Resistance Is Futile: Every ‘Star Trek’ Series Ranked From Worst to Best
Temba, his arms wide!
That’s right folks, it’s time to get down and dirty. Again. There are ten different, separate, and distinctive Star Trek shows that now exist in the universe. Five of them are airing (or are in production) at this very moment. That is a lot of Star Trek! How is a person supposed to make sense of it all? That’s why I am here. To guide you through the chaos. And to brutally and bluntly rank every single series of my very favorite franchise.
Yes, it will get ugly, but harsh truths must be shared. This isn’t to be confused with the best Star Trek episodes or the best Star Trek movies. I already upset everyone with that list! We all have our favorite captains and crews, but it’s time to get down and dirty like the Maquis or the Tal Shiar and pit each series against each other. So what is the best Star Trek series? Here’s every Star Trek series ranked worst to best.
10. Star Trek: Picard
Listen, this hurts me, it really does. As a child of the nineties, Jean Luc Picard was my captain. TNG was my introduction to the wonders of the Star Trek universe. But, his triumphant return in Star Trek: Picard, has been well, anything but. Season one was rocky and uneven, with a pretty unsatisfying end, and season two was a straight up disaster almost from the jump. It starts with interesting premises, but they always wind up spinning their wheels and making the least exciting choices instead. Their most egregious sin, however, was bringing back Q and then barely using him except as a de-powered and impotent red herring, and then killing him off! I have some hope for season 3 and the return of the TNG core cast, but honestly not much.
9. Star Trek: Prodigy
I want to give this show a little bit of slack because it’s a kid show and it brought back my gal Janeway, but from the jump, it felt like a show that hated that it was Star Trek. The premise of alien kids escaping an evil hooded lord who wields psychic powers, an evil droid, and a red laser sword blade…. baby that’s Star Wars! And I love Star Wars, but what I don’t love is a show that desperately wants to be Star Wars and isn’t! The actors even went so far as to say that they didn’t think children would get Star Trek, so they took it upon themselves to try and make it accessible and exciting, which, aside from being deeply insulting to my former childhood self who loved Star Trek, seems to misunderstand the source material! Star Trek is so great because it is able to balance exciting action and more philosophical ethical dilemmas. So it gets second to last place for taking the Trek out of Star Trek.
8. Star Trek: Discovery
I have to be honest, the only reason DISCO isn’t in last place is because it had the decency to take itself 900 years into the future and out of everyone’s way. And also, because the first season was actually fairly enjoyable. Sure, it did away with the episodic nature of Star Trek and focused on one main A plot, but at the time that felt refreshing! It had a big budget and a great cast and it was fun to watch unfold, even if the Klingons got yet another makeover. But every season since has dipped further and further into melodrama (and at times, soap opera.) An episode of DISCO isn’t over until Burnham cries at least three times. It’s exhausting. The crew of Discovery all need serious co-dependency therapy. And some Lexapro. It makes me long for the hey-days of Star Trek as a polite, collegial workplace drama.
7. Star Trek: Enterprise
The worst of “old” Trek! I mean, just listen to the opening theme. In 2001, the heyday of Trek shows was ending; Deep Space Nine had been over for two years, and Voyager was coming to an end. But CBS was determined to find a way to make it popular in the mainstream again. Unfortunately, their choices were disastrous. They did away with the traditional Trek orchestral opening score, and instead, slapped on a song that sounded like Toby Keith meets Nickelback. And then there was the infamous lotioning scene. In an attempt to make Trek sexy again (which to be fair, is very in the spirit of infamous horn dog Gene Roddenberry), Enterprise sealed its fate with a gratuitous “decontamination” sequence that consisted of T’Pol and Trip Tucker rubbing lube all over each other’s nearly naked bodies. Folks were not having it, and while it did get much better as the series went on, it only lasted four seasons.
