If you’re a Trekker, you’re absolutely spoiled right now. But if you’re not, where do you start? There are so many Star Trek shows being made right now for a wide range of audiences, including animated comedies and dark exploration thrillers.
With so many options it can be a bit tough to know what to watch, where to watch it, or how to even watch it. Although every show roughly exists together and uses the same canon, they each exist at different points along the confusing timeline (the reboots really messed things up). If you want to know what the timeline is like, here’s a graphic from Wikipedia.
That’s why we’re putting together this article, so you can be prepared for Star Trekking across the universe. This isn’t a power-ranking of every Star Trek show, but more of a basic starter guide for new fans.
As such, we’ll be breaking this guide up based on a new fan getting into Star Trek, accompanied by explainers on where each show fits into the canon. Depending on how far you want to boldly go, we’ll include more shows.
Don’t worry about missing out on any necessary canon — it’s already fragmented as it is and Star Trek shows have done a pretty good job of explaining larger canon concepts within their own self-contained plotlines. Without any further adieu, here’s how to Star Trek.
The new movies
Okay, they’re not shows, sue me, but the rebooted films are a terrific way of picking up on Star Trek’s vibe and seeing if it’s for you.
The rebooted films include Star Trek (2009), Star Trek: Into Darkness and Star Trek: Beyond, each telling the stories of Captain Kirk, Spock and the original crew of the USS Enterprise. They’re a great watch and are very palatable.
The first two films were directed by J.J. Abrams, while the third film was directed by Justin Lin. For older fans, they have a bit of fan service in them, but newer fans will definitely appreciate how easy they are to follow and how modern they are. After all, they are a reboot of The Original Series which began in 1965.
The new live-action shows
Star Trek: Discovery does a really good job of exploring the Star Trek universe on its own terms, rarely bringing in a concept unexplained to new fans and creating exciting plots on its own. That being said, it has a fair amount of content for returning fans.
Conversely, Star Trek: Picard has lots of content for returning fans as a sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation. New fans might not want to dive into Picard first, considering that it relies pretty heavily on pre-existing canon, but it’s not egregious doing this. It’s a great show on its own.
Then, the new show, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, tries to meet the old Star Trek vibe with the flair of the new movies and TV shows. The first season is still being released.
The animated shows
Just quickly, we’ll mention Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek Prodigy. These shows are animated: Lower Decks is an animated comedy and Star Trek Prodigy is intended for younger audiences (it’s a Nickelodeon show).
These shows might be worthwhile if you’re after something a bit lighter, but they lack the drama of the other shows. That’s not a bad thing, just be aware of what you’re getting into.
You can watch Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek Prodigy on Paramount+.
The Next Generation shows
If you like Star Trek enough to plunge into some of the older shows, here’s where we start on that. In 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation aired for the first time, bringing in Patrick Steward as Captain Picard. This is a terrific series (although the first few seasons can be a bit hard to watch) with several movies accompanying it.
In 1993, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine aired, set within the same timeframe as The Next Generation with the odd call-back. Personally, I kind of saw this spin-off as Space Neighbours (RIP) as some of its plots focused a bit on melodrama, but it genuinely has some great Star Trek moments.
Then, in 1995, my favourite series aired – Star Trek: Voyager. Set during the timeframe of Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager follows the crew of said USS Voyager as they try to return to Star Fleet space, after being plunged far out into the Delta Quadrant (a region of space unexplored by Star Fleet). It’s great in that it scarcely explores canon from the other shows while being exciting on its own.
Enterprise and The Original Series
Finally, we’ve gone back as far as being a Star Trek fan will take you, both in terms of canon and chronology.
The Original Series is where it all started, with the pilot episodes back in 1965. These are… look, they’re old. You might see them as dated (they are) and that William Shatner’s acting is bad (it is) but this is the show that set it all up. If you want to commit to everything Star Trek, this is where you must boldly go.
Additionally, Star Trek: Enterprise (2002) is the oldest show in terms of timeline, set further back than any mainline show (unless you’re counting time travel episodes, and if so, why?). It wasn’t loved much by fans, although it’s kind of juicy, following the original crew of the USS Enterprise shortly after humanity made first contact.
Personally, I recommend you tackle these shows last, for their own reasons. The Original Series is super dated and Enterprise isn’t terrific compared to some of the other shows, but all things considered, if you make your way to these shows, I’m happy for you!
That’s about it for Star Trek
Although the MMO is a lot of fun and there are heaps of books, that’s pretty much where it ends with Star Trek.
This is surely enough content to tie you over for a while, but just so you’re aware, streaming services are often changing their libraries, so don’t be surprised if, one day, your favourite Star Trek is removed from a platform.
Make sure you check out our article on every major sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, horror and adventure TV shows and movies hitting streaming services this month.
This article has been updated since it was first published.