I don't know anything about Star Trek except for the fact that it's about spaceships.

In this question the person only wanted to watch the TV series. I want to watch every movie and TV series there is about Star Trek but I don't know where to start. I found this page on Wikipedia which is about a time line. Do I need to watch it in this order? Are the movies and TV series related?

  • 8
    It's set on spaceships ("starships", really), but not about them. As mentioned in bitmask's answer, you'll miss the point and be extremely disappointed if you go in expecting space battles like in the Abrams movies.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:08
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    @ i'm not expecting space battles. By stating that i just wanted to tell I don't know jack about the series:) Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 14:44
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    @SachinShekhar: Your attempt at reductio ad absurdum fails horribly. Adding the films is a major discriminator, because you have little chance of enjoying one through seven (which arguably contain some of the best Star Trek) without watching TOS. If you only want to watch the series, you can very well start without TOS (although I still wouldn't recommend it) but if you intend to watch the films, you cannot.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:05
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    @bitmask You've point..... :)
    – user931
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 3:17
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    @CharlesBoyung: Well, that is, of course, your prerogative. But by not having watched the show (maybe not completely, but at least partially), you wouldn't have any clue of the characters and how they related to each other. Sure, you will get something out of the film, but you don't have much context when starting out with The Motion Picture.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 15:33

13 Answers 13


I'd like to elaborate on TOS (The Original Series) and TNG (The Next Generation). In general, I'd recommend watching TOS first, but there is a caveat;

You have to be aware that TNG is how Roddenberry actually intended Star Trek to be like. Well, the part of TNG until he died, after that his vision was muddied (to varying degrees) by other people taking over. So, TOS has a lot of stuff in it that Roddenberry added to appeal to the station executives and possibly to the main-stream audience. His core ideology is in there, but you have to see past the occasional Cowboy-allusions and the depiction of gender roles (from today's point of view the latter is terrible, but for the time it was syndicated, it was actually progressive, but I digress).

So, if you watch TOS, you might not "get" it (well, chances are equally, you do), but don't despair in either case --- TNG is much better, but I'd still recommend having watched TOS first. The reason for this, is that you would have to watch TOS anyway, to watch Star Trek: Generations (Film #7). And by doing it first, you see how Humanity evolved between TOS and TNG. So, this is my suggestion;

  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • Star Trek Films 1 through 6. Not 7!
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek Film 7
  • Star Trek: Voyager
  • Star Trek Films 8 through 10
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Star Trek: Enterprise

If you insist, you could watch DSN (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) before Voyager (where it chronologically belongs), but I found it rather dry, and very distant from Roddenberry's Star Trek. Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion; a lot of people will tell you that VOY is awful and DSN is great.

And if you really insist, you may then watch Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT), which is the prequel to TOS, shot after VOY. It kind of goes in the opposite direction than TNG, starting from TOS. (Note that TOS, TNG and ENT take place on a ship called Enterprise, so don't confuse the series (ENT) with the ship.)

Finally, avoid watching the "new" films and expecting Star Trek. They are called Star Trek, but they decidedly have nothing to do with the classical franchise. They're action movies, and they work as such. But they're devoid of plot and meaning. So, watch them, if you really want to have watched everything, but do it only after having watched everything else above. Also, be careful with Into Darkness as it tries very hard and partially succeeds (IMO, obviously) to retroactively destroy the second film (Wrath of Khan).

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    +1 for deeper analysis. Agreed that DS9 is a bit of an oddball. I think it's great, but it does break the mold; nearly the entire series is "ship-shows". Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 10:52
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    +1 with one nitpick: TNG seasons 6 and 7 have some crossover with DS9 seasons 1 and 2. Bashir visits the Enterprise in one episode, for example.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 12:21
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    Amused by "the TOS series" :)
    – PeterL
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 14:12
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    @SachinShekhar: it isn't so much dull & dry as...simplistic. The plots, characters, etc are simpler. The good guys are good, though they sometimes think about doing bad things, the bad guys are bad, very few characters are fleshed out, and it sometimes seems like it's trying to force "It's the future, SEE! FUTURE!" down your throat. Excellent show, but definitely from the 60s.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 15:40
  • 4
    Concerning the TNG/DS9/Voyager/movies interleaving, this excellent answer suggests a more precise viewing order
    – Zommuter
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 18:13

I'm going to break the mold a bit, here. There's a whole lot of stuff you'll want to watch, but there's also quite a few places where you could fall off.

