There have been 5 live action Star Trek series over the years, each one different and unique and each one adding to and building upon the Star Trek universe. Each has its own pace and tells its own story, so the argument could be made that none of them is better than the others, they’re all just different. On a certain level, I could and would agree with that. On another level, I also think it is fun to try to rank things and decide and argue which one is best. That’s the point of this post. Which of the series is the best series? Which one is the worst? I’ll be deciding that here, and I’m sure you’ll disagree. All Star Trek fans are pretty passionate, especially when it comes to their own, beloved series. Please let me know which is your favorite in the comments. i would love to hear from you. Here is how I have them ranked:
5. Star Trek: Enterprise
Oh Enterprise, where do I start? I never could get into this series. I tried, I wanted to like it, but I just never could. It was the newest series, but it was supposed to set the furthest back in time of all the series. It was a starship that predated the NCC 1701 Enterprise by about a hundred years. It takes place before there is a United Federation of Planets. In some ways, it was very cool. It was cool to see the struggles of early travel to the stars for Earth, breaking away from the Vulcans who were monitoring everything since First Contact. All of that was interesting, and then it wasn’t.
For me, the highlight of the series was Captain Archer, played by Scott Bakula. He was great, and I had little to no issues with him. He was a cautious captain, but also knew when to take risks. He also ends up being very important for the formation of the Federation. His character was good, and if we were ranking Captains, I don’t know that he would end up in last place.
The low-light for me was the series finale, which was sudden, to say the least, and felt more like an episode of The Next Generation, as a result of the appearances of Troi and Riker, and that they were observing all the events from a holodeck. What a weird way to end a series.
4. Star Trek: Voyager
Alright, I’ll be honest, numbers 4 and 3 are almost interchangeable for me. I enjoyed both series quite a bit, and it is almost unfair to rank one above the other, but I’m going to, and when we get to 3, I’ll tell you why it lands higher on the list for me. One of the best things about Voyager, for me, was that it got back to space exploration, and it introduced a bunch of new alien races, as they were stuck in a completely different part of the galaxy and had to make their way home.
This is a great series to watch if you want to learn about managing and putting together a team. Janeway had her hands full as she had to bring together Star Fleet officers and members of the Maquis, all of whom did not like each other, or the prospect of working together. Janeway was a level-headed commanding officer, and she made it all work, somehow, and brought everyone home.
For me, the toughest stretch in this series is the first season. It is necessary to watch to get what is going on, but the series gets much better after the first season. I love that they have encounters with the Borg, and I also love how the team evolves over time and become a strong crew, despite their initial differences. All around, an enjoyable series.
3. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Let the debate begin. You might argue that Voyager was better, because it was more traditional Star Trek, with a starship and exploration and all of that, and you might be right. Nonetheless, I rank this show higher because this was my wife’s first introduction into my geekiness. We sat down and made our way through all the episodes of DS9 together, and she really enjoyed it. That’s why this one makes number 3, and no other reason.
This was a very different series in that it was driven by long story arcs, instead of being more episodic, like TNG and TOS. If you started watching it, you needed to watch the next episode, and probably the next and maybe even the whole season before all the story lines were wrapped up. That takes some adjusting, and may not be what a lot people preferred for the time, but I think it was ahead of its time, really. How many popular shows are there now that are the same? Long story arcs that draw out over a full season, or possibly longer-it happens all the time now.
This was another series where the finale was not so great. The final episode felt cramped and rushed as the tried desperately to wrap all the loose ends form he entire series, which they didn’t really. Then there’s the whole Sisko becoming a god thing. That was just unexpected and strange. I did love, though, that they eventually brought on Worf to boost ratings. Any show with Worf is ok in my book.
2. Star Trek
This is it, the original series, the show that launched the franchise. As such, it automatically gets moved almost to the front of the line. There was nothing like Star Trek, when the series landed on TV in the 60s. It seemed like it had a history and culture already fleshed out when it began airing, and it created a fan culture unlike any other. The series itself only lasted a few years, unfortunately, and then it was canceled. They tried to bring it back as an animated series, and then it was brought back as a series of feature films.
Fans latched onto Star Trek and never let it go. And that all started here with this series. We were racing to get to the moon, and Star Trek provided us an example of what we could do once we got there and then went further. It also painted a picture of a society with intolerance or hate. It was an ideal, utopian society with really cool phasers and communicators, and transporters. The bridge crew was diverse with different nationalities and races represented well, including an alien with pointy ears. The original crew, led by Kirk, will never be forgotten, and there’s a reason that the reboot started with them. Everything we love about Star Trek is thanks to Kirk and Spock and Bones.
1. Star Trek: The Next Generation
What can I say? This was my Star Trek. I don’t think I really realized I was a geek until I started watching this show. I loved it. Granted, watching it now, i wonder how it survived past the first 3 seasons, but I am glad it did. Once “Best of Both Worlds” hit, TNG had cemented itself as the best of the Star Trek franchise, at least in my heart.
This was similar to TOS, but also very different. Everything looked newer and was sleeker, for one thing. no more buttons, it was all touch screen. Picard was a very different captain than Kirk (a debate for another time), and his crew seemed to have a very different mission. Yes, the opening credits said it was the same mission, but in reality, this Enterprise explored less and was more of a diplomatic powerhouse sent in to end in any conflicts within the Federation. The crew had a different chemistry, reflective of the late 80s, early 90s. Picard was in charge, but the crew discussed things a lot more. It was more cooperative, whereas Kirk was much more authoritative.
As I mentioned, the series had a rough start, but got better with each season. I have two measuring sticks when trying to decide if an episode is worth re-watching: 1. How tight are the uniforms? the more skintight, the less likely that it will be one of the better episodes, as this indicates it is an earlier episode. 2. How long is Worf’s hair- the longer the hair, the later the episode, so it may be better.
What do you think? which was your favorite episode? Did you know, that starting in 1987, we had 18 years straight of new Trek on TV. We are now coming up on a full decade without any. I think it’s high time we got a new series of some sort on TV. Trek in the movie theater is one thing, and rebooted Trek is another thing entirely. Where the franchise really belongs is the small screen in a weekly series. That’s what i think most fans want. In any case, let me know in the comments how my list compares to yours. It is always fun to see how people view these things differently.