Star Trek is a show that expands beyond the idea of central characters, which includes Spock.
Star Trek is known for a lot of things; great aliens, compelling stories, fantastic world (universe?) building, and iconic characters. James Kirk and Spock, Jean-Luc Picard, Worf, and Data, Kathryn Janeway and Odo. There are so many characters that have become massive hits for the franchise that it’s easy to see that the franchise constantly is able to create new characters.
And that’s a good thing, considering the series, like time, marches on. While recently the show has fallen into the nostalgia trap, it made its bones as a franchise that refreshed itself with totally new characters every show. No character that was created prior to a show would go on to star in a different show in the first season.
Each show was expected to stand on its own. The Next Generation didn’t have any TOS characters as stars of their show. Same with Deep Space Nine (at first), same with Voyager, same with Enterprise. Star Trek knows (knew) how to make original characters that could carry a show.
Because of that, the franchise never got bogged down with relying on one actor or character to carry a show. So when CBR said that Spock was the central character of Star Trek, it left us wondering what they were talking about.
Star Trek has no central character, not even Spock
It may be mad to hear but the most successful eras of Star Trek didn’t feature Spock or even Leonard Nimoy. The late 90s saw the most growth the franchise ever had, and Nimoy’s Spock was in what, one film and two episodes? The era was carried by Patrick Stewart’s Picard and to a lesser degree Kate Mulgrew’s Janeway. Others helped, sure, but those were the two headliners for that era.
Sure, when the 2009 Star Trek film came out, Spock was once again in a starring role, but Zachary Quinto’s Spock is among the most divisive castings ever. And yes, Spock then guest-starred on Discovery and stars on Strange New Worlds, but save for Strange New Worlds, which is a prequel to Spock’s time on the original series, he isn’t or wasn’t needed for those shows.
Being a central character means the franchise flows through you, and shows like Picard, Lower Decks and Prodigy didn’t have Spock in a starring role. While Spock is among the most, if not the most popular character in the franchise’s history, he’s not the central figure of it.
Nor should he be, because no one should be. The franchise’s ability to create and explore new ideas and characters is what has gotten it the fans it has. It doesn’t rely on just one character or actor or ship.
So the idea of Spock being the center of anything is therefore a foreign concept to what Trek is.