Though the Star Trek franchise has always been about the thrills and dangers of space exploration, the brave men and women of Starfleet never fail to find time for a little hanky panky amidst their duties. Whether it’s officers fraternizing in the workplace, a Starfleet official soliciting the affections of an alien from a vastly different culture, or just opposites attracting in the perilous void of space, there was every type of relationship across the various Star Trek series.
Some relationships seemed destined to be successful, like Commander Riker and Counselor Troi, built on mutual respect and affection. Some, like the relationship between Commander Chakotay and Seven of Nine, seemed like forced intimacy built on no foundation at all. No matter who your favorite characters were on Star Trek, at one point or another they were all star crossed lovers among the stars at one point.
10 BEST: KIRK AND EDITH KEELER
The relationship between Kirk and Edith Keeler existed only in the parameters of a single episode, but the meaningful nature of their connection transcended its brevity. Though the meaning of their love was derived from the tragedy that they were from two different time periods, it didn’t lessen its impact.
Kirk faced one of the greatest moral dilemmas in his career as captain; allow a future with Edith with the possibility of the Federation never existing, or let her die so that his future timeline and millions of people could live? It was one of the finest depictions of Kirk’s loyalty to his first love, Starfleet, and one of the most stirring of all the romances he would go on to have.
9 WORST: CHAKOTAY AND SEVEN OF NINE
One of the most pointless and forced relationships if ever there was one on Star Trek, the pairing of Chakotay and Seven of Nine was conceived with no attention to their character history, personalities, or emotional connection on Voyager. And while opposites often attract on Star Trek, they can’t go anywhere if chemistry doesn’t exist between the two people involved in them.
Both characters had incredibly reserved personalities, suppressing any emotions they deemed illogical or inconvenient during Voyager’s journey through the Delta Quadrant. There was no lead up to their relationship, and when it was introduced in a cavalier way towards the end of the series, it felt trite considering it was unclear why they viewed each other romantically at all.
8 BEST: DEANNA TROI AND WILLIAM RIKER
Perhaps the most famous romantic couple in the entire Star Trek franchise, Deanna Troi and William Riker represent one of the most successfully realized pairings out of all its series. Introduced as former lovers driven apart to focus on their careers, they were reunited on the Enterprise and forced to work in close proximity despite their dormant feelings.
Try as they might, the empathetic ship’s counselor and the playfully charming second in command couldn’t disregard their budding romance. A working friendship led to coy flirtations, and naturally into a strong bond filled with respect, passion, and mutual admiration. Star Trek fans rejoiced when they were finally married at the end of Nemesis.
7 WORST: TASHA YAR AND DATA
Perhaps one of the strangest and most illogical relationships came from the first season of Next Generation, where Data and Tasha Yar engaged in an act of intimacy brought on by an illness that caused the entire crew to act in strange ways. The episode both taught us that Data was "fully functional" in ways fans might not have expected, and also usable as a plot device.
No doubt it was considered amusing that the resident android was literally used a sex toy, the act didn't make sense given that Data's right to consent is explored in other episodes not much later. The series never seemed to deal with the ramifications of all the acts committed during the contamination, and the effect it had on Data going forward in that regard.
6 BEST: PICARD AND VASH
Though they couldn’t be more opposite, Captain Picard and Vash nevertheless formed an unlikely camaraderie that turned romantic when Picard was taking some well-deserved leave on Risa. Vash was vivacious, strong-willed, and had a passion for ancient artifacts, which immediately caught the attention of the archaeologically-obsessed Picard.
Though Picard often comes across as straight-laced and professional, her charm exposed a different, more spirited side of his personality. Though he was unwilling to look the other way when she engaged in some pilfering of local artifacts to sell on the back market, he couldn’t help but admire her risk-taking and adventurous nature. Luckily, they would reunite at different times throughout Next Generation.
5 WORST: SPOCK AND UHURA
In a strange twist, it wasn’t Kirk that was getting all the attention from ladies in J. J. Abrams' foray into space exploration - it was Spock. In his Star Trek film to reinvent and rejuvenate the franchise after the monotonous drudgery that was Nemesis, Spock and Uhura have a romance that surprised everyone.
Spock is Vulcan, and therefore suppresses his emotions. In the original series, Spock only had a brief romantic fling with Leila due to some overactive spores, so what evidence is there that this Spock would be romantically linked with anyone, let alone Uhura? Their romance is given no foundation, achieved with no chemistry, and comes across as the most stilted part of an otherwise exciting film.
4 BEST: WORF AND JADZIA DAX
While some might think that Worf and Jadzia Dax were an odd pairing when Worf joined Deep Space Nine, it made a certain sort of sense if you considered their candid nature and aggressive personalities. Worf was oblivious to Dax’s advances at first, but soon an unlikely romance developed that was a union you could root for.
Not only were they both blunt, but Dax’s former iteration had a vast knowledge of Klingon heritage, which was an important bonding point for Worf. Crewmembers had always found Worf and Dax to be equally intense, so they were ideally suited for one another. Their unexpected parting was one of many tragic moments towards the end of Deep Space Nine.
3 WORST: NEELIX AND KES
Neelix and Kes had their moments, but on the whole, viewers either found their relationship incredibly maudlin or just plain annoying. Neelix was desperate for the Voyager crew to save Kes from Kazon prison, but once she was brought onboard the ship, their relationship lacked logic or substance.
Why did they stay together? Did Kes find Neelix as annoying as the rest of the crew? Did she feel obligated to stay with him because he’d saved her life? Did Neelix feel left behind when Kes suddenly gained incredible mental powers? No one knows because after three seasons their relationship abruptly ended, to the rejoicing of many Star Trek fans.
2 BEST: STAMETS AND CULBER
The Star Trek franchise has been pushing boundaries since the original series began in 1966. With its diverse crew of genders and ethnicities from every corner of the galaxy, as well as its focus on sociological and ethical issues of the day, it was only a matter of time before it would include a same-sex couple.
It couldn’t have done a more successful job than introducing Stamets and Culber, who carry out their duties for Starfleet side by side, their romance providing a foundation of love, support, and integrity in the background. The romance is not showcased with much fanfare, but treated casually, and with respect. It was a big win for Star Trek: Discovery when it premiered, and considered a highlight of the series.
1 WORST: B'ELANNA AND TOM PARIS
It wasn’t exactly rocket science pairing a Maquis rebel agent and a maverick Starfleet officer together. Their circumstances being trapped together on Voyager made for a lot of hostile encounters and pent up aggression, which the writers deemed necessary to translate into sexual tension.
It was as though there was nothing better to do on the 75 year journey home through the Delta Quadrant than fall in love, bickering nonstop while it was happening. Their accidental mission turned into an accidental romance, that felt forced because it was forced, and relied on making the best of the crapshoot that was their situation. B’elanna and Tom were the best we could hope to get from Voyager, but they were no Riker and Troi.