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The Top 57 Star Trek Episodes According to Alice


This list is in honor of the anniversary of Star Trek, which first aired on September 8, 1966. The 57th anniversary was in 2023, and there were lists of the top 57 episodes in honor of that. I felt called to generate my own list to reflect those with sensibilities like mine.

A few quick notes:

Note: I am grateful to the site PubMeeple for helping me rank all of these episodes.

What follows is a longer description of why and how I made this list and other stuff like that. If you want to skip that and just see the list, go to page 2.

My History with Star Trek

I first saw Star Trek in 1966—it was the episode The Corbomite Maneuver. My mom had seen it in the TV Guide and thought it looked interesting. After that, she was hooked, and we three kids were allowed to watch it with her every week. We got to eat dinner in the living room, and we ordered Chicken Delight delivery—both special treats! The only rule was that we could talk only during the commercials. I really liked the show, and when it came back in re-runs, I would watch it every day after school. My mom got the Blish novelizations of the episodes, and I read them all. When I got to college, we had an informal Star Trek club that would meet in my dorm room to watch the afternoon re-runs. We knew all the titles by heart and would try to steer conversations to make each other say the title of an episode. When we were on the film board, we got some of the episodes on film and would have the special treat of seeing them full-size on the big screen. Over the years, I have acquired several reference books about Star Trek, including the Star Trek Concordance.

When Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, I saw it at least 17 times in the theater! I loved it and the emotional journey that Spock went on. When Star Trek: The Next Generation came out, I eagerly watched and recorded the episodes on video tape. I fell in love with Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise as they were released. I recorded them all and watched them over and over again.

As you can see, I have a long-standing relationship with Star Trek. I’ve only been to one convention—it wasn’t my kind of scene. I do love to analyze the episodes. The podcast Mission Log caught my interest, and I started listening and actively interacting with them. They analyze each Star Trek episode and movie in release order—just my kind of thing! Starting with TOS, I watched each episode and movie a few times, taking copious notes. I’d write up my thoughts and email them to the podcasters. They would often mention my comments, and they interviewed me for the podcast to wrap up the TOS episodes. I eventually had to quit participating and listening because it was taking up too much of my time, but I loved doing that very much.

The Ranking Process

I have not enjoyed the newer Star Trek series, and that’s why they are not included in the list. I do like Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but it hasn’t been on long enough, and I haven’t watched the episodes enough times to rank them. Maybe I’ll include it in a revision of this list.

I used the tool PubMeeple to do a sort of bracket comparison of all the episodes against each other. In other words, I was only asked to compare two episodes at a time. It was interesting to me to see how I chose which episode I preferred between two that were close. I like it when an episode makes me cry, so that’s one criterion. If it makes me feel really good, that’s also a point in its favor. I also prefer episodes that make me think about something bigger than me. Some choices were so hard, I started asking myself, if someone asked me which one to watch, which would it be? I’m also aware that some of my choices might be different if I did the entire process again. My process was to rank each season of a series, then take the top 10 of each season and rank those against each other. Then I took the top 10 of each series and ranked those against each other. I had miscalculated, though, because the animated series only had 22 episodes, so using the top 10 of those was not a fair assessment of the best episodes. There was really only one of those animated episodes I would recommend. So, I had to redo some of the rankings so that I was ranking the top 12 of the other series against each other, and then the last one would by definition be the one from the animated series. It sounds complicated, but it was fun!

One thing I wanted to note is how often my favorite episodes follow something that Hitchcock said. He said that every story has plot holes; it’s just the nature of storytelling. You cannot include every single bit of information to make a story complete. To keep the viewer from noticing the plot holes, you need a relationship (or relationships) that gets you so involved that you don’t have time to notice the plot holes. You may notice that many of the images I selected to represent the episode are of a couple of people. That often shows the relationship that pulled me in and got me to “feel the feels.”

Since the idea is to find the best episode, I found that two-parters and arcs of episodes did not make the list because you must watch more than one episode, and therefore a multi-parter cannot be the best episode.

I hope you find this list interesting and thought-provoking. Enjoy!

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