What is the recommended viewing order for young first-timers to watch Star Trek TV episodes and movies?

  • Some things are best read/viewed in the order of release, regardless of chronology. Some works are better taken in a sequence that reflects the order of the events represented. And for some others, it's a blend of the two.

    I'd like to introduce my 8-year old daughter to the Star Trek franchise, and hope to eventually cover it completely. That is, to fully include:

    • TV series

      • The Original Series
      • The Next Generation
      • Deep Space Nine
      • Voyager
      • Enterprise
    • Movies

      • The Motion Picture
      • Star Trek: II - VI
      • Generations
      • First Contact
      • Insurrection
      • Nemesis
      • Star Trek (2009)
      • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

    I've found a list on Wikipedia* that seems to thoroughly cover the chronological order down to individual episodes. Should I use this, or should I go in order of release? Or, is there another recommended alternative order?

    I am not interested in any answers that recommend exclusion of any series, episode, or movie from those listed above. However, lists that add more content are certainly welcome.

    Also, unless someone offers a compelling reason to do otherwise, I'm planning on leaving the 2009 movie for last since it represents the beginning of a completely new canon.

    *On a slightly related note, it would be really nice if somebody with sufficient time and resources could add episode numbers to that list.

    The one big thing to remember is to just leave out Star Trek V. It could turn her agains the whole franchise or, worse yet, with one so young, cause serious brain injury.

    Having not ever watched a full episode of any Star Trek series or movie (though I'd seen bits here and there in syndication as a kid), I decided to watch the new movie... For what it's worth, it made me want to watch the original series... which I now plan to follow with the movies 1-6, before moving on to the Next Generation... Lots of good info here though. Thanks!

    just watch TNG, then do it again

    @Robotnik I think I remember that coming up back when this was posted, and we decided that the "for an 8-year-old girl" was sufficiently unusual/different to mark it as not a duplicate

    @Izkata - Fair enough

    I started my daughter when she was 8 with Voyager and select Star trek Episodes Like Trouble with Tribbles ect. Then I showed her the Original Kahn Episode, then Wrath of Kahn, then Into the Darkness. Now every free second that she has, she wants to watch TNG. I have officially created a future trekkie!

    Star Trek V, that's the one where Kirk finds God and discovers that he looks just like Shatner, right?

    “Some works are better taken in a sequence that reflects the order of the events represented.” Have you got an example of such a work?

    I suggest going ahead and watching the cartoon to get that over with. I watched it with my daughters, amazed by the guest authors, but not amazed by much else. They are short episodes and go quick. Not bad.

    Your girl must be, what, 16 now? How did your experiment work out?

  • HNL

    HNL Correct answer

    9 years ago

    Considering that your child is a 21st-century-born 8 year old girl, I'd suggest the following:

    Original Series - Keep for last. She will not relate to the conversational styles, the special effects, the technology or the culture. Also, the main cast consists mostly of older men. One has to develop a taste for Star Trek before one gets into this.

    DS9 - Keep for last as per OghmaOsiris. It is too depressing and the commentary on the human (and alien) condition too subtle for her.

    Next Generation - Keep for #3 spot. May be too cerebral. Try the Q episodes. Children love Q. Children also love Data.

    Voyager - This is my recommendation. It has a female captain, a female engineer, a female nurse and later a female borg. It's fairly faithful to the original Star Trek principles, which I think any child could benefit from. The plots are mostly straightforward and limited to single episodes. The cast is younger. The scenes and sets are generally colorful and vibrant.

    Enterprise - Keep for #2. I think this is a great show, but if you lead with this, she might get the wrong idea about what Star Trek is. But that's just me. You could try both Enterprise and Voyager and see which she prefers best.

    Movies - I'd say keep for later. First Contact was a great movie in my opinion, but she needs a little background on the Borg and time travel before she can understand it.

