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The Surprising Cast Member Who Filmed The Most Star Trek: TOS Episodes

You'll be so ready for "Star Trek" trivia night after this. 

The original "Star Trek" (also known as "the original series" or TOS, since there have been about 45 more shows since then) aired on NBC from 1966 to 1969. For three seasons it struggled to catch on with audiences as it bounced around in horrible time slots, so finally it was canceled after 79 episodes of the now-legendary space adventure. But in syndication in the 1970s, the series blew up. Eventually "Star Trek" became the phenomenon it is today, turning into one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world. The epic exploits of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and the crew of the starship Enterprise have lived long and prospered in ways few would have imagined in the humble beginnings.

Strangely enough, one of the original cast members actually appeared in more episodes than any of the others. The space plot thickens! And no, we're not double counting all the various times Kirk gets split into two Kirks or has a robot version of himself to deal with. We're just counting episodes here. 

We can rule out a few of the regulars pretty easily. Ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig), for example, wasn't even introduced until Season 2. Likewise, Lt. Sulu (George Takei) also was absent from the helm a bunch of times. But Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) seemed to be around most, if not all the time, huh?

None of them appeared in every episode though — except Shatner and Nimoy. But if those two were both in all 79 shows, how did one of them film more than the other?

Spock boldly went first

According to IMDb, Leonard Nimoy appeared in 80 episodes as Spock, which at first glance seems highly illogical. But this has less to do with cheating the spacetime continuum than the fact that "Star Trek" was among the rare TV shows that filmed more than one pilot episode. 

Per Collider, before William Shatner's Captain Kirk led the Enterprise crew, there was a totally different version with a different captain (Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter). Most of the crew was different too — but Spock was still there, giving him one more appearance than Kirk. That original pilot (called "The Cage") was hated — and killed — by NBC, so changes were made and a new one was shot, this time with Shatner's Kirk. So, in a parallel universe, there was a totally different show.

Interestingly enough, the upcoming "Star Trek" series "Strange New Worlds" aims to give us a look at what that setup might've played out like. The new show follows the template of "The Cage," and explores the early Enterprise missions under Captain Pike, before Captain Kirk took over. Even a young Spock is on board, just like in the original pilot. Because in the world of "Star Trek," nothing stays dead forever. That even applies to Spock himself, who died in 1982's quintessential Trek film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," only to be resurrected in the sequel (although that was a long wait for fans, with no internet to spoil things).

It's hard to imagine the original "Star Trek" without Shatner, but it turns out it's even harder to envision without Nimoy, pointy ears and all. Chalk up one more for everybody's favorite green-blooded Vulcan.