Published Sep 8, 2021
55 Moments Celebrating 55 Years of Star Trek
Celebrating the Trek moments that made us laugh, cry, and cheer
By StarTrek.com Staff
It's hard to narrow down a top list of iconic Star Trek moments, but all of us here at StarTrek.com have done our best to pick 55 moments that won our hearts over the course of the past 55 years. From the emotional to the uplifting, celebrate Star Trek Day with these 55 moments from Trek history we can't stop thinking about.
1. “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations” - The Original Series - The phrase that could be considered the thesis statement of Star Trek, “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” occurred in the season three episode “Is There No Truth in Beauty?” This Vulcan philosophy celebrates the infinite ways that we are different, and uplifts this as something to celebrate.
2. "Leave your bigotry in your quarters, there’s no room for it on the bridge” - The Original Series - In a striking move for a show made in the 1960s, Kirk scolds a crewmember for expressing anti-Vulcan sentiments, stating “Leave your bigotry in your quarters, there’s no room for it on the bridge.” It’s a statement that has rung true for Trek - there’s no room for hatred or bigotry in the future.
3. Tribbles! - The Original Series - One fluffy tribble is no trouble, but, unfortunately, for the crew of the Enterprise, one tribble led to a full infestation. Throw in a dispute over grain and some Klingons and you’ve got the recipe for a perfectly wonderful and humorous episode of The Original Series.
4. “Amok Time” - The Original Series - Where would Star Trek be without "Amok Time"? The episode that launched countless fanfictions is revered for how it helped shape the course of modern media fandom. Plus, Spock smiles, and who doesn’t love the normally stoic Vulcan smiling?
5. "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield" - The Original Series - The Enterprise encounters two aliens, who are mirror images of each other and set on destroying the other due to a civil war. When they return to their home planet, they find they are the sole survivors of a civil war that destroyed both races. A commentary on how hate can only destroy, it is a memorable and powerful hour of Star Trek.
6. "A Taste of Armageddon" - The Original Series - In this striking anti-war episode, the crew of the Enterprise must face a culture that has perfected the art of war with a neighboring planet. One of the morality plays that defines The Original Series, it’s another striking commentary on how war is a destructive force and that we should all strive for peace.
7. Khan - The Original Series/Star Trek Into Darkness - One of Trek’s most memorable villains is Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered tyrant with dreams of galactic domination and vengeance. Portrayed by Ricardo Montalban in The Original Series and Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness, no other Star Trek villain has quite captured the public’s imagination like Khan.
8. Spock’s sacrifice - The Wrath of Khan - The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and when Spock sacrifices himself to save Kirk and the Enterprise, he reminds his grieving friends of this before he dies. The emotional conclusion to The Wrath of Khan is one of the most emotional moments in the franchise as we say goodbye to a very dear friend.
9. Spock’s resurrection - The Search for Spock - When presented with an opportunity to save his dearest friend, Kirk and his fellow officers committed mutiny and sacrificed a great deal to save Spock. Sometimes, the needs of the few do outweigh the needs of the many, as Spock returned to reunite with his friends.
10. Saving the whales - The Voyage Home - What’s more fun than saving whales, time traveling, and Italian food? Nothing. There’s a reason The Voyage Home is so beloved and the sheer joy of the film has helped cement it in the hearts of fans. #TheOneWithTheWhales
11. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy go camping - The Final Frontier - The Final Frontier sees the crew trying to find God with Spock’s half brother, but before the action starts, Kirk takes his two best friends camping. It’s a sweet scene featuring Spock mispronouncing marshmallows and a campfire sing-along, with Spock reflecting upon the words of Row, Row, Row Your Boat and deciding that “Life is not a dream.”
12. Star Trek gets animated - The Animated Series/Lower Decks/Prodigy - Star Trek first explored the animated side of the universe with The Animated Series, and has continued to do so with the comedic Lower Decks and the made-for-families Prodigy.
13. "Encounter at Farpoint" - The Next Generation - After The Original Series was canceled, fans clamored for more Trek on TV. It finally came in the form of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which inspired a universe’s worth of new Trek and new fans.