    Recommended Voyager episodes: (again, considering your daughter's demographic)

    • Learning Curve (Season 1) - Crew episode
    • The 37's (Season 2) - Timeline episode
    • Twisted (Season 2) - Spatial anomaly episode
    • Death Wish (Season 2) - A Q episode
    • Future's End (Season 3) - Time travel
    • Worst Case Scenario, Scorpion I, II and the Gift (Season 3) - Borg, Seven of Nine Intro
    • The Raven (Season 4) - Seven's history

    Beyond this, I think you can basically go any way you wish, but the following were some episodes I really loved. I think she will too:

    • Relativity (Season 5) - a good time travel episode
    • Blink of an Eye (Season 6) - a good introduction to relative time
    • Workforce (Season 7) - crew episode
    • Q2 (Season 7)

    Recommended Next Generation episodes

    • Encounter at Farpoint (Season 1) - Pilot
    • Where No One Has Gone Before (Season 1) - This episode had a profound impact on my development
    • Hide and Q (Season 1)
    • Datalore (Season 1) - About Data
    • 11001001 (Season 1) - The Binars are interesting aliens
    • The Inner Light (Season 5) - Famous episode, but one needs to understand relative time

    P.S. Voyager is what got my sister hooked on Star Trek. It's also what I used to introduce my wife to Star Trek.

    Also bear in mind that some films, like First Contact, might be unsuitable for an eight year old. Similarly, the sight of Annika Hansen being taken by the Borg may give her nightmares.

    Remarkably thorough answer. Although I would recommend skipping Voyager and Enterprise entirely :)

    That occurred to me, plus the dark 22nd century scenes from the TNG pilot (like a guard being machine-gunned inside a court). But skipping such episodes might leave holes in the continuum. In that case, the best thing to do would be to wait a few more years until the child is older. @StephenGross That's probably what I'd recommend for an adult too. But the Voyager crew suffers from a sort of childish naivete that might endear them to a younger viewer!

    _Death Wish_ is about Quinn trying to commit suicide, so that maaay not be for an 8-year-old... (Then again, I can't really say what would be good or not for that age - just cautioning)

    You're right, but him being Q, he was rather cheery about it, wasn't he? Or am I remembering it wrong? None of the ST shows ever really got the concept of "dark" quite right (not even DS9 in my opinion, which mistook serial tragedy for darkness). So let's strike that episode off the list...

    My 10yo daughter and I have been watching the original series and she totally gets it and enjoys it. At least that's what she tells me ;) and she asks to watch them. Although she is a genius...

    Disagree strongly on several points. My parents started me on TOS and TNG around age six, thereby instilling a lifelong love of the franchise. Believe me, all eight-year-old girls are already well aware that men outnumber women in media. She won't even notice. The conversation in TOS isn't difficult, and special effects and culture will go right over her head. I agree that DS9 should be last- I hated it as a child because it was poorly lit. As for TNG being too cerebral, children are smater than you give them credit for.

    Great recommendations, but "children love Q"....really? "children love pyschopaths"?

    You're probably thinking of TNG episode 1 Q. He was later 'arrested' by the Q Continuum and reformed. In the Voyager era, he is more a mischief maker, and even an occasional ally.

    I could see Voyager being great for kids. I think that's a good suggestion. I'm biased against TOS because I'm almost 30 and I still can't sit through it.

    I was a child when TOS was all there was, and I **loved it**. On the other hand, I had no interest in Babylon 5 until I saw the second to last episode of season four (Ivanova's meltdown to Dr. Franklin regarding Marcus) and that one scene was so good I had to watch all of seasons 1-4. Still, playing too much with viewing orders that are wildly different from the order of release always seems like a bad idea to me. -1

    Answer might benefit from including Discovery now

    When my daughter was 8, we started with the Animated Series. The episodes are shorter, and the quality of the stories is very good. With original episode writers and cast, it feels like TOS. She loved Mr. Spock.

  • Order of release is probably the best.

     - TOS (TV)
     - The Animated Series (If you must, she's 8, so she might like it) (TV)
     - The Motion Picture (Movie)
     - Star Trek Movies 2-6 (Movie)
     - TNG (TV)
     - Deep Space 9 (Start after the 5th season of TNG and watch them along side each other) (TV)
     - Voyager (Start right after the end of TNG and watch along side DS9) (TV)
     - Generations (Movie)
     - First Contact (Movie)
     - Insurrection (Movie)
     - Enterprise (TV)
     - Nemesis (Watch sometime in the second season of Enterprise) (Movie)
     - Star Trek (2009 version) (Watch after everything else, then realize it was all a waste cause none of it will happen.) (Movie)
    

    If you want Continuity order:

