the return to Deep Space 9 was one of season 3’s most anticipated events, as it allows the franchise to address the fates of the station’s residents, as well as the state of the galaxy. With season 4 expected to air in 2023 and Star Trek: Lower Decks having found the confidence to more heavily feature other Star Trek elements, dedicated fans may wonder which familiar corners of the universe the USS Cerritos’ voyages may take them next.