50 years ago today, a little show called Star Trek first aired on American television. While the original series ended after just three seasons, the fans were so dedicated and outspoken that there were six spin-off series (and another, Star Trek: Discovery, due to appear in early 2017), thirteen feature-length films, and numerous books and comics.
And that’s not even taking into account the hundreds of thousands of fanfictions that have been written in the past fifty years.
While the interest in the Star Trek universe has come in waves over the past five decades, one thing has remained the same: Star Trek has always been groundbreaking. Star Trek: TOS strongly featured multiculturalism (TOS featured the first on-air interracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura) and religious tolerance in its futuristic culture, and the crew of the Enterprise has long sought non-violent solutions to confrontations in situations that mimic current political tensions (Cold War, anyone?). Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a utopian society that provided political commentary disguised as science fiction is as innovative as filmmaking can get, and so we gather here to pay homage to Roddenberry’s works and the works that continue to be created, inspired by his original concept.
Below we list our ten favourite episodes/films in the Star Trek Universe.
TOS: “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1967)
This episode is my favorite from TOS, and, written by Harlan Ellison, it’s the reason I fell in love with science-fiction (and, likely, greatly contributed to my love of writing). -TC
TOS: “Amok Time” (1967)
I have a weakness for the friendship between Kirk and Spock. Though complete opposites, they brought out the best in each other. This scene, which takes place after Spock believes he has killed his friend, is everything to me. Seeing Spock smile in pure joy? C’mon, it doesn’t get better than that. -CM
The Wrath of Khan (1982)
My mother wouldn’t let me watch this one until I was nearly a teenager, telling me it was too “violent” for a child. The truth was, she couldn’t bear to watch this scene. As one of the best written films I’ve ever seen, this revenge story holds some of the most iconic scenes from the original cast, and inevitably breaks our hearts at the end. -TC
The Voyage Home (1986)
One of the best moments of my fangirl life was sitting in the theatre at Paramount Studios with Leonard Nimoy and watching this film that he had directed. To hear firsthand the passion he felt for the character of Spock was heartwarming and inspiring, and The Voyage Home holds a special place in my heart because of it. -TC
The Next Generation: “Best of Both Worlds” (1990)
Two words: Borg. Picard. -TC
The Next Generation: “Phantasms” (1993)
I don’t think this needs much explanation. It’s Data, Worf, and Spot. The end. -CM
Deep Space Nine: “Our Man Bashir” (1995)
Okay, so this one isn’t technically a trailer or clip from this episode, but this fanvid (by vidder Andrew C) is such an original take on this episode…and works, really really well. -TC
First Contact (1996)
The Borg Queen is one of the creepiest villains ever. Look, she even made our “Villains of Note” list. -TC
Voyager: “Mortal Coil” (1997)
How often does television tackle the question of existence and crisis of faith? Star Trek does, and this episode of Voyager is as risk-taking as the original series. -TC
Star Trek (2009)
I, along with so many Trekkers, was skeptical of the Star Trek reboot. While in many ways, the new Trek verse is flashier (with lots of CGI and explosions), there are still many moments that remind us why Star Trek has become saturated in our culture of the past half-century. And, it is always nice to see an old friend.
Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
I cannot think of a single thing I didn’t like about this film. While, like its two predecessors, this part of the reboot franchise is more flashy by necessity to appeal to this generation, it really feels like an episode from TOS. It’s about Kirk and the Enterprise, and just how far he will go to protect his crew. It’s very familiar, yet new, and the inclusion of new characters like Jaylah prove that Star Trek can continue to be recognizable but expand and boldly go where no one has gone before. -TC
Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
Uhura has always been one of my favorite Star Trek characters, and nothing gives me more pleasure than watching her kick some ass in the new films. She is fearless, assertive, and selfless, and adds so much to the crew of the Enterprise. She has been, and will always be, more than just a communications officer and/or love interest. -CM