For a modern viewer, consider what you're looking for. If you want fantastic adventure, begin with Season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. First watch the pilot (Encounter at Farpoint) - it establishes the characters and will tell you 90% of what you need to know about them. Season 2 is where the show 'grew the beard' (and originated that term) and started getting good.

If, instead, you are more interested in character-driven drama, begin with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This show splits the Trek fans somewhat - they either love it or hate it. It centers around a space station, not a starship, and is less episodic in nature than other shows in the Star Trek franchise.

Once you've started down the road, you will likely end up watching everything Star Trek if it catches your interest. Rather than give you a viewing order, which others have already done, I'd like to give you a brief synopsis of each show and movie grouping.

Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS): The show that started it all. A five year mission, exploring deep space. The Klingons here look different from the rest of the Klingons you'll see in the newer stuff (especially the movies). It's also very obviously from the 60s - the sets, costumes, music, etc are all dated to the modern eye. Well worth watching, but go in understanding what it is: proto-Trek - the ideas are there, but it is limited by the technology and audiences of the time.

TOS-era Movies: General rule for movies 1-6: the odd numbers are nowhere near as good as the even. Star Trek: The Motion Picture suffers from being written like an episode, not a movie. II, III, and IV are a longer story arc involving easily the most tumultuous time in TOS. II is likely the best Trek film. V is likely the 2nd worst, but VI ends it on a high note and shows just how much some characters have grown and changed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: This is what most viewers who've been with the show for a while think of when you say "Star Trek". The plots are more complex than TOS, the characters more fully realized, and the ship feels like the future. Ironically, many of the modern conveniences we have bear a striking resemblance to the things they have on the ship - datapads, communicators, even the ship control systems all influenced the generation of engineers that make our toys now. The first season is painfully stop 'n go as actors and scripwriters figure out what works and what doesn't, but once it gets going it doesn't slow down much.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: This show pushes us out of our comfort zone a bit. Especially in the early seasons, we're dealing much more with a few alien cultures in more than single episodes. The primary focus is more on characters and how they interact (until the later seasons) and it uses TNG's later seasons as a jumping-off point.

TNG-era Movies: Starting with Generations, moving on through First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis, the TNG era movies are a mixed bag. Insurrection and Nemesis are somewhat painful to watch (especially Nemesis, which is - in my opinion - extremely poorly written). Generations is the hand-off movie, with the core players from TOS featured, but focusing on TNG's cast. First Contact is likely the best movie from this set.

Star Trek: Voyager: You can enjoy this show. There's a very, very large and vocal portion of the fanbase which hates it. The first season suffers from a significant number of problems, many characters are never well fleshed out, and the only characters I really liked were The Doctor and 7 of 9. After the mixed reviews of DS9, Voyager put the show back on a ship. It isn't the Enterprise, and they wanted to break the ship away from the Federation. Lost In Space-style shows were popular at the time, so Voyager hopped on the bandwagon. Meeting new aliens and old enemies, Voyager must somehow defeat the odds and return home. The premise was good, but the show was easily the worst Trek show. It does improve towards the end, but not enough to save the show in general.

Enterprise: Set before TOS, before the Federation, this show focuses on humanity first exploring the stars. Then time travel gets involved, and established canon goes out the window. The show suffered from inconsistencies throughout it's run. Characterization, scriptwriting, character dynamics, nothing ever stabilized. It's a fun show to watch and it features a deeper exploration of the Federation's core races than most other shows have seen, but it failed to live up to the quality of TNG and DS9. It does, however, handily surpass Voyager.

Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness: Abrams takes the reins. These movies are set before TOS, when the crew of the original TOS Enterprise are fresh from the Academy, long before their 5-year mission. Within the first 15 minutes of the first film, existing canon is dragged behind the chemical shed, shot, and thrown into a shallow grave. These movies, especially the first one, are pure popcorn flicks. They have the window dressing of Trek, they have the elements of Trek, but the first movie was missing something important. Into Darkness, however, realized it. They cared for the script more, they built a more believable story around what the first movie left behind, and it played well as a tribute to the best movie in the franchise (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). The references were done well without seeming cheesy or forced, and they toned down the worst elements of the first reboot movie.

