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The Surprising Star Trek Episode That Was Banned In Germany

The Surprising Star Trek Episode That Was Banned In Germany

The original “Star Trek” TV show is an enduring classic. The Gene Roddenberry-created sci-fi staple starring William Shatner (who recently went to space for real) and Leonard Nimoy ran for three seasons on NBC from 1966 to 1969, and went on to spawn a seemingly endless franchise of feature films, TV series, and reboots — some of which continue to proliferate to this day. While the rabid fan base will passionately debate the merits of the entire universe of “Star Trek” entries (in or out of costume), no one can deny that the original adventures of Captain Kirk and crew are what started it all. 

To be fair, not every original episode was a winner, and the tight budget meant special effects that were less than special in any era. But the show was nevertheless brilliant, with engaging characters and entertaining stories that were way ahead of their time, inspiring generations of humanity. With groundbreaking moments that often incorporated social commentary, such as the first-ever interracial kiss on TV, it’s no wonder certain episodes of the show raised a few eyebrows, both domestically and abroad. In fact, Germany actually banned one episode altogether. 

Star Trek also explored the past, in a not-so-subtle way

The 1968 episode titled “Patterns of Force” got the ax in Germany and was barred from airing in the country for decades until 1996. What could Kirk (Shatner) and Spock (Nimoy) possibly have done to deserve such a fate? Well, as it turns out, “Star Trek” wasn’t always so subtle with its commentary.

“Patterns of Force” finds our intrepid heroes visiting an alien world ruled by a Nazi-like regime — already not a favorite theme in Germany. The uniforms are extremely similar to Nazi apparel, down to the smallest details. The leader of this world is gearing up his people for genocide with hateful propaganda. Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly did to German censors.

Of course, the Enterprise crew saves the day — after all this is “Star Trek”. But this was a case where the story hit a little too close to home for Germany, who was not ready to boldly go back into that particular piece of earthly history until the ’90s when they lifted the ban. It’s still surprising that a show as popular, well-intended, and optimistic about the future as “Star Trek” would fall victim to cancel culture in any galaxy.

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