14. “The Measure of a Man” - The Next Generation - What truly makes a man? Data’s personhood is put on trial when Dr. Maddox wants to disassemble him for parts. Picard must defend his friend, and Riker is put in the terrible position of having to prosecute Data.
15. "The Outcast" - The Next Generation - In an episode fans are still discussing today, Riker tries to help a young woman assert her identity in a society that chooses to remain genderless.
16. “I am Loctus of Borg” - The Next Generation - In one of the most memorable cliffhangers in TV history, Picard is assimilated into the Borg Collective and Riker must fire on his captain. While Picard is eventually rescued, the event sent ripples throughout the Trek universe and kept fans glued to their televisions.
17. "I, Borg" - The Next Generation - In the wake of Picard’s assimilation into the Borg, the discovery of an injured drone who finds his own identity and independence throws everything we know about the Borg out of balance. Hugh’s self-determination made him an instant fan favorite, leading to the character’s return in Star Trek: Picard.
18. “The Inner Light” - The Next Generation - Picard lives a whole life in 20 minutes as he is given a glimpse into the culture of a dying world. The episode emphasizes the power of memory and storytelling and stands as one of the most powerful episodes in The Next Generation.
19. La Forge takes a stand against ableism - The Next Generation - In the episode “The Masterpiece Society,” Geordi La Forge pushes back against a society that doesn’t allow disabilities in its citizens. “Who gave [the founders] the right to decide whether or not I should be here?” La Forge says, before he saves the civilization using his VISOR.
20. Klingon Culture - The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Discovery - Klingons began their Star Trek journey as enemies of the Federation, but as the franchise continued we learned more and more about their culture. Worf especially helped showcase the world of the Klingons, making them more developed and interesting than ever before.
21. Data and his emotion chip - Generations - Data’s quest to be more human has always made him one of the franchise’s most human characters of all. As Data experiences human emotions in Star Trek Generations, we feel every emotion along with him.
22. Picard and Lily say goodbye as Zephram makes first contact - First Contact - The crew of the Enterprise-E is present as Zephram Cochrane extends a hand in friendship to the Vulcans, therefore cementing humanity’s place amongst the stars. Picard tells his new friend Lily, a citizen of the 21st century, that he envies her, about to step into a bright future, before he beams back aboard the Enterprise and lets Lily and humanity take their first steps into a better world.
A Timeline Through the Star Trek Universe
23. Sisko and Janeway break new ground - Deep Space Nine/Voyager - Captain Benjamin Sisko and Captain Kathryn Janeway broke new ground in the nineties as the first Black captain and the first female captain to lead Star Trek shows. With the continuing Star Trek stories, more people of color and women have taken center stage in these stories, emphasizing the franchise’s commitment to diversity.
24. Sisko meets the Prophets - Deep Space Nine - In the pilot episode of Deep Space Nine, Sisko meets a race of aliens that the Bajorans view as prophets. What follows is an exploration of time and trauma that helps establish the emotional arc of Sisko for the rest of the series, as the prophets force him to relive memories of his wife’s death at the battle of Wolf 359.
25. The Mirror Universe - The Original Series/Deep Space Nine/Enterprise/Discovery - What’s better than one Spock, or one Kira, or one Burnham? Two! The Mirror Universe stands a twisted version of the Star Trek we know, and one that is endlessly fun to watch. Check out Deep Space Nine and Discovery for some of the key moments in the Mirror Universe.
26. "Past Tense" - Deep Space Nine - Sisko, Bashir, and Jadzia are sent back to 2024, where Sisko and Bashir get swept up in a riot for the rights of unhoused people. With Sisko stepping into the role of revolutionary Gabriel Bell, this episode showcased Sisko’s righteousness and courage as well as eerily predicted the future.
27. "Rejoined" - Deep Space Nine - Jadzia Dax’s tragic love affair with Lenara Kahn broke ground for Star Trek in season four of Deep Space Nine. The pair shared the first same-sex kiss in Star Trek history, and the episode remains a powerful moment for LGBTQ+ fans who celebrated the incredibly queer narrative present in the episode.