Edit, aside:

Galaxy Quest: Not technically related to Star Trek. It's an entirely different universe, and entirely different cast, and it takes place on our earth, in our time.

Doesn't matter. It's been said, and I agree with it, that Galaxy Quest is the best Star Trek movie.

  • 5
    +1 for differentiating between TNG season 1 and the rest. TNG "with beard" is great, but the first season is much slower, visually less appealing and just didn't age very well. I don't think it is very convincing for those who aren't fans yet.
    – Junuxx
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 16:24
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    @Compro01: That things go differently in the new timeline doesn't make anything from TOS non-canon.
    – Junuxx
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 20:15
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    Oh boy, I was going to upvote, because this is a well written differentiated guideline, but then you went and ranked VOY after ENT and DSN --- and we can't have that floating to the top ;)
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 20:50
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    @bitmask: It'll never float over an accepted answer. And Enterprise/DS9 never featured lung-stealing aliens. Or anything even comparable to Neelix.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 20:51
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    Wait... Phlox wasn't Neelix?
    – Junuxx
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 21:08

I'd simply go in production order - it's how most of us did it growing up (although, I didn't see any of the animated series until well after TNG was airing. Then again, some people don't put TAS and Star Trek in the same breath).

Why? Well, the universe itself develops through the various series and movies (even the prequel series Enterprise adds more). It would be weird to watch a later episode or movie, and then watch an earlier produced episode which is set in a less developed universe, and may well contradict what you already know about the universe.

So, we have:

  • The Original Series - all seasons
  • The Animated Series (if you insist - this series isn't treated as canon)
  • Movie: The Motion Picture
  • Movie: Wrath of Khan
  • Movie: The Search for Spock
  • Movie: The Voyage Home
  • The Next Generation season 1 and 2
  • Movie: The Final Frontier
  • The Next Generation season 3 and 4
  • Movie: The Undiscovered Country
  • The Next Generation season 5 and 6
  • Deep Space Nine season 1
  • The Next Generation season 7
  • Deep Space Nine season 2
  • Movie: Generations
  • Deep Space Nine season 3
  • Voyager season 1
  • Deep Space Nine season 4
  • Voyager season 2
  • Movie: First Contact
  • Deep Space Nine season 5
  • Voyager season 3
  • Deep Space Nine season 6
  • Voyager season 4
  • Movie: Insurrection
  • Deep Space Nine season 7
  • Voyager season 5, 6, 7
  • Enterprise season 1
  • Movie: Nemesis
  • Enterprise season 2, 3, 4
  • Movie: Star Trek (reboot)
  • Movie: Into Darkness
  • +1 for effort (and for suggesting a logical viewing order)
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 12:51
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    thanks - it just seems to be the most sensible, especially as the universe unfolds throughout the series - I particularly like watching the introduction of the Cardassians and Bajorans in TNG and their subsequent development in DS9
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 12:54
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    I don't think anything would be missed by watching TNG in series, then DSN and then VOY, instead of alternating. DSN would be the most impacted by jumping between shows as it has a much more serial plot than TNG or VOY.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 13:16
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    My advice for any series of books, TV, movies, whatever is production order. Even when authors themselves suggest a different order, my experience is that production order is best. That said, TOS and TAS were produced when episodes were quite strongly designed to be stand-alone. (Few or no VCRs or other ways to watch other than catching them when broadcast.) So, skipping around tends to make little difference within and between those two series. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 20:36
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    @HorusKol I think this may be an age thing, but I certainly didn't watch them in that order. I watched TOS and TNG pretty much interleaved, and First Contact was the first movie I saw.
    – deworde
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 9:47

This is really a matter of taste.

If you're interested in understanding the history of Star Trek, the way Star Trek interacted with American culture and the times it was made in -- watch it all in original broadcast order. This can be looked up on the Internet.

Broadcast order is rather complicated.

