How to watch Star Trek in order – both release and chronological orders

From TOS to Picard, here's how to watch the entire Star Trek canon in order.

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Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock in the Star Trek TV series (Getty)

Star Trek is one of the biggest sci-fi franchises in the world, spawning multiple distinct television shows as well as a baker’s dozen of movies, but where on Earth (or beyond) are you supposed to start?

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It’s a question with multiple answers that some fans enjoy debating, but RadioTimes.com has narrowed down two trusted routes so you can begin your journey through the final frontier.

The most commonly used methods of getting into Star Trek are by either following the order each instalment was released, or by watching in chronological order according to the time periods each are set in.

How to watch Star Trek in release order

Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things
CBS

Arguably, the most faithful way of watching Star Trek is in the order each series was made, allowing you to follow the franchise from its inception and explore its universe as the original fans did decades ago.

It makes sense to do it this way as while the shows do jump around in terms of time period, they still find ways to build on what came before in order of release.

In that sense, you’re likely to get a slightly more complete picture of Star Trek by watching in this order, instead of piecing the shows together in a chronological timeline.

Star Trek release order (films listed in italics)

  1. Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS)
  2. Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS)
  3. The first six Star Trek films (The Motion Picture up to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
  4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)
  5. Star Trek: Generations
  6. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9)
  7. Star Trek: Voyager (VOY)
  8. Star Trek films 8-10 (First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis)
  9. Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT)
  10. Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond
  11. Star Trek: Discovery (DSC)
  12. Star Trek: Picard (PIC)

Note: Some people who watch in this order choose to skip over the first three steps and begin with Star Trek: The Next Generation. There is a belief among certain Trekkies that TNG has aged better than The Original Series, making it an easier entry point for newcomers to the franchise.

It would be worth watching the first few episodes of TOS to see what you think of it, but if William Shatner’s Captain Kirk doesn’t quite cut it for you, feel free to move on to the dulcet tones of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard. The two shows have relatively few connections, so you don’t need to worry about feeling lost (although they do eventually cross over in a major way in Star Trek: Generations).

How to watch Star Trek in chronological order

Star Trek Discovery season 2

As previously stated, the various shows in the Star Trek universe take place at different points in a sprawling timeline, so an alternative method is to watch in chronological order.

This comes with pros and cons: on the one hand, it allows you to begin with a modern show, which may be preferable to some people. But on the other hand, some of the references contained in more recent episodes may not land with you in the way they were intended.

Star Trek chronological order (films listed in italics)

  1. Star Trek: Enterprise (Year: 2151-2161)
  2. Star Trek: Discovery seasons 1-2 (Year: 2255)
  3. Star Trek: The Original Series (Year: 2265-2269)
  4. Star Trek: The Animated Series (Year: 2269-2270)
  5. The first six Star Trek films (Year: 2273-2293)
  6. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Year: 2364-2370)
  7. Star Trek films 7-10: Generations up to Nemesis (Year: 2293-2379)
  8. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Year: 2369-2375)
  9. Star Trek: Voyager (Year: 2371-2378)
  10. Star Trek: Picard (Year: 2399)

The upcoming Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will take place further into the future than the franchise has ever gone before, with the crew time-travelling into the 32rd century, so that should properly be watched post-Pocard.

As for the most recent trilogy of Star Trek movies directed by JJ Abrams and Justin Lin – Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, these are set in an alternate universe, meaning they do not connect to a chronological order of the series.

They contain references to The Original Series, most notably the return of Leonard Nimoy as Spock, but can be watched at any point as standalone stories.

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Several Star Trek shows, including The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Discovery are available to stream on Netflix. Star Trek: Picard is exclusive to Amazon Prime Video. If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide