When today’s news is too cringe-y for my optimistic viewpoints, I look to Star Trek to remind me that the promise of working in a STEM field is the promise of a better future. And, not only does Star Trek possess a treasure trove of great individual characters, it’s also rich with examples of romantic relationships that embody the ideals of egalitarianism and social progress which underlie the ideals espoused by Starfleet and the Federation.
Star Trek has become something that I can bond with my partner over — a shared vision that gives us a common language to discuss how we want to grow together. So, this Valentine’s Day, I’m dipping some strawberries in chocolate, uncorking a bottle of wine, and curling up with my par’mak’kai for a marathon of Star Trek couples that our relationship wants to be when it grows up.
Keiko & Miles O’Brien
Introduced by their mutual friend, Data, the O’Briens are a classic couple-next-door working through a timeless and relatable challenge that spans the quadrants, space, and time — starting and raising a family. Keiko and the chief successfully pursue individual careers through the good and the bad; the chief’s efforts to construct an arboretum and the encouragement he gives Keiko to pursue her botanical research on Bajor demonstrate the respect he has for Keiko’s career.
Episode to Watch: “Data’s Day” (TNG)
Start off slow with a day in the life of an android. The Enterprise and Keiko respectively experience Romulan plots and cold feet that threaten the O’Briens’ wedding plans, all through the eyes of Data.
Jadzia Dax & Worf, Son of Mogh
Dax and Worf’s relationship arc is worthy of a Klingon opera; it ends in tragedy, but it is truly legendary while it lasts. Even Dax’s 300 years of experience could not have prepared her for the adventure that was their love. Their tumultuous conflicts are balanced by their passionate romance. They share values of duty and honor as they serve, side-by-side, in ops. And, save for honor, nothing except Worf’s bond with Jadzia transcends his sense of duty.
Episode to Watch: “You Are Cordially Invited” (DS9)
Kick the drama up a notch with a traditional Klingon bachelor party leading up to a wedding that might not happen! Jadzia Dax wrestles with a conflict between her pride and her love for Worf, the ever-contradictory Klingon man raised by humans.
Will Riker & Deanna Troi
Counselor Troi and Commander Riker maintain a will they or won’t they-type relationship for an entire series before they (spoiler alert) get married in Star Trek: Nemesis. They work as well together as a couple as they do as friends. Their deep, empathic friendship makes their relationship arc worthwhile.
Episode to Watch: “Ménage à Troi” (TNG)
Stride into a Ferengi vessel as Deana Troi and Will Riker play unwitting accomplices to the raunchy Betazoid-Ferengi diplomacy between Ambassador Lwaxana Troi and Daimon Tog.
B’Elanna Torres & Tom Paris
Lts. Torres and Paris are proof that love can find its way to the Delta quadrant. They have their respective missteps and troubled pasts, but they hold each other accountable for becoming better. B’Elanna makes significant strides in managing her anger with Tom’s support while Tom finds purpose and direction in his life alongside B’Elanna.
Episode to Watch: “Blood Fever”
Try to stand the heat of Vulcan pon farr and Klingon passion as lust between engineers seeks a physical end. A steamy love triangle that can only be resolved through consensual contact or ritual combat emerges between a Vulcan, a half-Klingon, and a helmsman of the Voyager crew.
Hugh Culber & Paul Stamets
Culber and Stamets’ relationship endures into (and past) the afterlife, but its beauty lies in mundane details — like those moments of bickering banter over brushing teeth together. Their shared routines are asynchronously choreographed to the sound of Kasseelian opera into a balance of opposing characteristics, complementing each other perfectly.
Episode to Watch: “Vaulting Ambition” (DSC)
Grab a box of tissues for a truly operatic romance that spans time, space, and dimension. Paul Stamets follows his heart out of the mycelial-ly altered state of his mind and into the arms of his dedicated partner and lover, Hugh Culber, amidst a Terran coup d’état.
Benjamin Sisko & Kasidy Yates
Setting up Sisko and Yates was a (worthwhile) team effort; Jake suggested a date with Yates to his incredulous father after discussing the matter with Nog. It was for the better because Sisko benefits from having someone on his level — someone whose ambition and intellect matches his — to support his dedication to peace and to challenge his vision of a bleak future.
Episode to Watch: “Badda-Bing Badda-Bang”
In this (Badda) Banging casino heist everyone’s favorite holodeck crooner, Vic, is in the sort of trouble that can only be resolved via theft. The gang needs a high roller to pull it off and, although Sisko’s the man for the job, his mind is on protecting the station. Kasidy’s natural leadership catalyzes Sisko to step up to the task for his good and for the morale of his crew.
Stephanie Reyes (she/her) is a mathematician and enthusiastic Star Trek fan.