Part 7 of Playboy.com’s exhaustive — and exhausting — ranking of every Star Trek episode ever made. The final countdown.
100) “Equinox,” Voyager, Season 5-6
Surprise, another Federation ship is in the region. Only this one is a little more hardcore about getting home by any means necessary — including sucking the lifeforce from some sorry slug aliens. Janeway eventually has to stand for righteousness, which gets hairy.
99) “Azati Prime,” Enterprise, Season 3
Just when we get within firing range of the Xindi superweapon, Crewman Daniels arrives from eight centuries hence to yank Captain Archer away and introduce him to the real bad guys. You’d be throwing stuff at the TV in frustration if it weren’t for that glimpse at the Enterprise-J (!!!).
98) “Workforce,” Voyager, Season 7
The bulk of the crew have been brainwashed into thinking they are industrial worker ants in a Metropolis-like scenario. Chakotay and others must try and save Janeway and the gang, but with no knowledge of their other life, is it right to save them?
97) “The Offspring,” The Next Generation, Season 3
Data has a daughter. On paper a typical “don’t mess with the Creator’s plans” episode, but surprisingly touching.
96) “Homestead,” Voyager, Season 7
95) “Tacking Into The Wind,” Deep Space Nine, Season 7
Worf! Worf! Worf! Worf! The Mighty Son of Mogh defeats Gowron, then hands Martok the Chancellory.
94) “In Purgatory’s Shadow,” Deep Space Nine, Season 5
One head-exploding WTF revelation after another. Martok’s still alive, Tain is Garak’s father, Bashir has been replaced by a Founder! The list goes on.
93) “The Dogs of War,” Deep Space Nine, Season 7
Damar will fight, but do Garak and Kira trust him? All hell breaks out as the Dominion War comes to a close. Also: Grand Nagus Rom?!
92) “The Immunity Syndrome,” The Original Series, Season 2
What if, like, all of space is just a huge body, and we’re cells, and the ship is an antibody, and “zones of darkness” (they didn’t say black hole then) was disease and … where was I?
91) “Unification,” The Next Generation, Season 5
90) “Unimatrix Zero,” Voyager, Season 6-7
A few Borg drones create a section of cyberspace in which they roam free of technology. Janeway sees this as her chance to start a rebellion. She sends in Seven of Nine but there are emotional complications. Exciting and weird.
89) “The Expanse,” Enterprise, Season 2
Less than two years after 9/11 the producers of Enterprise decided, wisely, to try and make sense of what the country was going through with an ongoing storyline. Gone was the Temporal Cold War (basically) and it was time to make the preemptive strike against the Xindi.
88) “Stratagem,” Enterprise, Season 3
Stone cold Archer goes full psy-ops against Degra to find out more about the Xindi superweapon. Best, he is placed back with no memory, in case he’s needed again. Gene Roddenberry would have a heart attack, but tough times call for tough measures.
87) “Rascals,” The Next Generation, Season 6
Remember when Picard didn’t like kids? Well now, thanks to some crazy space thing, he (and Guinan and Ro and Keiko) have become kids! There’s a minute when they jump on the bed and this episode is hilarious.
86) “The Infinite Vulcan,” The Animated Series, Season 1
Ten foot tall Spock.
85) “The Enterprise Incident,” The Original Series, Season 3
Kirk and Spock use subterfuge go get more info about the Romulan cloaking device. Tricky espionage stuff that keeps you guessing — plus Kirk with the pointy ears this time.
*84) “Sins of the Father,” *The Next Generation, Season 3 Worf is excommunicated from the Empire. Picard has his back. This was the first episode in a long, long character arc that eventually led to the mighty Son of Mogh becoming the heart and soul of all of Star Trek. If you disagree with me, you are a p'tak!
83) “Endgame,” Voyager, Season 7
82) “Distant Origin,” Voyager, Season 3
Told from the POV of the alien of the week (an insectoid Voth) the Voyager crew is seen as his scientific quarry, needed to prove the theory of his planet’s evolution. Nifty mind-expanding stuff.
