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I haven't seen any of the stuff in the Star Trek franchise, except for one of the movies, and now I want to remedy the situation. I am not interested in the movies, just the TV series. However, since the show has many seasons, I am not interested in watching the show start to finish. So, where (i.e what series/season) should I start with? Do I really need to see the series in real-world chronological order?

Note: I am somewhat familiar with Star Trek, that is I know the basic premise - ships in space, with war between different space-faring sentient species.

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    @Thomas:All of the tv series. I understand there are six or seven. – apoorv020 Jun 26 '11 at 17:54
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    I would disagree about the basic premise. If you are "just" interested in ships, and war between species you may be disappointed. – Sinan Jun 26 '11 at 23:43
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    Agree with @Sinan. You've got the basic premise wrong and if you go in with that assumption, you'll be disappointed. The Star Trek genre is about the human condition. If you go in thinking it's just humans fighting against aliens, you'll miss the whole point. If you watch enough of it and find you want to watch every episode from every series (skip Enterprise), then you're probably getting what it's really about. If not, you're missing out. – BBlake Jun 27 '11 at 11:58
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    Star Trek is by no means about inter-species war. I know there are already comments alluding to this, but it cannot be stressed enough. – bitmask Aug 1 '12 at 19:42
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    If you want a long running series with that premise, go for "Babylon 5". But there's lots of talking and politics in there too – Binary Worrier Nov 27 '13 at 13:30

15 Answers 15

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Star Trek TNG is the best one to start with IMHO. It is Gene Roddenberry's true original. It contains strong story lines. It is fairly modern looking, as opposed to The Original Series. It has a very good cast.

The second should be DS9. It is a little different than TNG, but a good series. Beginning with Voyager quality drops a little, although there are occasional good episodes. They are not on the same level with TNG. Still fair but not as good as TNG.

Also if you like TNG I am fairly positive that you will also like TOS. Yes it is old. Yes it is cheesy. But it is from a time when stories were more important than special effects.

Live long and prosper.

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    +1 TNG > DS9 > ToS > Voyager > Enterprise (where > means greater than and viewing order) – Doug T. Jun 27 '11 at 0:49
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    @Doug: Story wise, your order doesn't make sense. Why would you watch DS9 then go to TOS? Technically DS9 and Voyager could be watched at the same time. – OghmaOsiris Jun 27 '11 at 0:56
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    @OghmaOsiris, Simply put, I don't think that the best viewing order is to watch the series in production or chronological order but rather in order of quality. – Doug T. Jun 27 '11 at 1:56
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    @apoorv020 If you think the 2005 Dr. Who is cheesy, its a good thing you didn't start with the earlier Dr. Who series! :) – Beofett Jun 27 '11 at 12:17
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    @zipquincy With TNG, Rodenberry had greater creative freedom -- the atheist, San Fransisco-socialist, progressive Federation is closer to his original vision than the America in SPACE Federation of the original series. IIRC. – evilsoup Nov 27 '13 at 16:02
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I say start with Star Trek The Next Generation. It's a much more modern show than The Original Series was, so it's easier to get into. While doing so, research the history of Kirk and Spock.

Then, just watch the shows in order of creation:

  • TNG
  • Deep Space 9
  • Voyager
  • Enterprise (if you absolutely have to...)

but if you're going to watch Enterprise, I'd just watch the original series...

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    @Oghma:Any particular rationale for starting from tng? – apoorv020 Jun 26 '11 at 18:18
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    It's more modern, and from my point of view more enjoyable than The Original Series. Since the question was about only the tv series and not the movies, after TOS, it only helpful to know just general histories of Spock and Kirk which can be read on Wikipedia. – OghmaOsiris Jun 26 '11 at 18:21
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    I'd only revise this with skip Voyager, watch Enterprise. As you can see, opinions differ.. :) – Saiboogu Jun 26 '11 at 21:54
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    Lol, my fav Star Trek is Voyager. – OghmaOsiris Jun 26 '11 at 21:56
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    Don't entirely skip Enterprise - but you might want to skip the 3rd season :) Oh, and the last episode. If you treat the next-to-last episode as the final Enterprise episode, you'll probably feel much better :) – David Jun 27 '11 at 13:49
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If you are looking for nBSG-esque continuing drama, then you need to start with the only one that has it: DS9.

Otherwise, start with the retouched original series, skip season 3, and work chronologically in timeline: TOS movies (I-VI), TNG, TNG movies (VII-IX), DS9, Voyager. Skip Enterprise; it's good, but it feels like a reboot universe of its own that failed.

