I may have watched a few episodes when it first aired, but I otherwise don't know much.

But it seems possible that SeaQuest DSV borrowed heavily from Star Trek.

  • Ensemble cast
  • On a ship
  • SF adventures
  • the nerdy kid on the bridge, somehow smarter than the officers
  • "SeaQuest" from "StarTrek"
  • "DSV" from "DS9"

What's the story behind SeaQuest DSV's potential inspiration from / borrowing / referencing of Star Trek?

Is there any evidence that SeaQuest DSV was inspired and/or influenced by Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: DS9?

  • 2
    DS9 started in 1999, DSV started in 1993 so... your last bullet is bullocks. Unless you think time travel was involved.
    – zipquincy
    Aug 14, 2015 at 15:38
  • 8
    @zipquincy DS9 started in 1993. I think they both did?
    – ThruGog
    Aug 14, 2015 at 15:51
  • 4
    @zipquincy: See ThruGog's comment. Memory jogged, I remember seeing the two shows promoted and thinking, "Seriously, how do two shows end up with similar names?!" It's like how Antz and Bug's Life came out together. Ideas and names are floating around Hollywood and they get copied before they even come out. Aug 14, 2015 at 16:15
  • 5
    Note that the shows shared over 30 cast and crew in common including actors, directors, writers and producers as well as effects staff, musicians and set designers.
    – Valorum
    Aug 14, 2015 at 19:22
  • 4
    What's even funnier is that GalaxyQuest is a parody of Star Trek, yet uses the font & intro sequence from SeaQuest (not to mention the name) LOL.
    – Omegacron
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


Indeed, seaQuest DSV has often been called "Star Trek, underwater".

Consider the following remark in an IGN retrospective on seaQuest DSV :

[seaQuest DSV] sailed through a three season run and after its cancellation, it didn't have the legs in reruns as did Star Trek: The Next Generation and DS9, the very programs that inspired it.

However, this claim is not substantiated in any way by the article's authors. The question is: was DSV really inspired by the various Star Trek series, or are any similarities unintentional?

In addressing the question, I'll go from the weakest points to the strongest points.

"DSV" from "DS9"?

There is no publicly-revealed information that suggests that the acronym "DSV" was influenced in any way by "DS9". The acronym "DSV" for deep-submergence vehicle has a long history, having been used in naval circles since at least 1960. Its selling point as a title is that the acronym rolls off the tongue easily and sounds "cool" — and that's probably why Rockne S. O'Bannon (the creator of seaQuest DSV) chose it.

Since seaQuest DSV started airing only nine months after Deep Space Nine, it is hard to assess which name was conceived of first. But all in all, the fact that "DSV" was already a well-established real-life acronym casts doubt on a link between "DSV" and "DS9".

"seaQuest" from "Star Trek"?

This has never been confirmed or denied, but it does seem reasonable. (I'm not saying that this is a weak point in and of itself — only that there is no confirmed statement to this effect. I agree that there is little debate.)

Sci-fi adventures

Of course, DSV was squarely in the sci-fi genre, and as such it had sci-fi adventures. As for whether the particular adventures on DSV are Star Trek-esque, a case can be made for this. This has to do with the direction the show began to take after its first season, and also with the audience it was trying to court.

In Season 1, seaQuest DSV focused on, well, the sea — as it should. Come Season 2, a large focus was placed on aliens hiding on Earth. There was also an attempt to lure Star Trek and Star Wars fans over to DSV by having Mark Hamill and William Shatner as guest stars.

enter image description here enter image description here

For example, Mark Hamill playing a man who is actually an alien hiding amongst humans, who is then pursued by a member of his own kind who wants to take him back to his home planet to face sentencing and execution for tenuous crimes, is reminiscent of several actual Star Trek plots.

What the show can be accused of with definite certainly is having an identity crisis. It was never sure of what it wanted to be, and this only worsened as it went into its second and third seasons.

Ensemble cast on a ship with a young, nerdy, annoying know-it-all

I've combined three of your points into one. As others have pointed out in comments below your question, the ensemble idea is not exclusive to Star Trek, although The Original Series may have perfected the concept. The idea of a crew on a ship, be it the Enterprise or the Galactica, is probably so ingrained in public consciousness that it would have taken the creators some effort not to set up the show in that way.

One might say that Lukas, the whiz kid on DSV, was a nod to Wesley Crusher, but then again, television has always had such "boy geniuses", from Doogie Howser M.D. to the kid on My Secret Identity. (The trope also appears in the La Femme Nikita ensemble-cast television series with its character Birkhof, around the same time as DSV.)

