Star Trek: Every Version of The Enterprise, Ranked
Star Trek gave sci-fans the world over the greatest starship in genre history: the starship Enterprise. The classic vessel debuted in 1966 with a deceptively simple but considered design - a very sci-fi saucer attached to a rocket-like fuselage and paired with twin warp nacelles. This design does what every practical, real-world design does: it follows its function. Because of that, the original starship Enterprise has endured over fifty years through numerous updates and interpretations.
The franchise has expanded through myriad live-action and animated television series, as well as feature films. A new Enterprise is generally at the heart of most updates, and each carries on the proud tradition of the first.
10 Enterprise (All Good Things)
This amped-up version of the Enterprise appeared in the series finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation, "All Good Things," one of its very best episodes ever. In an alternate future, the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D packs in a lot more power. The previously graceful ship adds the third nacelle on the back and a gigantic phaser canon on the underbelly of the saucer.
This canon blows Klingon ships to bits in one shot, which is kind of nuts. The future version of the ship also featured a cloaking device, something Starfleet ships generally avoided.
9 Enterprise (Kelvin)
When J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in the 2009 Star Trek film, the Enterprise got a major makeover. Kind of. The saucer section of the ship is essentially that of the refit Enterprise (more on that later). The rest of the ship is different though. The body, neck, and nacelles all feature a much more sweeping, fluid design than the original version of the ship.
The nacelles are also much larger in comparison to the rest of the ship, and much closer. It's unclear whether fans have seen the last of the Kelvin-era Enterprise and her crew, though it remains a possibility that they will.
8 Enterprise (NX-01)
By the time the 21st century rolled on, Star Trek had oddly gotten a bit tired. To change it up, the producers of the franchise went back to the future. They set a new series, Enterprise, a hundred years before Kirk and introduced a never-before-seen version of the starship. The NX-01 actually had some links to ships previous, though.
Its design is essentially that of the Akira-class vessel from the feature film First Contact, featuring one of the coolest alien races ever, the Borg. The designers flipped the ship upside down and called it good. Fans kind of didn't like the series - they hated the ending - but the ship remains cool.
For a long time, the Enterprise-B remained the question mark in the lineage between Kirk's ship and Picard's. Fans knew it was an Excelsior-class vessel thanks to a mural on the Enterprise-D, but not much else was known about it. The film appeared properly in Star Trek Generations, and despite the fact it was based on a design people knew, had some cool new details.
The movie modified the secondary hull of the original Excelsior, sweeping out the hull around the deflector dish. It also added two huge impulse engines and changed the caps of the nacelles.
The Enterprise-C had been introduced during the run of The Next Generation. The Ambassador-class vessel was another link in the chain between the 23rd and 24th centuries and showed how Starfleet got from Kirk to Picard. The Enterprise-C essentially combined elements of the Constitution-class that preceded it and the Galaxy-class that superseded it.
The dynamic curving lines of Picard's ship weren't present yet, but the size and uniquely colored red and blue nacelles were. This ship fell to the Romulans, one of the greatest villains of the Federation, at the Battle of Narendra III.
5 Enterprise (Discovery)
Setting Star Trek Discovery only ten years before the Original Series meant that it was inevitable that the U.S.S. Enterprise would show up. It quickly did at the end of the first season. The design aesthetic of the show updated the classic 60s elements for a modern audience, and the NCC-1701 was no exception.
The original Matt Jefferies design in large measure remains the same but incorporates elements of the refit from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The nacelle pylons are swept back, giving it a greater sense of fluidity. The ship will feature in the upcoming Captain Pike-themed series, Strange New Worlds.
The Enterprise-E provided the single greatest design change in the storied ship's history. Producers wanted something faster and sleeker, and they got it. The Sovereign-class starship resembles a hot rod, with a flat, elongated profile that is in stark contrast to the big, swan-like grace of its predecessor. Designers accomplished this by removing the neck out of the design entirely.
Starships during this period, like the Voyager as well, basically abandoned the neck element and stacked the saucer directly on the secondary hull. This Enterprise was one of the fastest and strongest of them all.
3 Enterprise (Original)
The first is usually the best, and in many ways, the original Enterprise from the 1966 series remains the most iconic design in science-fiction. It's hard to argue with its basic simplicity and instantly recognizable silhouette. Due to budgetary constraints, the original model of the ship lacked the detail that later versions did, but it's still an incredible work of art.
The ship featured in all of the most memorable episodes of the Original Series. The first starship Enterprise established a design lineage that informs every single ship in the Star Trek universe to this day. That goes for Starfleet and alien vessels alike.
Later versions updated and improved on the already awesome original design. The Enterprise-D from The Next Generation completely reinvented it. Designer Andrew Probert took the largely static lines of the original and transformed them into flowing, graceful lines that made the ship look more like a glass sculpture than a machine. Some fans didn't take to the new design because of how different it was - especially in 1987, upon its debut - but the ship has aged very well and defines an era of the franchise that in many ways marks its creative and commercial peak.
1 Enterprise (Refit)
The best update the original Enterprise ever received came in The Motion Picture. Legendary concept designer Ralph MacQuarrie, responsible for some of the most iconic Star Wars concept art ever, participated in the reimagining of the Enterprise. The ship got a top to bottom makeover, with the biggest changes in the secondary hull. An embedded blue disc replaced the original gold deflector dish, and a weapons port provided the base for the neck. The nacelle pylons were swept back, and the nacelles completely redesigned, becoming more wedge-like and less tubular.About The Author