David has had a variety of life experiences which he loves to share with his readers.
There are plenty of articles out there that run down the best Star Trek TV series to the worst. However, those are either made by journalists or those who don't really appear to be fans, just those that cover TV in general.
I have been a Trekkie for over 30 years, starting with Star Trek: The Original Series. If it's Star Trek, I have watched it. That being said, I never saw a listing of the different Star Trek TV series that I agreed with. So from one fan to another, or, to someone who is looking to become a fan, I wanted to provide a listing of every Star Trek TV series, from best to worst. This listing will start out with the worst and work its way up to the best, just to save the best for last.
This article will contain SPOILERS. So you have been warned.
Star Trek: Picard
I was so excited when Star Trek: Picard was announced. I watched the trailers for it a dozen times, read anything I could about it, and absorbed all I could. I sat down and watched the first episode with glee. I planned my week around it. Jean-Luc Picard was back!
However, as I watched each episode, I found myself more disappointed. Star Trek: Picard doesn't follow the episodic format of other Star Trek shows. The entire season had its own plot, which picked up from the previous episode. By the end of the first season, I realized I didn't like it at all.
There were warnings it wasn't going to be like other Star Trek TV shows, which was okay, but in the end the plot was just all over the place. The exciting moments were the cameos or references to things we already knew. Anything new that was added, for the most part, felt out of place. It was almost too much sci-fi in Star Trek. I had no reason to go back and re-watch the first season, and its the first Star Trek show that I have ever had that happen.
Best Episode: "Remembrance"
The reason why the first episode is the best episode is that it brought back Picard. It also caught us up on what was happening with the Federation and the entire Alpha Quadrant.
Worst Episode: "Et in Arcadia Ego"
This was the finale of the first season. It's just bad. The conclusion felt lackluster except for a few action scenes. How they dealt with Picard was all wrong. I'll watch season two, but in the end, I'm not excited for it.
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series was at one point the only animated Star Trek series. Though that's not the case now though. What's unusual about TAS is that it's usually up in the air if it's canon. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, didn't consider TAS to be canon. Yet, he accepted money for the show to be made. Recent showrunners also accepted TAS to be canon.
TAS is actually a decent Star Trek TV series. What bogs it down is that the voice acting is off, as most of the actors and actresses recorded their lines separately. Additionally, it's not hard to see animation errors or the reuse of material. So it's rough around the edges. Though, it was great they were able to secure most of the actors and actresses from Star Trek: The Original Series for TAS.
TAS shares similarities with TOS. There was some sexual content and adult themes in TOS. Most of that was toned down in TAS so it would appeal to children, however, it was still kept serious enough for adults to enjoy. Admittedly, I enjoyed the show a lot more as a child than I have as an adult.
Best Episode: "Yesteryear"
If you liked TOS, Discovery, the Star Trek movies, etc., then this is the episode to watch, as it touches on the past of Spock. You'd be surprised how much is shown here about Spock that appears in the movies and other Star Trek TV shows.
Worst Episode: "The Magicks of Megas-Tu"
This episode is just bizarre. There is magic involved. Kirk uses magic. While it has a happy ending, it's just a weird episode that felt completely out of place in the Star Trek universe.
Star Trek: The Original Series
The series that started it all, Star Trek: The Original Series. Just because it started Star Trek, doesn't mean it's that great of a series. It faltered because it wasn't given that much of a chance to succeed. While it had a decent budget, it was cut each season until cancellation.
TOS was considered to be ahead of its time in many areas. While it was on TV, there was much racial and political strife in the United States. TOS dropped those racial barriers to show everyone as equals. It also showed that humans could move beyond their pettiness to join an interstellar community.
TOS laid the foundation of what Star Trek is today. Even though TOS was short lived, it hung on long enough to spawn movies and made way for the revitalization of the multiple of TV series that have been developed. It also did a decent job of predicting technology we use today.
Best Episode: "The City on the Edge of Forever"
This was a hard decision to make, because "Mirror, Mirror" is a great episode. What I love about this episode is that it's one of the few time travel episodes of any Star Trek show that does time travel right. Plus it presents a great ethical dilemma.
Worst Episode: "Spock's Brain"
Spock's brain is stolen. Literally stolen. It's not in his skull, yet, he doesn't die because of it. The episode is just plain bad. The worst part is that this opened the third and last season of TOS. This could have led to the cancellation of the series if there was a huge drop off in viewers after this episode.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
I'll admit outright that I love Star Trek: Lower Decks. It's the second animated Star Trek series, which doesn't take itself seriously. The reason why it's ranked low on this list is that it's a comedy show instead of a true Star Trek series. It feels like a good add-on that is not required watching, but something I would watch nonetheless.
Star Trek: Lower Decks revolves around lower ranked officers doing the drudge work on a starship. The show is really good at making fun of itself, but also making great Star Trek references. A few episodes had me laughing almost the entire time. But, it wasn't overly funny all of the time either. Sometimes it was just a mediocre Star Trek show.
I will be watching the next season of the show, no doubt. I'm a lot more excited about it than Star Trek: Picard, but I will never consider it mandatory viewing. It's a decent Star Trek show if you don't mind it making fun of itself or Star Trek in general.
Best Episode: "No Small Parts"
The last episode of the first season proved to have the best balance of action, comedy, and cameos. I hope that the balance achieved in this episode carries on to the next season.
Worst Episode: "Second Contact"
It's not really a bad episode, it's just the first episode introducing the characters. This was rough since it was a different type of Star Trek, so it wasn't that solid. The series really picks up starting from the second episode.
Star Trek: Enterprise
In my opinion, Star Trek: Enterprise is underrated. In fact, a long time ago, I considered this to be the worst Star Trek series. I watched the first episode, hated it, and didn't watch it at all until years after it was no longer on TV. I considered that to be a mistake in the end.
