100) Bride of Chaotica! (Star Trek: Voyager) – A hilarious pastiche
of old-school science fiction serials, this story puts the Voyager crew
in the middle of a space-opera fantasy gone very, very wrong.
99) Day of the Dove (Star Trek) – An alien entity wants the
Enterprise crew and some Klingons to slaughter each other, and Kirk has
nearly as much trouble with his own crew as with the “enemy.”
98) Paradise (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Sisko and O’Brien find
themselves in a “perfect” society where no technology functions, and the
society’s matriarch tests Sisko’s will with some pretty brutal
97) Borderland/Cold Station 12/The Augments (Enterprise) – In this
three-part episode, we delve into the past of Khan Noonien Singh’s
genetically augmented crew, and also meet the ancestor of Data’s
creator. And connecting those two dots allows the story to get into some
weird questions about the nature of “superior” people.
96) Lineage (Star Trek: Voyager) – B’Elanna and Tom are expecting a
baby… but maybe they can genetically engineer it to be more human and
less Klingon? More than any episode about Khan’s people, this episode
digs into the thorny ethics of eugenics.
95) The Most Toys (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Data is taken
prisoner by an unscrupulous collector, and the android finds out just
how far he’s willing to go to win his freedom.
94) Disaster (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – A calamity cuts off
the different sections of the ship from each other, leaving Deanna Troi
in charge, and Worf having to deliver a baby.
93) Future’s End (Star Trek: Voyager) – An evil Bill Gates-type in
the 1990s has gotten hold of a 29th century ship, and even the Voyager
crew might not be able to keep him from changing history.
92) The Magnificent Ferengi (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Of all DS9‘s
“Ferengi comedy” episodes, this is one of the funniest — Quark has to
rescue his mother from the Dominion, but everything goes absolutely
pear-shaped and Quark has to improvise.
91) The Killing Game (Star Trek: Voyager) – The Hirogen love to
hunt, so what could be better than turning Voyager into a recreation of
World War II? (Lots of things. But that’s what they do, anyway.)
90) Booby Trap (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The Enterprise is
trapped in a weird space trap, and Geordi can’t find a solution until he
makes himself a new colleague… who’s the woman of Geordi’s dreams.
89) Court Martial (Star Trek) – Kirk is put on trial, and along the way he shows what it really takes to command a starship.
88) Favor the Bold/Sacrifice of Angels (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) –
This episode is a turning point in the “Dominion War” arc. But more to
the point, it features a ginormous, amazing space battle, featuring
hundreds of starships.
87) Déjà Q (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Q has lost his powers,
and now he’s learning to cope with being human. If he can survive the
wrath of Guinan, that is.
86) Memorial (Star Trek: Voyager) – Voyager was at its best when
coping with strange thought experiments, and here’s a doozy: a memorial
forces you to experience a terrible war first-hand. Should it be allowed
to remain operational?
85) Little Green Men (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Quark gets
stranded on mid-20th century Earth, and for once even he can’t figure
out how to profit from this, in a hilariously weird episode.
84) Parallels (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Worf keeps jumping
to various (and highly entertaining) alternate realities, showing how
different his life could be with just a few changes.
83) Timeless (Star Trek: Voyager) – One of the many “alternate
future crewmembers averting a past tragedy” storylines, this one
features the beautiful image of Voyager crashed into an ice planet, and
Chakotay going to extremes to save his friends.
82) Conundrum (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The entire crew of
the Enterprise suffers memory loss, but luckily First Officer MacDuff is
here to help. When their identities are stripped away, will the
Starfleet officers still do the right thing?
81) The Enemy Within (Star Trek) – The one where Kirk gets split
into good and evil versions by a transporter accident — Richard
Matheson’s script manages to get into some thorny questions about the
nature of evil.
80) The Wounded (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The Federation is
trying really hard to have peace with the Cardassians, but some people
in Starfleet aren’t quite so ready to forgive and forget… and it’s up
to Picard to help out his enemies.
79) I, Mudd (Star Trek) – The most famous rogue in Star Trek has landed in a great spot — surrounded by beautiful androids who cater to his every whim. Except that he can’t leave.
78) Remember Me (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Dr. Crusher is
faced with a mystery that gets at her fear of abandonment, but also
questions of existence, when people start vanishing around her.
