Enlarge / Sonequa Martin-Green plays protagonist Michael Burnham, first officer of the U.S.S.
Shenzhou, on new CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery. (credit: CBS)
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had a lot of strict rules for writers on his shows.
Some, like the requirement that both female and male officers be called “sir,” were thrown out a while ago (Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway, wanted to be called “ma’am”). Now, with forthcoming series Star Trek: Discovery, we’re about to see one of Roddenberry’s most cherished rules bite the dust.
When Roddenberry first framed his ideas for the Star Trek universe, he wanted to be sure that writers would emphasize the Utopian aspects of future life in the Federation.
Some of that Utopianism was hardwired into the show’s basic premise, in which money, war, and racial discrimination are things of the distant past.

But Roddenberry wasn’t satisfied with that—he wanted characters whose behavior was exemplary, too.
So he made a rule, which endured long after his death, that main characters were not allowed to mistreat each other or have conflicts that weren’t quickly resolved. Writers for the various series also weren’t allowed to show characters being malevolent or cruel. Of course, there were exceptions.

Aliens or non-crew members could be as awful as the writers wanted, as could protagonists whose minds were being controlled by outside forces. (This helps explain why our heroes are always being possessed or hopping over to the Mirror Universe.)
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