Star Trek: Enterprise tells the story of the first warp five starship Earth has ever had. This was before the Federation, so it should have been a show of exploration and human discovery. It didn't quite play out in that way, but it wasn't that bad either.
The series did focus way too much on the captain, and relied on time travel way too much. It also seems like the technology used in Enterprise was better than Star Trek: The Original Series. They tried to explain that throughout the series, but, you can tell they gave up on that eventually. In the end, the third and fourth seasons were great.
Best Episode: "Demons/Terra Prime"
These two episodes, which are part of the same storyline, are what some fans consider to be the series finale of Enterprise. It touches on issues we are still experiencing in the world and shows what Enterprise really could have been.
Worst Episode: "These Are the Voyages..."
This is the worst Star Trek episode, ever. You can even call it a lame Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. The decision to mix TNG characters with the finale doesn't work, and the time spent with the Enterprise cast is wasted and downright offensive. Most fans don't even consider this to be the true finale of Enterprise.
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager had a great premise. Throw a starship into another part of the galaxy to fend for itself as the crew tries to find their way home. It was a great premise, and while it had some memorable episodes, the show was a missed opportunity.
The problem with Voyager is that there should have been a major issue with supplies, keeping the ship repaired, and losing out on crew. While that was a focus in the earlier seasons, eventually that was dropped. For the most part, the ship looked the same at the beginning of the first season as compared to the end of the last season.
However, the series produced some great characters, which were the main focus in the later seasons. Some characters were simply brushed aside and were there to support the characters that were given focus. Even though it lasted seven seasons, some characters didn't seem to grow at all.
Best Episode: "Night"
I think this is a great episode because it highlights everything good about Star Trek and Voyager in general. It touches on the ship being stranded in another part of the galaxy, introduces new species, a different type of space, and is just a great plot overall. I re-watch this episode from time to time because it's just that good.
Worst Episode: "Fair Haven"
Since the crew is stuck on a starship, they are using the holodecks, a lot. That is what this episode focuses on. Unlike other Star Trek episodes, nothing goes wrong in the holodeck. But the episode as a whole is unnecessary, especially this late in the series. It's just boring.
Star Trek: Discovery
I'm sure I'll catch a lot of flak for this one, but I really think Star Trek: Discovery is a solid series. The thing is you have to really put aside all you know about Star Trek and have an open mind about this series. If you do that, you'll find that it's actually a really good Star Trek.
Set just a short ten years before Star Trek: The Original Series, the show follows the crew of the Discovery. Really, it's mostly just one character and the rest support the one character, for the most part. It has a bit of a Star Trek: Voyager problem in that, but it was never said that it was meant to be an ensemble cast.
The show is good, outlandish, sometimes has too much action, and leans way into the sci-fi and technobabble, but that's what makes it great. Admittedly, the third season wasn't as strong as the other two, but left so much wide open for anything to happen.
Best Episode: "Such Sweet Sorrow"
The season two finale is just incredible. There is so much action, great lines, and incredible acting. Before season three came out, I watched this two-parter again just to get myself psyched up, because it was just that good. Very good pay off for the first two seasons of the series.
Worst Episode: "The Vulcan Hello"
The series premier isn't bad, but it's not too great either. I almost feel it should have been a solid two-parter to really build up the who's and why's. Instead, it gets through it all quickly to set up the backstory for the main character.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
At one point I considered Star Trek: The Next Generation the best Star Trek series of all time. While it's still great, it's not the best in my opinion. The only difference is that this is a purely episodic show. It's great for something to put down and pick back up again, but I do like more meat in my stories.
That's not to say TNG isn't entertaining. It is. There are some classic episodes in there and this series hit many 'firsts' in the Star Trek universe. It introduced classic villains, technology, and lore that persists in the Star Trek universe today.
I remember watching the first episode as a child. It was wonderful. I rarely missed a new episode after that and I frequently watched repeats anytime they are on TV. Even now, if I see an episode on TV, I watch it since they are just so enjoyable to watch. This is classic Star Trek at its best.
Best Episode: "All Good Things..."
Talk about a series finale. The only bad thing about this finale is that it made me want more TNG, it was that good. Every character had a shining moment, every bit of lore tugged upon for this episode, everything just went so well together. It was perfection.
Worst Episode: "Shades of Gray"
Unfortunately due to a writers strike at the time, we were served with this episode. It's mostly a flashback episode with different scenes from the previous season or so. It's a boring episode and can pretty much be skipped.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The top spot goes to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The irony is that I never watched DS9 when it first came out. I heard about it and didn't find it interesting that it took place on a space station. I watched a couple early season episodes and thought it was just trying to be Star Trek: The Next Generation, but on a space station.
It wasn't until years later when I saw the box set on sale that I picked it up. I watched the first couple seasons and it was mostly standard plots, though with great characters. It wasn't until a few seasons in that it started to pick up. By the end of the series, I thought it was an incredible story.
The downside is that DS9 ran for seven seasons. It took too long to hit the payoff because of that. Sitting down and watching episodes more frequently made it turn into an incredible story. While current Star Trek movies and TV shows try to be dark, DS9 was the first to really get dark in some of its storylines.
Best Episode: "Duet"
I consider this not only the best DS9 episode, but the best Star Trek episode of all time. Surprising since it was in the first season with so many mediocre episodes. This episode had very little action. It was all up to the acting, which was suburb. The first season is a struggle, but getting to this episode makes it worth it.
Worst Episode: "Second Sight"
It was just an odd premise. Mixed a love story with a science story, and they were somehow interconnected. A few of the romance stories in DS9 don't pan out, at least not until towards the tail end of the series. However, this one is one of the worst in DS9.
© 2021 David Livermore