The final frontiersmen: 6 times Star Trek actors appeared on classic westerns

By: H&I Staff    Posted: May 4, 2023, 11:50AM Tags: Tags: Star Trek, Westerns

Outerspace might seem lightyears away from the wild west, but the two are closer than you might expect. The sprawling scope of shows Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke and The Rifleman each pulled galactic stars into their cowboy orbit orbit. 

With hundreds of episodes spanning the 1950s, '60s and '70s, it's no suprise that a lot of these shows' call sheets crossed over with the voyages of the USS Enterprise. For eagle-eyed Trekkies and casual viewers alike, here are six times that Star Trek crew members saddled up and hit the dusty trail!

Watch Star Trek: The Original Series on H&I

Sunday through Friday at 8 PM Eastern/Pacific


Leonard Nimoy

Well before Whoopi Goldberg tended bar on the USS Enterprise as Guinan, Leonard Nimoy was slinging sasparrillas as a bartender in an episode of Bonanza. In the 1960 episode "The Ape," Nimoy made his first Bonanza appearance as Freddy, a character mostly relegated to the background of continuing Cartwright drama. Nimoy would also star in the 1995 TV film Bonanza: Under Attack!


DeForest Kelley

Bones on the Range: Dr. Leonard McCoy himself appears as another doctor on the 1962 Bonanza episode "The Decision." Here, Kelley is Dr. Michael Jons, a physician who has been arrested on suspicion of murder. When Hoss suffers a life-threatening injury, it's up to the Carwrights to determine whether Jons hangs for his crimes.


James Doohan

In the 1962 episode "Gift of Water," Hoss and the Carwrights are pulled into a conflict between flatlands families and high country ranchers involving a drought. Along for the ride is Star Trek's Scotty. Although Doohan doesn't have much to do, he is joined on this episode of Bonanza by another Starfleet soon-to-be.


Majel Barrett

In that very same episode, "Gift of Water," Doohan is joined by the First Lady of Star Trek. Barrett, known for her roles as Nurse Chapel, Lwaxana Troi and the voice of most of the computer interfaces in the original series, was also married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenbury. Luckily for Trekkies, she's more heavily featured in this episode of Bonanza than James Doohan is. 


William Shatner

Before sitting in command at the captain's chair on the flight deck, James Tiberius Kirk played a suspected counterfeiter on an episode of The Big Valley. Playing Jarrod Barkley's old friend from school, William Shatner rouses the suspicions of the Secret Service in the 1966 episode "A Time to Kill."


Grace Lee Whitney

While Whitney's character Janice Rand was cut midway through Star Trek's first season due to budgetary restraints, the actress did appear Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and The Big Valley. Whitney would later leave the world of saloons and shootouts to re-enter the Trek world in three of the first six theatrical releases.