The 50 Greatest Star Trek moments of all time

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

5. Cochrane meets the Vulcans – Star Trek: First Contact

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Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight attracts the attention of some passing Vulcans thanks to the hard work of a time-travelling Riker, Geordi and Troi. As Jerry Goldsmith’s suitably momentous score swells, the human race expands its horizons in an encounter that sums up the very ethos of Trek (PS: for the flip side of this meeting, watch the Enterprise episode In a Mirror Darkly. It’s a, erm, blast)

4. Edith Keeler dies – The City on the Edge of Forever

After the Enterprise discovers a portal through space and time, Bones accidentally alters history and Kirk is forced to let his let his love interest – pacifist Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins – die, so that events can play out as previously ordained. “I could have saved her,” yells McCoy as Kirk holds him back, just as Keeler is hit by an oncoming truck. “He knows, Doctor. He knows,” comments Spock as Kirk – and we, as viewers – are left heartbroken.

3. The sign-off  – Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country

Director Nicholas Meyer does it again with his wonderful marking of the 25th anniversary: that Peter Pan quote (showing that Kirk will, despite his advancing years, remain forever young), the shift from “no man” to “no one” in the closing speech and – most memorably – the signatures of the original series cast arcing across the screen as they make their exits (well, until Kirk, Scotty and Chekov return in the next movie, anyway).

2. “I am Locutus of Borg” – The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1

The franchise’s best-ever end-of-season cliffhanger as Riker is forced to fire upon his own captain after Picard is kidnapped and transformed into a Borg. Patrick Stewart revealed that one family yelled, “you ruined our summer!” at him after being made to wait months to find out whether the Enterprise crew would get Picard back. Of course, they would eventually succeed, but Picard would be mentally scarred forever.

1. Spock dies – Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan

Kirk spends the entire movie finding novel ways to cheat death, only to be faced with the loss of his best friend at its climax. Spock sacrifices himself for the sake of his crew (“the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”) and keeps his poise to the end by straightening his uniform and asking Kirk for what he makes of his solution to a no-win scenario. Having somewhat smugly congratulated himself in the past for keeping the grim reaper at bay, Kirk is left aghast by this cruel twist. Never has a Trek death had this much impact before.

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With thanks to Jeremy Aspinall, Mark Braxton, Jamie Healy, David Hodges, Rory John, Paul Jones, Alex Lamb, Bruno MacDonald, Sonia MacDonald, Gareth McLean, Siobhan O’Neill, Ben Stephenson and Mark Taylor