The 50 Greatest Star Trek moments of all time

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

15. Spock fights Kirk – Amok Time

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What’s not to love about Amok Time? We get to see the Vulcan home world, plus Spock has his first infliction of the pon farr (the Vulcan biological mating urge) and is forced to battle his captain with a lirpa. But it’s the pay-off that provides the biggest emotional high: wracked with guilt after killing Kirk, Spock ultimately finds that his best friend his alive, having merely been tranquillised by Bones. Is that a smile playing around your lips, Mr Spock? We think it is.

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14. The Enterprise lowers the Reliant’s shields – Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan

Wrath of Khan is essentially Battleships in Space featuring two opposing foes who never actually come face to face. Despite the onset of age (and the addition of reading glasses), Kirk still proves himself a force to be reckoned with when – after being seemingly cornered by Khan – he turns the tables and manages to lower the Reliant’s shields before launching a surprise counter-attack. Everything, from the palpable tension to the effects by way of James Horner’s score, works to full effect here.

13. Tribbles v Kirk  – The Trouble with Tribbles

Trek does attract flak for some of its lighter episodes, but the peerless Tribble infestation brings so many laughs: the bar fight, Spock’s calculations about breeding rates and – of course – Kirk’s encounter with a fur-ball mountain. Remember, without The Trouble with Tribbles, it’s doubtful that there’d be any Gremlins. And, if you’re a fan of the little critters, see the Animated Series’ More Trouble, More Tribbles and DS9’s Trials and Tribble-ations for further fun.

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12. “I’m Captain Kirk!” – The Enemy Within

William Shatner has often been accused of hamming it up a storm, but there’s no denying that he completely carries this early first season episode in which Kirk is split into two people (one good, one evil) following a transporter malfunction. Evil Kirk sets about attacking Yeoman Rand before ranting that he is the true captain of the Enterprise. It’s a genuinely scary performance…if you can get past Evil Kirk’s unexplained use of eyeliner.

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11. “There are four lights!” – Chain of Command

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The Trek universe would be a poorer place without David Warner, who has played the louche St John Talbot in Star Trek V, Klingon Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI and – perhaps most memorably – Cardassian torturer Gul Madred in this TNG sixth season two-parter. His coercion of Picard (“how many lights are there?”) feels chillingly Orwellian, while the Captain’s refusal to buckle in the face of this psychological nightmare brings out the best in actor Patrick Stewart.

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