     - Enterprise (TV)
     - TOS (TV)
     - The Animated Series (TV)
     - The Motion Picture (Movie)
     - Star Trek Movies 2-6 (Movie)
     - TNG (TV)
     - Deep Space 9 (Start after the 5th season of TNG and watch them along side each other) (TV)
     - Voyager (Start right after the end of TNG and watch along side DS9) (TV)
     - Generations (Movie)
     - First Contact (Movie)
     - Insurrection (Movie)
     - Nemesis (Watch sometime in the second season of Enterprise) (Movie)
     - Star Trek (2009 version)(Movie)
    

    Also, I wouldn't recommend her watching DS9 at a young age. It ruined it for me when I was a kid. You may want to wait till she's in her mid-late teens at the earliest if you want to to appreciate the story that DS9 is famous for. I would also recommend watching TNG DS9 and Voyager in that specific order as the stories between the shows will make much more sense.

    If you do decide to wait till she is old enough to appreciate DS9, it would be a good interim to get her to watch the Star Wars movies ;)

    Please see my edit. I'm leaving *Star Trek* for last, unless there's a really good reason not to.

    @Iszi Then my list holds ;)

    Why place Nemesis in the middle of Enterprise season 2? I can't see how that makes sense.

    Because that's when it was released.

    Oh, right. But if I want to watch in continuity order as you also suggest, that placement would change drastically.

    I will add an edit.

    You didn't like the animated series? I'm watching it for the first time on Netflix now. Yea, it's as campy and overdramatic as TOS, but I like them. I grew up watching reruns of TOS and saw all the others first run. I think it's on par with TOS. Certainly not as bad as watching Star Trek V. Speaking of V, I would recommend that you not let your daughter watch that movie... ever... ever... never. No one should be forced to watch that. It will emotionally scar her for life.

    This is the viewing order I'm following with my children (order of release). My 6yo, 8yo and 10yo loves TOS, especially the younger children. It helps that both their parents loves Star Trek.

  • Star Trek is not a kid's series: it deals with adult issues that may fall flat on a young child. It's going to be hard to recommend any order that covers everything, because 90% of it isn't going to be relatable to the average 8 year old. So I'm going to generalize this to apply to anyone, not just children.

    For first timers, the Original Series is too dated to be relatable unless they happen to have a penchant for vintage television. While you can start with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it's far too slow a pace and too much of a fanservice to the Original Series to be all that enjoyable to a first-time viewer.

    Instead, the first thing a first time viewer should watch is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It's received universal praise and sets up the tone and tenor of what Star Trek is all about: making difficult choices while still trying to preserve idealistic values.

    From there, work right through the movies up and including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. At this point, the viewer should have an understanding of the universe and how the series flows.

    Then they should move into Star Trek: The Next Generation, following the chronology of the series and movies that follow it. I provided the recommended viewing order based on chronology in another answer, but here it is again:

    1. TNG Season 6 starts
    2. TNG episode, "Chain of Command"
    3. DS9 Season 1 starts halfway through TNG season 6
    4. TNG Season 7 and DS9 season 2 begin
    5. TNG Ends
    6. DS9 Season 3 starts
    7. DS9 episode, "Meridian"
    8. Star Trek Generations, halfway through DS9 season 3
    9. DS9 episode, "Past Tense"
    10. Star Trek Voyager Season 1 starts halfway through DS9 season 3
    11. DS9 season 4 and Voyager season 2 begin
    12. DS9 season 5 and Voyager season 3 begin
    13. DS9 episode, "Things Past" and Voyager episode, "Warlord"
    14. Star Trek: First Contact, halfway through DS9 season 5 and Voyager season 3
    15. DS9 season 6 and Voyager season 4 begin
    16. DS9 season 7 and Voyager season 5 begin
    17. DS9 episode, "Covenant" and Voyager episode, "Thirty Days"
    18. Star Trek: Insurrection, halfway through DS9 season 7 and Voyager season 5
    19. DS9 ends
    20. Voyager seasons 6 and 7
    21. Voyager ends
    22. Star Trek: Nemesis

    You want to follow chronology because each series references the events of the others on a pretty frequent basis. They all stand alone, but if the viewer is going to watch everything anyway, they might as well watch it in the order that lets them get the most out of what's happening.

