While Star Trek isn’t known for portraying Earth holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah, it is known for themes of family, togetherness, and hope — just what we all celebrate at this time of year.
Here are 10 episodes that highlight these themes, making them perfect to watch no matter which holidays you observe.
"The Trouble with Tribbles," Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2, Episode 15
This episode is different from the others on this list because its story isn’t about family, but it’s still perfect for a family to watch together. It’s fun and lighthearted, familiar and well-loved among Star Trek fans old and new. It’s also an episode that helps tie the entire Star Trek universe together, with tribbles being featured (or at least referenced) across the franchise — from The Animated Series to the Kelvin Timeline movies to the new Short Treks, tribbles are an essential part of the Star Trek family. If your family is all together for the holidays, this is a classic episode that everyone can enjoy.
"New Ground," Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 10
When Worf’s son, Alexander, comes to live aboard the Enterprise, Worf struggles to balance his duties as an officer and father. He also has the added challenge of trying to instill the proper Klingon values in Alexander, who has been lying, stealing, and fighting. I’m not a parent and I was disturbingly good as a child, so I thought it would be hard to relate to their struggle. Even for viewers like me, though, this episode makes it clear that the struggle of parenthood is ultimately worthwhile when Worf saves Alexander from a fire and they finally connect. Family is rarely easy, but it’s the most honorable challenge of all.
"You Are Cordially Invited," Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6, Episode 7
Jadzia tries to impress her future in-laws from the House of Martok while Worf invites Captain Sisko, Chief O’Brien, and Dr. Bashir to a grueling Klingon bachelor party. Jadzia endures constant criticism from Sirella (raise your hand if you too have been the victim of a nitpicking relative) as the men suffer trials of heat, pain, and hunger. Despite all this, it’s a funny and family-oriented story. Family, as they say, is sacrifice, and this episode pushes the crew to their limits before bringing them together to celebrate Worf and Jadzia’s union. The conflicts, doubts, and drama lead to a happy ending, so you can feel warm and fuzzy even while the weather is cold and wet.
"11:59," Star Trek: Voyager
Season 5, Episode 22
Captain Janeway tells the story of her ancestor, Shannon O’Donnel and her involvement with the historical Millennium Gate. The rest of the crew chimes in with stories about their families, from Harry’s Uncle Jack to the Doctor’s cousin, a prize-winning chess program. Everyone has a story about “that” relative — I recently learned that my great-great-grandmother owned a peacock farm! The episode finishes with the creation of Ancestors’ Eve, a holiday to celebrate those who paved the way for the crew to become who they are. None of us would be where we are without our ancestors, and maybe one day our stories will inspire our descendants.
"Silent Enemy," Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 1, Episode 12
Amid an attack from an enemy who won’t respond to their hails, Captain Archer gives Hoshi a secret mission to discover Malcolm’s favorite food for his upcoming birthday. Hoshi reaches out to Malcolm’s family and friends, and even questions Malcolm himself, all in vain. She finally learns from Dr. Phlox that Malcolm takes regular injections for his allergy to bromelain, found in pineapple. Although it seems like a trivial matter when the crew is under attack, Archer’s insistence that Hoshi carry out her mission teaches us that family is no less important when life is overwhelming. In fact, they may be just what keeps us balanced.
"Forget Me Not," Star Trek: Discovery
Season 3, Episode 4
Discovery’s crew has jumped 900 years into the future, severing all ties with their lives, and everyone finds themselves missing home. In an attempt to ease their homesickness, Saru gathers the Bridge crew for dinner. While it doesn’t go as planned (what’s a family dinner without a little drama?), it was a nice gesture to celebrate the family they found in each other. Meanwhile, Michael takes Adira to help them recover their Trill symbiont’s memories, culminating in an internal reunion as Adira finally remembers all of Tal’s past lives. All in all, this episode is about coming together with family, the perfect holiday motif.
"Nepenthe," Star Trek: Picard
Season 1, Episode 7
Picard takes Soji to the planet Nepenthe, home of old friends Will Riker and Deanna Troi. For Next Generation fans, the reunion felt like coming home after a long time away, as is often the case around the holidays. The episode is also poignant as Will and Deanna discuss their late son, Thad. The holidays can be sad as we remember family members who are no longer with us, but as with Kestra and Soji, we are also reminded that the next generation is keeping their legacy alive. (See what I did there?)
"Grounded," Star Trek: Lower Decks
Season 3, Episode 1
Desperate to clear her mother’s name, Mariner rounds up Boimler, Rutherford, and Tendi for an off-the-books (and slightly illegal) mission. Unable to gain access to the Cerritos via conventional channels, the gang heads to historical Bozeman to hijack the Phoenix, now used as a theme park ride. Sometimes family means going back to your roots, and sometimes it means risking your career to help your found family’s actual family. Thankfully, this family adventure has a happy ending with a venerated Captain Freeman arriving just in time to get the Lower Deckers out of trouble… and then promptly punishing them herself. C’est la vie.
"Kobayashi," Star Trek: Prodigy
Season 1, Episode 6
It’s a Star Trek family reunion as Dal discovers the infamous Kobayashi Maru program and enlists the help of holograms we know and love — Uhura, Dr. Crusher, Odo, Spock, and Scotty — to help him tackle the no-win scenario. Although the seasoned officers initially balk at Dal’s wayward commands, they and Dal eventually learn to work together to very nearly beat the simulation. Outside the Holodeck, Gwyn starts to find her place in her new family, marking the true unification of the young crew. I love feeling like my friends and I can accomplish anything together, and it’s great to see Star Trek’s youngest crew start to have that bond with each other.
"Spock Amok," Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Season 1, Episode 5
As most of the crew winds down for shore leave, T’Pring is frustrated that Spock continues to work instead of spend time with her (a habit of which many of us are guilty… including me as I write this). They attempt a Vulcan katra-sharing ceremony to better understand each other’s thoughts, which naturally results in them accidentally swapping bodies. We were in for a treat when Spock decides that “hijinks are the most logical course of action,” and this episode does not disappoint. It’s funny, heartfelt, and clever; and it shows that you don’t truly understand a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes… or been drafted by their captain to lead peace talks. It’s practically the same thing.
Andrea Bush (she/her) is a rookie freelance writer from Ohio who hasn’t met a Star Trek she doesn’t like. You can follow her on Twitter @librarianandr3a.
Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-4 are currently streaming exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Italy, Latin America, the U.K. and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. It will also stream exclusively on Paramount+ in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria later this year. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. STAR TREK: DISCOVERY is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.
Star Trek: Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Global Content Distribution on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories, and 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+, and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Group Content Distribution 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., Latin America, Australia, South Korea, Italy and the U.K. and is coming soon to Paramount+ in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France 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. Star Trek: Prodigy is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia & the Nordics. The series will air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel & stream on Crave in Canada with additional international availability to be announced at a later date. The series is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.
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