God is the villain in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and here is who plays the Almighty adversary in the lone Star Trek: The Original Series movie directed by William Shatner. Star Trek V‘s story was conceived by Shatner, who was inspired by the televangelists of the late 1980s to create Sybok (Lawrence Luckinbill), a Vulcan “holy man” – and the half-brother of Spock (Leonard Nimoy) – who was on a mad quest to find God. Sybok believed God was located in the mythical world of Sha Ka Ree at the center of the galaxy, but the Vulcan heretic needed a starship to meet the deity.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier builds to the final act where the USS Enterprise penetrates the Great Barrier to find Sha Ka Ree – and God. Sybok’s plan was to capture the so-called “Planet of Galactic Peace,” Nimbus III, where the United Federation of Planets, the Klingons, and the Romulans each had an ambassador. Starfleet, naturally, sent the Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) to Nimbus III, and Sybok used his Vulcan psychic powers to take control of the crew and hijack the Enterprise. At Sha Ka Ree, however, Sybok was crestfallen to find “God” was really a malevolent alien entity imprisoned on the planet and seeking galactic conquest. Sybok perished saving his brother, and Spock saved Kirk by destroying God with a Klingon Bird-of-Prey’s weaponry.

God in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was played by George Murdock. Of course, the entity in Sha Ka Ree was never really God, despite attempting to fool Sybok, Kirk, Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) by appearing as different cultures’ interpretations of God. When God asked Sybok if he brought a starship to spread his message across the galaxy, Captain Kirk immediately destroyed the pretender’s claim to be God by asking the entity the immortal question, “What does God need with a starship?” Amusingly, director William Shatner originally thought to cast George Murdock as Star Trek V‘s Klingon General Korrd before realizing Murdock would be better suited to playing God.

A little less than a year after Star Trek V underwhelmed at the 1989 summer box office, George Murdock returned to Star Trek in a very different role. Murdock played Admiral J.P. Hanson in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter, “The Best of Both Worlds,” when Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) was assimilated by the Borg. Prior to his Star Trek roles, Murdock was known for playing Dr. Salik in the original Battlestar Galactica and Ben Scanlon on Barney Miller. These are just a few of the dozens of movies and TV shows George Murdock starred in throughout his nearly 50-year career before his death in 2012.

God as the ultimate villain of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was perhaps the biggest creative blunder of William Shatner’s only Star Trek directorial effort, although his movie was also undermined by substandard visual effects because the production lacked a budget to match Shatner’s vision and ambition. During the creative process of Star Trek V, producers Harve Bennett and Gene Roddenberry, as well as Leonard Nimoy, tried to dissuade Shatner from using “God” as the final act’s villain, citing the logic that audiences would inherently know the Enterprise crew can’t meet God, and the Sha Ka Ree entity essentially took on a Judeo-Christian appearance which could offend moviegoers of other faiths. Yet, making the God of Sha Ka Ree merely an evil alien entity bent on galactic conquest was a compromise that also didn’t satisfy.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was the lowest-grossing Star Trek movie up to that point, and it nearly sank the Star Trek film franchise entirely. However, George Murdock was appropriately menacing as Sha Ka Ree’s God. Murdock was virtually unrecognizable when he returned as Admiral Hanson in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and most audiences didn’t realize Murdock was the God that William Shatner foisted upon moviegoers in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier the previous summer.

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