The Enterprise unwittingly unleashes a nearly unstoppable dictator on when it discovers the Botany Bay and its crew of 72 supermen (and women) frozen in suspended animation. Ricardo Montalban's turn as 20th Century warlord Khan Noonien Singh endures nearly 50 years later, as "Space Seed" was not only one of the finest original series episodes, but also laid the groundwork for the greatest Trek movie ever.
Photo by: Everett Collection
Spock’s Death (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Spock’s death is considered by many to be the finest moment in Trek history. It has it all – Spock sacrificing his life, Kirk grieving the loss of his best friend, and amazing speeches from both of them. Spock gets in his line about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, and tells Jim “I have been, and ever shall be your friend.” Later, the admiral delivers his famous, lip trembling eulogy: “Of all the souls I have encountered in all of my travels, his was the most human.”
Spock Reborn (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Kirk loses his son but regains his best friend in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. After being reborn, advancing to middle age and undergoing a Vulcan ceremony to retrieve his aura, Spock meets Kirk again, but doesn’t remember him. He asks why the admiral would risk the lives of his crew to save him, and Kirk turns Spock’s famous logic on its head: “The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.” There’s a pause, and Spock begins reciting lines from the end of Wrath of Khan before saying “Your name is Jim.” Cue one of the most endearing Trek moments ever as the rest of the crew runs to embrace Spock.
"I Knew I Wouldn't Die" (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Considered by Trekkies to be among the series' weaker films, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier none the less features a few gems. Among them is an early scene in which Kirk, Spock and Bones spend their shore leave together camping at Yosemite National Park. Bones harangues Kirk for risking his life on a rock climb, asking if it'd crossed his mind that he might die. "I knew I wouldn't die because the two of you were with me," Kirk says. "I've always known I'll die alone." On a later trip, the trio sing a touching rendition of the ancient Earth song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." The film also features the heart wrenching revelation that Bones ended his terminally ill father's life at his dad's request, only for a cure for the disease to be discovered shortly after.
Farewell, Captain (Star Trek: Generations)
The first feature outing for the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew revealed how the history books believed Kirk died (heroically saving the USS Enterprise-B). But really, Kirk was captured inside the Nexus, an energy strip in which one's fantasy life is played out. Kirk is snapped out of his horse-riding, mountain man dream by Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), who needs his help to defeat the Nexus-obsessed bad guy Soran (Malcolm McDowell). Kirk dies a hero, though McDowell was not pleased with the scene.
"They gave him such a lousy sendoff," McDowell recalled in 2011. "I mean, what a cheesy move. He falls off a bridge; I shoot the bridge and he falls. That’s the best thing they could come up with?”
“Emotionally Compromised” (Star Trek, 2009)
J. J. Abrams’ reboot put an interesting spin on the Kirk, Spock dynamic, with the two having an adversarial relationship at first. It was a surprising move to pit the friends against each other, but one that made sense. Why would no-nonsense Spock (Zachary Quinto) put up with young Kirk (Chris Pine) and all of his rule breaking? In the film, Kirk gets the best of Spock, goading him into a fight after the destruction of Vulcan and forcing to admit he’s been emotionally compromised. Spock relinquishes command of the ship to Kirk.
Goateed Spock ("Mirror, Mirror")
Trek boldly went into an alternate universe with the 1967 episode "Mirror, Mirror," which sees Kirk, Bones, Scotty and Uhura transported to a war-obsessed version the Enterprise. Assassination plots, torture devices and Spock's strange facial hair rule the ship. Various other Star Trek series would travel to the same universe, most notably Deep Space Nine.
Kirk vs. the Gorn Captain ("The Arena")
Powerful aliens transport Kirk and the captain of a Gorn ship down to a planet, where they are ordered to fight to the death. Kirk fashions a makeshift gun, defeats his enemy and shows him mercy. All of this impresses the aliens, who originally thought humans were nothing but warlike brutes. Way to go, captain.
The City on the Edge of Forever
The most heartbreaking scene in the original series comes when Kirk allows his 1930s love interest to be struck by a car and die. Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), had she lived, would have started a pacifist movement that ultimately would have cost the Allies World War II.
First Romulan Encounter ("Balance of Terror”)
A century after the bloody Earth-Romulan war, humanity has not heard from the Romulans. When human outposts begin being destroyed near the neutral zone, Kirk and the Enterprise embark on a cat-and-mouse game with a Romulan ship. The big reveal comes when the crew see a Romulan onscreen for the first time, and it becomes apparent the species shares an ancestry with Vulcans. Racial slurs toward Spock ensue, but the half-Vulcan rises above it to save the day.
Photo by: Everett Collection
"To be or not to be" (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Kirk's Star Trek VI nemesis Admiral Chang (Christopher Plumber)is second only to Khan in the Trek movie villain hall of fame. He loves Shakespeare as much as Kirk hates Klingons. But his constant quoting of the great bard comes to an end when he quotes Hamlet before being blown to bits by a photon torpedo.
Photo by: Everett Collection
"The Trouble With Tribbles"
Perhaps the silliest of Trek episodes, the image of Kirk mired in a pile of adorable fur balls has solidified "The Trouble of Tribbles" in the pop culture lexicon.
After spending their Starfleet careers in uniforms that look like they could double for pajamas, Kirk and Spock finally get to dress with style. The pair rock pinstripe suits in 1968's "A Piece of the Action," which sees them embroiled in gangster warfare on a planet which has the culture of 1920s Earth.
Yep, it's that time of the decade for Mr. Spock.Kirk's first officer goes rather crazy in the aptly titled "Amock Time," which gives us the first mention of Vulcan mating cycle pon farr. It's also our first visit to the Vulcan homeworld, which doesn't turn out too well for Kirk, who is made to fight Spock to the death.
In one of the most controversial and daring original series episodes, Spock, Kirk, and McCoy are subjected to torture -- solely to determine if a species of empaths should earn the right to stay alive. In the end, Kirk makes a bold move, risking everything to make the torturers see the error in their ways.