Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Movie & TV Timeline: Original Series, Kelvin, & Discovery

Gene Roddenberry's Star Trekhas become one of the most immersive science-fiction franchises of all time - and the complex Star Trek timeline involves no less than seven TV series and a range of blockbuster movies. What's more, it's expanding at Warp 10, as there are a number of other shows in the works.

Most Star Trek movies and TV series are made by people who've grown up with the franchise, and have a deep love for the galaxy Roddenberry created. As such, the writers, producers and directors do their level best not to contradict the established continuity, and in fact often attempt to put in subtle nods to help keep the timeline together. Naturally, sometimes things go a little wrong, and a continuity error slips through; with so many people involved in the franchise, it's inevitable.

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But on the whole, the continuity of Star Trek is a labor of love, and the timeline is remarkably cohesive considering just how much content there is in it. This is what's referred to as the Prime Timeline, the one that most of the films and movies happen in.

In 2387, Spock attempted to suppress a massive supernova; as a result, both Spock and the Romulan Nero were sent back in time. Nero and his warship emerged in 2233, destroying the Federation starship Kelvin - an incident that led to the death of James T. Kirk's father. This created a brand new timeline,generally referred to as the Kelvin Timeline, and it's only been explored in three films so far; Noah Hawley has recently been brought on board for Star Trek 4, which will continue this timeline. Here's what should be considered part of the Kelvin Timeline right now:

Star Trek's Ancient History & Early Space Travel

Over the years, Star Trek has offered its own answers to the origins of the universe and indeed life on Earth itself. According to Star Trek: The Next Generation, humanoid life evolved on a single distant world, and was seeded across the galaxy; this neatly explains the "coincidence" that most of the races in the Alpha Quadrant are humanoid.

The Star Trek timeline differentiates from the real world in the 1990s, largely as a result of Star Trek: The Original Series. When that was originally produced, the '90s were 40 years in the future and seemed a long way away. But the Star Trek franchise has outlived even Roddenberry's expectations, and the timelines have now diverged. Here's a guide to all the key events in Earth and Federation history in the Star Trek timeline.

Star Trek: Enterprise & the Earth-Romulan War

Star Trek: Enterprise is the only series to be set in the 22nd century, and it explores the beginning of Starfleet and Earth's first tentative steps into the wider galaxy. There are still significant events that have not been covered, notably the Earth-Romulan War, which led to the founding of the United Federation of Planets. Here are the major events from this period.

Star Trek's Early Years (Discovery & The Original Series)

The 23rd Century was a foundational time in galactic history, with the Federation's ideology tested in conflict with both the Klingons and the Romulans. The Cold War between the Federation and the Klingons erupted into outright war in 2256, and the Federation would have been destroyed if not for the USS Discovery. In 2265, Captain James T. Kirk took charge of the USS Enterprise, beginning the classic era of Star Trek.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, DS9, & Onward

The Star Trek timeline now moves to the 24th century, the time of Captains Jean-Luc Picard, Janeway, and Sisko. This was initially a time of peace, but the Federation gradually became aware of new threats across the galaxy; the Borg and the shapeshifting Founders, who commanded the Dominion. Meanwhile, the relationship between the Romulans and the Federation became increasingly tense, ending in open war.

The Star Trek franchise is about to expand further into the future than ever before, with Star Trek: Picard set at the end of the 24th Century and Star Trek: Discovery season 3 seeing the crew of the Discovery explore the 32nd Century.

J.J. Abrams' Kelvin Movies

The modern Star Trek movies are set in an alternate timeline initiated by the destruction of Romulus in 2387; in the aftermath, the Romulan Nero traveled back to the past in an attempt to rewrite history. This is generally referred to as the Kelvin Timeline, after the point in which history diverged. It's set to continue in Noah Hawley's Star Trek 4, which has just been confirmed. Here are all the elements of the Kelvin Timeline.