77) Our Man Bashir (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The goofiest of
DS9 episodes (well, one of the goofiest) sees Bashir stuck in a
holosuite program where he’s a James Bond-style spy.
76) Wolf in the Fold (Star Trek) – Mr. Scott is accused of being a serial killer… but the truth is a lot more bizarre.
75) The Raven (Star Trek: Voyager) – One of the best “Seven of Nine
tries to become more human” episodes actually sees her coping with her
memories of being part of the Borg.
74) Living Witness (Star Trek: Voyager) – Hundreds of years after
Voyager visit a planet, its crew are remembered as war criminals, as
shown in a historical reenactment.
73) Family (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – This episode is
revolutionary, purely because it shows the consequences of a big “event”
episode — Picard is still shaken by his experiences with the Borg, when
he goes home to visit his family.
72) Who Mourns For Morn (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The barfly
who hangs out in Quark’s bar has apparently died, but will Quark really
inherit all his worldly goods?
71) A Piece of the Action (Star Trek) – One of many “visiting
Earth’s past on another planet” episodes, this is the funniest and also
the most trenchant. Kirk and friends have to outwit a whole planet of
gangsters, while teaching them the arcane game of Fizzbin.
70) Sarek (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Peter S. Beagle wrote
this episode where Spock’s father reappears, and he’s not the Vulcan he
used to be — a bittersweet exploration of aging and loss.
69) What You Leave Behind (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The DS9
finale packs a lot of punches, including the final showdown with the
Dominion, and Sisko embracing his destiny.
68) Tin Man (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – a powerful Betazoid
telepath is obsessed with a giant sentient spaceship, but also develops
a friendship with Data, the only person whose thoughts he can’t read.
67) Errand of Mercy (Star Trek) – The first Klingon episode is also
the most daring, as Kirk is portrayed as being nearly as warlike as his
foes, in the face of godlike pacifist aliens.
66) Dark Frontier (Star Trek: Voyager) – Seven of Nine starts to
remember her past before she became a Borg drone, as Janeway schemes to
steal from the Borg.
65) In Purgatory’s Shadow/By Inferno’s Light (Star Trek: Deep Space
Nine) – One of the most shocking of the “Dominion War” storylines, this
two-parter reveals a terrible secret about Bashir, and changes the
balance of power in the Alpha Quadrant.
64) The Slaver Weapon (Star Trek: The Animated Series) – Written by
Larry Niven, this episode sees the Enterprise crew meeting the Kzinti…
and dealing with a self-aware ultimate weapon.
63) Assignment: Earth (Star Trek) – Kirk and Spock go back to the
1960s, but they’re not the only interloper. This was the “backdoor
pilot” for a spin-off show that never happened, but it’s still bizarrely
entertaining in its own right.
62) Cause and Effect (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The one
where the Enterprise keeps blowing up over and over. The most explosive,
bewildering time loop ever.
61) Course: Oblivion (Star Trek: Voyager) – These alternate versions
of a starship crew aren’t evil — just very, very fragile. This is one
of those episodes whose nihilism makes it almost like a weird dream.
60) Shore Leave (Star Trek) – One of the goofiest original-series
episodes also has a major dark side, as the crew arrives on a planet
where anything they imagine can become real. Anything.
59) The Quickening (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Dr. Bashir’s
miracle-worker image faces an extra challenge when he faces a
58) Dagger of the Mind (Star Trek) – In the Federation’s utopian
future, the rehabilitation of criminals is much more humane. Much, much
more humane. The psychological cruelty in this one is actually pretty
57) The Sound of Her Voice (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Everybody
falls in love with a stranded Starfleet captain who’s sent out a
distress call. But can she be saved?
56) Tuvix (Star Trek: Voyager) – The Voyager crew face another huge
ethical conundrum… and arguably, this time they choose wrong.
55) The Pegasus (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Riker’s
long-buried secret comes to light, and he’s forced to lie to Captain
54) Caretaker (Star Trek: Voyager) – Greg Cox argued (in our
comments) this is the best first episode of any Trek, and he has a
point: it shows Captain Janeway making two tough choices: stranding her
crew, and adopting a crew of rebels.
