For over fifty years and several different series, Star Trek has tackled every subject under the sun. Many episodes are lofty and full of inspirational speeches, and with even more designed to make you think about the nature of existence. So it’s easy to forget that many episodes are just fun, silly romps. And during these troubling times, some of this classic episodes that lean on the goofier side might just be what we need right now.
Below are seven classic Star Trek episodes to binge watch that’ll give you a chuckle, and hopefully take your mind off all the bad news the universe is throwing at us at the moment.
7. “Qpid,” Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4
TNG didn’t go as big on the overtly humorous episodes in the same way that TOS did. But when they did, the cosmic entity known as Q was usually involved. Although he started out as a straight up menace in the TNG pilot episode, they began to play him more for laughs as the years rolled on. None more so than in season four’s “Qpid,” where Q transports the crew into a fantasy world where they all have to reenact the adventures of Robin Hood. And all in an effort to show how Captain Picard actually has feelings for a former flame of his. It’s a very silly episode, but it’s super fun to watch. If only for all the ridiculous moments of the crew in tights. Especially Lt. Worf.
6. “The Way to Eden,” Star Trek: The Original Series Season 3
Most of the episodes on this list are intentionally funny. And this one does attempt to be a more light-hearted affair. But it ends up being funny in a cringey, non-intentional way instead. This episode has the Enterprise encounter a group of space hippies, who have dropped out of society to look for the mythical planet Eden. This script came in the third season, when the show was not at its creative best. Most importantly, it also came out in 1969, smack dab in the middle of the counter culture revolution. So the whole thing feels like a bunch of dudes in their forties trying to make sense of the hippie phenomenon. It winds up being eye rolling at times. But you will laugh out loud at many moments throughout, especially all the groovy songs. Easily the most ’60s episode of ’60s Star Trek.
5.”Bride of Chaotica!” Star Trek: Voyager Season 5
Voyager relied way, way too much on holodeck stories. But one which always is always a blast to watch is “Bride of Chaotica!” In this episode, we find out that Lt. Tom Paris has a soft spot for the old sci-fi serials of the ‘30s. Of course, they can’t use the actual names Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but we get who “Captain Proton” is supposed to be. Copyrights be damned. Paris and Harry Kim have a fun adventure (in black and white no less!) which is of course more complicated because of some aliens and your standard holodeck malfunctions. But all this plot nonsense is worth it to see Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway camp it up as “Queen Arachnia,” the so-called titular bride of the episode.
4. “Hollow Pursuits,” Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3
This third season TNG episode introduces us to Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), a bumbling and introverted Starfleet officer that no one really likes. And who makes everyone around him on the Enterprise uncomfortable. But this unassuming crewman has a wild secret life on the holodeck, where he recreates the Enterprise crew as over the top 17th century swashbucklers, scoundrels, and villains. He even turns Deanna Troi into “the goddess of empathy.” This episode has some serious things to say about addiction and social anxiety, among other things. But it’s most memorable for giving us the TNG cast ham it up as their holodeck personas. Chew all the scenery!
3. “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy” Star Trek: Voyager Season 5
The Doctor (Robert Picardo), also known as the Emergency Medical Hologram, was the source of some of the most amusing moments on Voyager’s seven season run. This is especially true in this fifth season episode, where the holographic Doctor programs himself with the ability to daydream. This leads to a lot of humorous fantasy moments with the Doctor’s imagined versions of the Voyager crew. But when an alien crew hack into his program, they believe his fantasy versions of the ship and her crew are reality, and as you can imagine, wacky mix-ups ensue.
2. “Little Green Men,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 4
The Roswell incident of 1947 has been the source of many, many sci-fi shows and novels over the past seventy years. And a lot of them look and sound the same. But Star Trek played the whole thing for laughs when it was their turn to tackle it on DS9 in 1995. And thank goodness they did. The plot concerns an interstellar incident that has the series’ three most prominent Ferengi (Quark, Rom and Nog) accidentally go back in time and crash land in 1940s Earth. The money-worshiping Ferengi find out they greatly prefer the greedy and paranoid 20th century humans to the “perfect” ones of the 24th century, a pretty biting commentary on how bland everyone is often portrayed as being in Star Trek’s Utopian future. It was a fun way to see Trek poke fun at the Roswell mythology, and itself.
1.”The Trouble with Tribbles” Star Trek: The Original Series Season 2 / “Trials and Tribble-ations” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 5
You can’t beat this one-two combo of Federation frivolity. One of the funniest (and most well-known) episodes of the original series is “The Trouble with Tribbles.” This is the one that even non-fans like. It finds Kirk and crew on a remote space station where they encounter some adorable little furballs called tribbles, who are far more than the harmless critters they appear to be. Because once you feed these little things, they constantly replicate themselves to the point where the Enterprise in overwhelmed with cooing balls of cuteness. This episode has it all – Kirk trading insults with Klingons, bar fights, and my favorite moment of Spock throwing shade at Bones. And, of course, it gave us this timeless gif above.
To complete the tribble experience though, this episode should absolutely go back-to-back with the 1996 Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. For this special chapter, which celebrated the franchise’s 30th anniversary, The DS9 crew travel back 100 years into the past. There, they interact with the events of the classic original series episode. This was accomplished in what was then a state of the art technique, which allowed the modern crew to interact with old footage. And it’s still impressive looking today! Watching the DS9 crew dressed in ‘60s style uniforms trying to blend in to the past remains as fun to watch today as it did 23 years ago.
Featured Image: CBS