'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes

6:00 AM 9/8/2016

by Aaron Couch and Graeme McMillan

Fifty years later, the mission continues as 'Star Trek' castmembers from the original series, 'Next Generation,' 'Deep Space Nine,' 'Voyager,' and 'Enterprise' pick their top episodes and share memories of boldly going where no one has gone before.

Star Trek - Split - H - 2016

Star Trek faced long odds on its way to redefining what sci-fi could be.

"I remember the fatigue and the tension every season, of wondering if we would be canceled or not," recalls William Shatner, whose James T. Kirk first flew onto the airwaves 50 years ago when Star Trek premiered Sept. 8, 1966 on NBC.

From its uncertain beginnings, Star Trek went on to become a cultural phenomenon unmatched by any TV show before or since, with Gene Roddenberry's "Wagon Train to the stars" spawning six TV shows (a seventh is coming in January) and 13 films (so far). And that's to say nothing of the countless comics, novels and conventions it has inspired. 

"It was the most inauspicious beginning to what has been the rest of my life," says Walter Koenig, who thought he failed the audition for the role of the Russian helmsman Chekov, but turned things around when the producers asked him to punch up his reading with some humor ("Guess what? The ship is about to blow up!" he recalls saying in Chekov's now-trademark Russian accent.)

Though the show was canceled in 1969 after just three seasons, its mission of bringing cutting edge, socially conscious stories to the masses continued, first on Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74), and then in a series of films starring original series castmembers including Leonard Nimoy (Spock), DeForest Kelley (Bones), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), George Takei (Sulu), and James Doohan (Scotty). The success of the films gave rise to new and beloved TV shows, beginning with The Next Generation (1987–94), and continuing with Deep Space Nine (1993–99), Voyager (1995–2001) and Enterprise (2001-05).   

Here, The Hollywood Reporter and those who worked on the show look back on the 100 best Star Trek episodes to celebrate the 50th anniversary — though not everyone could pick just one.

"My favorite episode of the original Star Trek series was any time Uhura would get a chance to 'get off the bridge,' " Nichols says with a smile. "Normally she never got off the bridge until it was time to go home after filming for the day."

  1. 100

    "The Andorian Incident"

    With a screenplay by occasional Shane Black collaborator Fred Dekker, this episode sets up a political situation that wouldn't be resolves until the latter years of the series — a standoff between the Vulcans and the Andorians. It also underscores one of the more subversive pieces of Enterprise lore: that Vulcans really are untrustworthy, arrogant jerks who act very suspiciously when it comes to their relationships with other alien races. In both ways, it signals that the universe of Enterprise definitely isn't the Star Trek audiences may be familiar with, without sacrificing the momentum of the episode — which centers on Andorian suspicions that Vulcans are less religious, and more interested in spying on other planets, than they admit.

  2. 99


    It turns out, sometimes it pays to be paranoid. Picard and Riker discover an alien infestation, with parasites preparing to slip into the Federation by taking over officers. The episode culminates with Riker and Picard teaming up to take down the possessed Lt. Commander Remmick (Robert Schenkkan) to explosive results. It's the favorite episode of TNG property master Alan Sims, who had to use all of his talents for the hour. "Creating the tongue puppet parasites, the live worms that were eaten by Riker to puppeteering the queen parasite that burst out of Dexter Remmick's host body ... What an episode,"  recalls Sims. 

  3. 98

    "Shuttlepod One"

    A series of unfortunate events strands Tucker (Connor Trinneer) and Reed (Dominic Keating) on a shuttle pod with limited air and no hopes of being rescued.

    "It was particularly challenging because of the cramped conditions in the shuttlepod," says Keating. "And to this day we both bear the residual lumps from continually banging our heads on the impossibly low ceiling to the pod! I recall every crack most fondly."

  4. 97

    "Someone to Watch Over Me"

    This is Voyager at its sweetest, with Seven (Jeri Ryan) wanting to learn about human love and The Doctor (Robert Picardo) attempting to teach her. During the awkward process, which includes a failed date between Seven and another member of the crew), The Doctor falls for Seven, but ultimately can't muster the courage to tell her.

    "I always especially enjoyed the episodes where Seven was exploring her humanity; and this one, in particular, was so bittersweet with the Doctor kind of falling in love with her and Seven being oblivious," says Ryan, who calls working with Picardo on the episode "an absolute joy."

  5. 96

    "Borderland"/"Cold Station 12"/"The Augments"

    Just when audiences least expected it, Enterprise dove into nostalgia in its final season with a number of stories that tied into episodes or ideas from the earlier shows, starting with this three-parter that mashed up the genetically engineered "Augments" from the original series' "Space Seed" with the Data mythology from The Next Generation, including a gleeful performance by Brent Spiner as an ancestor of Data's creator. (There are also Klingons, because why not include Klingons?) The result is something amazingly fun for those who spend far too much time thinking about Star Trek mythology, and even enjoyable for those who can't tell their Tribbles from their Tricorders.

    "Star Trek is our modern mythology; our Odysseus, our Prometheus," says Linda Park (Hoshi) of her time on the show. "I’m so proud to be a part of this iconic family and that’s what is: family.  With every new incarnation, Star Trek adds to this huge family tree and whether or not I’ve ever met you, we both are characters in an unparalleled popular culture behemoth that for five decades has not only shown diversity before it was a Twitter buzzword, but dared man 'to boldly go where no man has gone before.' "

  6. 95


    On the face of it, "Home" might seem an episode to skip — following the climax of the previous year's season-long drama, an episode about the crew of the Enterprise getting some time to rest and recover doesn't sound to exciting, after all. But the character work on display, and the chance to get some insight into the lives of the regular cast when they weren't frowning on the bridge, offered a much-needed balance to the over-the-top drama of prior episodes and, in the best way possible, felt like an episode of an earlier Trek series in the way it lingered on the people inside the uniform for once.

  7. 94

    "Demons"/"Terra Prime"

    As the series drew to a close, the final two-parter dealt with a topic that had surprisingly gone unaddressed at length by the franchise to this point: humanity's xenophobia and fear of something new — like, for example, forming an ongoing coalition with multiple alien races to peacefully explore the universe together. When a terrorist organization attempts to cut off all contact between humanity and the rest of the galaxy, that might seem dramatic — but when said attempt includes a moon base that can fly to Mars and an impossible child, then you know that you've entered a whole new realm of drama. Considering how reviled the final episode of this series is by Trek's fanbase at large, it's surprising how strong these penultimate two episodes are, and how focused they are on the inclusiveness and optimism at the heart of the franchise.

  8. 93

    "His Way"

    Veteran Star Trek director Allan Kroeker considers this holosuite episode "the gem" of his DS9 tenure. Odo learns the art of romance from holographic lounge singer Vic Fontaine, played by James Darren. Darren, who cut his teeth in Vegas, was a piece of dreamcasting on the part of the writers, who decided over lunch on the Paramount lot that he would be the perfect fit ... if they could get him. 

    " 'Great! Do you think he’d do it?' " Kroeker recalls a writer saying. "Then a young man came over from the next table and said, 'Why don’t you just ask him?' Turned out he was James Darren’s son." Darren spent time on set regaling the cast and crew with anecdotes form his early Vegas days, where he mingled with the Rat Pack.  "He even wore lucky shoes from back in the day, I think they'd belonged to Dean Martin," says Kroeker. "Composer Jay Chattaway used local jazz legends like Pete Christlieb on tenor, and the on-set musicians were not just extras, they were jazz stars, like bass man Luther Hughes, with whom I was in contact for years after."