As for the inspirations behind other characters:

Roy Scheider's character was based on John C. Lilly. Lilly was a pioneer researcher into the nature of consciousness using as his principal tools the isolation tank, dolphin communication and psychedelic drugs, sometimes in combination. He was a prominent member of the Californian counterculture of scientists, mystics and thinkers that arose in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Albert Hofmann, Gregory Bateson, Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, Werner Erhard, and Richard Feynman were all frequent visitors to his home. The character's name, Nathan Hale Bridger, was in homage to Nathan Hale.

When producers began developing new characters for the second season, they named Lieutenant Brody after Police Chief Martin Brody, Roy Scheider's character in the first two Jaws films.


References to Star Trek (and vice-versa)

Whatever the case is regarding the inspiration behind seaQuest DSV, the show did intentionally reference Star Trek at some points. Consider the text in this screenshot, for instance:

enter image description here

Also this, from the episode "Dream Weaver":

enter image description here

During DSV's second season, TNG returned the favour. In the episode "Eye of the Beholder", the following character's service history includes time on a ship called the "Seaquest":

enter image description here

Further reading

seaQuest DSV's attempt to carve out its own identity in spite of its similarities with Star Trek is discussed in the following article:

  • 3
    You may want to add that the acronym DSV is an existing naval term (deep submergence vessel) that's been around since at least the 1970s.
    – Omegacron
    Aug 14, 2015 at 19:59
  • 2
    @Praxis: +1 for the pervasive "Further reading" Praxisism Aug 14, 2015 at 20:05
  • @Omegacron : Good point --- I'll add that. Thanks.
    – Praxis
    Aug 14, 2015 at 22:31
  • @ThePopMachine : The answer wouldn't be complete without it. ;-)
    – Praxis
    Aug 14, 2015 at 22:32
  • 3
    @Praxis Characters on the show refer to the station as DS9. It is written in the scripts as "DS nine." For instance in Emissary, the first episode of the series, Sisko says, "Rio Grande to DS nine." I counted a further 6 occurrences in Past Prologue, the second episode of season 1. I stopped searching, but I'm sure there are many occurrences.
    – Bamboo
    Aug 15, 2015 at 0:02

The show's principal actor, Roy Scheider certainly saw the first season as being something brand new and exciting, with a genuine focus on environmentalism and fact-based drama.

Later seasons, he felt, were far more aligned with the sort of science-fantasy plotlines seen on shows like Trek, which he was decidedly unhappy about.

Suffice to say, he was vocal in his criticism of the show even while filming it.

"It's total, total childish trash," Scheider said in an interview between takes at Universal Studios Florida. "I'm ashamed of it."

"I feel betrayed," Scheider said. "I feel I've not been told the truth."

SeaQuest debuted in 1993 with modest ratings success. NBC renewed the series on the promise of new story lines and new Florida locations, allowing the cast to leave the claustrophobic submarine. The series began production at Universal in July. The season premiere is Sunday.

Scheider, 62, said he was mostly happy with the first season and was hopeful for the second.

"We were moving to Florida," Scheider said. "We were going to present human beings who had a life on land as well as on the boat."

"We've had one script that has done that,"Scheider said. "The other shows are Saturday afternoon 4 o'clock junk for children. Just junk - old, tired, time-warp robot crap."

Scheider, nominated for Oscars in The French Connection and All That Jazz, said the network's emphasis is on the gadgetry, big action and women in sexy scenes, which he called "eye candy."

"It's not real," he said, "It's not even good fantasy. I mean Star Trek does this stuff much better than we can do it. To me the show is now 21 Jump Street meets Star Dreck."

  • 1
    Roy Scheider - Now that's a rant! To think, judging from the discussion in the comments under the OP, people were down voting @ThePopMachine over use of the phrases "potential borrow/reference". Go Roy! LOL :D
    – user23715
    Aug 14, 2015 at 22:02
  • @user23715 - I have to say I'm staggered that even after he hammered the show like this in an interview, the producers still wouldn't release him from his three-season contract :-)
    – Valorum
    Aug 14, 2015 at 22:06
  • Interesting dig at 21 Jump Street at the end of Scheider's rant since Peter DeLuise, 21 Jump Street alum, joined seaQuest in Season 2.
    – Bamboo
    Aug 15, 2015 at 0:06

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