53) The Conscience of the King (Star Trek) – This episode about a
Shakespearean actor who may be a legendary mass murderer is also our
first glimpse of the flaws in Trek‘s perfect future.
52) Relics (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Old Starfleet
engineers never die — they just come back decades later, eager to tinker
with another warp engine.
51) Necessary Evil (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The best of the
episodes about the shapeshifting Odo doing detective work, because his
digging turns out to reveal some dark secrets.
50) I Borg (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Another episode with a
guest star who poses a huge ethical question — the Enterprise finds a
disconnected Borg drone, and tries to turn him into a weapon.
49) The Wire (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The mysterious Garak
finally has to reveal a little bit about his past to his friend Dr.
Bashir, to save his life — but which stories are lies, and which ones
are true? Or is there really any difference?
48) The Enterprise Incident (Star Trek) – Kirk and Spock pull an
elaborate hustle on the Romulans, in an episode that shows just how
unethical our heroes are prepared to be.
47) Perfect Mate (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Picard falls for
a woman (Famke Janssen!) who is destined to marry a warlord in an
arranged marriage, and he has to put his feelings aside for the sake of
46) Blink of an Eye (Star Trek: Voyager) – In yet another high-concept Voyager
outing, the starship appears in the sky over a planet for a relatively
brief time, but that’s long enough for it to loom over the life and
death of an entire civilization.
45) Dear Doctor (Enterprise) – Doctor Phlox relates his experience
dealing with a plague affecting a relatively primitive planet, which
turns out to pose an impossible dilemma.
44) It’s Only a Paper Moon (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Like
“Family,” this is an episode that takes a hard look at the process of
recovering from trauma… and doesn’t sugar-coat the truth.
43) Obsession (Star Trek) – Kirk’s judgment is called into question
when he becomes fixated on revenge, showing once again just how
dangerous an out-of-control captain can be.
42) Hard Time (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – The best of the many
“Let’s torture O’Brien” episodes, in which he receives false memories of
20 years of imprisonment.
41) Rocks and Shoals (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Sisko’s crew are
stranded on a planet with some of the enemy Jem’Hadar… and the
Jem’Hadar’s unquestioning drug-induced loyalty is put to the test,
40) In A Mirror Darkly, Parts 1 & 2 (Enterprise) – The best of
the “Mirror Universe” sequels, this episode shows us a more unscrupulous
version of Jonathan Archer… who’s just inherited a Federation ship
from the future.
39) Journey to Babel (Star Trek) – Most notable for introducing us
to Spock’s parents, this episode also shows a Federation diplomatic
mission gone horribly wrong.
38) The Way of the Warrior (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – With the
Federation facing war with the Dominion, it’s a good thing the Klingons
are here to help. Except sometimes your allies can be more dangerous
than your enemies.
37) Lower Decks (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – This episode
follows four junior officers aboard the Enterprise, and lets us see the
command staff through the eyes of their underlings.
36) Galileo Seven (Star Trek) – A shuttlecraft full of people is
stranded on a planet, and it appears that not all of them can survive.
Good thing Spock is in charge, and he has zero hesitation about making
the tough call… Right?
35) Inter Arma Silent Leges (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Bashir
has always wanted to play at being a spy… so how does he like doing it
in real life? One of the episodes that exposes the terrible underbelly
of the Federation.
34) The Drumhead (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – An Admiral
subjects the Enterprise to an inquisition, and starts finding
conspiracies behind every bulkhead, providing an object lesson in the
dangers of paranoia.
33) Twilight (Enterprise) – In the future, Archer has dementia, and
the human race has lost a devastating war. And both things are equally
terrible to behold.
32) Trials and Tribble-ations (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – One of several time-travel
episodes, this one sends Sisko’s officers back to the original series
episode “The Trouble With Tribbles,” and provides a great love letter to Trek‘s history.
31) Call to Arms (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – This is the one
where Sisko makes the tough choices, and a highly symbolic baseball is
the only hint of Sisko’s endgame.
30) Yesteryear (Star Trek: The Animated Series) – Spock travels back
in time and saves himself as a young boy on Vulcan, in an episode that
reveals a lot about Spock’s life.
