Gilligan’s Island is a classic TV series, which first premiered in 1964. The sitcom, which featured a group of people marooned on a desert island, ran until 1967. The show had a big influence on pop culture over the years, eventually influencing one science fiction show in particular.
In a surprise to many fans, it turns out that there was a clear reference to Gilligan’s Island in one 90s Star Trek series. A behind-the-scenes video from the set of a Star Trek show clearly reveals an intentional reference to the classic sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Here’s what you need to know.
The ‘Voyager’ Set Had a Secret Reference to ‘Gilligan’s Island’
There were three Star Trek shows that aired in the 1990s: The Next Generation (which aired from 1987-1994), Deep Space Nine (which aired from 1993-1999), and Star Trek: Voyager (which aired from 1995-2001). The Gilligan’s Island reference we’re talking about was featured on the set of Star Trek: Voyager, and can be seen in the set tour video above.
In that video, recorded as part of the promotional efforts for Voyager‘s first season, actor Garrett Wang takes viewers on a tour of the set, and provides a closer view of certain set pieces and design elements than fans generally got to see on the show. Around the 1:40 mark in the video above, Wang showcases a row of display terminals on the Voyager set, and the camera zooms in to show some of the tiny lettering on certain panels, normally not visible in far shots in episodes of the show.
One panel featured some amusing lettering, really only intended to be visible to the cast and crew. The panel featured the opening lines of the theme song from Gilligan’s Island: “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip/That started from this tropic port/Aboard this tiny ship.”
Gilligan Eventually Went to Outer Space
While it might seem odd for Voyager to hide a Gilligan’s Island reference in plain sight, it does make a kind of sense, and not just as a funny joke to amuse the cast on set in between takes. After all, Voyager and Gilligan’s Island were essentially following the same plot: two crews who both get “blown off course” and want to try to get back home.
In the case of Gilligan and Co., the distance back home was considerably shorter, and confined to a single planet, as the S.S. Minnow was blown off course somewhere in the South Pacific. In the case of Janeway and her crew, they needed to return to the Alpha Quadrant from the far-away Delta Quadrant, a journey expected to take the crew several generations unless they discovered a wormhole or some new technology.
That being said, Gilligan himself did make it to outer space, much like the crew of Voyager. After the events of the live-action Gilligan’s Island (which ended with the crew still trapped on the island), the characters were revived for two short-lived animated series. The first was The New Adventures of Gilligan, which aired in the 1970s. The second was the even-shorter lived Gilligan’s Planet, which followed the original characters as they got marooned on a distant planet for a change of pace. This spinoff also featured voiceover work from some of the original cast of Gilligan’s Island, including Gilligan himself, Bob Denver.
‘Star Trek’ & ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Shared an Actor
In an interesting twist, there was an actor who appeared on both Gilligan’s Island, as well as on the original Star Trek series that aired in the 1960s. That actor, Michael Forest, played Apollo in the classic Trek episode Who Mourns for Adonais?, an episode that featured a literal Greek God in outer space. Forest also appeared on Gilligan’s Island in one episode, where he played the character Ugundi.
On a different note, both Gilligan’s Island and Star Trek have another commonality that has made headlines over the years. TIME reports that William Shatner was “apalled” by the amount of money the IRS spent making parody films of both Trek and Island universes. The parody films were intended to amuse audiences at an IRS training and leadership conference.
Sadly, many stars of both shows have passed away, perhaps not surprising given that both shows originally aired in the 1960s. Most of the cast of Gilligan’s Island have passed, with actress Dawn Wells dying recently from COVID-19 complications. However, actress Tina Louise was still alive at the time of publication. As for Trek, while Kirk is still among us, we lost the actors who played Spock, Scotty, and Bones over the years. Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu are still with us.