81) “Errand of Mercy,” The Original Series, Season 1
The Enterprise versus the Klingons on Organia in peak Cold War form. Ultimately, the Space UN puts a freeze on them (by making their weapons hot) but as the tension increases there’s some really sharp writing and great performances. Shatner give a few weary sighs that are priceless.
80) “Operation — Annihilate!” The Original Series, Season 1
Neural parasites flapping around the Deneva Colony and stinging folks to death! Great use of outdoor sets and wonderful scenes of Spock the martyr. For future reference: Vulcans have an inner eyelid.
79) “Message in a Bottle,” Voyager, Season 4
There’s a fleeting opportunity to zip the Doctor to a Federation ship via a communications array. He gets there and — oh no! — the ship is overrun by Romulans. He and the new Emergency Medical Hologram (Andy Dick!?) have to save the day.
78) “Timeless,” Voyager, Season 5
A slipstream gets Harry and Chakotay home, but accidentally kills the rest of the crew. Fifteen years later guilt forces them to try and “correct” the timeline. Oh, if it were that easy!
77) “Far Beyond The Stars,” Deep Space Nine, Season 6
76) “The Counter-Clock Incident,” The Animated Series, Season 2
We had rapid aging, well this is reverse aging. So, Enterprise babies. Aw, cmon, don’t act like you don’t love it!
75) “The Council,” Enterprise, Season 3
A total nail-biter as the Spheres reveal themselves to be part of the Xindi plan and Degra falls to the Reptilians. Diplomacy and espionage run simultaneously as Archer and crew try to save Earth!
74) “Necessary Evil,” Deep Space Nine, Season 2
Backstory into Kira and Odo’s first meetup on Terok Nor during the Cardassian Occupation. A great look into their characters, especially when compared to what they’d become.
73) “Conundrum,” The Next Generation, Season 5
What happens when everyone gets amnesia? Worf takes command and Riker and Ensign Ro hop in the sack. I wish this episode would never end.
72) “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” The Original Series, Season 1
A pilot from “today” ends up aboard so Kirk and the gang have to very meticulously retrace their steps and put everything back where they found it. Some nice comedy bits in here, and some space age optimism, too.
71) “Inquisition,” Deep Space Nine, Season 6
Gene Roddenberry’s vision takes another kick to the gut as we meet Section 31. It’s all so horrible, but we want them on that wall, we need them on that wall.
70) “A Time To Stand,” Deep Space Nine, Season 6
The Dominion War is not going well for the Federation. Sisko takes a daring mission — to knock out the Ketracel-White supply. Meanwhile, Weyoun bosses Dukat around to remove the minefield from the wormhole. Nothing is easy!
69) “How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth,” The Animated Series, Season 2
This one is completely insane. And bright. All of Earth’s early cultures share the same style of mythical beast so, naturally, this winged serpent is really a visitor from outer space. Keep an eye open for Ensign Walking Bear, who makes his only appearance here.
68) “A Piece of the Action,” The Original Series, Season 2
67) “Call To Arms,” Deep Space Nine, Season 5
War comes home, and the station is left damaged and near-deserted with the end of the fifth season. Weyoun (boo!) and Dukat (double-boo!) have won this round. But at what cost?
66) “Course: Oblivion,” Voyager, Season 5
Those Class Y “copies” from the episode “Demon” have now taken to the heavens, and we get a chance to see slightly skewed versions our characters in extreme (and ultimately fatal) situations. A very unique spin on the alternate-reality scenario.
65) “Soldiers of the Empire,” Deep Space Nine, Season 5
Worf brings honor back to the House of Martok. The crew singing Klingon battle songs is the greatest thing ever.
64) “The Lower Decks,” The Next Generation, Season 7
So what’s the deal with all those extra people you see walking around the Enterprise? This is their story.
63) “Conspiracy,” The Next Generation, Season 1
Neural parasites, exploding brains, paranoia and mistrust. A major win for TNG’s first season.
62) “Ensign Ro,” The Next Generation, Season 5
A slow launch to the eventual chief conflict of Deep Space Nine. Michelle Forbes is fantastic as the freedom fighter/terrorist Bajoran that almost fits into Picard’s world.
