Saturday, August 21, 2010

Was Gene Roddenberry Influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche?

Given that the famed Star Trek creator was an unabashed secular humanist, was Gene Roddenberry’s various creative works heavily influenced by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche?

By: Ringo Bones

If you’re a fan of Gene Roddenberry’s other works besides Star Trek, the answer to this one could be oh so obvious. And yet that “simple answer” can never be so cut-and-dried as to pass of as obvious to those who know Roddenberry - and his secular humanist stance - and Nietzsche beyond the mere “passing acquaintance” level. Or is the truth about as “complicated” as the current hot-button celebrity-fallen-from-grace style commentary?

Anybody familiar with Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda will probably decide that the famed science fiction writer is indeed influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche. By populating the Andromeda science fiction TV series with “Nietzscheans” – a race of genetically-enhanced humans obsessed with superiority – or the concept of it anyway. The case can never be so obviously cut-and-dried, but is it?

To those familiar with Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical musings – and gene Roddenberry’s portrayal of Nietzscheans in Andromeda - while ignorant of his personal life, could find the real-life Friedrich Nietzsche a bit hard to swallow. The biographical – and supposedly historically accurate – movie titled When Nietzsche Wept (ironically often showed during Valentine’s Day in HBO and Cinemax affiliates located in more libertine nation-states) shows the historically-accurate Friedrich Nietzsche as a melancholic basket case. Quite far from the impression of the general public of the great German philosopher whom they assumed as a thrill-seeking extreme sports addict – or what passes as extreme sports during the Victorian era.

So is Gene Roddenberry – or his science fiction works - truly influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche? Well, assumptions about this subject truly leaves the planet – euphemistically speaking – when one knows more about one person (Gene Roddenberry given his presence on the first few inaugural Star Trek conventions) than another (Friedrich Nietzsche because not all of us are “Ivy League College material”). Not to offend Star Trek fans, but there are those out there still clueless when it comes to the really “esoteric” questions about Gene Roddenberry’s life, let alone Friedrich Nietzsche’s. and will probably be an easier research paper to work on than one aimed at finding out the political views of Gene Roddenberry on the Sino-Indian War of 1962 or whether if the famed Star Trek creator were best buds with the Dalai Lama.


  1. Ringo, I was watching re-runs of the original Star Trek and came to the same question about Nietzsche's influence on Roddenberry. I will watch some of the other episodes to follow up on this hypothesis. If there is influence, it is a very interesting realization for someone who grew up watching and loving Star Trek re-runs, then going on to fall in love with Nietzsche, and now coming back to Star Trek.

  2. Are there any other hagiographic and historicism based articles on Gene Roddenberry harboring Nietzschean philosophy on his views of the 1962 Sino Indian War?