The Star Trek theme song is familiar to pretty much anyone who lived in the free world (and probably elsewhere, too) in the late 20th century. The tune is played during the show's opening credits; a slightly longer version is played, accompanied by stills from various episodes, during the closing credits. The opening song is preceded by William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) doing his now-legendary monologue recitation, which begins: "Space, the final frontier ..."
The show's familiar melody was written by respected film and TV composer Alexander Courage, who said the Star Trek theme's main inspiration was the Richard Whiting song "Beyond the Blue Horizon." In Courage's contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.
WAIT... THERE WERE LYRICS?
Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote lyrics to the theme song.
"Beyond the rim of the star-light,
my love is wand'ring in star-flight!"
Why would Roddenberry even bother?
The lyrics were never even meant to be heard on the show, but not because the network (NBC) nixed them. Roddenberry nixed them himself. Roddenberry wanted a piece of the composing profits, so he wrote the hokey lyrics solely to receive a "co-writer" credit.
"I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love, strange love a star woman teaches."
As one of the composers, Roddenberry received 50 percent of the royalties ... cutting Alexander Courage's share in half. Not surprisingly, Courage was furious about the deal. Though it was legal, he admitted, it was unethical because Roddenberry had contributed nothing to why the music was successful.
Roddenberry was unapologetic. According to Snopes, he once declared, "I have to get some money somewhere. I'm sure not gonna get it out of the profits of Star Trek."
In 1969, after Star Trek officially got the ax, no one (Courage and Roddenberry included) could possibly have imagined the show's great popularity and staying power.
Courage, who only worked on two shows in Star Trek's opening season because he was busy working on the 1967 Dr. Doolittle movie, vowed he would never return to Star Trek.
He never did.
If you're looking for an offbeat karaoke number, here are Roddenberry's lyrics, as provided by Snopes:
The rim of the star-light
Is wand'ring in star-flight
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Strange love a star woman teaches.
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.