The Star Trek franchise has enjoyed a dramatic revitalisation in recent years, returning to its original home on the small screen to launch a sprawling shared universe of exciting shows.

As of the start of 2023, fans are looking forward to the final season of Star Trek: Picard, which reunites star Sir Patrick Stewart with several of his co-stars from The Next Generation, with early reviews gushing over the results.

Coming up next, we have Star Trek: Discovery season 5, which continues the adventures of Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her crew in the very distant future – 900 years beyond everyone else.

Even the light-hearted and seemingly inconsequential animated series Lower Decks is now coming into relevance, as a crossover with Strange New Worlds coming down the pipeline.

With all these interconnecting stories, it's not surprising that newcomers to the franchise want to ensure they are watching in the correct order. Fortunately, we can help with that.

Below, we've compiled how to watch Star Trek in release and chronological order, while we also weigh in on the pros and cons of each method. Once you have all the information you need, venture forth into the final frontier.

How to watch Star Trek in release order

Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things
Sir Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation 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)
  13. Star Trek: Lower Decks (LOW)
  14. Star Trek: Prodigy (PRO)
  15. 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).

How to watch Star Trek in chronological order

Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek: Discovery. CBS

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: The Cage – The Original Series one-off pilot episode (Year: 2254)
  3. Star Trek: Discovery seasons 1-2 (Year: 2256-58)
  4. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Year: 2259)
  5. Star Trek: The Original Series (Year: 2265-2269)
  6. Star Trek: The Animated Series (Year: 2269-2270)
  7. The first six Star Trek films (Year: 2273-2293)
  8. Star Trek: The Next Generation (Year: 2364-2370)
  9. Star Trek films 7-10: Generations up to Nemesis (Year: 2293-2379)
  10. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Year: 2369-2375)
  11. Star Trek: Voyager (Year: 2371-2378)
  12. Star Trek: Lower Decks (2380)
  13. Star Trek: Prodigy (Year: 2383)
  14. Star Trek: Picard seasons 1-3 (Year: 2399-2402)
  15. Star Trek: Discovery seasons 3-4 (32nd Century)

Star Trek fans should be prepared for an upcoming crossover between Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks, which has raised eyebrows for several reasons – not least because the former is live-action and the latter is animated.

More like this

Naturally, there are a lot of questions about what the crossover will look like, while fans are also wondering how any story will plug the considerable time gap between the two shows, which take place more than a century apart.

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

They do, however, 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.

Star Trek: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space Nine are available to stream on Netflix.

Star Trek: Picard is exclusive to Prime Video. Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime Video and pay £8.99 a month after that.

Star Trek: Discovery and Strange New Worlds can be found on Paramount Plus. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on tonight.