Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: 10 Best Alien Starship Designs

Star Trek is all about strange new worlds and new civilizations. Perhaps no other sci-fi franchise has spent as much time and effort into building out as many different alien civilizations as this franchise. Several alien species have become household names in the last fifty years and change. The Vulcans, Klingons, and Borg all inspire instant recognition, and part of that is because each of them has a distinctive visual language. That carries into their spaceships also.

The alien ships of Star Trek rank among the most unique and most recognizable in sci-fi, thanks to bold and innovative design choices that sometimes run counter to the obvious. Or physics.

10 Jem Ha'Dar

The Jem Ha'Dar were the drug-fuelled stormtroopers of the evil Dominion. They had several different starship types, but their most famous - and most destructive by far - was the basic fighter. One of these took out a Galaxy-class cruiser - the same as the Enterprise-D - in its first appearance.

This small-ish ship resembled a beetle from above and swarmed Federation forces en masse in some of the biggest battles in Star Trek history. If there is ever more Deep Space Nine on television - and there should be - then these guys and their ships need to come back.

9 Vulcan Cruiser

The Vulcans have been a key component of Starfleet and the Federation since the very beginning of the franchise, but it wasn't until later iterations that fans got to see their actual ships. A few craft appeared here and there in the movies, Star Trek: Enterprise finally dove headfirst into the beautiful designs of this ancient culture (even if fans ultimately hated the series).

Numerous Vulcan craft appeared, but their big cruisers took the cake. Vulcan ships distinguished themselves with their ringed warp nacelles, which tended to wrap around an elongated fuselage. Variants of this type appeared throughout the prequel series.

8 Romulan Bird of Prey (The Next Generation)

The Romulan Bird of Prey from the Original Series - appearing one of the most memorable episodes of all time, "Balance of Terror" - remains iconic. Its 24th-century update in Star Trek: The Next Generation is about as different as it gets. This dramatic design appeared toward the end of the first season, dwarfing the Enterprise-D.

The unique split-hull design of the ship was very unique and different from anything that had been seen to that point. Concept artist Andrew Probert, who also designed the radically new NCC-1701-D, contributed the look of this amazing ship.

7 Klingon D-7 Battlecruiser

The Klingons rank among the greatest villains in Star Trek history, even though they've been mostly friendly for a really long time now. Their classic D-7 battlecruisers still inspire fear with their animal-like design. The long necks and snakeheads of the ship gave the sense of a bird, which many of the original Klingon and Romulan designs tended to do.

This ship got a serious upgrade - and showcase - in Star Trek: The Motion Picture when the entire visual style of the franchise was upgraded for the big-screen in 1978.

6 Borg Cube

The Borg probably leg out the Klingons in the villain department, and their ship is equally menacing. The gigantic Borg cube defies any logic or physics, abandoning any pretense of design or style. It's simply a solid mass of metal that the Borg evidently keep adding to as they assimilate ships and civilizations.

The Borg cube proved its all-time awesomeness in one of the best episodes of The Next Generation, "The Best of Both Worlds." It destroyed an entire fleet of Starfleet vessels at Wolf 359 - almost forty of them - proving that it's one of the strongest starships in the entire Trek universe.

5 Klingon Bird of Prey

The Klingon Bird of Prey introduced in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock quickly became iconic. This menacing green vessel took the bird theme of earlier concepts to the next level with adjustable wings that swept out from the main hull. The size of the ship varies greatly on the version of the Trek it appears in. The ship was intended to be small with a minimal crew, but at times it was rendered very large.

It eventually settled into the attack-fighter component of the Klingon fleet during the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine, where dozens of these ships fought in formation.

4 Unknown Probe

The mysterious alien probe of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home remains one of the franchise's enduring mysteries. It also remains one of its most unique designs. The massive probe - many times the size of the tremendously scaled Spacedock - was essentially a long black cylinder. No windows or other typical design features that would indicate its interior were present.

The probe emitted a strange blue-white orb from its underbelly, as a means of communication with the whales of the planet Earth. To this day, no one knows who sent the probe, or what they wanted, other than to chat.

3 Narada

The Narada emerged out of a black hole in the opening moments of the 2009 Star Trek reboot from director J.J. Abrams and instantly cemented its status as the bad guy ship. This massive vessel is essentially a bundle of claws and daggers, projecting outward from a fuselage that dwarfs anything in the Starfleet ranks, past or future.

The devastating actions of the Narada and her crew kicked off the so-called Kelvin-universe of Trek, which may or may not continue depending on what happens with at Paramount.

2 Tholian Web

The Tholian ships are among the smallest and simplest in the Star Trek retinue. Small dagger-like vessels that are more or less one-man fighters nevertheless pack a big punch. When the ships get together to form their unique Tholian Web, they can ensnare a huge ship like the Enterprise. It's pretty much the only defense the Tholians have against the much more advanced and powerful Starfleet.

The Tholians remains one of the most mysterious - and one of the coolest - alien races ever featured on the show. Their true form was ever only shown briefly in an episode of Enterprise.

1 V'Ger

It's hard to think of V'Ger as a ship, given in its immense size, but that's what it was. The gigantic craft dwarfed asteroids and some small moons and was essentially a massive cathedral built to a tiny object: a Voyager probe. Like the alien probe from The Voyage Home, the origin and exact purpose of V'Ger remains a mystery.

It's unclear who intercepted the original NASA probe and then sent it back at the center of a vessel that is beyond anything that had been seen in Star Trek to that point, and really since. Though The Motion Picture disappointed some, this ship remains a visual marvel.

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