This story contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek has a history of not only highlighting powerful women on screen, but featuring them behind the scenes as well. Going as far back as The Original Series, each series has featured women as episode writers, which was a striking move for a 1960s show. As the franchise continued to grow throughout the years, more women joined the Trek writing family, bringing us stories of humanity, hope, and heartbreak.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite episodes written by women, starting with D.C. Fontana and ending with Kirsten Beyer. These stories have touched our hearts and changed Star Trek’s canon for the better. Celebrate the history of women behind the camera by tuning in to these iconic episodes.
Star Trek: The Original Series
"Journey to Babel" - Written by D.C. Fontana
We’ve written about how much we love this episode before, but we consider it so important that it’s made this list too. D.C. Fontana changed our view of Vulcan by introducing Spock’s parents in this episode packed full of intrigue. As the Enterprise transports ambassadors, including Spock’s father Ambassador Sarek, to an important diplomatic meeting, a murder occurs and Sarek falls gravely ill. Fontana develops Spock’s character beautifully as Spock considers the needs of the many vs. the needs of the few (a long time before Wrath of Khan), and we can’t get enough of the family dynamics at play in the episode.
"Is There No Truth in Beauty?" - Written by Jean Lisette Aroeste
Another popular episode from The Original Series, this episode follows psychologist Miranda Jones as she and the Enterprise travel with Medusan ambassador Kollos to his ship. The episode has plenty of action, but is perhaps most famous for summarizing Vulcan philosophy in a beautiful fashion that rings true today. There is infinite diversity in infinite combinations, and writer Jean Lisette Aroeste crafted the running theme of diversity in its infinite beauty perfectly.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
"The Measure of a Man" - Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
One of the best TNG episodes (and so important that we included it in our Picard watch guide), "The Measure of a Man" questioned Data’s personhood. Picard stood strong for his crewmember’s agency, even as Riker is forced into the uncomfortable position of having to argue against it. Melinda M. Snodgrass crafted an introspective episode that forced the crew of the Enterprise to examine what makes someone human, and in turn gave us one of the best episodes of The Next Generation.
"The Drumhead" - Written by Jeri Taylor
Picard faces a miscarriage of justice by a corrupt Starfleet admiral in this episode that defined him as a character. Picard believes that justice should be carried out in a rational, collected fashion, even as Admiral Satie accuses him of crimes he did not commit after defending a crewman from accusations of sabotage. Jeri Taylor gets to the heart of what makes Picard an admirable captain and good man in this classic episode.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
"Dax" - Written by D.C. Fontana
Taking up the pen again, Fontana wrote this episode which, questions whether Jadzia Dax is guilty of crimes committed by the Dax symbiont while she was not the symbiont’s host. Questions of what makes someone culpable abound, as do plenty of twists and a surprising last minute Hail Mary. One of the only episodes Fontana penned for DS9, this one is a good one to check out, especially if you’re a fan of legal intrigue.
"Accession" - Written by Jane Espenson
Written by Jane Espenson, who’d go on to pen episodes of other popular genre shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Once Upon a Time, this episode explores the culture of Bajor and their caste system. Sisko must take a stand to ensure that the freedoms of the Bajoran people aren’t infringed upon. While not often found on the average Deep Space Nine top 10 episodes list, “Accession” is an important episode for characters like Kira, and a great way to check out the early work of one of television’s most famous female sci-fi writers.
Star Trek: Voyager
"Coda" - Written by Jeri Taylor and directed by Nancy Malone
Janeway is struggling to survive as an entity wants to feed on her body in this decidedly creepy episode in this episode written by Jeri Taylor and directed by Nancy Malone. This episode follows Janeway’s struggle after she “dies,” and even includes her seeing what she assumes is the spirit of her father. If you need a scary episode to celebrate Halloween, you can’t go wrong with this, and if you’re looking for a good episode, Jeri Taylor rarely lets us down.
"Author, Author" - Co-written by Phyllis Strong
The Doctor’s humanity and agency take center stage in “Author, Author,” co-written by Phyllis Strong. The Doctor wants to publish a novel when he returns to Earth, but the publishers refuse to recognize him as the copyright owner since he is not human. The crew of Voyager rallies behind him, establishing his personhood. One of the best Voyager episodes, Strong also co-wrote several episodes in the series’s final season.
Star Trek: Enterprise
"Terra Prime" - Co-written by Judith Reeves-Stevens
The conclusion of a two part story, with a story and teleplay co-written by Judith Reeves-Stevens, saw Tucker and T’Pol facing a horrifying situation: a baby created from their genes being used as proof for why humans and other alien species should never have children. While the terrorists are stopped and the day is saved, their baby dies. It’s a heartbreaking narrative that shows the power of Star Trek to break our hearts as well as show viewers the best, and worst, of humanity.
"Regeneration" - Written by Phyllis Strong
The Borg make their first appearance in the Enterprise timeline in an episode by Phyllis Strong. The episode features the crew trying to rescue missing researchers, and ends with the tease that the Borg have sent a message to their hive in the Delta Quadrant. The Borg have always been a terrifying part of Trek canon, and it’s interesting to see how they made their first appearance.
Star Trek: Discovery
"Through the Valley of Shadows" - Written by Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt
As Burnham wrestles with new discoveries, Pike faces a glimpse of the future in the penultimate episode of season two of Star Trek: Discovery. Seeing his own future, Pike opts to choose the good of the many over his own future, establishing himself as one of the greatest Starfleet captains. The episode was written by Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt, the writing team behind many of Discovery’s episodes, and it gives us an emotional look at Pike, who became a fan favorite during the course of season two.
"Project Daedalus" - Written by Michelle Paradise
In this episode, which earned a spot on our no-cry challenge episode list, writer Michelle Paradise gave depth to a bridge crew member who didn’t previously have as much focus. With action and emotion, the episode packed a gut punch at the very end and brought audiences to tears. Can you watch the ending without tearing up? You might have the emotional control of a Vulcan if you can.
Star Trek: Picard
"Stardust City Rag" - Written by Kirsten Beyer
Kirsten Beyer brought Seven of Nine into a new era with “Stardust City Rag.” Seven has clearly been through so much in the time between Voyager and Picard, and we get a glimpse of that in the painful opening scene. Perhaps more important is the emotional conversation she has with Picard towards the end of the episode, where she asks him if he ever felt like he fully regained his humanity following assimilation. The commentary on their shared trauma is powerful.
"Nepenthe" - Co-written by Samantha Humphrey
Samantha Humphrey, alongside showrunner Michael Chabon, wrote the reunion between Picard, Riker, and Troi; this powerful episode showed how far all three characters have come since their TNG days. As Riker and Troi remind Picard of the man he once was, Humphrey also sent off fan favorite, Hugh, in a heroic blaze of glory. Fans adored the episode for all the beautiful moments of healing and the heartbreak that came alongside it.