  9. 92


    The "Temporal Cold War" that runs through the series takes an unexpected turn when the Enterprise comes face to face — well, hull to hull, technically — with another Enterprise from more than a century in the future that is populated by the descendants of the current crew, who have a plan to change history for the better. Kind of. A spin on the same idea that fueled Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise," there are elements of both Voyager and the sneakiness of Deep Space Nine on display here, as well. Consider it a mash-up of the three previous Treks as well as a fine episode in its own right.

  10. 91

    "The Lorelei Signal"

    For all of the progressive values on display in the original series, the future seen in the first Star Trek was still a pretty sexist place, especially when it came to women's costumes and lack of leadership roles. Writer Margaret Armen tackled this problem head on in this animated episode that sees the men on the Enterprise fall under the lure of a sexy alien race, leaving it to a group of female officers — led, of course, by Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, reportedly thrilled by this script when she first read it) — to save the day. A sign of the sexism remaining behind the scenes, though: four of the women responsible for rescuing their male counterparts are voiced by just two actresses, because why hire more women…?

  11. 90

    "Spectre of the Gun"

    "We had bee spending too much money by the network's reckoning, so we had less to spend on this particular episode," recalls Walter Koenig of the hour, which saw an away team forced to battle in an Old West-style gunfight. "It gave my character some interesting work. He got the girl, he died and came back to life. I loved the whole concept." 

  12. 89

    "Skin Of Evil"

    Tasha Yar's death famously came from actress Denise Crosby's desire to leave Trek (though she would later return as an alternate timeline version of character and then, the character's daughter, Sela). It's shocking for killing off a main character, and her funeral gives us an early example of Data's journey to understanding humanity. 

  13. 88

    "In A Mirror, Darkly, Parts I & II"

    When it came to returning to the Mirror Universe, Enterprise went all out, discarding the previous formula of bringing the regular crew over to the alternate timeline to witness their evil selves in favor of just giving the audience two episodes of the evil versions as they … well, act selfish, cruel and are generally a lot more fun to watch. All the backstabbing and intrigue of the previous Mirror Universe stories can be found here, unleavened by the need for heroes to come in and score one important victory for morality. Add in an unexpected shout-out to the original series that acts as the Macguffin for events unfolding and the result is a two-parter that feels like a different show that, in another world, might have been more successful than the regular Enterprise.

  14. 87

    "Our Man Bashir"

    We learn the doctor has a penchant for playing a James Bond-type character in the Holosuite in an episode that is one of Bashir's most endearing. Alexander Siddig, who played Bashir throughout DS9's run, says he has "long ago stopped remembering a favorite episode," but one memory in particular sticks out from his DS9 years.

    "I do have a clear memory of the big L.A. earthquake in the late 90's," recalls the star. "I was still at home in bed, but Armin Shimerman was already at work and half way through makeup to play Quark. I remember watching electrical explosions all across the city as if we were being invaded. What I didn't know was that Armin had abandoned the studio and was already driving home like a mad man — what was left of his make-up, flapping around his face. There were a lot of terrified people in L.A. that morning, but those of us who'd seen the crazy alien driving through the streets had a better reason than most." 

  15. 86


    For fans wanting that much-talked-about Captain Sulu show that never materialized, this was as close as we got. George Takei guest starred as the captain of the Excelsior, where he was Tuvok's commanding officer decades ago.  

  16. 85


    Who could have guessed that growing a rapidly aging clone of Tucker to use for medical purposes would result in drama? As the clone grows and bonds with members of the crew, he questions why he must die so that the original Tucker might live.

    "The episode did what Trek does best, i.e., explore an ethical or moral dilemma without sacrificing dramatic tension," says John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox). "Trek, to me, is at is best when it allows the ambiguity of it's ethical concerns to win out over more mundane storytelling prerogatives — i.e, less bang bang, and more think, think."

  17. 84


    The series premiere for Voyager promised a Star Trek like none before it, with it boasting a female lead, a mixed crew of Starfleet and Maquis, and a ship alone in the Delta Quadrant. Premiering seven months after the end of Next Generation, the pilot did take some inspiration from the adventures of the Enterprise-D, whose crew on more than one occasion was flung to the far reaches of space (only to be returned by the end of the episode). 

    "It was a 31-day shoot. Typically, it would take 14 days to film a two-part episode," recalls Garrett Wang (Harry Kim). "It was exciting to meet my co-stars for the first time. For this episode we filmed at a multitude of locations, which kept it interesting."

  18. 83


    Patrick Stewart stepped behind the camera to direct TNG's Halloween episode, which saw Data begin having nightmares — and gave viewers one of the most iconic and schlocky scenes in Star Trek history: the cellular peptide Troi cake (with mint frosting!).

  19. 82

    "Shore Leave"

    Long before Riker was obsession over Risa, the Enterprise crew took a very different type of shore leave in which their own thoughts became reality. The white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland is nice, but the real winner is the bully from Kirk's Academy days who looks a lot like Christoph Waltz. 

  20. 81

    "Mortal Coil"

    "Mortal Coil" dealt with life, death and belief, with Neelix (Ethan Phillips) brought back from the dead thanks to Seven of Nine's technology, only to dive into a deep depression after returning to life with the knowledge that his people's heaven does not exist. Eventually, he turns to suicide.

    "Chakotay finds him just as he’s just about to beam himself out into the void. Chakotay tells him he is needed on the ship for his unique gifts," recalls Phillips, who says the episode is his favorite. "The brilliance of the episode is its lesson: There is no security in life, safety is a myth, and what saves us in the face of this great uncertainty is the kindness we bestow on each other."

  21. 80

    "Broken Bow"

    Whether it's runaway Klingons, snotty Vulcans or just the simple pleasure of watching humanity encounter an alien race for the first time and having no idea what they're saying because they don't speak English, the first episode of prequel series Enterprise — set one hundred years before the original series — is filled with moments that will fill Trek fan with delight. For everyone else, there's a genuine joy in the sense of adventure and exploration thread throughout the pilot, as Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) leads his crew as they launch into space for the first time, headed out into the great unknown.

  22. 79

    "The Offspring"

    If Data's creator Noonian Soong could create an android — why couldn't Data do the same? The surprisingly funny and touching episode showed Data dealing with loss after he creates — and loses — a daughter. The episode marked the directorial debut of Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker), who would go on to be among the most prolific actor-turned-directors in Trek history. 

    "They were always capable, but you saw the progression of them becoming not just good directors — but becoming really good directors," Michael Dorn (Worf) says of working with costars Frakes and LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) as directors. 

  23. 78


    The first of several Trek episodes to followup the classic "Mirror, Mirror" hour from the original series, "Crossover featured a ruthless Kira in an alternate universe where the Bajorans are a major power and Klingons and Cardassians rule over humans. Unfortunately, no one had a goatee that could match up to Spock's from a century earlier. 

  24. 77


    If Enterprise tended to stay a little too close to what audiences expected from Star Trek, it just made the moments when the show strayed all the more noteworthy — such as this episode, where the ends might have justified the means, but those means still left a bad taste in the mouth. If humanity is trying to spread the word about its good intentions across the galaxy, attacking another space ship and stripping its ship for parts really isn't the best way to go about it — and can Captain Archer really tell himself otherwise…?