29) The Void (Star Trek: Voyager) – When Voyager gets
trapped in a pocket space with a bunch of other ships that prey on each
other, Janeway has to convince everybody to work together to escape.
Janeway’s finest hour.
28) Homefront/Paradise Lost (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Nowadays,
everybody trots out the “security versus freedom” question, but DS9 asked it first, and best, with this story of paranoia about shapeshifters in Starfleet.
27) Where No Man Has Gone Before (Star Trek) – The second Star Trek pilot is the best, facing Kirk with an impossible choice: condemn his friend to death, or risk his entire ship.
26) The Year of Hell Parts 1 &2 (Star Trek: Voyager) – The
luckiest ship in the Delta Quadrant finally has really, really bad luck.
25) The Offspring (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Data creates an
android daughter for himself, but some miracles are too great to last.
24) Duet (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Kira suspects that a
visiting Cardassian is actually a notorious war criminal, and she’s
willing to go to insane lengths to prove it.
23) The Equinox (Star Trek: Voyager) – Captain Janeway’s
determination to uphold Federation principles far from home looks a lot
more impressive when you meet another Starfleet crew that compromised,
22) Tapestry (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Picard is dying of
an old wound caused by his recklessness, so Q shows him what his life
would be like if he’d played it safe.
21) Arena (Star Trek) – Kirk faces two impossible
challenges: making a weapon from scratch, and upholding his values in
the face of a murderous Gorn.
20) Measure of a Man (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Putting Data
on “trial” to see if he’s a person raises fascinating questions, but
the best part is Riker’s total ruthlessness as prosecutor.
19) Yesterday’s Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The
Enterprise finds itself in an alternate universe, and restoring the
original timeline will come at a high cost.
18) The Doomsday Machine (Star Trek) – Kirk faces the ultimate
weapon, but his real nightmare is an unhinged superior officer taking
command of the Enterprise.
17) The Siege of AR-558 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Lots of DS9 episodes explored the notion that war is Hell, but this one made it visceral and unforgettable.
16) Devil in the Dark (Star Trek) – The classic Star Trek scenario: a story in which the “monster” is misunderstood, and ignorant humans are the real danger.
15) Space Seed (Star Trek) – The only Trek episode to get a movie sequel, this story introduces a suave former dictator who’s a perfect foil for Kirk.
14) The Corbomite Maneuver (Star Trek) – This episode isn’t named
after the villain or the McGuffin, but after Kirk’s cunning gambit —
with good reason. Never play poker with Kirk.
13) Far Beyond The Stars (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Sisko
hallucinates he’s a pulp science fiction author writing about the
impossible: a black captain named Ben Sisko.
12) Amok Time (Star Trek) – Our first visit to Spock’s homeworld
also shows how friendship and cunning are more powerful than mating
rituals and ancient traditions.
11) Chain of Command (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Picard is
captured by a ruthless Cardassian torturer — and gets pushed to his
10) Mirror, Mirror (Star Trek) – Meeting alternate
crewmembers, including Bearded Spock, is cool — but the fascinating part
is seeing our heroes try to pretend to be barbarians.
9) All Good Things (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – The
best Q story sees Picard tested at three points in his life, with the
whole universe in the balance.
8) The Inner Light (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Picard
lives a whole life on a doomed planet, and becomes a living memorial,
with just a flute as souvenir.
7) In the Pale Moonlight (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – How far will Sisko go to get the Romulans to join the war? All the way.
6) The Trouble with Tribbles (Star Trek) – The funniest Trek, it also faces Kirk with the most insidious threat: an organism that’s born pregnant.
5) Darmok (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Quibble about
the alien language all you want, this parable of learning to communicate
4) The Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) – Jake Sisko has
grown old as a famous writer, but he’s willing to give it all up to
save his father in the past. Absolutely beautiful.
3) City on the Edge of Forever (Star Trek) – Kirk, Spock and
McCoy visit the 1930s, and Kirk faces an impossible choice that proves
time travel is heart-breaking.
2) The Best of Both Worlds (Star Trek: The Next Generation) –
The Borg turn Picard into their mouthpiece, and our heroes nearly lose.
1) Balance of Terror (Star Trek) – Kirk’s battle of wits
with a Romulan is spellbinding, but so is the exploration of prejudice,
and the idea that noble people fight on both sides.