28. Tribbles Part Two - Deep Space Nine - To celebrate the anniversary of "The Trouble With Tribbles," the crew of DS9 had to travel back in time to save Captain Kirk from an angry enemy who wanted to dispose of him via an exploding tribble. It is every inch the delightful romp you could want, and it’s an excuse for the crew to step into those familiar The Original Series uniforms.
29. The Dominion War - Deep Space Nine - A quadrant-spanning conflict between the Federation and their allies and the Dominion defined DS9’s later seasons, exploring the consequences of war in the Star Trek universe. Captain Sisko and his crew stood on the frontlines and grew as both individuals and as a unit as they faced off against the odds.
30. Sisko’s monologue from “In the Pale Moonlight” - Deep Space Nine - As Sisko wrestles with his inner demons, he breaks the fourth wall to address the audience directly as he grapples with the cost of the Dominion War. It’s one of Star Trek’s more grim moments, but Avery Brooks’ acting and the stellar writing help it stand out in a darkly memorable fashion.
31. "Far Beyond the Stars" - Deep Space Nine - As Sisko journeys back to the 60s to live as sci-fi writer Benny Russell, who dreams of a space station captained by a Black man, this iconic episode highlights the importance of imagining a future for everyone. Sisko is both the dreamer and the dream, as are we all in a sense.
32. Nog’s journey - Deep Space Nine - From following in Quark’s footsteps to becoming the first Ferengi officer in Starfleet, Nog blazed a trail that was all his own.
33. Journey to the Delta Quadrant - Voyager - In the series premiere, Janeway and her crew as well as several Maquis fighters are stranded in an unknown quadrant with no way to get home. The premise of exploring a completely unknown part of the universe, as well as the fight to get home, sets up Voyager’s exploration perfectly and introduces fans to a new corner of the galaxy.
34. "Year of Hell" - Voyager - In this two part episode, Voyager is caught in a temporal wave and trapped in a hellish new corner of the Delta Quadrant. Fortunately, Janeway is able to reset the timeline, and the two part episode ranks highly on any list of Voyager’s top tales.
35. Seven of Nine’s journey - Voyager/Picard - A Borg drone turned Fenris Ranger, Seven of Nine has fought for her own identity throughout the course of her time on Voyager and Picard.
36. Janeway breaks the Temporal Prime Directive to save the crew - Voyager - Showing just how determined she was to get her crew home safely after their journey through the Delta quadrant, Janeway broke the ultimate temporal rule to save the day in the two part finale “Endgame.” Featuring an encounter with the Borg Queen, the explosive finale saw the crew of Voyager finally return to Earth after seven long years.
37. "Carbon Creek" - Enterprise - The Vulcans made first contact years before Zephram Cochran’s flight, or so T’Pol tells Archer as she recounts the story of her great-grandmother crash landing in 1960s America. The fish out of water story ends on a hopeful note, with Vulcan Mestral choosing to stay on Earth to observe the bright future humanity had in store for them.
38. Temporal Cold War - Enterprise - Why does Starfleet have such strict rules about time travel? Captain Archer encountered an agent from the future who revealed there were forces at work trying to manipulate the past for their benefit. There’s a reason Starfleet doesn’t — or at least tries not to — mess with the past.
39. "Terra Prime" - Enterprise - In this heartbreaking episode near the end of Enterprise’s four year journey, Trip and T’Pol discover their genes have been combined to create a baby as proof that aliens and humans shouldn’t mix. As the crew of the NX-01 takes a stand, fans all teared up when T’Pol defended her daughter by insisting “her name is Elizabeth.”
40. The birth of the Federation - Enterprise - At the conclusion of Enterprise’s four year run, fans got to witness the birth of the United Federation of Planets, and Archer’s election as president. The Federation has helped define Star Trek, and seeing the day it was created was a powerful moment for fans that helped conclude Archer’s journey.
41. The timeline splits - Star Trek (2009) - A star going supernova destroyed Romulus and, as an older Spock fled vengeful Romulan Nero, caused the timeline to branch around the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin and the birth of one James Tiberius Kirk. This allowed for three new movies centered on the Enterprise crew: Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond.
