Can Any Modern Star Trek Series Reach 100 Episodes? Alex Kurtzman Shares His Thoughts

 Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Star Trek: Discovery is taking its final bow after five seasons, ending the longest-running series of the modern era. Thankfully, we know we can expect more upcoming Trek shows as well as a few surprises in the future, but even so, Voyager will hold onto the accolade of being the last show in the franchise to exceed 100 episodes. So, now the question becomes: Will a Star Trek series ever hit that milestone again? CinemaBlend talked about it with top brass Alex Kurtzman to get some answers.

I had a chance to speak to Kurtzman ahead of the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery on the 2024 TV schedule, and I asked if a day would ever come when a modern entry in the franchise could hit 100 episodes. It feels like a tall order, considering current seasons of current shows are only about ten episodes in length, but Kurtzman talked about another obstacle while giving his thoughts on the matter:

I don't know, it's very hard. I mean, the fact that [Discovery went to] go on five seasons is sort of a miracle. I think most people watch two seasons of a streaming show, and they check out, you know, and that's not specific to Trek. I just think that's the watch pattern for television in the streaming world. It's hard to know.

Streaming has permanently changed the television landscape. There are more options to watch shows both new and old than there ever were before. As such, it's hard to keep audiences glued to their Paramount+ subscription when competitors are churning out other exciting new shows. As he said, the fact that Star Trek: Discovery received five seasons before the cancellation was a big feat, especially when considering the fact that some of streaming's most popular shows, like Stranger Things, will end with Season 5.

While Alex Kurtzman likely has the details of what is in store for Star Trek's future, including the news on that rumored Jean-Luc Picard movie, he doesn't know what the future holds. He did offer his best guess at what the chances are of any current or upcoming Trek show hitting a hundred episodes and why he's happy with the way things currently are:

My guess would be that it would be unlikely. But in some ways, I think what's lovely about that is– it's funny you can talk to old writers of old Trek series, and they're like, ‘Man, there's a bunch of filler episodes in there. We are just trying to get to 22 a season,’ you know, and, and we all know which of those episodes were [filler], we know the ones that were truly stellar from the ones that felt like they were kind of spinning their wheels. And so I think what ten episodes a season forces you to do is really make sure that every story counts as much as it possibly can. And I like that, you know, I like that. I like what that affords us now.

I certainly can understand Alex Kurtzman's perspective, and I agree that some Star Trek filler episodes from the past were absolute stinkers. Then again, one has to wonder if The Next Generation had only ten episodes if we would have seen some of its more WTF moments unfold, or Tim Russ talking about  Voyager's "Tuvix" episode. There's a trade-off for the big-budget adventures, and a large part of it is the show needing to stay on task with the main story with the limited episodes it has.

Of course, Star Trek has still found ways to include side stories in this new era, with Strange New Worlds focusing on character-driven serialization amongst daily adventures the crew faces. It's working well enough that Discovery reportedly mimicked the style in its final season, and it may just be the new normal for the franchise going forward. Who knows, it may even get the series, which is currently in production for Season 3, to a hundred episodes, which would be fantastic. Then again, in an age where there's no sign of Trek slowing down, do we need that?

Fans may ponder this question as they tune in for new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery on Thursdays over on Paramount+. Those who aren't caught up need to do so, because this final season has been amazing thus far.