10 Best Episodes of "Star Trek" Ever

Over the course of fifty years, Star Trek TV shows have presented some of the finest science fiction of all time. Striving not just to show the future of mankind, Trek has also focused on exploring the human condition. Star Trek has had many great episodes, but this is a collection of ten episodes of the franchise that fans agree are at its best.

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"Trials and Tribble-ations"

Sisko meets Kirk
Sisko meets Kirk. Paramount Television

(Season 5, Episode 6) The crew of Deep Space Nine goes back in time to the episode "Trouble With Tribbles" from the Original Series. "Tribbles" is one of the most popular episodes of the classic series, and bringing the crew of DS9 in contact with Kirk and other characters is done with wit and incredible special effects.

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"Year of Hell"

Janeway addresses officers on wrecked bridge
Janeway addresses officers on wrecked bridge. Paramount/CBS

(Season 4, Episodes 8, 9) In this two-part episode of Star Trek: Voyager, an alien commander tries to use a time-based weapon to change history to his liking. He makes his own species more powerful while making its enemies weaker. Voyager gets caught in constantly changing timelines, where their situation gets worse and worse as their enemy grows more and more powerful. This episode shows Voyager at its darkest hour with depleting resources, a crumbling ship, injured crew, and dwindling options.

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"Far Beyond the Stars"

Avery Brooks as Benny Russell
Avery Brooks as Benny Russell. Paramount Television/CBS Television

(Season 6, Episode 13) In this metafictional episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Captain Sisko has a vision of himself as science fiction writer Benny Russell in the 1950s. Russell is writing the story of Deep Space Nine, and struggles with racism from editors who don't want a black man as the hero. This is a great story about civil rights and inequality, and points out the bold step of having a black captain in Star Trek

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"The Measure of a Man"

Riker removes Data's arm
Riker removes Data's arm. Paramount Television/CBS Television

(Season 2, Episode 9) On Star Trek: The Next Generation, android Data's humanity is questioned when the Federation demands that Data be reassigned and disassembled for research. Picard must prove in court that Data is legally a sentient being with rights and freedoms under Federation law. This is a great courtroom drama with a complex examination of the nature of sentience and free will.

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"Balance of Terror"

Romulans aboard their warship
Romulans aboard their warship. NBC-Viacom

(Season 1, Episode 14) When the original USS Enterprise encounters a mysterious alien vessel with the ability to "cloak" (turn invisible to all sensors), Kirk is forced into a cat-and-mouse game for survival. This signaled the first appearance of the Romulans in the Star Trek Universe. It shows Kirk's skill at strategy, and reveals the lost connections to the Vulcan race. The episode also works as a commentary on the racism that can spring up during times of war, which is still resonant today.

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Captain Dathon (Paul Winfield)
Captain Dathon (Paul Winfield). Paramount Television/CBS Television

(Season 5, Episode 2) In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien captain. He's forced to work to survive against an alien beast. But the captain speaks a language so complex that even the universal translator cannot decipher it. The episode is a classic Trek story that challenges our perception of culture and language, and shows how people who are different can be brought together. It also made "Darmok at Tanagra" a popular catchphrase among fans. 

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"In the Pale Moonlight"

Benjamin Sisko toasts the good guys
Benjamin Sisko toasts the good guys. Paramount Television/CBS Television

(Season 6, Episode 19) Frustrated with the Federation's losses in the war with the Dominion on Deep Space Nine, Sisko turns to Garak for help. He and Garak come up with a plan to turn the Romulans against the Dominion, but Sisko grapples with his morality. This bold and daring episode is considered one of the strongest of the series.

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"Best of Both Worlds"

Locutus of Borg
Locutus of Borg (Patrick Stewart). Paramount Television

(Season 3 Episode 28; Season 4, Episode 1) This two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the reasons why the Borg are one of the most popular villains of the series. When the Borg kidnap Picard and convert him to become their leader and spokesman, the Federation must turn against one of their own. The sight of Picard as the Borg Locutus is shocking, and this episode resonates through later episodes, including the movie First Contact.

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"The Inner Light"

Picard playing Ressikan flute
Picard playing Ressikan flute. Paramount Television/CBS Television

(Season 5, Episode 25) In The Next Generation, an alien probe takes control of Captain Picard, and he finds himself on an alien world. He becomes a resident of a dying planet, and lives decades with a wife, children, and grandchildren in the span of twenty minutes in the real world. The humanity, the love story, the despair at raising and then losing children who never really existed made this one of the most powerful and emotional episodes Star Trek ever aired.

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"The City on the Edge of Forever"

Kirk and Spock face the Guardian of Forever
Kirk and Spock face the Guardian of Forever. Paramount Television

(Season 1, Episode 28) When Doctor McCoy gets drugged and jumps through a time portal known as "The Guardian of Forever," he changes history so the Federation never existed. Kirk and Spock must go in after him to 1930's Earth. But when Kirk discovers the woman he loves must die to save the future, he grapples with the moral implications. This is one of the most emotional and famous episodes of Star Trek history.

Final Thoughts

While these ten are some episodes that stood out for fans, they're by no means the only gems. Check out all the shows to see more great science fiction.