Top 10 Star Trek Episodes

I’m was raised on Star Trek: TOS. Fell in love with Star Trek: TNG in graduate school. I introduced Dillon (my son) to Star Trek when he was very young. We watched every Star Trek episode starting with TOS and worked our way chronologically (in terms of their production date) through TNG, DS9, Voyager and then Enterprise (this is before Discovery and Strange New Worlds). We then started the loop again.

Star Trek initiated family conversations that have touched upon anthropology, sociology, technology and power politics. Of course, Star Trek’s greatest gift is that it invites its viewers to imagine a future defined by difference. For example, take the episode titled “The Offspring” (episode 6, season 3 of Star Trek: The Next Generation). In this episode, Data (who is an android) has decided to start a family. He creates another android named Lal. Lal is given the opportunity to choose her sex and species. Lal chooses to be a human girl and starts attending elementary school on the Enterprise. She gets teased by the other human students. Here’s a conversation that Lal and Data have in the turbo-lift one day after school:

LAL: Father, what is the significance of laughter?

DATA: It is a human physiological response to humour.

LAL: Then judging from their laughter, the children at school found my remarks humorous. So without understanding humour, I have somehow mastered it.

DATA: Deck fifteen. Lal.

LAL: Yes, Father?

DATA: The children were not laughing with you, they were laughing at you.

LAL: Explain.

DATA: One is meant kindly, the other is not.

LAL: Why would they wish to be unkind?

DATA: Because you are different. Differences sometimes scare people. I have learned that some of them use humour to hide their fear.

LAL: I do not want to be different.

In response to this dialogue, Dillon looks up at me and says “If she chooses not to be different, then she chooses not to exist.”

Damn, that’s some wisdom. A child’s wisdom that we adults tend to lose and have to work so hard to regain.

So, while I love the action-packed episodes of Star Trek, this ranking of episodes is based upon an episode’s thought-provoking, existential-poking and/or cultural-puncturing impact on our humanity.

Top 10 (really, 12) Episodes

The Inner Light (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 25)

  • If you love the flute playing in this episode, then you’ll love this and this.

The Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 4, Episode 3)

Far Beyond the Stars (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 6, Episode 13)

Emissary (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2)

The Outcast (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 17)

The Offspring (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3, Episode 16)

Chain of Command Part I & II (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11)

The Darkness and the Light (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 5, Episode 11)

Darmok (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 2)

The Drumhead (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 4, Episode 21)

The Measure of a Man (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Episode 9)

Duet (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 1, Episode 19)

I’ve gotta say. I’m a bit surprised by how TNG and DS9 have dominated this list. Now, DS9 is my favorite of all of the series. So, that makes sense. And, I do deeply love Picard. However, when I asked myself “Which of the Star Trek Captains do you model your leadership style after?” My answer to that question surprised me then. And, now I’m surprised that none of that Captain’s episodes made the list.


If you enjoyed this list, here are some others:

Thanks. – shawn