  • The Original Series has a production order which is different from the broadcast order. It makes more internal sense, but gives less of a representation of how the "culture of the 60s" received the episodes.
  • The original pilot for The Original Series, "The Cage", wasn't broadcast until the 1980s. It's actually quite good. You might want to watch it first.
  • DS9 aired simultaneously with TNG and Voyager.
  • Star Trek V, Star Trek VI, and the TNG movies aired simultaneously with various series.
  • The widely available versions of Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek VI are NOT the original versions shown in theaters. If you're looking for the true "how the culture received it at the time" version, you would have to dig up the original versions of both of them, and in the case of Star Trek VI, there are no such copies anywhere on the Internet and the only video release was altered. In the case of The Motion Picture, most people think the director's cut is better, but it's not 100% period-authentic... the original version was released on videotape and can be found on the Internet if you research it.
  • There is a widely-available version of The Original Series with doctored-up modern special effects. Just avoid these and find the as-broadcast copies. The special effects are the least of the problems with The Original Series; the sexism, bigotry, imperialism, and casual genocide in The Original Series are actually easier to watch when the show's visuals are reminding you how dated it is.

If you're not as much of a historian and don't mind some "revisionism" in your Star Trek, you may want to try a simplified order:

  1. The Cage
  2. The Original Series (production order)
  3. The Animated Series (most people would skip this; it's got decent plots but very flat animation)
  4. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (director's cut)
  5. Star Trek II, III, and IV in that order (each starts where the last one ends)
  6. Star Trek V (most people would skip this because it's generally considered bad; it was actually made and released after TNG was running)
  7. Star Trek VI (this was actually made and released after TNG was running, and is really a sort of "prequel" to TNG explaining why The Klingon Empire Is Different in TNG than it was in TOS and the first four movies)
  8. Star Trek: The Next Generation
  9. The various "Next Gen movies", from Generations to Nemesis. These were actually overlapped with the broadcast of DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise, but it doesn't matter that much; there are a few references but they're vague and mostly irrelevant.
  10. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The first two seasons overlapped the last two seasons of Next Gen, and there is some subtle plot overlap, but it's not essential to interlace the episodes. The last five seasons overlapped the first five seasons of Voyager, but there is almost no overlap (there's one "easter egg" guest appearance from a Voyager character on DS9, but you can watch it without having watched Voyager).
  11. Star Trek: Voyager. Most people would skip this entirely, as it suffered from a lot of really terrible episodes -- especially from heavy use of the "reset button" where huge, traumatic things happened and it's all magically back to normal by the end of the episode. Another name for the "reset button" is "Voyager Syndrome".
  12. Enterprise.
  13. Abrams movies. If you liked the rest of Star Trek, you'll probably hate these. I would skip them. They have the offensiveness of The Original Series without the intelligence, and without the excuse of being 50 years old.

Now the thing is, trying to watch all of Star Trek is a pretty big project, the style varies wildly from series to series, and I don't believe you're going to be able to run through it all in one go. You will get bogged down in an entire season of episodes you don't like, sooner or later. When this happens, here's my recommendation.

Every series except DS9 and season 3 of Enterprise can be watched out of order. So can all the movies.

The Original Series: it can be groan-inducingly sexist. Kirk's character is written wildly inconsistently from episode to episode. The "Prime Directive" is introduced, then completely ignored as Kirk works to kill the last member of an endangered species (at least three times), overthrow the entire structure of a civilization (at least FIVE times), etc. When you get bogged down, ask someone for a list of the good episodes ("Devil in the Dark" is one which everyone loves, as is "The Trouble with Tribbles") and the important episodes (ones which later series refer to, like "Space Seed", "The Naked Time", "Amok Time", etc.) and skip episodes such as "Spock's Brain" and "Metamorphosis" which later shows tried their best to ignore entirely.

The Animated Series: no later series refers to it; if you get bogged down, skip to the movies.

The Original Series movies: They're short, just watch them all, but if you're impatient, watch II, III, IV, and VI. Nothing else ever refers to V, and I don't think anything refers to The Motion Picture.

TNG: you are unlikely to get bogged down -- this is the series with the most broad-based appeal -- but if you do get bogged down, first try jumping to the next season, then try skipping straight to DS9. In the unlikely event that you don't like the episodes of TNG, you won't like the TNG movies, they're mostly like average-quality episodes, and they have no important continuity.

