The Star Trek franchise had a well-known open-submission policy. This meant that writers were allowed, even encouraged, to submit scripts for the show. If the series' producers liked your script enough to use it, you suddenly had a writing credit on your resume. Some really successful writers got their start pitching ideas for Star Trek, although maybe not the first time they tried. There's even a catalog of episodes that were never aired and filed as "undeveloped." Vulture talked to eight screenwriters about scripts they had submitted for Star Trek. Jose Molina, who has written scripts for Firefly, The Tick, Agent Carter, and Sleepy Hollow, tells about one he wrote for Star Trek: TNG.
The spec was called “Endangered Species” and was written near the end of TNG’s sixth season. It features the return of Lore, who seeks out Data with a dual purpose. First, he wants to return the emotions chip he stole in the season-four episode “Brothers,” and second, he wants Data to deactivate him. Yes, the “issue of the week” was assisted suicide. In returning the emotions chip to Data, Lore cautions him about the human feelings he so desperately wants. He explains that it was the overwhelming torrent of emotion from his own chip that once made Lore so dangerously unbalanced, and that now makes him want to end his life. Because just like the twin androids can process millions of calculations in a second, they can also feel millions of emotions in that time. The androids can experience lifetimes of human anguish in minutes. Data has an opportunity to reflect on his brother’s crisis as he mounts a holodeck presentation of “Frankenstein.” The Monster’s Promethean rant against his maker, and the sheer agony of his solitary existence, help Data arrive at a better understanding of his long-suffering brother. In the end, Data helps Lore find a new lease on life; he tasks his big brother with acting as caretaker to a species as unique and misunderstood — and endangered — as himself. Alone in his quarters after dropping Lore off at his new home, Data faces his own dilemma: Does he install his long-lost emotions chip? Heeding his brother’s warning, he crushes it under his boot instead.
Read about unused scripts pitched for The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager at Vulture.