6. Star Trek: Voyager
I will admit, Star Trek: Voyager is an acquired taste. My first watch-through, as a teenager, I was not enamored with Captain Janeway or her lost crew. However, when I revisited it as a wisened and mature twenty-something, I found myself quite delighted. And my love for it has only grown. I love that Voyager asks the very important question: “what if Katherine Hepburn was the captain of a starship?” Janeway is a queen, and Tuvok is one of my very favorite Vulcans. It also has the honor of having the darkest episode in Star Trek history, with “Tuvix’—in which Neelix and Tuvix are fused into one new being after a transporter accident. Janeway must then decide whether to keep this new life form or kill it in order to bring back her two crewmen. It is heavy and heartbreaking.
5. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Strange New Worlds is only halfway through its first season but it has already earned its spot among the best Star Trek shows. Certainly among the best of new Trek. The cast is charismatic and has terrific chemistry and the writing is excellent. It feels like the best of old Trek. The crew have personal dramas and backstories, but each episode is focused on them solving a different moral, philosophical, or life-threatening mystery! There are some canon issues (as with almost all new Trek) that can be frustrating for a true nerd, but overall, it is refreshing to see a crew having fun and being professional! Good lord, I know I’m old because I am very excited to see a professional workplace environment. Plus, the cast is smoking hot. Very good eye candy all around.
4. Star Trek: Lower Decks
Hands down the best of the new Treks. Each episode is packed full of jokes and references and very deep cuts of old Star Trek canon—while still telling a good story—and a good Star Trek story! The characters and premises might sometimes run a bit sillier than a live-action Trek show, but at its heart, it is still telling stories that center around puzzles or dilemmas that the crew needs to solve as diplomatically as possible. The characters are lovable and quirky, the voice acting is terrific, and they get some incredible cameo performances from some iconic Trek actors. Plus, no Star Trek villain will ever be as devious as Badgey.
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation
The formative Trek show of my youth. Star Trek: The Next Generation is perhaps the show that my generation thinks of first when hearing the words “Star Trek.” It not only brought Star Trek back into people’s homes, it gave us one of the most iconic core casts. Patrick Stewart’s Picard is many people’s favorite captain. It also gave us Data, Riker, Worf, and my second and third favorite antagonists in Star Trek history, Q and The Borg. (First place goes to Ricardo Montalban as Khan, obviously.) Now, not every episode is a banger, but it gave us so many legendary Trek moments that I can overlook a few stinkers.
2. Star Trek: The Original Series
The one that started it all! We would not be here today without Gene Roddenberry’s seminal work, the 1966 original series! It might be easy to dismiss it by today’s standards, after all, most of the sets are clearly plywood, styrofoam, and neon lighting, and it carries with it some of the problematic tropes and morals of its time. But it has so much more going for it: it is filmed in beautiful, bright technicolor. The costumes are both gorgeous and hilarious. The sets are flimsy and the action sequences are perhaps not always the most well executed, but it’s campy as hell and so fun to watch. Plus, it set the framework for the Trek that we know and love today. It originated the “trolley problems” and ethical dilemmas Starfleet captains are still facing today. A lot of the writing in it is terrific and it created iconic character archetypes in Kirk and Spock. Look, it spawned an almost 60-year legacy and nine spin-off shows for a reason.
1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
If the original series and The Next Generation established the tone and the archetypes, Deep Space Nine perfected them. It is the pinnacle of Star Trek shows. Not only does it have a terrific ensemble and great writing, it manages to blend the episodic nature of the Trek procedural with an overarching A-line plot (of the Dominion War) as the seasons unfolded. Avery Brooks’ Captain Sisko is definitely the best Star Trek captain. It has to be said and I stand by it! It also has some of the best episodes in all of Trek, including “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” a heartbreaking episode about Nog’s PTSD. That episode not only took the ramifications of war seriously, but it also flipped the notion of what a comedic sidekick was. Nog was no longer just the silly friend of the captain’s son, he became the heart of the show. And that is why Deep Space Nine remains the best of the best.
(featured image: Paramount)
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