Promo photo for Star Trek Lower Decks

A Crossover Ep Between ‘Strange New Worlds’ and ‘Lower Decks’ Was Announced at SDCC 2022—Here’s What We Know

To boldly crossover where no two shows have crossed over before.

It wouldn’t be San Diego Comic-Con without some exciting new news from the world of Star Trek, and this year, the franchise didn’t disappoint: unveiling a sizable slate that includes a third (and final) season for Picard season three (with more returnees than ever), a second season for Strange New Worlds, a DS9 homage episode for Lower Decks, and all sorts of other exciting casting news. But among all the storyline revelations and jokes about Pike’s ever-towering hair, there was one entirely unlikely (and exciting) announcement that I could never have predicted—a crossover episode between Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Lower Decks.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Two Trek shows crossing over. Big whoop! It happens all the time.” And that’s absolutely true—as far back as The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the Star Trek franchise has enjoyed a healthy number of crossover episodes across multiple shows—even as recently as the pseudo backdoor pilot for Strange New Worlds that came out of Discovery. So, with such a long history of crossover episodes under its belt, why is this one news?

Because it’s the first time two shows from different mediums will cross over. As announced by Anson Mount (Captain Pike on SNW), with the help of panel-crashers Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome (both Lower Decks regulars), the cast of Strange New Worlds will be lending their voices (and possibly more?) to a special animated crossover episode with Lower Decks. For those keeping score, this will be the first time an animated Star Trek series has crossed over with a live-action one, marking yet another ‘first’ for a franchise dedicated to breaking new ground.

Christopher Pike in his captain's chair
(Image: James Dimmock/Paramount+ )

Though the crossover of Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds—of all the possible Trek shows to pick from—is certainly a surprise, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a new crossover mentioned. As far back as a guest appearance on the Ready Room podcast in early June, franchise executive producer Alex Kurtzman had teased a potential Trek crossover episode, and emphasized the importance of collaboration within the Trek Universe:

“It’s an essential part of the process in terms of the world build, because we want to make sure we’re not smashing into each other. We want to make sure we’re building on each other. So there are things in Picard that are set up to pay off in Discovery. There are things that we set up in Discovery that we can then go back and retrofit in seasons that haven’t been written yet of other shows… It’s very important that each showrunner has their own individual take on what they love about Star Trek, while of course, embracing the fundamentals. But I feel like you want everybody to be different. You don’t want the same thing in every show.”

Mount and Co. also revealed that the crossover will be directed by none other than Will Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes, who will be returning to the director’s chair after a number of turns directing across the Trek franchise. As for the contents of the now-confirmed Lower Decks/Strange New Worlds crossover, that’s where things get weird: because while the panel was tight-lipped about specific plot lines, they made the interesting revelation that the episode won’t just be entirely animated—it will feature a hybrid of Lower Decks‘ signature animated style with the live-action Strange New Worlds characters we know and love.

While I’m having trouble wrapping my head around what live-action characters in an animated episode looks like (are we going to have a Mary Poppins situation?) it certainly sounds like the unlikely episode really will take the Trek universe in a direction no show has gone before.

(featured image: Paramount)

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Lauren Coates
Lauren Coates (she/her)is a freelance film/tv critic and entertainment journalist, who has been working in digital media since 2019. Besides writing at The Mary Sue, her other bylines include Nerdist, Paste, RogerEbert, and The Playlist. In addition to all things sci-fi and horror, she has particular interest in queer and female-led stories. When she's not writing, she's exploring Chicago, binge-watching Star Trek, or planning her next trip to the Disney parks. You can follow her on twitter @laurenjcoates