7

Start with the original series (ToS), and watch in publication order, excepting the animated series. This is also (excluding time travel stories) chronological order, except for Enterprise.

You should include the movies (except perhaps the first, The Motion Picture, and the reboot, Star Trek (2009)). The movies are really just 'feature length' episodes, and you will want to have seen them to understand what has happened in the overall storyline. Some of the movies, particularly the TNG ones, are weak, but so are some episodes, and I'd still recommend watching all of those.

I recently watched all of the series (ToS, TAS, TNG, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies) in this order. It took a while, but it was worth it, and I understood more of the context when earlier events were referred to. (In my case, I had watched much of TNG, some episodes of ToS and DS9, and a season of Enterprise, previously, but I don't think that had a significant effect on my enjoyment of this order).

The original series is clearly dated in terms of effects (it was produced in the late 60s), but there are some very good episodes, and it sets up the universe, especially the significant events between current day and then. There are only 80 episodes (79 if you skip the original pilot, The Cage, which is substantially different) and 6 films, so it doesn't take long to get through these and into TNG.

It's worth starting The Next Generation from the first episode, as the first season sets up characters and relationships referred to throughout the series. There are 7 seasons (the last two are concurrent with the start of DS9), so you may not get through all of these, since you're not interested in watching everything. However, if you do end up sufficiently captivated by the universe, then you'll be in a good place to continue - many of the relationships and conflicts in DS9 and Voyager are originally set up in TNG.

Enterprise has mixed reviews (I personally felt that some parts were very good) - since it's a prequel, it's also the easiest to skip. Placing this last in viewing order means that you don't miss anything significant if you're tired of Star Trek by the time you get here, but can continue in a satisfactory order if you're not.

If you get to the end of season five of TNG and aren't yet decided whether you want to put much more time into the universe, then I'd suggest continuing with TNG and then Voyager, and skipping DS9 (potentially returning to it later). After the earliest episodes of Voyager, the DS9 history isn't particularly important, since it takes place far away, and Voyager is a stronger show in terms of "ships in space" (also in general, IMO).

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    This may be the first time I've heard anyone seriously say that Voyager is a stronger show than any other Star Trek (excepting Enterprise, and then it's contentious). I agree, however, that it's closer thematically to TNG in terms of setting (at least compared to early DS9) – Jeff Jun 28 '11 at 2:16
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    the DS9 history isn't particularly important, since it takes place far away - I think you have that a bit mixed up. DS9 takes place right about on the border of Federation space, and pulls in tons of history of the region. – Izkata Jan 6 '13 at 18:59
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    @Izkata: As I understand the context, what happens in DS9 is far away from the Voyager and therefore not important to know if you follow that series (as suggested in the previous series). – chirlu Nov 2 '15 at 9:28
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I made a map that highlights the recommended episode order of Star Trek, showing which episode/s you must see before watching any given one.

Star Trek Episodes map

Please note that this is a work-in-progress and remains incomplete

Edit: You may find newer versions on wayback machine.

  • Interesting stuff and looks like you put in a lot of work. Just out of interest, why have you got "the Price" ahead of "False Profits"? Shouldn't it be the other way around? – Valorum Mar 28 '16 at 11:02
  • @Richard the Ferengis move over the Barzan warmhole in episode The Price. Later on, Voyager finds them in Gamma quadrant in episode False Profits. – bandie Apr 18 '16 at 6:17
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Watching it in the order it aired is a good idea.

http://startreklist.blogspot.com/2011/04/list-of-all-star-trek-episodes-sorted_05.html

But, if you plan on watching the episodes through a second time when you are finished, I have a different idea.

On your first time through, when you go to watch and it is a monday (Or any day really) skip the episode you would normally watch and watch the next one instead. This way, on your second time through, you will be surprised by episodes you haven't seen.

Episodes not to skip:

Original Series

Mudd's Women

The Menagerie

Space Seed

I, Mudd

The Trouble with Tribbles

The Next Generation

Encounter at Farpoint

Hide and Q

Q Who

Deja Q

Qpid

True Q

Tapestry

All Good Things

Sins of the Father

Reunion

The Mind's Eye

Redemption

Yesterdays Enterprise

The Minds Eye

Redemption

Unification

Where No One has Gone Before

Remember Me

Journey's End

Datalore

Silicon Avatar

Coming of Age

Conspiracy

Elementary, Dear Data

Ship in a Bottle

The Price

Deep Space 9 Don't skip any, it is slightly more serialized, esp. in later seasons. DO NOT skip seasons 1+2 no matter what you are told