61) “Family,” The Next Generation, Season 4
60) “Face of the Enemy,” The Next Generation, Season 6
Troi goes undercover as a Romulan. Nice call backs to Spock and his continuing mission.
*59) “The Squire of Gothos,” *The Original Series, Season 1 Foreshadowing Q, Trelane, a nuisance omnipotent being, benignly tortures the crew. Twist at the end shows that he’s just a kid, or maybe I’m confusing this with the Futurama episode.
58) “Awakening,” Enterprise, Season 4
Surak’s katra has entered Archer, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the entire Vulcan High Council and Vulcan High Command!
57) “The Chase,” The Next Generation, Season 6
Imagine Chariots of the Gods? meets It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
56) “Child’s Play,” Voyager, Season 6
A rescued Borg child is brought back to his agrarian parents. But unbeknownst to him he’s actually hosting a secret and dangerous Borg virus. How will Janeway deal with this one?
55) “The Doomsday Machine,” The Original Series, Season 2
A rock solid adventure with a ticking clock and a mad captain. And a giant hollowed-out log floating around in space killin’ planets.
54) “In The Pale Moonlight,” Deep Space Nine, Season 6
53) “United,” Enterprise, Season 4
Jonathan Archer, noble Terran, has convinced the Vulcans, Tellarites and Andorians to all shake hands and join together in the face of a common enemy, the Romulans. Shran should have just said “And my axe!” Excuse me, I have something in my eye…
52) “Counterpoint,” Voyager, Season 5
Voyager smuggles telepaths (including Tuvok!) past the noses of the Devore, a race that really really hates telepaths. This affords Kate Mulgrew some of her more triumphant scenes, proving she can be just as righteous as Picard.
51) “Space Seed,” The Original Series, Season 1
50) “The Galileo Seven,” The Original Series, Season 1
Spock, Bones and a few others are marooned on a planet. Spock’s hard logic methods cause friction with the crew. In the end, he learns that sometimes an emotional response gets the job done.
49) “Improbable Causes,” Deep Space Nine, Season 3
Ain’t no backstory like Garak’s backstory!
48) “The First Duty,” The Next Generation, Season 5
Wesley is back and just in time for Picard to browbeat him with one of the greatest speeches in all of Trek. “You don’t deserve to wear that uniform!”
47) “Rightful Heir,” The Next Generation, Season 6
Cloning the spiritual leader of Klingon from a shroud? Maybe not ethical, but certainly exciting.
46) “What You Leave Behind,” Deep Space Nine, Season 7
Improbably, the conclusion to Deep Space Nine feels complete. Even with a billion characters and a religion/mythology that was never easy to comprehend. The last shot of Kira and Jake staring out the Promenade window toward the Wormhole (or is it the Celestial Temple?) is just about perfect.
45) “Past Tense,” Deep Space Nine, Season 3
The past is indeed tense, as the year 2024 features Children of Men-style crime ghettos. Sisko is there, mistaken for Gabriel Bell, a social justice crusader. Dax is also trapped back in time, in a luxury high rise with a quality proto-future desktop computer.
44) “The Way of the Warrior,” Deep Space Nine, Season 4
What an entrance! Worf arrives on Deep Space Nine just as the Klingon-Federation alliance crumbles. Has Gowron lost his mind? Has Martok? Someone please bring reason to the Empire. And let that someone be Worf!
43) “The Menagerie,” The Original Series, Season 1
Spock is flat-out disobeying orders. Or is he still loyal to his former captain, Captain Pike, who is in the world’s worst wheelchair. This two-parter digs up “record tapes” that seem to have a POV of just about everything. These files couldn’t possibly be reels of footage from the original, unaired pilot, would they? It would explain why Spock looks and acts differently, but let’s not fret about that.
42) “The Magicks of Megas-tu,” The Animated Series, Season 1
Completely insane. The most tripped-out episode in the whole series. In the center of the galaxy, outside of time, are a bunch of folks just hangin’ out. Among them: Satan. Stay there for a while, as Kirk does, and you’ll get magic powers and your fists will glow and the background behind you will look like Fruit Stripe gum wrappers.
