Star Trek Guide

The Star Trek Pilot Episodes, Ranked (According To IMDB)

Star Trekseries have canonically mixed beginnings, since most fans joke to assume season one of any franchise installment is almost always a mess. See TNG, for example. It's one of the most beloved Trek series, but its first episode was wonky, long, and was followed with some truly absurd experiences (Deanna Troi's dream void, anyone?). Gist is, Trek is awesome, but fans have come to expect early messiness.

Despite the rockiness of these early episodes, that still means that some have to be better than others. Let's use IMDB to see which series had the best start.

Here are the top ten Star Trek pilot episodes, ranked (according to IMDB).

10 Runaway (6.6)

By now, Short Treks have become a fan favorite, these little short films giving the fandom little glimpses into other aspects of the universe. However, when they started, they weren't as beloved. After all, the first Short Trek was something that should have probably been in an episode, not in a side short. After all, they made the character in that story necessary for the Discovery season 2 finale.

That can make that a little confusing for fans, why this princess is important and shows up out of nowhere as Tilly's friend.

Let's just be happy that they got so much more interesting without making anything confusing.

9 Beyond The Farthest Star (6.7)

Overall, TAS tends to be regarded as some of the weirdest Trek adventures. The franchise was already pretty guns blazing, but the animated version goes full wild west.

Of course, that means the first episode is no different. In typical Trek fashion, they find a derelict ship and explore. However, the crew finds a malevolent entity that tries to take over their ship.

So Kirk straight up sling-shot the Enterprise towards a sun, intending to burn everyone alive. The entity leaves, and they fly away, hearing the thing scream about loneliness as they go. Not sure what to even say about that.

8 Encounter At Farpoint (7.0)

TNG, much like TOS, had a lot of whacky moments. And to be honest, its first episode was one of those. When visiting a colony, Farpoint, the Enterprise encountered a powerful, omnipotent being called Q. He decided to judge humanity, very suddenly, on the actions of this one ship during this one experience.

Between Q's outfits, Deanna's vague powers, and space jellyfish love, it had a lot of weird stuff going for it. But it also committed to Picard's great speeches and dared to be bold (like the rest of the series), so no wonder TNG holds a special place in people's hearts.

7 Vulcan Hello (7.1)

This first episode of Discovery had fans meet an idealistic Shenzhou ship, before war tore The Federation to shreds. After a decade of no Star Trek series, it was fantastic to see the technology and themes of the series come back.

Though Discovery definitely takes a darker look at everything, and its first season was messy, clearly it captured fans' interest nonetheless. A human acting more coldly logical like a Vulcan was fascinating, and seeing Starfleet diplomacy fail right off the bat really set the tone. Discovery was different, and for better or worse, it is sticking to that.

6 The Man Trap (7.3)

If anything set Star Trek: TOS as a campy adventure with some wild ideas, it was Kirk's pilot episode. In "The Man Trap" this creepy salt monster used its shape-shifting powers to get itself places and feed off other lifeforms.

As it took the form of Bones' ex-flame, he was its main target. Kirk and co. had to save their doctor from a very untimely fate.

While the episode was a crazy ride, the costume design for the salt alien was unforgettable and lead to a bold, fantastic staple of science fiction.

5 Caretaker (7.5)

This is the one where Janeway made a very big decision for her crew that changed their lives and (possibly) condemned them to the Delta Quadrant until their end.

The galaxy was always a mysterious place, but bringing in The Caretaker and other completely new alien species was a refreshing change of pace. While fans loved Klingons, not everything could be about them.

Voyager had mixed results with its brand new adventures and struggles, but it was a first episode with some serious, tangible consequences.

4 Emissary (7.6)

Deep Space Nine was always bold, but nothing set the tone like the first episode. Not only did they dare to make the main character someone who hated the beloved Captain Picard, but also immediately thrust the Bajoran religion into the center of the show.

Ben Sisko wasn't a conventional character and neither was the show he helmed. In "Emissary," the choices made were controversial but set up some fantastic conflicts, whether its the Bajoran religion and Sisko's part, the Cardassian's lingering presence, or Sisko's own uncertainty about being in the middle of it all.

3 The Cage (7.7)

Before fans got their unforgettable Captain Kirk, the Enterprise was led by the noble Captain Pike. In this first, unfortunately, rejected pilot for Star Trek, Pike and the crew were kidnapped by telepathic aliens. They had a sort of alien zoo going on where they would observe and study other species.

Over time, though, this episode has aged a lot better than initial producers gave it credit. It set up the fascinating Star Trek world of space exploration and nobility, as well as a smaller-scale glance into the crew before jumping back to the whole ship. Fans have a special place for it in their hearts.

2 Broken Bow (7.8)

Despite the fact Enterprise is one of the most hit-or-miss Star Trek properties in existence, its pilot was another case entirely. In its first episode, "Broken Bow", the show set up a galaxy in turmoil, where the Vulcans had a worse superiority complex, Klingons were hostile but honorable, and humans were figuring out their own place in the galaxy.

Also it introduced fans to T'Pol, a fantastic Vulcan character.

Sure, maybe everything got really messy after that. But this first episode was an amazing start.

1 Remembrance (8.4)

WhenStar Trek: Picard aired, it flared flames of nostalgia and excitement. Not only was the fandom getting one of their favorite captains back, but also it was the first time in almost twenty years that the franchise was moving forward in time. This pilot was a perfect mix of new information and drama, as well as hitting those classic Star Trek notes that fans missed.

Who doesn't love a show that starts with Data and Picard playing an iconic TNG poker game?


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