  25. 76


    Brent Spiner gets to show off his considerable acting chops in this episode, playing Data, his brother Lore, and their creator Dr. Noonien Soong — who has called his sons home to say goodbye as he nears death. There's a real sweetness to Lore, who is genuinely upset when he learns Dr. Soong is dying, though that's undone when Lore attacks his father later in the episode, which also introduces the notion of Data's emotions chip. 

  26. 75

    "The Tholian Web"

    Another episode where the titular threat isn't really the focus of the story, what makes this so great is watching the interplay between the crew of the Enterprise (especially Bones and Spock) when Kirk has vanished and is presumed lost forever. Even more than other episodes, watching the arguments between Kirk's two best friends really underscores the important role all three play in balancing out the appeal of the show, even when Captain James T. himself is absent. Random trivia: the name "The Tholian Web" — which refers to the energy web trapping the Enterprise in Tholian space — was adopted by U.S. customs officials to refer to a sting operation to catch those who shared underage pornography online. 

  27. 74

    "The Infinite Vulcan"

    Walter Koenig may have been left off the cast list for the animated series, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't involved in it at all. Instead, he wrote the original script for this fun, ridiculous romp where Spock is kidnapped and cloned in an attempt to save a planet filled with talking vegetables from destruction. (In his defense, the talking vegetable aspect was reportedly added in a rewrite by Gene Roddenberry himself.) Sadly, the title lies — there aren't infinite Spocks by the end of this episode, but there are two, which isn't even a first for the franchise if you count the alternate Spock from "Mirror, Mirror." Apparently, the universe just wants to see as many Spocks as possible.

  28. 73

    "The Pegasus"

    The shine starts to come off Commander Riker in this episode in which he's forced to come to terms between the demands of his duty to the Enterprise, and to his former commanding officer, who is up to no good. In many ways, this episode feels like a mix between the holier-than-thou TNG and the less perfect original series, giving Riker's blind loyalty to his superiors a long overdue exploration. Of course, his former superior officer is none other than Terry O'Quinn, showing both slightly more hair and slightly more humanity than he would as Lost's John Locke. 

  29. 72


    It's a meeting of like minds (literally) when two versions of Voyager are stuck in the same space and two Janeways must work together to get them out of it. Our Voyager is disabled, and Janeway offers to sacrifice her crew so that the other crew might live. The episode added a new layer of grit to Voyager, with an entire crew facing its death with grace, and our Janeway in particular being unphased by the prospect. In an oft-forgotten piece of Voyager trivia, the Ensign Kim we start the series with is not the same Kim we finish it with, as he's replaced by the Kim on the alternate Voyager. 

  30. 71

    "Improbable Cause"

    A windy mystery featuring poisons, explosions and interspecies intrigue, Odo attemps to uncovery who is behind a plot to kill Garak, only to learn the Cardassian merchant knows more than he is saying. Many in the DS9 cast of characters are outsiders, and Garek is no different, with the episode exploring his exile and desire to return to the Cardassian fold, no matter the consequences. 

  31. 70

    "Cause and Effect"

    Forget going back to a period of Earth's history to hang out with Mark Twain — this Next Generation time travel story from writer Brannon Braga sees the Enterprise-D crew stuck in a loop that leads in their deaths over, and over. The teaser, showing the Enterprise being destroyed, may just be the greatest opening in Star Trek history. 

  32. 69

    "Necessary Evil"

    For anyone still wondering what a departure Deep Space Nine was from Next Generation, those questions were thrown out the window by the conclusion of this murder mystery, which revealed one of the station's beloved characters isn't the spotless type you'd expect from the Enterprise-D crew. 

  33. 68

    "Frame Of Mind"

    If David Fincher had directed a Star Trek episode in the early 90s, perhaps it would have been something along these lines. The episode sees reality blur as Riker is imprisoned in an alien insane asylum and told he has committed murder. Jonathan Frakes gives a stellar performance of a tortured Riker that is unlike anything viewers saw in the show before or after. 

  34. 67

    "The Galileo Seven"

    Not only does this episode give us the first appearance of a shuttlecraft in Trek lore, it introduces a version of the concept that would become key to the franchise decades later — that there is a push and pull between the needs of the many and the needs of the few. The Enterprise is on a mission to deliver relief supplies to a colony. Meanwhile, seven crewmembers — including Spock and Bones — crash land on a hostile planet, and Kirk must grapple with holding out hope for them and delivering the relief supplies. 

  35. 66

    "Little Green Men"

    Quark, Rom, and Nog are headed to take the younger Ferengi to Starfleet Academy, when an accident sends them back to 1940s Earth, where they end up being responsible for the famous UFO sighting at Roswell. Though Quark has dreams of staying in the 20th century and using the superior technology of their shuttle to set up a business empire like none other, he doesn't get his way in the end.  

  36. 65

    "Trials and Tribble-ations"

    Doubtlessly, there are those who sought a more serious way to mark Star Trek's 30th anniversary, but "Trials" was a celebration in the most literal sense: a hilarious episode that inserted DS9's crew in the background of a fan-favorite installment of the original series, gently and affectionately poking fun at the design and attitude of the show as-was while reminding everyone who they loved it so. 

  37. 64

    "Worst Case Scenario"

    Tuvok, it turns out, is quite the author. A holodeck program he wrote as a training exercise in case his Maquis shipmates staged a coup ends up becoming all the rage amongst the crew. Unfortunately, he stopped writing the program once he determined there was little risk of a revolt taking place — thus the novel has no ending. In classic Star Trek fashion, there's a twist, and yes, it involves safety protocols being turned off. (Why is this still an option?)

  38. 63


    Showrunner Brannon Braga's love for the high concept is evident in this episode that starts 15 years in the future, revealing how just how unsuccessful Voyager was in attempting to get home (It might have crashed just weeks after the previous episode the audience had seen) before trying to undo the damage thanks to both the vagaries of time travel and the guest appearance of The Next Generation's Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton, who also directed the episode.) Although the future glimpsed ended up never happening, it nonetheless made an impression on Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang), who got a confidence boost from his future self. 

    "Since 'Timeless' was the 100th episode of Voyager, the executive producers wanted it to be the signature episode. Brannon Braga referred to it as Voyager's 'City on the Edge of Forever,' " says Wang. "Playing future Kim and current Kim gave me a chance to really stretch as an actor. In fact, it was during the filming of this episode that Robert Picardo (The Doctor) came to me and said, 'Garrett, you can act!' (laughs)." 

  39. 62


    The crossovers between The Next Generation and the original series were remarkably few, as if those working on the new show were fully aware of the potential that it would be overcome by nostalgia. This late-era episode — which brought James Doohan's Scotty back from the void to deal with the fact that most of those he knew were now gone — threatened to be every bit as sentimental as that synopsis sounds, but managed to avoid that fate thanks to some nice performances from Doohan and LeVar Burton's Geordi LaForge, and a great script from future Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore.

  40. 61

    Take Me Out To The Holosuite

    In the midst of the show's hopelessness, this series is a necessary breath of fresh air as the DS9 crew finds itself having to defend its honor against a group of arrogant Vulcans by … playing baseball, of all things. As if to underscore the contrary nature of the series as a whole, things don't go as well as they might have for the crew of the Enterprise, but there seems something fitting about that, somehow. Pay particular attention for Max Grodenchik's performance as the clumsy Rom; the actor was such a good baseball player that he had to play left-handed to come across as suitably inept.