42. Spock meets young Kirk - Star Trek (2009) - Marooned on an ice planet by his timeline’s Spock, a young Kirk meets the other timeline’s Spock (with Leonard Nimoy reprising his role.) When Spock tells Kirk that he has been and always shall be his friend, it’s a powerful moment for both an older Spock and a younger Kirk, even if the latter doesn’t quite believe him yet.
43. "The Vulcan Hello" and "The Battle of the Binary Stars" - Discovery - After far too long with no Trek on television, Star Trek: Discovery burst onto screens with an explosive opening. It was also the fandom’s first introduction to Michael Burnham, who helped usher in a new era of Star Trek.
44. Meeting a new Pike, Number One, and Spock - Discovery - In Discovery’s second season, fans got to meet the fabled first captain from Star Trek’s original pilot, Christopher Pike, along with his first officer Number One and Burnham’s adopted brother Spock. The three will headline an upcoming series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, centered on their adventures in the early days of the Enterprise, exploring an era of Trek that fans have been eager to see since the 60s.
45. Discovery leaps into the future - Discovery - In a moment of sacrifice, Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery chose to jump to an unknown point in the future to save the universe. This took both them and viewers into a time heretofore unexplored in the Star Trek universe, and set up a whole new galaxy’s worth of adventures.
46. Aditya Sahil keeps the faith - Discovery - When Burnham appears in the 32nd Century, she and new friend Cleveland “Book” Booker find a non-commissioned officer at an old relay station named Aditya Sahil. Sahil explains that he has been keeping the faith that one day the Federation will return, and that Burham signaled a new hope. Fans got to see him again in the third season finale, where he became a lieutenant and told Burnham that they’d both found their way home. Sahil represents the hope of Star Trek that we all carry - that no matter what, things will get better.
47. Adira’s coming out - Discovery - Beautiful in its simplicity, the scene in which Adira asserts their pronouns are they/them to a supportive Stamets, who instantly switches to using the right ones, was a milestone for representation in the franchise. An empowering moment for Adira is also a moment for both trans and cis fans to celebrate the Star Trek universe becoming more inclusive.
48. Burnham’s promotion - Discovery - In the third season finale, “That Hope Is You, Part 2,” Burnham finally received a much deserved promotion to captain of the U.S.S. Discovery. When she gives the order to fly, it’s impossible not to cheer.
49. Picard and Data say goodbye - Picard - In one final scene in season one of Star Trek: Picard, Picard is able to properly bid his old friend farewell. As Data muses about the beauty in mortality, it’s impossible to not tear up.
50. Riker saves the day - Picard/Lower Decks - Fans knew Riker as Picard’s Number One, but twice now has he swooped in to be a hero on two separate shows. After helping Picard save the day in Star Trek: Picard and coming to the Cerritos’ aid in Star Trek: Lower Decks, we’re even bigger fans of his than ever before — and we didn't think that was possible!
51. Lower Decks takes us to a new side of Starfleet - Lower Decks - We’ve seen the heroes of Starfleet save the day from the bridge, but what about those working on the lower decks? Lower Decks envisions what day to day life is like for the ensigns aboard a less important ship, with humor and heart. The series serves as Star Trek’s very first comedy series.
52. Prodigy becomes the first kids show - Prodigy - Star Trek has been enjoyed by families for years, but with Star Trek: Prodigy the franchise is finally creating a show aimed at kids. Will a hologram of Captain Janeway help an intrepid crew of kids fly a starship and save the day? We think so!
53. Women in Trek - From Lt. Uhura on-screen and D.C. Fontana off to the present day, women have helped shape Star Trek both on and off-screen since the 60s. These women have blazed a trail for others to follow and we can’t help but call them our heroes.
54. Scientific advancements in our universe - Star Trek has helped inspire scientists to try and recreate the futuristic tech seen on screen. Now, the next big invention has to be a replicator, right?
55. The fandom - Where would Star Trek be without the fandom? From early letter writing campaigns and zines to today’s thriving online world, the fandom is a key part of what makes Star Trek so special.