Voyager

State of Flux

Maneuvers

Alliances

Lifesigns

Investigations

Basics

Worst Case Scenario

Shattered

Death Wish

The Q and the Grey

Q2

Message in a Bottle

False Profits

Preemptive Strike

Hunters

Prey

The Killing Game

Flesh and Blood

Pathfinder

Life Line

Inside Man

Author, Author

Enterprise:

There are a lot of story arcs spread throughout the entire series, don't skip any

  • My favorite, ultimately, was Enterprise. I think it was because of the long arcs. – Jerry Nixon Dec 2 '15 at 22:54
  • Definitely need to add Best of Both Worlds (parts 1&2) under TNG as this truly establishes in detail how the Borg operates, hierarchical structure, etc as the basis for a major new species (the Borg) that shows up repeatedly across tv series and movies. – iMerchant Oct 20 '16 at 17:51
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I recommend going chronologically. Start with Enterprise (I know a lot of fans dislike it, but for people just starting out it is quite palatable with interesting story arcs, specifically the xindi arc in s03). Then TOS, it's fun, old, classic and has no strings attached, you don't need to follow closely as there is no consistent arcs. TAS if you're interested is pretty much the same as TOS, just in poor animation, worth one viewing though. Then movies 1-6 (7 could be put here but is better later). TNG is now where it starts to pay off. After watching all, do the TNG movies. Voyager to round the bend, closing out with DS9 (i say Voyager first because by the time you've finished everything you'll be such a fan DS9 wont seem so far out, otherwise they are exchangeable).

1

When I was introduced to Star Trek first, I watched the entire TNG (The Next Generation) series. The Original Series would be next, as it is the basis around all the Star Trek series. Try to watch all the episodes, despite the cheesy camera effects. Deep Space Nine is pretty good, watch most of the episodes. Voyager had a slight drop in quality, but still pretty decent. Enterprise is the prequel series. Try watching it, as you will understand many other things from watching it. Enterprise has 2-3 episode story arcs, which I find attractive. Skip the animated series. Seriously. The order I would watch Star Trek is..

  1. TNG
  2. TOS
  3. DS9
  4. VOY
  5. ENT

Hope you enjoy!

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I think it's a very good question although the answer is simple, it does not matter. With the exception of this latest movie ("Into Darkness...") and the few multi-part episodes on TV you can pick-up or follow the story line with no problem. The web site Hulu.com is a great resource for viewing all the TV episodes for TOS, TNG, Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise... I just wish we had something on TV or the big screen today (2013) of the quality, imagination, guts and worthy of the respect and admiration I feel for most these past works.

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    DS9 has a fair amount of continuity, especially in later seasons, as does ENT Season 3 - those would have some missing information if you just jumped in – Izkata Nov 27 '13 at 4:05
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I'd actually pick somewhere round the middle of TNG.

Star Trek is very episodic so it doesn't really matter if you haven't seen any of the other episodes. The only exception to this is the last two seasons of DS9.

TNG was pretty solid once it got into it, but the early episodes felt like the writers were still developing the characters (and there was a writers strike that meant we had way too many Wesley episodes).

If you want a more specific recommendation, Season 2 episode 16 "Q Who" introduces the Borg, but if you do that, skip Shades of Grey (a terrible clip show episode)

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I would suggest you to Start with the Star Trek MOVIES: Star Trek 1-6.

They are well made, tell a good, connected story and you get all the background information about what happens before TNG. The Klingon War, Spock, Kirk, etc. You do not need to see TOS (The Original Series) exceept if you like them.

After that go for TNG. There is no particular order you have to watch TNG episodes in my opinion, as long as you feel comfortable about some characters are not there all the time (Tasha Jar, Crusher Family) - except that, no character does not change that much and no story part is changing that much. The BORG are introduced in Season 2 and from that are an occasional enemy found in the TNG universe - especially the movies.

Season 1 of TNG is a bit low on quality in my opinion, but it gets better very fast.