  41. 60

    "Future's End Parts I & II"

    Every Starfleet crew deserves a chance to return to 20th century Earth, and Voyager was no different. After a time ship from the 29th century attempts to destroy Voyager for a future transgression, both ships are flung back to 1990s America. Although Star Trek IV remains the gold standard when it comes to excursions in contemporary America, this one has plenty of charm too. Bonus points for Tuvok and Paris turning their portion of the story into a buddy comedy. 

  42. 59


    "So is Star Trek: The Animated Series worth watching? Damn right it is," says Jordan Hoffman, U.S. Film Critic for The Guardian and host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast. "And this one, written by D.C. Fontana (a keystone member of the Original Series’ staff) is one of the great Spock episodes. Travel with him back in time (thanks to the Guardian from "City at the Edge of Forever"!) and witness young Spock on his Kahs-wahn, something like a Vulcan walkabout. For a show ostensibly geared toward kids, the sacrifice of Spock’s noble pet sehlat, I-Chaya, may bring some of those pesky Earth emotions to bear."

  43. 58

    "Hope and Fear"

    Just one season into her tenure, Seven of Nine makes an important choice in the show's fourth season finale, deciding that she doesn't want to return to Borg space — which is exactly where she's headed thanks to an untrustworthy alien (Ray Wise, clearly enjoying the role) who's attempt to help the Voyager crew is revealed to be a sham, wasting an important chance to get the ship home … and teasing the audience with the possibility of a new Starfleet ship along the way.

  44. 57

    "The Siege of AR-558"

    How bad do things get during the Dominion War? Everything you need to know can be found in this brutal episode, which kills off multiple Starfleet crew — including Lost in Space's Bill Mumy — and maims one of the show's regular characters in the process. While earlier Star Trek series had reveled in the standalone nature of each episode, the Dominion War storyline in DS9 reveled in the slow burn, meaning that the dramatic events in this episode — and the fallout that followed — had even more impact than fans might have expected at the time.  

  45. 56

    "It's Only a Paper Moon"

    A quasi-sequel to "The Siege of AR-558," this episode didn't just deal with the post-traumatic stress suffered by one of the survivors of the interplanetary siege in the earlier episode, it advances the existence of one of the show's stranger recurring characters: the self-aware hologram and quasi Vegas lounge singer Vic Fontaine (James Darren) in the process. If ever there was an episode that displays the depth and breath of DS9's varied ambitions, it's this one; touching, challenging and amusing all at the same time.

  46. 55

    "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy"

    Voyager wasn't exactly known for its comedy episodes, which makes this late entry in the series — written by series regular Joe Menosky from a story by cartoonist Bill Vallely — so enjoyable. The Emergency Medical Hologram (Robert Picardo, rarely more fun) gives himself the ability to daydream, not expecting how valuable it will be when the ship comes under surveillance by an alien race who have reason to believe the Doctor's fantasies. 

  47. 54


    Not for the first time — "Timeless," anyone? — the series finale features a future that seeks to undo itself by righting previous wrongs, but there's so much more to be found than simply rehash: a long-awaited showdown with the Borg, the answer to whether or not Voyager would ever get home (Technically, two answers, given the time travel hook of the story) and, most importantly of all, the revelation of what the Emergency Medical Hologram has chosen to name himself after years of consideration. That alone earns it a place on this list. (The answer, by the way, is Joe.)

  48. 53

    "A Taste of Armageddon"

    "This was the first Original Series episode I ever saw and it still blows my mind," says Jordan Hoffman, U.S. Film Critic for The Guardian and host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast. "Kirk is escorting a diplomat to a system of planets that have been in conflict for centuries. However, to protect their society’s infrastructure and maintain their culture, they don’t fight with weapons. Computers determine where phantom missiles hit and if your number comes up, you are ordered into a disintegration chamber. It is up to the Enterprise to intervene (which they totally aren’t supposed to do) and stop this insanity. It’s a rich concept with thrills, action, great speeches and even some humor. (Indeed, Spock takes the time to make a solid joke before sending someone crumpled to the floor with his Vulcan nerve pinch.)"

  49. 52

    "Blink of an Eye"

    While Starfleet crews often seemed like outsiders when visiting alien planets, rarely was that as keenly felt as this episode, in which time passes differently between the starship and the planet below, giving the Voyager the chance to watch a society evolve before its very eyes. Featuring a pre-Lost Daniel Dae Kim in an early appearance as an alien astronaut, this episode harkened back to the hard sci-fi roots of the franchise's origins. 

  50. 51

    "Once More Unto the Breach"

    Klingon Kor (John Colicos) is growing old and senile, and asks Worf for one last chance to die in battle. Worf uses his sway to get him on a ship, and though he initially he is humiliated, he eventually gets his warrior's death.

    "I liked the honor and loyalty and black and whiteness of Worf," says Michael Dorn, who rates the episode in his top two for DS9. "Even though he may chose different things, you're going to do the honorable thing. Even if the honorable thing doesn't appear honorable at first." 

  51. 50

    "The Lower Decks"

    "Have you ever had a dream of working on the Starship Enterprise? I know — like every night!" says The Guardian's Hoffman of one of his favorite Next Gen episodes. "This season 7 Next Generation episode offers a glimpse at what life is like for the members of the crew who are off to the side, the ones who aren’t sure if Captain Picard knows their name and, yes, the ones who are in the most danger during away missions."


  52. 49


    By the time this episode aired, episodes where one of the crew is suspected of being a traitor were nothing new — The Next Generation had even turned Geordi into a brainwashed would-be assassin at one point — but mixing that idea with the wartime paranoia that had utterly infused DS9 by this point proved a perfectly potent combination, especially when the final twist in the tale is something that no-one saw coming. (We won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the episode yet, but 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness has some roots in this episode, surprisingly enough.)

  53. 48

    "The Doomsday Machine"

    If Star Trek had shown Starfleet at its best until now, audiences got to see the flipside in this episode, in which Commodore Matt Decker (William Windom) turns into an outer space Ahab chasing the cosmic Moby Dick of the episode's title: a "planet killer" that had nearly destroyed his own ship and killed everyone on board except for him. For an episode with such stakes, it's a surprisingly subtle story: While we should be worried about whether the planet killer can be stopped, the real tension comes from watching Decker struggle to deal with his trauma. 

  54. 47

    "Past Tense, Parts I & II"

    As everyone who's ever read, watched or lived (Hey, it's not impossible) a time travel story knows by heart, changing the past is a very bad idea and definitely shouldn't be done — so what happens when some of the DS9 crew end up trapped on Earth, three centuries before they were born, and watch one of the most important historical figures they know of die right in front of them? Factor in commentary on then-contemporary issues about how society treats the homeless and what "Past Tense" offers is classic Trek, even when it's gleefully contradicting and ignoring genre tropes. Think of it as the anti-"City on the Edge of Forever."

  55. 46

    "The Drumhead"

    Star Trek always struck gold when Picard entered the court room, and in this episode he spoke out after one of his crew was the victim of a witch hunt, partially for being a quarter Romulan (not Vulcan, as he said on his Starfleet Academy application). Admiral Norah Satie (Oscar nominee Jean Simmons) conducted a trial, and makes it into an indictment of Picard himself.

    "Jean Simmons was a joy to work with," recalls Michael Dorn, who rates the episode as his favorite from his Next Generation years. "If you watch the very ending, it's a very cool scene between Picard and Worf, basically talking about how you have to be on guard from people like Satie. Constantly."