Later seasons of TNG set up some stuff for both DS9 and Voyager, mostly related to Cardassians, the Maquis, and Bajor (some related to the Klingons), but DS9 explains most of it again, and Voyager explains most of what it needs. There are some DS9 references to TNG, and one to Voyager, but most of them are Easter Eggs, not essential.

DS9: if you're getting bogged down in season 1 or 2, keep going until you're partway through season 3. If you're really stuck, skip to the last episode of season 1, and if you get stuck again, skip to the last episode of season 2. DS9 takes a while to really get going, and I know a lot of people who were bored by seasons 1 or 2 and completely hooked by the middle of season 3.

DS9 is the most serialized of all the series, and really must be watched in order -- you get really serious payoffs for it. The series ends with a TEN-PART story, eight episodes ending with "to be continued" followed by a two-hour finale.

Voyager: Voyager is off on the other side of the galaxy from DS9, so there are very few references between the two. You will probably get bogged down in Voyager since so many episodes are so terrible. No subsequent series refers to anything which happens in Voyager, and even the TNG movies have only "easter egg" levels of references. If you get stuck, skip to Enterprise.

Enterprise: Enterprise is a prequel. Enterprise seasons 1 and 2 are really really slow-paced and mellow. I like them and I think they're worth pushing through. Season 3 is a large plot arc which got pretty bad reviews. If you get stuck in seasons 1,2, or 3, skip to season 4, and specifically skip to "Home" ("Storm Front" is resolving something from season 3).

Season 4 of Enterprise consists of several very thoughtful and intelligent multi-part stories which are rooted deeply in the 40-year history of Star Trek. If after watching lots of other Star Trek, you get stuck in season 4 of Enterprise, you are not a Star Trek fan. :-) Do not try to watch it before watching lots of other Star Trek.

Now, that said, this isn't the order I originally saw any of this in. My first Star Trek was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which I saw on original release in the theaters (very much a movie of its time, which was 1986), which I love dearly, and I have been perpetually disappointed by how different every other episode of every Star Trek is from it. But I still love DS9, and season 4 of Enterprise, and most of seasons 1 & 2 of Enterprise and most of TNG and the good episodes of TOS and TAS.

  • 6
    "Abrams movies. If you liked the rest of Star Trek, you'll probably hate these." Not true. Many people enjoy both, they just aren't as vocal about it.
    – Stephan B
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 14:02
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    Agreed with @Stephan with an example - I'm one of those people who likes both, but I always include the disclaimer that the Abrams movies are more like Star Wars with Trek names/places, than they are Star Trek, in the overall feel of the story being told.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 5, 2013 at 3:43
  • TAS does have visual references in ST IV and V; both show Caitians, tho' they don't get much screen time. References to Spock's Sehlat are made in TNG. Enterprise avoids overwriting TAS in its Vulcan arc. Catians get renamed in later expanded universe elements, but are usually well grounded in Lt. M'riss. What we don't see is another Edoan...
    – aramis
    Commented Jul 6, 2013 at 1:37

There are 3 possible starting-points, IMO.

  • The beginning of the Original Series. Proceed to The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, then Enterprise.

  • The beginning of Star TreK: The Next Generation. Proceed to Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, then the Original Series.

  • The beginning of Enterprise. Proceed to the first list, above.

The Original Series started everything, of course. You can watch everything in chronological order of release dates.

The Next Generation is essentially a fresh start. There are back-references that you will miss; but if you get hooked, you'll catch them on the second pass.

Star Trek: Enterprise, is the earliest series from the point-of-view of in-universe continuity. You may miss some details, such as the significance of certain events (like the Klingon's use of Human eugenics), but you'll pick up on these during the Original Series.

As for the movies, the Original Cast movies (1-6) can go between the Original series and the Next Generation. And the remaining Next Generation Cast movies (7-) can go anytime after The Next Generation series.

The rebooted movies, Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness, can be enjoyed anytime, and at any level of familiarity with the original continuity.

  • 2
    Sort of. The rebooted movies (especially Into Darkness) have an absurd number of callbacks to TOS and one of the TOS movies, so it's kind of like missing the references in TNG to TOS.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:14
  • 2
    True, but I think it isn't necessary to catch all the references merely to enjoy the films. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 22:41

There is no order for Star Trek as it depends much on your taste, and available time.

