Star Trek began nearly 60 years ago and, in that time, it’s grown from a sci-fi Western that was almost always on the verge of cancellation to a vast franchise encompassing thousands of hours of television, with countless spin-offs and sequels and prequels and reinventions along the way.
Of course, that raises the question: which of them is the best? Does Voyager win out over Enterprise? Is Strange New Worlds’ modern take on the Star Trek pilot stronger than The Original Series? Could Picard ever really compare to The Next Generation?
So, without further ado, here's our ranking of Star Trek series from worst to best…
Every Star Trek series ranked
9. Star Trek: Picard
Must a Star Trek series be 'good'? Isn’t it enough for Patrick Stewart just to have a fun time on set? If it is enough (and, honestly, it might be) then Star Trek: Picard is an obvious success.
If not, then Star Trek: Picard’s awkward first season, meandering second, and overly nostalgic third – not to mention the regular behind-the-scenes shake-ups that left each new instalment feeling like it had little interest in following coherently on from what came before it – adds up to what can only be considered the most disappointing Star Trek series in the galaxy.
More like this
8. Star Trek: Enterprise
Coming at the end of a near-unprecedented production run, you can forgive Enterprise for feeling a little bit tired at times.
Every so often it’d throw out a new idea, from the prequel setting it began with to its experiments with more serialised storytelling in its third and fourth season - but for the most part, Enterprise feels like it demonstrates the natural endpoint of a particular style of Star Trek on TV.
Still, though, it has its charms (including – genuinely – the theme song).
7. Star Trek: Voyager
In a lot of ways, Star Trek: Voyager is perfect for dipping in and out of – catching an episode here and there on different channels, in the middle of the third season one day, towards the end of the sixth the next, right back to the beginning again after that.
Any given episode is always going to be basically solid and reliable, whether the crew are looking for coffee in a nearby nebula or debating the ethics of separating Tuvix.
But if you’re trying to watch the series in order, it’s hard not to be distracted by how little Voyager lives up to its own premise, and wish for a show that committed more fully to the idea of a patchwork crew making a long journey home. (The solution, of course, is for Paramount Plus to add a shuffle button.)
6. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Strange New Worlds always feels like a programme that could maybe be doing something a little more interesting at any given moment, but that focusing too much on that feeling always risks distracting from all the things it does so well week on week.
It’s got a charming cast, great production design, and its embrace of something-of-the-week episodic storytelling is a genuine breath of fresh air in a TV landscape defined by formless, binge-watch sludge.
5. Star Trek: Lower Decks
Easily the most surprising of the recent Star Trek series – who would’ve thought that a vaguely Rick and Morty-esque riff on The Next Generation would work this well?
It manages to be genuinely very funny, often quite inventive (the season 2 finale, with the Cerritos stripped of its outer hull, is one of the best moments of the current Star Trek era), and has a fantastic cast in Jack Quaid, Tawny Newsome, Noël Wells and Eugene Cordero.
More than any of the other Star Trek spin-offs, Lower Decks feels like it proves the creative value of having multiple Star Trek series running concurrently (beyond keeping Paramount Plus afloat, anyway).
4. Star Trek: Discovery
Discovery is not – and it’s never really been – a perfect series.
It’s at times overstuffed and underbaked, and the number of behind-the-scenes creative shake-ups can leave it feeling disjointed from episode to episode, never mind season to season.
But it’s also a show that’s not afraid of taking a big swing, and always feels like it’s trying to make a case for what Star Trek is and can be in the 2010s, anchored by a genuinely fantastic lead performance from Sonequa Martin-Green (arguably Star Trek’s first true lead performance).
Put another way, of Star Trek’s modern era, Discovery is the series that still feels like it’s boldly going somewhere (even if it doesn’t always know exactly where).
3. Star Trek: The Original Series
The one that started it all – and, revisiting it, you can always see exactly why it’s lasted as long as it has. It’s a show full of big ideas, and for every episode that hasn’t aged particularly well – and there are certainly some – there are two more that are obvious classics.
Deciding which, of course, is part of the fun of watching any show that’s nearly 60 years old – getting to come at it from a new angle, setting aside all the homages and the parodies and the recreations, and realising that a fan favourite episode is rubbish, the famously awful one is better than anyone ever admits, and actually William Shatner really is a great actor.
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation
The platonic ideal of what Star Trek is and can be. Everything that works about The Original Series has been refined and perfected, and (most) of what comes after The Next Generation is an attempt to recreate what worked so well here.
So many of the best episodes across the whole 60 years come from The Next Generation, from The Inner Light to Darmok to The Offspring, and so many of the best characters and performances, too – not just the best of Star Trek, in fact, but the best of science fiction as a genre.
1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
It’s the obvious answer – but sometimes these things are obvious for a reason.
Coming after The Original Series and The Next Generation, so much about Deep Space Nine feels like it simply shouldn’t work – even the most basic part of its premise, the fact it’s set on a space station in a fixed orbit rather than following a ship from one planet to the next, seems to miss the basic appeal of the show. (They’re not trekking anywhere!)
But it quickly turned out to be a stroke of genius: staying in one place meant Deep Space Nine became Star Trek’s most effective piece of drama, thoughtful and nuanced in its depiction first of post-occupation Bajor and then later of the Federation drawn into war.
Its character moments are never really matched, before or since (it’s the only Star Trek spin-off to avoid a nostalgic sequel – which feels apt, in a way, leaving Deep Space Nine in its own little corner of the galaxy).
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.