  56. 45

    "The Corbomite Maneuver"

    The first episode to be filmed after the two different pilots for the series, "Corbomite" manages to sum up everything that makes the original series so special, with a tense yet optimistic take on the idea of first contact between the Enterprise and an alien race that shows how fearless, compassionate and sneaky Captain James T. Kirk can be when pressed, and a Twilight Zone-esque last-second twist. As if that wasn't enough to make this episode worthwhile, it features the first times that DeForest Kelley and Nichelle Nichols played McCoy and Uhura — although by the time the episode aired, they were well-established characters to the loyal audience.

  57. 44

    "Soldiers of the Empire"

    The LeVar Burton-directed episode sees Martok (J. G. Hertzler) enlist Worf (Michael Dorn) to find a missing Klinong vessel. When Martok is too afraid to act in the face of the enemy, Worf reluctantly challenges him for command of his ship, eventually letting him win the fight after realizing the general had overcome his fear.

    Dorn, who spent more time than anyone playing a Klingon, says acting in an episode that takes place almost entirely on a Klingon ship gave him new insights into his character that even he didn't previously have. 

    "That was when it first started to hit me how Shakespearean the Klingons were," Dorn says of the episode. "It really spoke to me about who the Klingons really were."

  58. 43


    By the final season of TNG, the series was beginning to strain to find new stories to tell about the much-loved cast. On the face of it, audiences had seen the basic concept of "Parallels" before — a crew member finds themselves traveling to a different dimension without any control — but what makes this episode special isn't just the insight it provides into the usually all-too-insular Worf, but also the thrill of seeing so many "What If"? versions of familiar ideas from the series' past. As the series headed towards its conclusion, it was a surprisingly graceful, and fun, way to provide fan service without ruining the show as a whole. 

  59. 42

    "Journey to Babel"

    "I've always loved 'Journey to Babel,' by Dorothy Fontana," says writer David Gerrold when asked about his favorite Star Trek episode. "Because it reveals so much about Spock, and his past, and his parents." That's putting it mildly; before this episode, it's unlikely that anyone would have given much thought about the parents of any of the crew, but the introduction of Spock's estranged parents — one of whom was human, the other suspected of murdering a fellow diplomat on board the Enterprise — changed the way audiences looked at the characters forever: suddenly, they were more than just their jobs, and had inner lives and struggles that everyone could relate to. And all because the most alien of all of the crew had proven himself to be just as human as the rest of us.

  60. 41

    "I, Borg"

    Having successfully defined the Borg as an almost unbeatable hive mind of destructive force, "I, Borg" sets out to do the seemingly impossible and humanize them. The result is something that speaks as much to Star Trek's inherent humanist outlook, as one Borg is given his individuality back while Picard and Guinan are forced to overcome their own prejudices against the enemy that in some ways ruined both of their lives. More ethically tricky than a lot of TNG, it's to be lauded for showing how flawed the leads can be — and also raising the specter of the many deaths the Enterprise was responsible for in "The Best of Both Worlds" two-parter

    "As a kid watching Star Trek I would never have imagined that I would be the first Borg to define an entire alien race- playing Hugh has shaped my life in so many great ways, proud to be a part of the legacy," says guest star Jonathan Del Arco.

  61. 40

    "What You Leave Behind"

    The finale of Deep Space Nine might have struggled to meet the challenge of living up to seven years' worth of teases of the mythical nature of the existential Prophets (Gods? Aliens? Both?) and their connection to the show's lead characters and closing out the multiple running storylines, but it doesn't matter: everything is done with such intensity and passion that any and all mistakes are forgiven, especially in light of some pitch-perfect conclusions for many of the show's long serving characters. (Garak, we're looking at you.) Simultaneously downbeat and optimistic in its refusal to bring the story to an end, there's something effortlessly fitting about the way that Trek's most challenging incarnation draws to a close. 

  62. 39

    "All Our Yesterdays"

    While the final episode of the original series — "Turnabout Intruder" — is generally considered to be a low point for the show, the second last episode throws Spock, McCoy and Kirk back in time and puts them all out of their comfort zones as a result, with McCoy having to be the practical one, Spock becoming overwhelmed by emotions and Kirk on his own against the authorities. Yes, the title sounds like a soap opera (It's actually from Shakespeare, specifically Macbeth), but this is a particularly strong Star Trek episode through and through. 

  63. 38

    "A Time to Stand"/"Rocks and Shoals"/"Sons and Daughters"/"Behind the Lines"/"Favor the Bold"/"Sacrifice of Angels"

    The fifth season finale of Deep Space Nine hadn't just broken the utopian pacifism of the franchise as a whole, it had broken the very concept of the series by kicking Starfleet off Deep Space Nine and placing the station into the hands of the Dominion. What followed broke new ground for Trek as a whole, as the franchise moved into a serialized format for the first time ever outside of the two-parters fans loved, with a six-episode arc showing how the good guys got to go home. Although they achieve their goal — you can only break the concept of your show for so long, after all — success comes with a cost, and events in this arc set up the remainder of the series and changes DS9 as a show going forward. An ambitious victory for showrunner Ira Steven Behr and his team.

  64. 37


    Wait, there is an alien race out there more powerful than The Borg? On the one hand, the introduction of Species 8472 was a game changer both for Trek and Voyager. It was a mindblowing notion that the Borg might have to team up with anyone, much less Janeway. On the other hand, it was the beginning of making the Borg a lot less scary.The two-part episode introduced Seven of Nine, which changed the entire dynamic of the series, with the character becoming a focal point starting with season 4. 

  65. 36

    "Redemption Parts I & II"

    The original series may have primarily been the Kirk, Spock, Bones show, but The Next Generation was able to truly have seven leads — each getting his or her own time to shine multiple times a year. Next Generation celebrated its 100th episode by delving deeply into Worf's story, examining a family dishonor that has plagued him. It's a complicated and undeniably badass arc, seeing Worf resign from Starfleet, Picard navigate the tricky waters of a Klingon civil war, and the Enterprise bridge crew temporarily commanding their own ships. For good measure, there's the return of Denise Crosby as Sela, Tasha Yar's half-Romulan daughter, born after the "Yesterday's Enterprise" version of Yar went back to the past. 

  66. 35


    "A wonderful actor, Harris Yulin, and I, were given the episode 'Duet during the first season of Deep Space Nine," recalls Nana Visitor, who played Kira Nerys for seve seasons. "What I knew going in was that it was a 'bottle' show, meant to help make up some of the money that was spent on the special effects-laden pilot. Two characters, few effects. It felt like it was going to be disastrous the whole time we were shooting."

    The episode, which deals with dark material such as cowardice, prejudice and even genocide, went on to be be a hallmark of the first season. But Visitor didn't know at the time it would turn out so well.

    "Everything felt like a struggle," she admits. "I even struggled with my own sense of ethics with my character. I struggled with Harris. I struggled with being on mostly one claustrophobic set sixteen hours a day, watching Harris struggle with one of the heaviest makeup the show did. When I saw the show, I was amazed. The writing was beautiful, true to life's shades of grey when you delve beneath the surface, which the writer's certainly did. Harris was heartbreaking, and going through the filming of that show left me with a phrase that is still in my brain and continues to humble me, 'I don't know.' "

  67. 34

    "Living Witness"

    After 700 years of being offline, a backup copy of The Doctor (Robert Picardo) is reactivated, to discover a historical recreation of Voyager's journey has painted the ship and its crew as genocidal maniacs. 