41) “A Matter of Time,” The Next Generation, Season 5
Is Matt Frewer really a historian from the future or just screwing with us?
40) “Relics,” The Next Generation, Season 6
39) “Realm of Fear,” The Next Generation, Season 6
Reg Barclay vs. the Transporter. Terrific look at the every day in the 24th Century.
38) “Relativity,” Voyager, Season 5
Relive the launch of Voyager through the eyes of Seven of Nine who is brought to the past from the far future. You got that? It’s a little complicated, but basically there was a saboteur on board and now we’re time cops.
37) “The Corbomite Maneuver,” The Original Series, Season 1
Kirk the master strategist against a much stronger foe. A foe who later reveals himself to be Clint Freakin’ Howard?!
36) “Kir'Shira,” Enterprise, Season 4
I always knew Ambassador Soval would end up being a good guy! He and Trip and Shran (Shran!) join forces to root out the wrongdoers in Vulcan High Command. Meanwhile T'Pol gets a divorce and Archer, with Surak’s katra, has achieved, like, total consciousness. This is action, geeky sci-fi stuff and a clever way of bouncing the story off of canon – everything that only Enterprise can do when it is working well.
35) “Deja Q,” The Next Generation, Season 3
Q loses his Q-ness. And getting sleepy never felt the same way again.
34) “The Trouble With Tribbles,” The Original Series, Season 2
33) “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” The Original Series, Season 1
The first episode for mass consumption, and it changed our world forever. Stuff like the uniforms (and Spock’s eyebrows) are a little different, but from the very first moments (“ah, yes, one of your Earth emotions!”) everything’s cruising at warp speed. I think I’ve watched this three hundred thousand times.
32) “Duet,” Deep Space Nine, Season 1
The Eichmann trial in outer space. Season 1 of DS9 was good, but this episode toward the end was an indicator that greatness was to come. Major Kira’s freedom fighter/terrorist character would be a tough sell today.
31) “Starship Mine,” The Next Generation, Season 6
It’s Picard vs. the terrorists when he’s stuck alone on the ship during a deep cleaning. (Don’t ask.)
30) “The Wire,” Deep Space Nine, Season 2
Garak tells Dr. Bashir that all his stories were true. But what about the lies? Especially the lies.
29) “The Die is Cast,” Deep Space Nine, Season 3
The Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar join forces for a preemptive strike on the Jem'Hadar. Odo is being held because that mushy shapeshifter knows something. And maybe he does! Who do we trust in this complex war? How was it that this late ’90s show could predict all the troubles of our current foreign policy?
28) “Parallels,” The Next Generation, Season 7
Nobody said the Multiple Worlds Theory was going to be pretty. So many Worfs!
27) “Q Who,” The Next Generation, Season 2
Q zaps the crew a country mile down the road, shows us the Borg and introduces pop culture to one of the greatest and most unique villains ever.
26) “Blink of an Eye,” Voyager, Season 6
Anomalies and synchronous orbit cause Voyager to appear visible on a planet’s surface. But a second on the ship equals a day down there, so we see their entire development from cave dwellers to warp capability. Finally, we get to see the long-term effects of violating the Prime Directive all the way through.
25) “Day of the Dove,” The Original Series, Season 3
A perfect gem of a short story. Kirk vs. Kang, Human vs. Klingon. And between them, a glowy ball feeding off hate that will kill everyone if they don’t just chill.
24) “The Devil in the Dark,” The Original Series, Season 1
“The pain! The pain!” A mining colony is being terrorized so Kirk is ready to kick ass with a phaser. But it turns out that we’re the ones causing pain, by killing the eggs of a confusing (and, yes, ridiculous looking) life form.
23) “The Measure of a Man,” The Next Generation, Season 2
Atticus Picard argues that Data is as “alive” as anyone else. This mid-Season 2 episode proved that hiring an actor of Patrick Stewart’s caliber really made a difference.
