The Real Reason William Shatner’s Kirk Didn’t Return From The Dead

The co-screenwriter of “Star Trek Generations” and its sequel “Star Trek: First Contact,” Brannon Braga, shared similar remarks about William Shatner’s desire to return as James Kirk in “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams.” He stated that Shatner’s suggestion had the potential of cheapening the character’s death, something he wanted to avoid. “It would have been disastrous to kill Kirk in the first movie, and then bring him back in the second. It would have just been chintzy and would have taken away any kind of credibility we’d tried to establish,” said the screenwriter.

Shatner, however, suggested he was aware Kirk — or at least his version of the character — would not reappear in his 1998 “Biography” episode. He stated that he was contacted by Paramount executives, who explained they would not cast the first series’ stars in new projects following “Star Trek Generations” due to their age and high salaries. “They said, ‘We’re going to make movies with that [new] cast and we’re not going to use you guys anymore. ‘Cause, well, you guys are getting older, and top-heavy with salaries and we’re going to make a transitional movie. And so you can come and die or not,'” recalled Shatner with a laugh. 

The actor stated he chose the latter and requested a significant sequence focused on his character’s passing. “I decided to die. Pay was good. Tried to get a good scene in there, a dying scene,” said Shatner.

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