    "It is classic science fiction, taking on an issue — revising history to serve a political agenda — in a way we can only dream of," says Picardo. "Regarding the shooting of this episode, I remember that the guest actor, Henry Woronicz and I both had excellent Ed Wynn (Mary Poppins) impressions and rehearsed our very dramatic scenes using our 'Dueling Wynnes' to the initial amusement and eventual exasperation of all present."

  68. 33

    "The Enterprise Incident"

    Justin Lin, who directed this summer's Star Trek Beyond, picks this tale of intrigue as his favorite. 

    "A good old-fashioned spy thriller set in the Neutral Zone. What’s not to love?" Lin asks. "We get to see my favorite version of Kirk: the tactician. His ruse is brilliant and daring, but it’s Spock who steals the show in his interaction with the female Romulan commander. We see him in rare form, opening up his human and—dare I say—sexual side. Of course, Kirk’s ploy succeeds and the cloaking device is stolen, but Spock derides the fleeting nature of such military victories and says to the female commander something emblematic of everything great about Star Trek: 'I hope that you and I have exchanged something more permanent.' "

    The episode was loosely inspired by a real-life incident where the USS Pueblo was attacked by North Korean forces after being accused of sailing into its territory in January 1968.

  69. 32

    "The Menagerie"

    Mr. Spock commits mutiny on the Enterprise in order to get Christopher Pike, his former commander, back to the forbiden planet Talos IV.  We eventually learn that years earlier, Pike and Spock visited the planet, where Pike was horribly mutated — and Spock is trying to get his former commander there to be healed. 

    "It is a story of Spock’s loyalty to his former commander as well as to Captain Kirk and of Spock’s bravery as he risks his own career and reputation," recalls Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy ad director of For The Love of Spock, which hits theaters Sept. 9. "Although he refuses to admit to it, Spock sets aside logic to do the right thing, and I just loved it."

  70. 31

    "The Measure of a Man"

    The emotional touchstone of Next Generation was Data's quest to understand humanity, and there's no more poignant example than the android's very sentience being put on trial — with Picard and Riker finding themselves on opposite sides of a trial for Data's rights and life. 

    "Even though I was hardly in the episode, I thought it encapsulated everything that was good about Star Trek," recalls recalls Marina Sirtis (Troi), of her favorite episode from TNG.

  71. 30

    "Equinox Parts I & 2"

    While Voyager purposefully shied away from the grittier implications of its displaced crew series concept — something that later fed into Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica reboot, after his short-lived experience on the show — this two-parter offered an exciting glimpse into what could've been, with the introduction of another Starfleet crew lost in the Delta Quadrant that had fallen prey to their worst impulses in their attempt to survive. Consider it a welcome view into a darker Voyager we didn’t get — if a somewhat frustrating one, as well.

  72. 29

    "Call to Arms"

    After three years of prelude, the series closed out its fifth season by doing the one thing that Star Trek wasn't supposed to, as a franchise: declaring war, and taking Trek away from its pacifist outlook and into the great unknown for the first time in decades. Co-written by showrunner Ira Steven Behr and the dependable Robert Hewitt Wolfe, this episode underscores DS9 as the series that betrayed the very ideals that make Star Trek what it is — and strengthens the franchise as a whole as a result. 

  73. 28

    "Amok Time"

    For fans who'd spent the show's first year swooning over Leonard Nimoy's pointy-eared alter-ego, second season opener "Amok Time" was everything they could've hoped for and more: Not only did they get to go back to Spock's home planet, they also got to see two things they'd dreamt of but never expected: Spock in the throes of passion — apparently, Vulcans are very like dogs in heat every seven years — and Spock fighting Kirk to the death … or, at least, that's what it seemed like at the time. Written by noted sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon, this episode showed that Trek's second year would be, if anything, even bolder than its first.

  74. 27

    "The Devil In The Dark"

    "The Horta has a funny story," says original series story editor D.C. Fontana of the episode's alien. "Stuntman, actor, creature creator Janos Prohaska did creature work for us. [Writer] Gene Coon, Gene Roddenberry and I were in the office and Janos came in and said, 'Come outside, I want to show you guys something.' So we went outside, and here's this a lump of what looked like foamy bubbles. He said, 'Just watch,' and laid a rubber chicken out on the street, and crawls into this rubber bubble suit and crawls towards the rubber chicken and the chicken disappears and a trail of bones comes out the back. Roddenberry, Coon and I were laughing our heads off, and Gene Coon said, 'I've got to do something with that.' "

    That something turned out to be the Horta, an alien threat who isn't so sinister after all. 

    "You think it's a monster killing the miners, and you find out it's a mother protecting its young!" says Fontana. "That was the first time we did the Vulcan mind meld, and that turned out well, but we also found that this alien isn't what you think it is. There's a human aspect that we can understand and begin to work with this thing."

  75. 26

    "Elementary, Dear Data"

    Holodeck episodes became a mainstay of Star Trek beginning with Next Generation — and the greatest contribution to this genre came courtesy of Data's love of Sherlock Holmes. Geordi asks the computer to create an adversary who could beat Data, and the computer grants that wish in the form of the sentient Moriarty (Daniel Davis). 

    "I was twenty years old when we began to boldly go and twenty three years later, I was going with them," recalls Davis, a fan from the days of the original series. "I was sent sides for an episode of The Next Generation called 'Elementary, Dear Data.' I auditioned for the role of Professor James Moriarty and two days later I was on the holodeck with Brent Spiner and LeVar Burton. It was a brilliant script that combined the Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek mythologies. But it was mostly Star Trek, and presaged the questions of reality vs. virtual reality, computer generated consciousness, whether self awareness is all that is required to define our humanity."

  76. 25

    "Year of Hell"

    Voyager at times gets grief for not being as gritty as the premise promised, but even the most cynical of fans can't deny that "Year of Hell" delivered the goods, with the crew battling a genocidal villain (Kurtwood Smith) manipulating time itself. His opening act: erasing an entire civilization from time itself. If that's not dark, we don't know what is. 

  77. 24

    "The Naked Time"

    A swashbuckling (and shirtless) Sulu is perhaps the single most enduring image from the original series, with the officer infected with a virus provoking him to act out his inner most desires. George Takei had just three weeks of "frantic fencing lessons" to prepare for his scenes, he recalled in his 1994 autobiography, To The Stars. Days before shooting, director Marc Daniels dropped another surprise: he would be performing the scenes shirtless. "Straightaway, I got down horizontally on the floor, put my feet on the couch, and began pumping out push-ups to build up a photogenic chest," Takei recalled in his book.

  78. 23

    "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

    After the first Star Trek pilot failed to catch fire, Roddenberry enlisted Gary Lockwood, who was about to shoot 2001: A Space Odyssey and had worked with the Star Trek creator on The Lieutenant. Trek producers believed Lockwood's involvement could help seal the deal — and they also brought on a new captain (Kirk) as well as Mr. Scott and Sulu. In the story, Kirk must grapple with the value of human life after an old friend and shipmate Gary Mitchell (Lockwood) gains dangerous (and growing) power from the edge of the galaxy. 

    "The pilot sells, and 20 years later Roddenberry said to me that Gary Mitchell was the character that got Star Trek on television," says Lockwood. 

  79. 22

    "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost"

    With impressive understatement, the two-parter at the center of the show's fourth season — and the entire series as a whole — quietly drives home the scale of the danger facing humanity as Sisko finds himself facing both the Dominion and Federation as a result of the paranoia being sown by the shape-changing Founders. When the enemy can look like anyone they want, who can be trusted? (One answer: Sisko's father, played by Trek veteran Brock Peters; clearly, he's making up for his untrustworthy Star Trek VI character, who was working against Kirk and co. back in the day.)

