Long before your favorite TV show makes it onto the air, the show’s writers and producers put together something called a Series Bible, a document that helps guide the crew as they create the world and characters.
These documents aren’t generally made available to the wider public—these are fairly in-the-weeds things for anyone outside of Hollywood. But Star Trek fans now have a chance to take a look under the hood and see what guided The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.
Startrek.com published the series bibles for those four shows this week, describing them as something that “also often exists as the first draft of a show.”
Reading through them, it’s interesting to see what changed, and also what remained the same. The Next Generation‘s bible starts in the same way as its episodes did: “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise; her continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Another way to think of these documents is as the original DNA of the shows, which lay out the guiding principles for everything that follows. TNG‘s asks a meaningful question in its opening: “are there any Star Trek stories left?” and notes that while the galaxy has been charted, it hasn’t yet been explored—leading to the events of the series.
The document also takes lengths to reinforce the things that made the original Star Trek work: A section called WHAT HAS NOT CHANGED lists the camaraderie between the crew, the action and adventure, and a similar ship, before going on to list the new characters, what works and doesn’t work in a script, the format screenwriters would need to adhere to for a script, details about the Enterprise—down to descriptions of the view screen, utility corridors, and more—and additional detailed character bios.
The DS9 bible plays much of the same role, but spends more time on the backstory and explaining the setting for the series, as do the Voyager and Enterprise bibles.
These documents likely won’t shed too much new light on the franchises, but they do offer some neat behind-the-scenes details about what went into positioning the shows before they debuted on TV. For aspiring screenwriters, it’s an interesting look into the mechanics of shows that may provide a bit of inspiration for future showrunners and creators.