Star Trek Movies 1-6 -> TNG -> Movies 6-10(+) -> DS9 -> VOY

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    The asker specifically asks to exclude the movies. – Null Sep 30 '15 at 1:26
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Well, if you want it in chronological order, I would would watch it in this order:

1) Enterprise
2) The Original Series
3) The Next Generation
4) Deep Space Nine
5) Voyager

But if you want the order I would watch it in, it would be this:

1) The Original Series
2) The Next Generation
3) Deep Space Nine
4) Voyager
5) All the others

  • And the animated series? – Meat Trademark Jan 18 '14 at 5:18
  • @MeatTrademark they should be between TOS and TNG, especially between TOS and "Star Trek: Motion Picture" – madfriend Apr 1 '14 at 21:53
  • I was suggesting to only watch the animated series. It's regarded the best by most fans and critics. – Meat Trademark Apr 1 '14 at 23:46
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If you hadn't said you didn't want to go from start to finish I would have said to watch everything in the order it was published. I think it's interesting for someone who has seen all (or most) of a universe's works to go back and watch in chronological order, but if you want to duplicate the feeling most people would have about it, you have to watch it in that order (publication order also decreases the chance you'll miss a reference that is out-of-sequence chronologically). I don't think I'm explaining what I mean very well, but maybe someone can comment and rephrase it for me.

That being said, I would recommend you start with TNG season 3. If you really get into it, go back and watch seasons 1 and 2 and then continue with seasons 4 - 7. If you REALLY get into it and change your mind about not watching everything from start to finish, go back and watch everything in publication order, including the movies (caveat: if you're not an OCD completist like me, skip the original cast movies 1 and 5 - they're just terrible in my opinion, and add nothing to the series).

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There is a lot of Star Trek to get through and while a lot of it is great, there is a lot of crud in there too. Where to start and which to watch really comes down to how much you want to take on. Each series has a unique componant so to leave one out means you are missing something but some weigh more than others in terms of "required" information as regards the universe as a whole. I think you should examine each series individually and then pick and choose the ones that seem the most important/interesting/relevant.

If you want to get into the franchise as a whole then all of the series add something to the universe, the main differences are the characters and the focus of the storytelling. For action choose DS9 or ENT, for exploration of space and fun technology choose TNG or VOY and for a fun romp through the galaxy with a cowboy and his trusted robot alien friend on a magic spaceship choose TOS. For the condensed version, skipping the crud and including all the important information I would suggest a few episodes of TOS would be sufficient followed by the majority of TNG. After that for "more Star Trek" go for VOY or for the "extended cut" of TNGs final seasons go for DS9. ENT is more about filling in the holes between now and the technology of TOS, if the historical aspect is removed it becomes an extremely generaic action/drama show. I can't speak for the animated series as I have only seen bits of it so I dont feel qualified to judge.

0

What you should watch should be based on what you care about...

TOS is rather cheesy and hard to get through but have some really good things in them. If there are episodes that are recommended they aren't serial so you can watch them as one offs. Also ToS is a funny type of "canon" with regards to the rest of ST. It should be regarded mostly as tails told by an aged Kirk about his adventures when he was young and you know how older people get when talking about their youth, forgetful and they exagerate and make things up to make things sound better or worse as befitting the story. That's TOS in a nutshell with regards to canon.

TAS is the same as TOS...

TNG, if you can stomach it, watch the entire series as it's the basis of all the others. The first few seasons are slow, but a lot of the small elements in those first episodes add depth later on in the series. You can mostly watch TNG in any order up to season 5, but it's best to watch it in order.

After Season 5 of TNG you have a choice. Do you want to watch a serial and have time to? If the answer is no then skip DS9. If yes then we have to ask another question. Do you care to always be in the know of what's happening in either series? If yes then you should switch back and forther between TNG and DS9. They overlap several times and some things in one influence the other. If you don't mind not knowing then just finish watching TNG and then start DS9

If you watch DS9, you have to watch the whole thing. You can skip up to Season 5 of TNG and watch DS9 alone (with a few TNG episodes...there are guides)

Voyager and Enterprise can be watched without watching the other series, but DS9 gives context to Voyager's opening.

Voyager is largely episodic so you can skip large portions of it and just watch the main story episodes or vice verca. You'd have to find a guide for it, but it can be done. Also because of the way it was written you'll find most of the first 3 seasons are skippable and you'll lose very little because due to character choices the cast of characters couldn't grow until 7of9 joins the cast.

Enterprise is the reverse of Voyager, and has problems because it has a lot of Time travel involved. If you want mostly serial and a bit of episodic this is what you want. It also is only 4 seasons and if you watch it first you'll have a lot easier time accepting a lot of what it's saying.

So what to watch first... my recomendations is either TNG or ENT if you're doing it to get into Star Trek and watch all of it. If you are looking for a good Serial show, watch DS9 first and maybe you'll feel like watching the rest when you're done. Start with Voyager is you want elements from each other the various series that they are notable for. TNG covers philosophy more, ENT is more like the wild west. DS9 talks of religion and war. TOS is more metaphorically the frontier between Ent and TNG. Voyager has each of those elements discussed in it, but the way they got that, makes it largely a separate entity from the rest of ST.

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