  80. 21

    "Ship in a Bottle"

    Daniel Davis had already established himself as one of Next Generation's greatest villains with his turn as Moriarty in season 2, and he cemented his status with the sequel, which raised even greater questions about the rights of artificial intelligences and the nature of reality. The holodek program is initially able to outsmart the likes of Data and Picard — who ultimately grants Moriarty his wish to live in the real world, though he in fact will continue to live in a holographic simulation in a Matrix-level twist that predates the 1999 film by years. 

    "It was an extraordinary thing to be a part of and five years later, I was able to revisit the character and some very mind bending plot twists," recalls Davis of his work on Next Generation. "The cast and crew were as great a pleasure to work with as any I've known in my career. And thanks to the world of conventions, I'm able to enjoy reunions with them from time to time. Cogito Ergo Sum! Happy Anniversary, Live Long and Prosper."

  81. 20

    "All Good Things"

    Trying to sum up seven years' worth of adventures seemed like a tall order for the show's grand finale, but writers Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore pulled off the near-impossible with a story that doesn't just send Picard spinning through time into the past of the series and the future of the characters, but goes all the way back to the pilot of the series to reveal that everything really had been leading up to this moment, but no-one had realized it just yet. Add in some fond farewells from familiar faces and great performances from the regular cast, clearly relishing their last chance to play on TV together, and you have arguably the best series finale of any of the Star Treks.

    Parting is such sweet sorrow, ad veteran Trek producer Ronald D. Moore recalls his first meeting with Patrick Stewart years earlier on set of the writer's first episode, "The Bonding."

    "He was very gracious meeting this young writer and in my enthusiasm, I pitched him the story for the next episode I was writing," says Moore. "He listened with a smile, then said, 'Lovely. Just bear in mind that the Captain doesn’t do nearly enough screwing and shooting in this show,' and then he walked away."

  82. 19


    The pilot for Deep Space Nine is considered the strongest in Trek history — with it making the bold move of beginning in the middle of the action at the battle of Wolf 359, where Sisko lost his wife at the hands of Locutus of Borg. Director David Carson had worked on TNG, and notes DS9 was "completely and daringly different" from earlier Trek.

    "Creators, Michael Piller and Rick Berman pushed the Star Trek universe into areas it had never been before and at the same time stayed true to the overall concept so that the immense fan base would be satisfied with what we did," says Carson. "The most significant change — which changed everything — was to set the series in a static space station guarding a wormhole, not constantly on the move, going where no one had been before. As a consequence, the stories became darker and less episodic, charged with more emotion and more closely analogous to the social problems of our age."

  83. 18

    "Chain of Command, Parts I & II"

    There! Are! Four! Lights! The two-part "Chain of Command" manages to mix another bravura performance by Patrick Stewart — the second episode, which focuses on Picard being tortured by the Cardassians, is compelling viewing thanks to the interplay between Stewart and David Warner as Gul Madred — with a sly commentary on the status quo of the show itself, with Picard's surly temporary replacement (Ronny Cox's Edward Jellico) finally letting Deanna Troi wear a real Starfleet uniform and calling some of the regular cast out on their storytelling tropes. A victory lap from when the show was at its peak.

  84. 17


    On the surface, it's an episode about Kirk fighting a giant lizard man, but it's about so much more. Namely: humanity, ingenuity and ultimately, mercy. After being forced to fight to the death, Kirk spares the life of the Gorn. Those impressive Gorn sounds were courtesy of Ted Cassidy, best known as Lurch on another '60s classic, The Addams Family. The image of Kirk fighting the Gorn is so indelible that even if you don't know the alien's species, you know his green skin.

  85. 16

    "Q Who"

    No alien race in Star Trek history has been as terrifying as The Borg — and it all began with Q flinging the Enterprise to the other side of the galaxy. The hive mind villain's terror would only increase with "Best of Both Worlds" — and subsequently lose some of its mystique as the Borg was further explored with "I, Borg" and in Voyager. But it all begins here, where the Borg is at the height of its mystique. 

  86. 15

    "The Trouble With Tribbles"

    Writer David Gerrold credits his interest in ecology with the origins of this classic episode. "I'd heard about rabbits getting out of control in Australia," he remembers, " and I thought, this is a very weird, very funny effect of introducing an invasive species into an environment without an appropriate predator. So, I was thinking for Star Trek, not all the aliens we meet are going to be scary or ugly — some of them are going to be cute and friendly and we're not going to recognize what kind of danger they are until it's too late." The teleplay was Gerrold's first professional credit, and he worked hard to make it the best that he could. "I had studied the Star Trek structure very carefully and put every scene on a 3 by 5 card until each scene demanded that the next scene followed," he says. "As funny as the script turned out, I was proudest of the structure of the episode. You could take all the jokes out, and it would still work as an adventure."

  87. 14


    Not many shows would be gutsy enough to start an episode by killing off the leading man, but TNG was in the middle of its imperial period, and knew that Picard could be magic-ed back to life via the omniscient Q at any point. He does indeed return, but with a twist — given the opportunity to change his past by Q, he takes it and finds himself a lesser man as a result. Essentially "It's A Wonderful Life," Trek-style, the episode reveals more about what makes Picard tick (literally; the Macguffin is his artificial heart) and plays out as a morality tale about letting go of regrets over past experiences. 

  88. 13

    "The Visitor"

    Guest star Tony Todd gave one of the greatest Trek performances of all time as an aging Jake Sisko, who dedicates his life to trying to save his father after an accident sends him rippling through time.

    "It was like lighting in a bottle," recalls Todd. "I first appeared as the lost Klingon brother of Worf in Next Generation. By the time the 'The Visitor,' came along, my Aunt Clara, who raised me, had recently passed. Totally inconsolable, out of the blue, this fabulous script came along, and accepting her voice to get up and move forward, I dived into the task at hand."

    Todd played Jake throughout the decades, having extraordinary chemistry with Avery Brooks as a son consumed with grief, and who eventually grows older than his own parent. Todd still considers it the role of a lifetime. 

    "Without trepidation, I accepted David Livingston’s direction like none other before or since, and turned in a performance like none other before. Totally connected, the tremendous cast of DS9 accepted my channeling and allowed me to embrace the virtues of Star Trek," he says.

  89. 12

    "A Piece of the Action"

    Quite how writers Gene L. Coon and David P. Harmon convinced everyone that what Trek needed was an episode where the aliens seem to have been written by Damon Runyon is a detail lost to the ages, but they were entirely right. One of the funniest episodes of the entire franchise, "A Piece of the Action" is filled with sharp suits, winning performances (Anthony Caruso's Bela Oxmyx is particularly wonderful) and some great direction from former actor-turned-director James Komack, who'd later bring Welcome Back, Kotter to our screens. All this, and the first appearance of sadly-still-fictional card game, Fizzbin!

  90. 11

    "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

    It's understandably challenging for William Shatner to pin down a favorite episode among all the greats, but when pressed, he chooses this one. The hour sees guest star Frank Gorshin play an alien, whose face is half black and half white and who hates those of his species with the colors reversed. 

    "That beautiful concept, without shaking a finger, illustrated the ridiculousness of race hatred, and it was very entertaining as well. The magnificence of the idea is obvious," says Shatner. The actor says part of the brilliance of Trek is its ability to entertain without preaching.

