It’s a pretty great time to be a fan of Star Trek in any of its forms. September 8 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the original series back in 1966; there’s a brand new Star Trek series on the way next year from Bryan Fuller and involving the awesome Nicholas Meyer; and of course, a new feature film, Star Trek Beyond, is soaring into theaters. The joy in the heart of Trek fans is palpable!
But since Star Trek has taken many forms since 1966, not all fans can cite the origin of their Trek love to the original series. In fact, some have yet to take the plunge into the coveted program, which ran three seasons through ’69. The six original cast movies and The Next Generation series forward have all been very accessible, but until relatively recently—with the original series finally hitting major streaming platforms—it was harder to come by the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et al.
It’s for those people, and for newcomers who want to know where to begin, that we’ve compiled a list of the 11 most essential episodes of the original series. The ones from which you’ll be able to know the basics of Star Trek, from its major themes and plot points to fun ones that have made it into the cultural lexicon.
I should also point out that this list is largely subjective, representing the ones I personally found pertinent, though it was compiled with help from Nerdist producer and major Trek geek Brian Compton. With that in mind, check out which episodes we decided were most integral to the Star Trek lexicon in the gallery below, and give me your top 11 in the comments!
Note: You’ll notice that none of the episodes on the list are from season three. This is because, by and large, season three is not very good. That said, the episode “The Tholian Web” came the closest to being included. Watch that one. Call it #12.
Images: CBS/Paramount Television
Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist and a massive science fiction scholar. Follow him on Twitter!