The 50 Greatest Star Trek moments of all time

David Brown selects his personal highlights from a half century of the sci-fi franchise

25. Kirk and Uhura kiss – Plato’s Stepchildren

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There are many memorable sights in this third-season episode: Spock dancing around Kirk’s prone form, Kirk on all fours braying like a horse and Spock’s rendition of Maiden Wine. But it’s the moment when the telekinetic Platonians compel Kirk and Uhura to kiss each other that has gone down in history.

It might not have been the first interracial kiss on TV (that honour goes to You in Your Small Corner from 1962), but the clinch gave NBC execs a headache as to what the reaction would be in the Deep South. But as actress Nichelle Nicols explains: “We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me. However, almost no one found the kiss offensive.”

24. Vina’s true appearance is revealed – The Cage

A beautiful, melancholy moment as Vina explains that she can’t leave Talos IV because her seeming good health is down to the Talosians’ illusions. After being badly injured in a crash, Vina is revealed to have been saved by the inhabitants of the planet, who had no understanding of human physiology or aesthetics. Although The Cage is very much a product of its time, there’s still a haunting sadness to Pike and Vina’s parting. Especially when the aliens show Pike that Vina sees an image of the two of them sharing a life together…

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23. “Tasha, you’re not supposed to be here” – Yesterday’s Enterprise

The senselessness of Tasha Yar’s death (see No 28) is revisited in this alt-universe story in which the ill-fated security officer grows ever determined to have a death with meaning. All right, so it’s an episode that rewards long-time fans rather than newbies just switching on for an hour of sci-fi action. But, hey, even those not familiar with the Yar backstory get a pretty impressive space battle to savour.

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22. “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” – Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country

It’s a sight we thought we’d never see: the Klingons aboard the Enterprise dining with Kirk’s crew. But this turns out to be a warts-and-all meal – Kirk’s prejudices are soon rising to the surface, while Azetbur brands the Federation “a homo sapiens only club”. A controversial scene in many ways, but a timely one, coming as it did around the time of perestroika and glasnost. And the bristling animosity between Kirk and Chang is a joy to witness.

21. “For you – and for the boy that I was” – The Visitor 

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A freak accident in the Defiant’s engine room appears to claim Sisko’s life and Jake lives out his own existence in an endless quest to locate his dad. The father-and-son relationship between Ben and Jake is a lynchpin of DS9 and here we get to see it pushed to its emotional limits – the tender moment when the adult Jake (played by Tony Todd) wakes to find his dad watching over him is just one of the many highlights.