    "We use to say, 'You send a message by telegram. Make [your show] entertaining," says Shatner. "But when you can combine both, like that idea, it becomes both dramatic and obvious. And you become aware. Those were the best of the Star Trek episodes."

  91. 10


    The episode followed the traumatic events of "Best of Both Worlds" and allowed Picard to deal with the trauma of being made into a Borg pawn who murdered thousands of people. Pausing to consider a previous episode was a rarity for Trek at the time — as the show went from adventure to adventure without stopping to reflect on what had come before. It contains the best Picard monologue of the series — but not everyone was a fan of the episode. 

    "Gene Roddenberry hated it. He wanted to throw it out," Ron Moore, then a young writer on Next Generation, told THR last year. "We all met in Gene's office and Gene just said 'this isn't the 24th century.' 'These brothers reflect outdated, 20th-Century modes of childhood development. Mankind had solved these kind of issues by then. I hate this.' " Fortunately for us, the episode made it to air. 

  92. 9

    "Far Beyond the Stars"

    Avery Brooks directed the stirring episode, which sees Sisko have a vision of himself living as a sci-fi writer in the 1950s, where he deals with racism on a daily basis. 

    "It is the very best of Star Trek, if not some of the very best of science fiction in general," says Armin Shimerman, who played Quark for seven seasons. "Even though that was a problem in the 1950s and Star Trek takes place in 24th century, one can imagine, although one hopes, it isn't going to be that way, that racism is still a problem."

    The episode culminates with one of Brooks' finest monologues, with his character Benny Russell breaking down after facing discrimination his whole life. Shimerman recalls standing to the side while Brooks delivered his monologue, calling it "a great tribute to Avery that he was able to give a sterling performance while he was shouldering the responsibilities of being a director."

  93. 8

    "Mirror, Mirror"

    If Star Trek gave anything to the world, it's the idea that evil versions of characters have goatees, an idea ironically put forward by the Spock of the Mirror Universe — who isn't actually evil, per se. That's a good thing, because if he had been, it's possible that Kirk, Bones, Scotty and Uhura might have been trapped in the morally-flipped alternate timeline for good, having to deal with the stomach-bearing outfits for women, the workplace harassment nightmare that is the Agonizer and George Takei's wonderfully over-the-top Evil Sulu for the rest of their fictional lives. A fun look at the roads not taken (including a more military-focused Starfleet), this episode would go on to inspire sequels in both Deep Space Nine and Enterprise

  94. 7

    "In the Pale Moonlight"

    If DS9 was the Star Trek series that asked questions the other series shied away from — and it was, on a regular basis — this is the archetypal episode that shows how fearlessly the show pushes the envelope. In the midst of war with the Dominion, Sisko betrays the ideals of Starfleet for the greater good and then dares the audience to fault him for his decision. Avery Brooks' brittle, angry performance anchors an episode that underscores the cost the war is having on his character, and the series as a whole. Who knew Star Trek could feel this dark, or conflicted? 

  95. 6

    "Yesterday's Enterprise"

    Considered one of the greatest sci-fi stories every told on television, the story grew from Next Generation's unusual policy of allowing the submission of unsolicited story pitches. Writer Trent Christopher Ganino pitched the story and ultimately shared a credit with Eric A. Stillwell, then a production assistant on TNG. This Next Generation tale explores what would happen had a key historical event not kept the peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It turns out, Picard would be in charge of a militarized version of the Enterprise, and Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) would still be alive. The Enterprise-D teams up with the Enterprise-C, whose crew ultimately decides to return to their own time to sacrifice their lives to defend a Klingon outpost, thus restoring the universe to its proper timeline. Tasha goes with them ... and later we learn gave birth to a daughter. 

  96. 5

    "Space Seed"

    No Star Trek episode has paid off quite like this one. Ricardo Montaban's single appearance on the original series as the 1990s warlord Khan Noonien Singh set the stage for the undisputed greatest Star Trek film ever, The Wrath of Khan, set 15 years after Kirk and the Enterprise stumbled upon the Botany Bay. "Space Seed" sees Kirk fight his intellectual and physical superior — and win despite the long odds. Nothing is more Kirk than that. 

  97. 4

    "The Inner Light"

    Without doubt the best Star Trek episode named after a George Harrison song — although who could forget Enterprise's third season classic "Wah-Wah"? — this episode is a poignant showcase for Patrick Stewart, who gets to live out the remainder of Jean-Luc Picard's life in just 40-odd minutes after the captain is transported into the life of an alien scientist after being zapped by a probe on the Enterprise bridge. Watching him grow old against the backdrop of a dying planet is one of the most beautiful things TNG managed during its seven year run. No wonder this episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

  98. 3

    "Balance of Terror"

    The acclaimed episode was inspired by submarine warfare and introduces the Romulans, with whom the Enterprise engages in a claustrophobic game of cat and mouse. The episode tackles themes such as the futility of war and xenophobia, with Mr. Spock facing discrimination from his own crew when it is revealed that Romulans and Vulcans not only look similar, but also share a common heritage. 

  99. 2

    "The Best of Both Worlds Parts I & II"

    The two-part episode was the first (and many consider the greatest) cliffhanger in Next Generation history, seeing Picard abducted by the Borg and forced to be its de facto head, Locutus. The arc introduced layers of psychological complexity to the show and would pay off with 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, considered the finest TNG film. 

    "All of us were quite thrilled they had the balls to leave Picard on the Borg cube," Jonathan Frakes told THR last year for the arc's 25th anniversary. "It's commonplace now. Shows like Lost and House of Cards — they'll kill off a regular and think nothing of it. This was 1990. It was not commonplace to be killing off any of your series regulars. That was a big "who shot J.R." type of plot."

  100. 1

    "City on the Edge of Forever"

    Never mind the behind-the-scenes controversy. Credited writer Harlan Ellison was heavily rewritten by Roddenberry, D.C. Fontana and others before the episode was shot, and decades later sued CBS for a share of profits from the episode. Just enjoy one of the true classic hours of science fiction TV as a dazed and confused McCoy travels back in time and accidentally rewrites history, forcing Kirk and Spock to follow and learn firsthand how hard it is to do the right thing for the greater good.

    "I knew this episode was going to be special, not because I’m prescient, but because a couple of months earlier, I had interviewed series creator Gene Roddenberry for the Daily Sundial, the campus newspaper at San Fernando Valley State College," recalls journalist Fred Bronson, who would go on to form a friendship Roddenberry. "Aside from telling me that the purpose of television was to sell toothpaste, Roddenberry talked about an episode that had been recently filmed that he said was good enough to be a motion picture — and long enough as well, as they had to delete a lot of footage in order to make it fit the hour-long slot."

    For fans of unexpected celebrity appearances, the love interest in this episode? None other than Joan Collins

    "The best episodes of Star Trek (or any series) were always the ones where you absolutely believed everything that was happening was real and that you were not being manipulated by the writer," says Bronson. " 'The City on the Edge of Forever' felt authentic from the opening scene on the bridge of the Enterprise to the heartbreaking ending, when Capt. Kirk must allow the love of his life, social worker Edith Keeler, to die in a traffic accident. For years, I couldn’t watch reruns of that final scene without bursting into tears. From Spock’s declaration that trying to create a mnemonic circuit in the America of the 1930s was working with 'equipment…hardly very far ahead of stone knives and bear claws' to Kirk’s explanation to a police officer that Spock’s ears were the result of a childhood accident involving a 'mechanical rice-picker,' the dialogue of this classic episode is etched in my brain as the story that will live forever as Star Trek’s finest hour."