So, you’ve watched the film Star Trek: First Contact to celebrate First Contact Day… but now you’re not sure which of the many episodes across the franchise that feature first contacts you should watch to keep the party going. Luckily, all of us here at StarTrek.com have collected some of the best episodes featuring first contacts (with new aliens, with characters who’d go on to become icons, and with First Contact Day itself) for you. Gather your crew, fire up the replicators, and settle in to enjoy some of Star Trek’s best.
Star Trek: The Original Series - “Arena”
Would it be a First Contact Day without revisiting Kirk’s epic fight with the Gorn? As the two captains battle, Kirk is able to make first contact with a race of aliens known as the Metrons. While Kirk impresses them by showing mercy to his opponent, he is still judged to be wanting, and so the Metron return both him and the Gorn captain to their respective ships without offering to join the Federation or engaging in any further form of contact. As far as first contacts go, it was touch and go, but Kirk still showed the power of Starfleet’s belief in peace as he saved the Gorn ship from destruction.
Star Trek: The Animated Series - “Bem”
Commander Ari bn Bem, from the planet Pandro, has the dubious honor of being one of the more controversial characters to appear in the franchise. While deciding whether or not his advanced people will begin to open diplomatic negotiations with the Federation, Bem travels with the Enterprise and gets into all sorts of mischief, even causing a first contact with a new planet to go awry. For fans who find Bem’s antics to be delightfully hilarious, another Pandronian makes an appearance in Star Trek: Lower Decks’ “I, Excretus” where she continues Bem’s legacy of causing mayhem.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - “First Contact”
Starfleet’s official definition of "making first contact" is to make contact with a planet or species that is about to become warp capable. Picard and the crew of the Enterprise are opening negotiations with an almost warp-capable planet when Riker, disguised as one of the aliens, goes missing. As Picard deftly navigates the situation with his usual diplomacy, we see just how delicate the moment of First Contact can be. While Malcor is ultimately not ready to join the Federation, or fully develop warp capabilities, this episode shows exactly how first contact can turn out positively for all parties involved.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - “The Jem’Hadar”
Sisko, Quark, Jake, and Nog make first contact with two of the major antagonists for the rest of Deep Space Nine’s run in “The Jem’Hadar,” when really all they wanted to do was go on a camping trip. Well, the Siskos and Nog wanted to camp, Quark was in it for his own schemes. This episode introduced the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta, two types of soldiers working for the Dominion; both species would go on to fight the Federation and their allies during the Dominion war. In another important scene, Quark calls out Starfleet’s own hypocrisy and savior tendencies, showing another perspective of first contact from a species who has opted not to join the Federation.
Star Trek: Voyager - “Scorpion”
This episode certainly wasn’t the first time the Borg made contact with the Federation, but it was the first contact for a new Star Trek hero. In “Scorpion, Part Two,” the fourth season premiere, Janeway and her crew encountered Borg drone Seven of Nine. Seven was eventually severed from the Collective and taken aboard Voyager, leading to her overcoming her Borg implants to become… well, not more human, but become more herself. Seven, who’s story is told in both Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Picard, has become an iconic character in the franchise, and her first contact shows just how far her journey from drone to hero will go.
Star Trek: Enterprise - “The Andorian Incident”
The Andorians were a familiar species to Star Trek fans ever since their first appearance in Star Trek: The Original Series, but prequel Enterprise showed just how the Federation first made contact with them. Archer and his crew become embroiled in a conflict between the Vulcans and their Andorian neighbors in this episode, marking the first time that Starfleet had ever made contact with the species. Shran, the lead Andorian in the episode, was played by Trek mainstay Jeffrey Combs and would appear multiple times throughout the series after he ended the episode feeling indebted to Archer after the captain saved his life.
Star Trek: Discovery - “That Hope is You, Part 1”/ “Far From Home”
Sometimes, first contact isn’t with a people but with a time. The crew of the U.S.S. Discovery find themselves thrown into the 32nd century, where they find a universe unlike the one they left behind. The Federation has fractured, the Burn has devastated warp travel, and most inhabitants of the time aren’t the friendliest of faces. Still, Burnham and her crew are able to spark hope and find allies, even as they face a future that is decidedly uncertain.
Star Trek: Short Treks - “Children of Mars”
First contact is about connection, at its very core. It is about extending the hand of friendship to someone new and facing the future together. While “Children of Mars” might seem like an odd choice, given how tragic the story is, we’ve included it on the list for two reasons. One is that it takes place on First Contact Day. The second is that the story of Kima and Lil is about extending a hand of friendship in dark times. The two girls are at odds with each other, but as they face a terrifying new future, they still reach for each other. This truly encompasses what matters about the concept of first contact.
Star Trek: Picard - “Et in Arcadia Ego, Parts 1 and 2”
Picard has the chance to make first contact yet again in the season finale of the first season of Star Trek: Picard. As the synth planet faces destruction from the Romulans, Picard is able to save the day with a little help from his former Number One, Will Riker. Picard ultimately gives his life in the process, though he is revived through a synthetic golem. Once more, Picard’s diplomacy and his desire to keep the peace and preserve life allows for a successful first contact.
Star Trek: Lower Decks - “Terminal Provocations”
The U.S.S. Cerritos doesn’t get to do the whole first contact deal a lot; usually, the ship is sent on second contact missions. However, Ensign Rutherford created a first of his own with Badgey, a holographic tutor shaped like a Starfleet badge. However, Badgey develops a rather evil mind of his own and turns on his creator, who ultimately destroys this version of Badgey and resets him, hoping he won’t remember his murderous side. However, Badgey continued to plot revenge. This charmingly nasty character has become beloved by the fanbase — and really, a bubbly and evil talking Starfleet badge? What’s not to love?
Star Trek: Prodigy - “First Con-tact”
The ragtag group of kids piloting the U.S.S. Protostar are not Starfleet cadets, and they don’t know what a first contact is, or what it represents. However, when a first contact goes awry thanks to Dal’s manipulative Ferengi mentor, the crew uses all their skills and wits to make things right. Even so, Janeway notes that the species they encountered will now be wary of approaching ships. This episode underlined the importance of a smooth first contact, as well as brilliantly introduced the concept to the young audience watching Star Trek for the first time. A first contact indeed!
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Star Trek: Discovery currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics, and on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Discovery is distributed by Paramount Global Distribution Group.
Star Trek: Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Global Distribution Group on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States and Latin America on Paramount+, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more, and in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
Star Trek: Prodigy currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in U.S. and Australia, and is coming soon to Paramount+ in Latin America and the Nordics as well as to Nickelodeon international channels, which are available in 180 countries globally. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Prodigy is distributed by Paramount Global Distribution Group