  • TOS is very dated. For an old timer like me, no other will replace it, but it has often less appeal to a younger generation. I do believe it was very influential intellectually on its generation, with an unusual set of values, that were later developed in some of the other series. It is really mostly a collection of rather unrelated stories.

  • TNG is very classical SciFi, with pretty good stories, well structured context. You cannot be wrong with it.

  • DS9 is imho the best and the most original series, with a number of very good episodes (and a small number of pretty bad ones), a very structured environment, a story with intertwinned themes covering the whole series and organizing it, and many and varied well developed characters, with original alien features. The anchoring on the DS9 station actually offers a stronger sense of perspective.

  • Voyager is more a collection of somewhat related episodes, pretty much like TNG. Though it has some very good parts, I think it did not develop sufficiently its identity.

  • Enterprise Takes place earlier than the others and is not always fully consistent. It could have been quite good, and sometimes is. It is more or less organized as a collection of substories of many episodes. But it was too obviously commercial in some aspects, including the ridiculous, almost embarassing, sexual role of the Vulcan officier T'Pol. It is the only unfinished series. (though Voyager seems to have been terminated rather abruptly)

  • Then there is TAS, The Animated Series, which I have not watched yet.

  • and of course the films, whenever you like. They do not take as long

Then, you should also watch Star Wreck, which is a satyre of both Star Trek and Babylon 5, available for free on the Internet (legally).

And I discovered on a Care Bear dvd, bought for my grandson, several episodes directly inspired by Star Treck TOS.

But I am pretty sure there is more. Not to mention all the commentaries on DVD

  • 2
    +1 props for DS9! Sisko has the largest story arc of any of the Captains, rising from Commander at the beginning to a demi-god at the end. DS9 also finally developed the Ferengi as a culture, who were supposed to be the new bad guys in TNG. ... There are some excellent moments in TAS, particularly episode 4, where Uhura takes command. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 22:45

Start by watching TNG starting from Series 3 or alternatively, the "Best of the Best" of TOS (see list below for my recommedations).

I'm also going to throw up what may be the most controversial opinion on this site, but one that I find pretty compelling.

The New Movies are better films than any other Star Trek film apart from Wrath of Kahn, which is itself very dependent on a love of TOS. There is nothing wrong with watching them first, and then delving back into the original lore.

So I'd recommend:

  • Film: Star Trek 2009
  • Film: Into Darkness
  • Series: Original 60's "Best of the Best" (for example:)

    • "Arena"
    • "A Taste of Armageddon"
    • "Space Seed"
    • "Errand of Mercy"
    • "The City on the Edge of Forever"
    • "Mirror, Mirror"
    • "The Trouble with Tribbles"
    • "I, Mudd"
    • "Journey to Babel"
  • Series: The Next Generation Seasons 3

After that, if you've got a taste for the show, you can kind of chart your own course. If you liked The Original Series, you can keep watching that, and move onto the films.

If you preferred The Next Generation, there are 6 other series to watch.

And if you find the whole thing a bit naive, then I cannot recommend DS9 highly enough, which starts to investigate the darker side of Trek, for example, what happens when principles meet war.

And finally, if you're looking for something a bit more cinematic, the new films are great, very much continuing a legacy that looked for a while in danger of disappearing up its own canon.

Justification for my views on the films:

I think there's a tendency to Rose-Coloured Spectacles the older series, partly because you mentally edit for the highlights.

As someone who's watched all the early Trek after first release (in the case of TOS, long after), it can be best described as "moments of genius".

But there's also a lot of truly dated stuff, especially in TOS, and in some cases some simply awful episodes.

Almost all Season 1 and most of Season 2 of TNG, for example, is a MESS. I sat and watched all of Season 1 over a few days, and remember thinking "Under any serious scrutiny, this would have been cancelled by Code of Honor". The show manages to build on this, but there are some serious teething troubles.

The new movies stand alone, and in my opinion, successfully blend the debates and thoughtfulness of TOS and TNG with action, which is what a film needs. A lot of the major fans loved the way that the show was very much about people in rooms talking about issues, and any deviation from that is considered "dumbing down".


