Star Trek: Strange New Worlds may end the Star Trek: The Animated series canon debate for good.
Star Trek: The Animated Series has its defenders, it has its fans, and it also has its detractors. It’s not the most beloved show at all, and that’s mostly because, in the history of the franchise, the series is arguably the least popular and least well-made series in the entirety of the Star Trek canon.
Yet, it constantly comes up in conversation. Sure, there are episodes of the Star Trek’s live-action counterparts that reference events in an episode or two of the animated series, but that’s not a sign that its canon. It’s just a sign that the cartoon told a story that may have happened in a canonical timeline.
So we have to ask, is the animated series canon? Well, not according to Gene Roddenberry, who decanonized it during the 1980s. Fans have tried to will the cartoon to be canon again, but that’s not how it works.
For their part in it, Paramount has never taken a stance pro or con on the subject. Yet, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds may have killed the debate once and for all.
Strange New Worlds introduces a very different Captain Robert April
The character of Captain Robert April was the first-ever captain of the USS Enterprise. He was voiced by James Doohan and was introduced in the Star Trek: The Animated Series cartoon. In promotional stills for the character, he was played by Gene Roddenberry. His design in the cartoon was very much drawn from Race Bannon of Johnny Quest fame.
This is a polite way of saying the dude was white. Yet, the Captain Robert April we’re getting in Strange New Worlds will be played by Adrian Holmes, aka “The New Uncle Phil” on the Peacock series, Bel Air.
The retconning of April to a black man has all but killed the animated series as a piece of canon and while you can still mine its references, it can no longer be accurately described as canon in Star Trek. It may tell a tale or two that coincides with the series but the series as a whole now no longer matters in the timeline.
It’s pretty clear that Paramount gave the fanbase its answer on whether Star Trek: The Animated Series was canon with the April casting.
They have done such a good job respecting the prior casting decisions and finding men and women who look enough like their character’s former actors, that to make such a radical departure from the source material can only be viewed as the franchise ignoring a chunk of the series.
So while we wait for our official answer, we can safely say that no, the animated series is not canon.