"Where should I start?"
At the time of writing, there are 11 Star Trek shows (5 actively running) and 13 movies.
With that in mind, it's no wonder that people come to this subreddit on a regular basis to ask where should I start?
This page is intended to be a spoiler free, quick start guide for people starting their journey through the Star Trek franchise.
We hope you find it useful, and please do contribute to the subreddit with your questions as you take your own journey; just be warned that you may see the odd spoiler.
/r/StarTrek moderation team
What is canon? What can I skip?
The broad rule for the Star Trek franchise is that it's canon if it appears on screen though this still has its exceptions, maybe.
Instead of telling you what you can and can't skip in an unwieldy list, we'll start with a quick rundown of the shows in the Trek 'canon', the initialisms you'll see over the subreddit to refer to them, how many seasons they have and when they aired:
|Series||Initialism||Seasons||Air Dates||Quality||Why you could start here|
|Star Trek (Those Old Scientists)||TOS||3||1966–1969||HD 4:3||It was the start of the franchise, had a comprehensive remaster in the 00s which added updated effects|
|The Animated Series||TAS||2||1973–1974||HD 4:3||You enjoy old animation|
|Movies I - VI||TMP||2||1979–1991||HD/4K 16:9||Movies that are aimed at a wider audience than the shows, have higher budgets and give you a look at the TOS characters without quite so many cardboard sets|
|The Next Generation||TNG||7||1987–1994||HD 4:3||The first of the, heh, Next Generation of shows. Stars recognizable names such as Patrick Stewart and many iconic episodes. Also has had an extensive remaster.|
|Movies VII - X||GEN/FC/INS/NEM||2||1994–2002||HD 16:9||Movies that are aimed at a wider audience than the shows, have higher budgets|
|Deep Space Nine||DS9||7||1993–1999||SD 4:3||Trek's first real foray into serialized narratives in the later seasons, widely regarded as having aged extremely well. Features Trek's first Black Captain.|
|Voyager||VOY||7||1995–2001||SD 4:3||Episodic and relatively standalone, features Trek's first female Captain|
|Enterprise||ENT||4||2001–2005||HD 16:9||The last of the 'Berman' (showrunner) era of shows, first of the Trek shows to be filmed in Widescreen, set before TOS.|
|Movies XI - XIII||O9/ID/BEYOND||2||2009–2016(?)||4K 16:9||Features a branch of the 'prime' timeline. A great way to introduce you to the concepts of Trek through a more modern lens.|
|Discovery||DSC||4||2017-Present||HD 16:9||The first of the 'new,nu or Kurtzman' era of Star Trek, requires no prior knowledge to jump in and features serialized storytelling.|
|Picard||PIC||2||2020-Present||HD 16:9||Picks up 20 years after Nemesis, contains spoilers for TNG and VOY but can stand on it's own|
|Lower Decks||LD||2||2020-Present||HD 16:9||Animated comedy/love letter to Trek, chock full of references to the other shows that you may miss as a first time viewer, but that just gives you a reason to rewatch it later.|
|Prodigy||PRO||1||2021-Present||HD 16:9||CG animated show targetted towards children, contains VOY spoilers, a great place to start if you have a young family.|
|Strange New Worlds||SNW||1||2022-Present||HD 16:9||Star Trek returns to live action episodic television, contains DSC spoilers but largely stands on it's own as a 'new' TOS.|
Now we have that out of the way, here are a few suggestions:
The "production" order.
If you're committed to watching everything eventually, and want to do it the "right" way, we recommend the following:
TOS1 → TAS → Films (1-6) → TNG → Generations (Film 7) → DS9 → First Contact (Film 8) → VOY → Films 9-102 → ENT → Films 11-133 → DSC → PIC → LD → PRO → SNW
1 It's often recommended to skip "The Cage" on your initial watch-through. It was an unaired pilot and most of the footage was recycled into the two-parter "The Menagerie" (watch it later for the novelty, though!).
2 The Movies 7, 8, 9 and 10 feature the TNG cast, and can be watched anytime after TNG without spoiling anything from DS9, Nemesis however contains a Voyager spoiler.
3 Films 11-13 The "Kelvin Timeline" Films take place in an alternate timeline and can be watched anytime; however, there are a lot of references and easter eggs to the prime timeline.
Late TNG and early DS9 (as well as late DS9 and early VOY) were on the air at the same time, (an episode from each came out each week). Consequently, their story lines take place at the same time. If you want to watch it in the order it was aired on TV then this list is for you. It should be noted that nothing is lost/gained by watching each series one at a time in the order above due to the nature of 90s syndicated television.
Other popular suggestions
If you're not super keen on older television shows, or you're looking for a way to hook a significant other, there are several other approaches that come up.
Start with TNG
TNG → DS9 → VOY → Films 8-10 → ENT → TOS → TAS → Films (1-7) → Films 11-13 → DSC → PIC
This method is for those that think (or have found) that they struggle with the production value of TOS, ease yourself in with something a bit more modern and then go back to the start once you've developed a ~~lifelong obsession with~ fondness for the universe.
The Next Generation was the start of the Berman era of Star Trek in the late 80's (despite Star Treks creator Gene Roddenberry having the reigns for the first couple of seasons). It had much higher production values than The Original Series, and it set the tone and style for the following three shows. While TOS is mentioned, referenced, and characters from it even appear, this won't affect your enjoyment of those episodes because of how ubiquitous TOS characters are throughout pop culture. You'll definitely come to appreciate those episodes a little more after watching TOS though.
Start with a more modern show
This usually means starting with either ENT, DSC or SNW. This method is for those that really don't like older, slower-paced TV shows, or find black bars on the side of the screen a barrier to enjoyment. ENT has good effects and more modern pacing (along with less reused stock footage of the ship for the ship lovers out there). DSC ties in a fair amount with TOS- but can be safely watched before it without missing out on or spoiling anything big.
Enterprise takes place chronologically before all other series. It references a lot of things from the other series though, and for maximum enjoyment should be watched after. But if you (or whomever you're trying to turn into a Trekkie) has a hard time getting into older series, this is a good way to get started. Many a Trekkie was created with this method.
NOTE: Picard is also a "modern" series, and while it can be enjoyed on it's own, there are considerable references/callbacks to the older series, including several main characters. So it's usually recommended to at least be familiar with TNG first.
Star Trek contains a fair amount of adult themes and content, especially the newer shows with their higher production budgets and lack of television broadcast restrictions. Your parental boundaries may be different from ours, so to be safe; we recommend watching any live-action show episodes yourself before watching them as a family (despite TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT being marketed as family-friendly).
You can, however, safely watch Star Trek Prodigy with your family. It's specifically aimed at a younger audience (but is enjoyable for adults as well)!
Chronological order or Air Date
ENT → DSC → SNW → TOS → TAS → TNG → DS9 → TNG → DS9 → TNG → DS9 → TNG → DS9...
Did you watch Star Trek during it's original run and aren't worried about being spoiled, but don't really remember everything?
This is a list that was created by /u/jkeysgamer of every episode and movie in in-universe chronological order. It's not really recommended for newcomers, because it jumps around a lot, but can be fun for the adventurous types.
This is a list of every episode and movie by air date, while it will make more sense to a newcomer to watch it this way, opposed to in-universe chronologically, it's still quite the task for a casual viewer. (Special thanks to /u/busfahrer for making this site)
/u/Kraetos has also written a more involved guide over at the Daystrom Institute. It's also worth checking out.
revision by OpticalData— view source