I myself am currently attempting a chronological viewing order (http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/startrek/st-episodes-1.html). TOS is, as oft mentioned, a bit dated and although there is a lot of humour and some really good eps you may want to skip right to TNG.

DS9 is indeed an oddball, it plays out mostly on a station instead of a ship but it is the only Trek in which most characters were explored deeply, even some ancillaries like Quark and Dukat have become much rounder characters than ancillaries in any other show have. It's great if you like the drama element but must be viewed in chronological order starting from about halfway season 3.

Whether or not you do watch TOS I can really recommend the fan production Phase II (once named New Voyages). It's only got a few episodes and has a good overall quality. The sets have even been used in Enterprise. Another fan-production worth watching is Of Gods and Men.

There are, thus, two possible orders: - Production order (mostly) (TOS - Phase II - Movies 1 through 6 - Of Gods and Men -TNG (and movies 7-10)/DS9/VOY-ENT) - Chronological order (With Phase II directly after TOS and Of Gods and Men after the sixth movie)

One more thing, skip the fifth movie, it'll leave you disappointed for decades to come.


The question and its answers are even more complex than the other answers indicate.

Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) episodes are often considered to fictionally happen in one of three orders.

  1. Original broadcast order. NBC selected episodes to broadcast from those delivered so far by the production company, going by which episodes seemed beter for which airdates.

  2. Production order. The order in which the principal photography of scenes with the actors was completed. The production dates of TOS episodes are listed in Wikipedia articles and Memory Alpha, etc.

  3. Order of stardates in episodes. Of course not every episode had one or more stardates, so some rule to put those in order is neeeded.

And I could add:

  1. In order of seasons and then by order of stardates within seasons, since the stardates of episodes in different seasons overlapped slightly.

And maybe:

  1. order of episode number code, which may be different from number 2.

And These possible viewing orders also apply to the animated Star Trek (TAS), the TOS era movies, and the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).

But starting with the second season of Star trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and continuing with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), and Star Trek: Voyager (VOY), most episodes have the same production order, broadcast order and stardate (if any stardate is in the episode) order. Thus fans rarely have to choose between those different orders when choosing which order to view episodes of those series. It is possible the change between the first and the second seasons of TNG is related to a change in the stardate system used by Starfleet.

there are only a few problems with choosing which order to view the episodes within a series set in the TNG era.

But DS9 started to be produced and broadcast before TNG ended, and VOY began to be produced and broadcast before DS9 ended. So during eras when two of those shows were being made and broadcast at the same time, a fan who wants to watch that two will have to decide whether to finish one series before starting the next, or to switch between episodes of different shows by broadcast, production, or stardate, order.

Four TNG movies were also made during that time, taking place while DS9 and VOY were happening. Someone could watch the four tNG movies after TNG and before DS9 and VOY, or mix them in with the later shows according to various possible orders.

The next series to be produced, Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT), was set about a century before TOS and stardates were not yet used. Thus the three main orders that ENT episodes could be viewed in are:

  1. Original broadcast order.

  2. Production order. The order in which the principal photography of scenes with the actors was completed.

  3. Earth date order, for those episodes whose Earth dates are mentioned. Some other rule would be necessary to put the other episodes, with no Earth dates mentioned, in their proper order.

The next Star Trek productions were three movies, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and Star Trek Beyond (2016). Those movies happen in an alternate universe caused by time travel to the time of Kirk's birth and should happen before TOS starts.

I may note that the official chronology is not canon, and thus could be, and in my opinion is, inaccurate. On Earth there are many different calendar eras used to count the years from. There are tens or hundreds of years mentioned as mere numbers in various productions, but as far as I known only about half a dozen are explictly Anno Domini dates. And I have found examples when dates would have to be given using different calendar eras to be consistent with each other. Since the official chronology assumes that each and every date uses the Anno Domini calendar era, the official chronology must be wrong.



Of the current Star Trek productions, the Discovery series is highly serialized, each episode following the perviously episode in fictional order, and telling a story in each season. The first two seasons were about 10 years before TOS, and at the end of the second season the Discovery and its crew jumped many centuries into the future, the setting of the third season.

So Discovery could be watched as a whole, at either the time the first two seasons are set in, or at the far future time of the third season. Or the first two seasons could be watched between ENT and TOS, and the third season could be watched later than all of the other shows and movies produced so far.

