It's an age old argument, one which has raged for decades: which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars? Both franchises are pillars of scifi storytelling, with rich plots and plenty of fun filled adventures for fans to enjoy. But if you're a fan of both you'd better be prepared to face the wrath of the internet, because as every nerd knows, you're only allowed to like one of them.
With the release of [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158), and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond (along with the long awaited new Trek show), this argument has reared its ugly head again. It's fun to compare the different fictional universes, and ask which would win in a fight between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise (it depends on which Enterprise, but the Falcon would probably lose).
But ultimately there's a lot of bad blood between the two fanbases, when the whole debate is honestly, pretty tired.
They're Fundamentally Incomparable
Before I get into the differences between the franchises, let me just make this clear: I love both Trek and Wars. And one of the reasons this debate has never been solved is because the two espouse very different values. Star Trek looks to the future; set firmly in our galaxy, Trek inspires humanity to strive to be better, as we imagine our future among the stars.
Star Wars, on the other hand, looks to the past, emulating the myths of knights errant, fused with samurai legends and a futuristic aesthetic. The themes are much more to do with family and morality. And while Trek has always had an ensemble cast, Star Wars is ultimately a heroic journey driven by the protagonist (eg: Luke Skywalker or Rey).
So really, it's like comparing Lord of the Rings to Firefly. It's impossible to say which is better because they're such different entities. And of course, Trek has had decades more development than Star Wars (not counting the Expanded Universe), with five different TV shows (six with The Animated Series) and eleven movies to its name. Not that that makes it better, just that it's difficult to know which part of the Star Trek franchise people are even referring to when they compare it to Star Wars.
But even above the franchise's differences, there's a better reason why it's pointless to compare the two...
What's Wrong With Liking Both?
People just love X vs X arguments: cats or dogs, Batman or Superman, etc. But the Wars vs Trek debate has the tendency to veer into personal and petty territory when fans try to gate keep the fanbases. This has lead to many an internet flame war over the years, and it doesn't look like it's going to end any time soon.
This is kind of ludicrous, and not just because it's obvious that you can like two seemingly contradictory things at once, but also because professionally, the two franchises have only benefited each other.
A Cordial Working Relationship
Star Trek (The Original Series) premiered in 1966, eleven years before Star Wars Episode IV. Although many scifi films and TV shows had come before it, Trek was somewhat revolutionary, thanks to the combination of frontieristic adventure and challenging intellectual commentary. The fans soon became famous (perhaps notorious) for their enthusiasm, and Trek's popularity paved the way for Star Wars' success in 1977: the world was tuned in to scifi, and they loved it.
Then, the popularity of Star Wars and the original Star Trek movies lead to another Trek series being greenlit: The Next Generation. It's worth pointing out that Wars and Trek have always paralleled each other, boosting the popularity of scifi through its rise and fall (and rise again) over the decades. And it's possible that just as Trek paved the way for Star Wars in the 70s, the resurgence of Star Wars through The Force Awakens could have influenced CBS' decision to finally resurrect Star Trek's TV franchise.
Oh, and George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry shook hands at least once, at Star War's 10th anniversary celebrations. This was a great moment for Lucas, who had attended many Trek conventions in the 70s: he was a fan of The Original Series. And that alone should be enough to end the Wars vs Trek debate.
Essentially, Trek and Wars have only ever had a cordial professional relationship... with the exception of Carrie Fisher and William Shatner's tongue-in-cheek Twitter wars.
It's A Good Time To Be A Nerd
Whether you like Star Trek or Star Wars, the future is very bright for nerd kind. Star Wars has at least four films coming out in the next five years, while Star Trek will finally return to the small screen in 2017. In this time of geek plenty, why not put aside our differences and finally realise that Trek and Wars are both fantastic franchises, and that this debate is nothing more than an excuse for a good argument.