Star Trek has been around for many decades. To date, it spans even series and thirteen movies, including three that follow the rebooted adventures of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The bottom line is: there’s a whole lot of Star Trek out there. Counting every episode and film, there are over seven hundred adventures of our characters exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no one has gone before.
Because of the sheer amount of Star Trek, it’s often difficult to keep track of everything. Even for long-term fans, it’s difficult to determine which series and films are worth skipping and which are absolutely must-see stories for those who love Star Trek.
However, much like Captain Kirk himself, we don’t believe in the no-win scenario. Presented here is a ranked list of every Star Trek series and movie, including all casts and the rebooted films. We have gone through the entire Star Trek canon and found some hidden bars of latinum as well as some truly rough patches for the franchises.
If you want to check it out, you don’t need to hop through the Guardian of Forever or a lost Iconian Gateway. Just keep scrolling to check out Star Trek: Every Movie And TV Show, Ranked Worst To Best!
20. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
For a while there, the Star Trek movies were really on a roll. Many of the earlier films with the original cast were critical and commercial hits, beloved by fans to this very day.
And then came The Final Frontier. This movie is a hot mess, from its misplaced humor to the bizarre plot about Spock’s brother finding God (a god that needs a starship, no less). How bad was this movie? Later Trek basically ignores it, like when Captain Picard casually mentions attending Spock’s brother’s wedding – even though he dies in this movie – or when Kirk dies by Picard’s side, even though in Final Frontier Kirk insists that he’s always known he’ll die alone.
19. Star Trek: Enterprise
Arguably, the main crime of Star Trek: Enterprise was bad timing. Years later, both the rebooted Star Trek films and Star Trek: Discovery would show us just how fun “prequel Trek” could really be. However, Enterprise often came across as a show that didn’t know what it wanted to be.
It was basically a diet soda version of The Original Series.
The true tragedy of it all is that Enterprise got really great in its final season. There were multi-episode arcs that built up Trek mythology, and we even got a fun two-episode romp set in the Mirror Universe.
If Enterprise was this good for all four seasons, it likely would have been on the air far longer and appear much higher on this list. Ultimately, this show ended up hurting the Trek franchise, and it took many years to fully recover.
18. Star Trek: Nemesis
If you don’t already know, Star Trek movies used to have a rule of thumb: the odd-numbered movies ranged from bad (Final Frontier) to okay (Search for Spock, Generations, etc.) while the odd-numbered ones were great: Wrath of Khan, Undiscovered Country, and so on. Unfortunately, the Next Generation crew blew this tradition straight to hell with Star Trek: Nemesis.
This was a movie that wanted to be Wrath of Khan so bad it could taste it. We have Picard squaring off with a clone of himself, leading to several tense action scenes. However, those action scenes all feel hollow, making us endure dreck like Captain Picard pretending to be Mad Max in a dune buggy while completely wrecking the Prime Directive. The only memorable thing about the film ended up being an impossibly young and impossibly thin Tom Hardy as our “nemesis.”
17. Star Trek Into Darkness
If we only had two words to describe Star Trek Into Darkness, “wasted potential” would probably be the ones. After the highly successful 2009 Star Trek reboot, there was an entire universe of new allies, enemies, and adventures awaiting our crew. Instead, director J.J. Abrams chose to do a half-baked Wrath of Khan reboot, complete with Khan as our main villain.
Where did this movie go wrong? Take your pick.
The plot is a repetitive rehash, while Kirk and the white-washed Khan have no chemistry or no history (at this point, the characters have not even met before). There are some highlights, including Peter Weller playing an evil admiral tied to Section 31 – which was introduced in Deep Space Nine – but it’s not enough.
16. Star Trek: The Animated Series
Ah, Star Trek: The Animated Series. For a long-time, this was the redheaded step-child of the Star Trek family, with only a few fans knowing about or remembering it. Now, the series is available for streaming, and it’s picking up the next generation o f fans.
Ultimately, the series ends up being a mixed bag.
On one hand, it’s fun getting additional Original Series adventures, complete with new characters and the occasional old foe. It’s a real treat hearing the original cast reprise their characters. However, it’s relatively short – only twenty-one episodes across two seasons.
Gene Roddenberry himself declared the show didn’t count as canon. This hasn’t stopped decades of writers from making references to the show, though, including Star Trek: Discovery referencing Spock’s mother’s love of Lewis Carroll!
15. Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Insurrection was a movie that, at the very least, had its heart in the right place. Despite being a Next Generation movie, it was a throwback to many concepts from The Original Series, from aliens being reminiscent of Native Americans to a Starfleet officer violating the Prime Directive in search of a fountain of youth (like The Original Series episode “The Omega Glory”).