Picard is set about 30 years after TNG, and also has a serialized timeline.

Short Treks is an anthology series, set at many different fictional eras. So someone could watch all the episodes at one time, despite the different eras they are set in, or try to look up the fictional eras of each episode and watch it in the proper chronological order.

I note that one episode that I saw, "Ephraim and Dot", was set over a period of decades during TOS and the TOS movies, and that events from TOS episodes are depicted in a much different order in "Ephraim and Dot" than in any usual viewing order for TOS episodes.

Another episode, "Children of Mars", should be a prequel to Picard.

In "The Girl Who Made the Stars", the frame story should be a couple of decades before the first season of Discovery, and the main story is a legend set in a prehistoric era

Lower Decks is set about 16 years after the first season of TNG and so should be after VOY and before Picard.

The future series Prodigy will have Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Voyager as as a character, but I don't know whether it will happen before, during, or after Voyager.

The future series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will happen on the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, about a decade before TOS, and thus about the same time as the first two seasons of Discovery.

Another way to watch star Trek shows and movies would be in the order that they were made, and broadcast or released. This article gives a list of the various shows and movies:


  • +1 for the simple fact that this is the only answer that says anything about the TV shows that come after Enterprise. Of course, I believe it's the only answer written after it, too. I'm nearing the end of VOY (having given up on TOS, then watched all of TNG and DS9 in broadcast order). Sounds like ENT is next, then I think I'll just watch the rest in release order. Makes as much sense as anything else.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 17:17

For modern viewers who don't want to watch TOS, here's a shortcut...

Start with TOS - "Space Seed" Then Watch The Wrath of Khan.

After that, you're done with the original series - go straight to TNG and enjoy from there on in production order.


Here's a good amount of stories to get a coherent idea about what Star Trek is about, in order watch:

  • "Where no man has gone before" (the real first episode)
  • "The naked time" (it has a sequel in The Next Generation)
  • "The enemy within" (it's been parodied)
  • "Balance of terror" (introduces Romulans in a classic submarine style thriller)
  • "Day of the Dove" (good introduction to Klingons)
  • "Arena" (it's been referenced in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, among others)
  • "Space Seed" (Star Trek II is a sequel)
  • "City on the edge of forever" (award winning time travel drama)
  • "Amok Time" (explains Vulcan mating habits)
  • "Mirror mirror" (the alternate "evil" universe. You've seen it referenced)
  • "Trouble with tribbles" (funniest episode ever)
  • Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (Star Trek the Motion Picture is unnecessary)
  • Star Trek III The Search for Spock (Direct sequel to II)
  • Star Trek IV (funny and accessible)
  • Star Trek the Next Generation: Encounter at Farpoint (the pilot)
  • "Q Who" (introduction of the Borg)
  • "Best of Both Worlds" (most consequential confrontation with the Borg)

It depends which characters from TOS and TNG you want to see more of after that.

I'd recommend the movies Generations and First Contact next. Then, watch the pilots of Deep Space Nine ("Emissary"), Voyager ("Caretaker"), and Enterprise ("Broken Bow") to see if they interest you. Or watch the JJ Abrams movies if you've grown to love the Original Series crew but wouldn't mind new actors playing them.

  • 1
    Your answer could do with some line breaks...
    – Kidburla
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 18:50

well, I have my own ordered list of star trek series which is pretty simple...

  • Star Trek TNG
  • Star Trek DS9
  • Star Trek Enterprise
  • Star Trek Voyager

This is not related to anything like order of filming, stardates or anything. It's just my personal preference, based on what I've already seen (about 85% of all series).

  • 4
    So this is how much you like each series, but can you explain why the OP should watch it in this order, like the other answers do?
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 19:59
  • it's not in the order of how much I like them Izkata, it's just my order of viewing so things are more chronological or events are so, and also the way technologies are unveiled etc... Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 12:59
  1. Original Series
  2. Movies: 1-6
  3. TNG
  4. Movie: 7
  5. Movie: 8-10
  6. Star Trek 2009 and into darkness
  7. Deep space nine
  8. Voyager( the only ST TV show that wasn't good)
  • Please explain why this order is correct. Also some line breaks would be helpful...
    – Kidburla
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 18:51

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