When Star Trek first came out in the 1960s, it was originally just called Star Trek. As it achieved fame and became a franchise with future series and merchandise, it was...only logical...that the very first series would become known as The Original Series.

When exactly did the first Star Trek become known as Star Trek: The Original Series?

  • 3
    Either around the time of TAS, or when TNG came out. Nov 18, 2015 at 1:41
  • @ElliottFrisch - Thanks! Yes, I would have thought perhaps before TAS but couldn't find much info on it.
    – user35594
    Nov 18, 2015 at 1:42
  • 1
    @rand al'thor - Someone's random blog post doesn't seem like a very trustworthy source, especially since the main point they are making in that sentence is that it wasn't called "the original series" when it came out.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 18, 2015 at 1:49
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    @Hypnosifl Agreed. Hence the comment, rather than an answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 18, 2015 at 1:49
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    Ah, but I just noticed this book which refers to the animated series as being "based on the original series", and google dates it as being from 1979, I don't think this is just an issue of google mis-dating it since it's supposed to be an "Encyclopedia of Science Fiction" but when I search the book for the phrase "Next Generation" there are only two references, neither of them to Star Trek. On the other hand, although it uses the phrase "original series", it doesn't really use it as a title.
    – Hypnosifl
    Nov 18, 2015 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


While it was called "the original," or, "the original series," or, "the live action series," or, "the real Star Trek" once the animated version came out, it was not abbreviated as "TOS." There was, at that point, no official extension of the name. At that time, Star Trek was expected, among Trekkies/Trekkers, to refer to the 1966 series. If one wanted to specify the Filmation series, "The animated one," or, "the cartoon," or something else was added onto the title, but never as part of the title. The original was just Star Trek and the animated was specified with some phrase that distinguished it.

The animated series had only aired for a short time on Saturday mornings which, in that time, was considered a "kiddie show" time slot, so there were many people who didn't take TAS too seriously. Once ST:TMP came along, though, TAS was beginning to be disowned. (Roddenberry had said he never thought he'd have another chance to continue telling Star Trek stories, so he figured he might as well do the animated, but later said it wasn't really part of the same story. Later, though, that view changed.)

I remember, though, at a convention in the spring or summer of 1988, after the last episodes of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired, when people were talking about the shows, they would sometimes specify TNG or TOS. From there, people tended to specify ST:TOS or ST:TNG.

I never heard or saw anything like "ST:TOS" until ST:TNG started airing. Yes, people may have used the phrase "The original," and many of us had the same thought. We didn't want to say, "The old one," so we tended to just say, "The original." Many may have even said, "The original series," but people didn't consider it part of the title.

There may be an official designation, from Paramount, that was when TOS was officially added, but I think it started with just general reference and conversation and apparently Paramount seemed okay with it and ST:TOS became the standard.

  • This is brilliant stuff! Thank you.
    – user35594
    Nov 21, 2015 at 22:39

There's little I can add to Tango's great answer, but I do want to point out The Next Generation Writer's / Director's Guide, a manual written by series creator Gene Roddenberry (with consultation from David Gerrold) and released in March 1987 for potential writers / directors of TNG, which had not yet began airing at the time.

The section on page 5 is titled:

What is changed from the Original Series

At an official level, this a likely origin for the descriptor.

  • I believe the ST:TNG bible was written by David Gerrold before the whole Blood and Fire situation.
    – Tango
    Nov 18, 2015 at 3:13
  • @Tango : As in, it is understood to have been written by D.G.? It says "Gene Roddenberry, March 1987" on the title page.
    – Praxis
    Nov 18, 2015 at 3:15
  • Found two new things - you'll see them in chat. Apparently Roddenberry wrote it, or got credit, but Gerrold was definitely involved and consulted on the series bible.
    – Tango
    Nov 18, 2015 at 3:50
  • I have an image to upload of a screenshot, too. It was uploading when Keen jumped in and froze chat. I'll upload it after the room is unfrozen.
    – Tango
    Nov 18, 2015 at 3:52
  • 1
    @user35594 : Glad to be of help. :-)
    – Praxis
    Nov 22, 2015 at 4:05

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