The first thing you need to know about Star Trek: The Original Series is that it only lasted for three seasons. The second thing you need to know is that there’s a pretty good reason for that. Its catalog of episodes is wildly uneven, with stories that range from the cringeworthy to the simply dull, but the good ones are oh, so very good.
In fact, the impact of the best Star Trek: The Original Series episodes is still being felt by the franchise to this very day. Some introduced characters that would later become legendary, others set a standard for storytelling that any show would be proud to match. Others laid a foundation for concepts, plotlines, or themes that would become part of the immutable essence of what “Star Trek” is.
It’s also worth mentioning that even when Star Trek whiffed, it was because the writers were swinging for the fences. Airing during an unprecedented era of U.S. social history, Star Trek genuinely wanted to give audiences a new way of looking at issues like racism, politics, war, and violence. Sometimes it succeeded, sometimes it didn’t, but there was true nobility in the attempt. And hey, it also made things like “phaser” and “transporter” everyday language, which is also pretty cool.
Even hardcore fans typically agree that revisiting the entire run of Star Trek: TOS isn’t the best use of your time, so here are the ten best Star Trek episodes to watch in order to fully soak up the vibe.
By Susan Arendt