These days there's more Star Trek than you can shake a tricorder at, with multiple animated and live-action series airing and with more to come on the small and big screen. But with so many different settings and time periods featured, it's sometimes a little tricky to keep everything straight - especially when the franchise now spans almost 1000 years, with multiple new series set in different periods.
Right now it's all about Star Trek: Picard's second season, which sees Patrick Stewart return once again to his beloved Next Generation role for a grittier take on the material, this time reuniting with John de Lancie's Q to do a little time travel and save his timeline from a dark fate.
And of course that follows an action-packed fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery, where the crew were faced with a dangerous anomaly 900 years into their future that threatened the rebirth of the Federation.
With the Star Trek franchise spanning such a vast timeline, it's understandable that some would-be viewers will be left wondering about the best place to start – so to help out, we've compiled the best options for you below.
How to watch Star Trek in release order
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)
- Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS)
- The first six Star Trek films (The Motion Picture up to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)
- Star Trek: Generations
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9)
- Star Trek: Voyager (VOY)
- Star Trek films 8-10 (First Contact, Insurrection, Nemesis)
- Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT)
- Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond
- Star Trek: Discovery (DSC)
- Star Trek: Picard (PIC)
- Star Trek: Lower Decks (LOW)
- Star Trek: Prodigy (PRO)
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (SNW)
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 the Star Trek: Generations movie).
- For the latest news and expert tips on getting the best deals this year, take a look at our Black Friday 2021 and Cyber Monday 2021 guides.
How to watch Star Trek in chronological order
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)
- Star Trek: Enterprise (Year: 2151-2161)
- Star Trek: Discovery seasons 1-2 (Year: 2256-58)
- Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Year: TBC, estimated 2260)
- Star Trek: The Original Series (Year: 2265-2269)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series (Year: 2269-2270)
- The first six Star Trek films (Year: 2273-2293)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (Year: 2364-2370)
- Star Trek films 7-10: Generations up to Nemesis (Year: 2293-2379)
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Year: 2369-2375)
- Star Trek: Voyager (Year: 2371-2378)
- Star Trek: Lower Decks (2380)
- Star Trek: Prodigy (Year: 2383)
- Star Trek: Picard seasons 1 & 2 (Year: 2399-2400)
- Star Trek: Discovery season 3 & 4 (32nd Century)
Meanwhile, 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 – 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.
Meanwhile, Lower Decks is an animated comedy in a similar vein to Rick & Morty which isn't considered canon, so this can also be watched at your leisure – but some level of knowledge is recommended in order to understand the many references to the wider universe.
Several Star Trek shows, including The Original Series, The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space Nine 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.