However, the movie ends up being decidedly mediocre. It’s cool to see Picard and crew go rogue in the name of Starfleet ideals, and it’s charming to see Picard get a proper romance plot. But much of the action feels dry and joyless, and the humor we do get is weird and out of place.
14. Star Trek: Voyager
Voyager started as mostly forgettable, ended up getting pretty good, and then overstayed its welcome and limped through a Borg-infested finale. It definitely gets points for having the most “Trekky” of Trek plots, with a crew stranded in the ultimate frontier: the Delta Quadrant.
The potential of that plot is never fully realized, though. There are some standout performances like Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway – the first female lead in Star Trek canon – and Robert Picardo’s Emergency Medical Hologram. However, many characters seem wasted: Kes is forgettable, Neelix is a punchline, and Chakotay’s plots were overseen by a fraudulent Native American advisor.
Despite seeming like a ratings grab, the addition of Seven of Nine helped invigorate the show and led to some great stories, but the show’s over reliance on Borg plots and cameos ended up being quite a drag.
13. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture evokes many mixed feelings among the Trek fandom. On one hand, this movie has breathtaking cinematography and helped to usher in the era of big screen Star Trek. On the other hand, it’s tough to look someone in the eyes and tell them this isn’t one of the most boring Trek films ever made.
For better or for worse, it plays out like a really long episode that is heavy on the philosophy and light on the action. We end up getting great performances from both our returning characters and some new faces such as Captain Decker and Ilia.
The whole concept of “V’ger” as mysterious villain is brilliant.
12. Star Trek Generations
While Star Trek: The Motion Picture had the pressure of making the public care about Trek again, Generations carried an entirely different pressure. This movie came out very soon after the spectacular finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fan expectations were at an all-time high, especially when fans learned that Captain Kirk would play a role in the movie.
Did the film deliver? Well, that depends on what you wanted from it.
It gave us a beautiful and big-budget portrayal of the Next Generation characters and sets, and the entire film looks really stunning. There was cool action, a neat plot, and even a compelling bad guy in the form of Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Soran. However, the movie was nowhere near as entertaining as the Next Generation finale “All Good Things”, and the Kirk cameo (including his death) seemed like a waste on every level.
11. Star Trek Beyond
Next on the list is the latest movie in the rebooted Trek universe. Out of the three rebooted movies, this one stands pretty firmly in the middle: it actually gives us an original story and villain (unlike the terrible Into Darkness), but it fails to be as energetic and captivating as the 2009 reboot was.
We’re left with a movie that is basically “middle of the road” in every way.
On one hand, we have actual, emotional arcs for both Kirk and Spock, reinvigorating these characters with meaning and purpose. We get a neat new ally in the form of Jaylah and a cool villain in the form of Krall. However, characters like Sulu and Uhura feel really wasted, and some of the subplots (like Dr. McCoy as fighter pilot jockey) are fairly insane. But hey— at least we got more Beastie Boys music!
10. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
The Search for Spock is actually a relatively good Star Trek movie. It’s a fun sequel to Wrath of Khan that helps continue the story of Spock, who gave his life in the previous movie to save the Enterprise. We get to see Kirk and company play the bad guy and steal their own ship and even see Kirk take on a Klingon villain for the first in in forever.
Ultimately, Search for Spock is a good movie that is held back by a few things.
First, it’s in the shadow of Wrath of Khan— next to that movie, pretty much every Trek film pales in comparison. It’s also annoying to see that fan-favorite character Saavik is played by a new actor. Finally, if we’re being honest, it’s a little disappointing to see Spock come back so soon after making the ultimate sacrifice.
9. Star Trek (2009)
There was every reason for the first Star Trek reboot film to fail. The movie was recasting some of the most iconic characters ever made, and it was being directed by J.J. Abrams, who seemed like much less of a slam dunk choice way back in 2009. Finally, it seemed like we were going in the wrong direction as Trek went back to its past – something that didn’t work out so well for the Enterprise show.
Then the movie ended up being an absolute blast!
Chris Pine perfectly captured the swagger of Captain Kirk while Zachary Quinto showed us how moody and broody Spock could be when he was pushed far enough. The movie was emotional, action-packed, and led by a really cool cameo by the late, great Leonard Nimoy.
8. Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Discovery is another Trek endeavor that shouldn’t have ended up as good as it was. There was creative turmoil behind the scenes, as Bryan Fuller was running the show right up until he wasn’t, forcing the new showrunners to go in some new directions of their own. People weren’t even sure what kind of show this was: it was originally envisioned as an ever-changing anthology show with a new cast each year, though that idea got scrapped.
Amazingly, though, the show ended up being really great.
Set about ten years before The Original Series, Discovery gets to flesh out some existing Trek mythology while making fun connections and cameos (like multiple appearances by Harry Mudd). We get the benefits of serial storytelling for the entire show and also experience the first Trek that focuses more on a single individual (Michael Burnham) than it does an ensemble.
7. Star Trek: First Contact
If Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is known as “the one with the whales,” First Contact is “the one with the Borg.” This was directed by Riker actor Jonathan Frakes and it delivers on pretty much every level: it’s a cool period peace, a sweet action movie, and centers around Zefram Cochrane, one of the most central figures of Trek mythology.
There are really only a few things holding this movie back from being even higher on the list.
First of all, there is the controversial addition of a Borg Queen, which some fans think ruins the entire concept of the Borg as a race. There’s also the portrayal of Captain Picard as a vengeance-obsessed Borg hater. That doesn’t really jibe with the captain who chose not to murder the whole race back in Next Generation because it was cruel and inhumane.
6. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
There is a lot to love about Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. For Trek fans, it’s rewarding to see the series trying something bold and new: for the most part, this movie ditches starships and alien locations and focuses on our crew as fish out of water in 1980s Earth. Second, it’s great to see Trek be funny, like when Spock tries cursing. Finally, there is a core message about preserving life and saving the future that feels quintessentially Trek.
As mentioned earlier, this movie also gets full points for being the most casual-friendly Trek movie ever made. Relative to its budget, it was the most profitable Trek ever made, and it sold more tickets than the relatively more ambitious Wrath of Khan and Search for Spock had. After he directed Search for Spock, this movie cemented Nimoy as one of Trek’s greatest directors.
5. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation took a year or two to really find its groove. At first, the show felt a little too much like The Original Series (and not in a good way), and there were things that ranged from cringeworthy (the first Ferengi episode) to outright offensive (“Code of Honor”).
Next Generation eventually came into its own and gave us some unforgettable episodes and characters.
Actors like Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner really brought their A-game as the show explored what humanity was really about. We got awesome new villains like The Borg while also exploring the culture of classic alien races like the Klingons. To top it off, the show had an absolutely crowd-pleasing two-part series finale that’s as good as (or better than) any Trek movie!
4. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is relatively unique in Trek canon. It’s the only Original Series film that was made while Next Generation was being made. Look closely and you can even see some Next Gen sets being used. That meant that it had to find a way to bridge Kirk’s time and Picard’s time, so the movie focused on how peace between Starfleet and the Klingons was finally achieved.
The result: a movie as entertaining as it is bold.
It isn’t afraid to show us how flawed our characters are, with Kirk spitting out “let them die” when he hears the Klingon race may come to an end. Thus, Kirk must face his own racism and ugly history with the Klingons as he deals with being framed for the murder of the Klingon Chancellor. It’s a racial metaphor, Cold War metaphor, and great Trek movie all rolled into one!
3. Star Trek: The Original Series
The one that started it all! Without The Original Series, we would not have the entire sprawling Star Trek franchise. This will forever be a show that transcended itself: it was originally pitched as a space western (Roddenberry famously called it “A Wagon Train to the Stars”), but it ended up offering meditations on the human condition, universal exploration, and everything in-between.
The series really holds up, even today.
It got a facelift in the form of CGI ship effects and other enhancements, as you’ll see if you stream episodes, and while it wasn’t to every fan’s taste, it made the show look better than ever. It’s fun to go back and see the modern technology Trek predicted (such as cell phones) while also marveling at how directly the show called out the bigotry and nationalism of the time period with thinly-veiled allegories about aliens!
2. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
This may be a controversial pick, but Deep Space Nine made it this far to become our favorite of the Star Trek series. At first, the show looked like it might be a snooze: why do we want to watch people hang around a space station instead of boldly exploring? However, Deep Space Nine wound up giving us so many great things.
Sisko, for instance, becomes an unwilling space Jesus for the Bajoran people, constantly balancing his duties to Starfleet and his duties as “the Emissary.” Characters like Odo and Quark help us explore humanity through the (often hilarious) lens of an outsider. We also get some morally gray characters in the form of former spy Garak and former terrorist Kira.
1. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
Admit it: you knew that Wrath of Khan was at the top of this list when you clicked on it! Even after all these decades, this movie remains the pinnacle of what Star Trek can be. And much of this comes down to the fine balancing act performed throughout the movie.
For instance, Wrath of Khan is often thought of as the first real action-centric Trek movie. But that action has the emotional weight of Kirk’s reunion with his son and his clash with former Original Series villain Khan. It celebrates the further adventures of our favorite crew while still giving us fun new characters like Lieutenant Saavik and Dr. Carol Marcus.
Throw in an ending with Spock that is guaranteed to leave you in tears, and this is a Star Trek movie you can re-watch a hundred times without it getting old.
What’s your favorite screen Star Trek story? Let us know in the comments!
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