22) “Tapestry,” The Next Generation, Season 6
One of the great all-time What Ifs? If Picard had never been daring as a young man (and nearly died as a result) he would have grown up to become … just some guy?
21) “All Good Things…” The Next Generation, Season 7
TNG wrapped up with perfect symmetry — moving backward and forward through its timeline (and the Universe’s) to close with a real winner. A hundred times better than the Star Trek Generations feature film the same writers were struggling with simultaneously.
20) “Living Witness,” Voyager, Season 4
Seven hundred years from now another planet will still be talking about their interaction with Voyager. And they’ll be getting it all wrong! Luckily, a copy of the EMH will be there to clear our heroes’ names. A fabulous look at historical bias and, basically, the Telephone Game.
19) “The Visitor,” Deep Space Nine, Season 4
18) “Journey to Babel,” The Original Series, Season 2
The Enterprise becomes a floating UN with distrusting Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans. Not just any Vulcans, Spock’s father! And human mother! Espionage, intrigue and assassinations lead to one of the great all time episodes that really helped sell how vast the Star Trek galaxy was.
17) “Yesteryear,” The Animated Series, Season 1
I need a handkerchief to even begin to discuss this one. Spock revisits his youth and his kahs-wan ritual. During his test of maturity, he must, among other things, say goodbye to I-Chaya, his loyal pet sehlat. There are broader implications with the timeline, too, but really it’s all about noble I-Chaya. Brave I-Chaya. Come back, I-Chaya, come back! Sob sob sob!
16) “Hard Time,” Deep Space Nine, Season 4
Similar to “The Inner Light,” Chief O'Brien is “sentenced” to have memories implanted that make it seem like he suffered decades in a prison cell. Best is that the bulk of the episode is about his psychological fallout, and how even his best friends can’t relate. Brilliant storytelling, truly.
15) “Balance of Terror,” The Original Series, Season 1
Action along the neutral zone! Kirk battles the Romulans with photon torpedoes and smarts. It’s white-knuckle war picture, heavily influenced by Run Silent, Run Deep. It’s one of the more alpha male TOS episodes and it’s just terrific.
14) “A Taste of Armageddon,” The Original Series, Season 1
Perfect in inspiration and execution. A planet engaged in unending war uses no weapons. Their culture and infrastructure is secure, but a computer dictates who is killed by collateral damage. And that’s where the state-led suicides begin. Kirk won’t have anything to do with this madness, so he violates the Prime Directive. (To be fair, his hand is forced a bit.) Also: this episode is a laugh riot. The gang creeping around corridors and Spock’s line about “a multilegged creature on your shoulder” before using the Vulcan nerve pinch. This was my first Trek episode, so maybe I’m inflating it a little, but I still say it’s great.
13) “Trials and Tribble-ations,” Deep Space Nine, Season 5
Star Trek’s big fat love letter to itself. Stupendous.
12) “Scorpion,” Voyager, Season 3-4
More dangerous than the Borg? Species 8472. More dangerous than Species 8472? Captain Janeway, when she’s decided to go full badass to protect her crew. This one concludes with a singularity in fluidic space, which sounds a lot less gross than it is. Also the line “I am designation Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One. But you can call me Seven of Nine.” If that isn’t pure Borscht Belt comedy I don’t know what it.
11) “Cause and Effect,” The Next Generation, Season 5
Heavy nerd time loops. Maybe the best mindscrambler of ‘em all.
the top ten
10) “Amok Time,” The Original Series, Season 2
Kroika! Spock vs. Kirk to the Death! And that music! Don’t interrupt me with Plomeek Soup while I’m watching this — I’ll hurl it across the room.
9) “Chain of Command,” The Next Generation, Season 6
8) “The Best of Both Worlds,” The Next Generation, Season 3-4
7) “By Inferno’s Light,” Deep Space Nine, Season 5
6) “Arena,” The Original Series, Season 1
5) “Darmok,” The Next Generation, Season 5
4) “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” The Next Generation, Season 3
3) “Mirror, Mirror,” The Original Series, Season 2
2) “The Inner Light,” The Next Generation, Season 5
1) “The City on the Edge of Forever,” The Original Series, Season 1