    Once complete, the viewer should have a complete working knowledge of Star Trek, and decide how to proceed from there:

    • If they go the Star Trek: Enterprise route, they'll get the benefit of keeping the production values from the other series while getting to find out about how it all began. There's a lot of references to stuff that happens TNG, DS9, and Voyager, but it also contains a ton of references to the Original Series.

    • If missing the references to the Original Series without having Memory Alpha open would bother the viewer, then start with the Original Series first. It'll be a huge throwback in terms of quality of production and story development, but after watching 500+ episodes and 10 movies, the viewer should already have an appreciation for the series outside of that.

    If they chose Star Trek: Enterprise, the next step is to watch the Original Series followed by Star Trek: The Motion Picture. If they chose the Orignal Series, they should watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture first, then watch Star Trek: Enterprise.

    Once the first go-around is complete, most people I know at this point will have decided which series is their favorite and will watch it again to pick up on all the stuff they missed the first time around.

    Finally, once the viewer has had their fill of Star Trek Classic, they should watch Star Trek, and if they're anything like me, cringe at how different it is from all that came before it.

    Relevant link to #1 recommendation: http://www.khaaan.com/

  • I regularly watch TV and movies while I work (I'm a web developer and my boss doesn't mind). During the summer, when there's very little good new TV, I tend to watch old shows. So, last summer, I started rewatching all of the Star Trek series and movies. I say rewatching, even though there are a few episodes here and there that I haven't seen.

    I'll tell you the order I chose, based on what I liked the best.

    I started with Star Trek: TNG. That show began when I was about five years old, and I wasn't much older when I started watching it. I loved it ever since then, and was so devastated when it ended. It's the series that I think best exemplifies what Star Trek is really about, and in my opinion, the best way to start with Star Trek. Some may think it will go over most kids' heads, but it didn't for me.

    Next I watched Voyager, because it was my second favorite series. I had rarely watched DS9 when it was on the air, because it was hard for me to get into it. Star Trek, to me, was about exploration, but DS9 took place primarily on a space station. There was very little exploration involved, at least early on in the show, and that bored me.

    After that, I decided I would start at the beginning (internally speaking), and watch everything else from there, so I began with Enterprise. I had seen a little of it when it was on initially. I was turned off of it, because originally, it was called simply "Enterprise" and not "Star Trek: Enterprise." I know, it's petty of me to nitpick at such a small thing, but that bugged me. It was like they were trying to get away from their roots. Watching the series this second time, I finally grew to really like it.

    Next was TOS, and then The Animated Series. I know a lot of people don't care for the Animated Series, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a good continuation to TOS.

    I still haven't gotten around to watching DS9, but probably will next summer.

    The movies I watched in their own sequence, but not in sequence with the series. I watched them whenever I felt like watching a movie.

    As for the recent movie, I don't consider it a real Star Trek movie. It may have the name, and all the characters, but it destroyed the Star Trek universe I grew up with, and came to love. The whole movie, I was wondering how Spock was going to fix all this and restore the universe to its rightful state, but he never did. Sure, some people say that it simply created an alternate timeline, but anyone who really has ever watched Star Trek knows that's not how time travel works in the Star Trek universe. It was an entertaining movie, but I will never consider it Star Trek canon.

    You should definitely watch DS9. I didn't watch it much during the original airing either (pre-teen through high school years for me), but I've really enjoyed being drawn into it this time around.

  • My recommendation is a little oblique, but hopefully helpful - Start with your own favorite series. Perhaps censoring a few episodes out for later when she's a bit older and able to comprehend them better.

    Children can pick up on whether or not adults like something, and will try to like it too to be 'more mature', so if you start with a series you personally aren't fond of, she's going to pick up on that and think it's boring too. Start with something you like, and with luck she'll be just as excited as you are.

    From there, boldly go where all the other questions have suggested before.

  • I just started my 8-year-old son watching TNG as his first Star Trek viewing experience. He is HOOKED. Encounter at Farpoint captured his interest right from the start. He enjoys the cerebral aspect of the show, and he asks a lot of questions.

    I'm surprised to notice some sexist portrayals of women in TNG, now that I'm watching with my young son. But when they come up, I just make sure to be very vocal in discussing them. Given this bit of discomfort, I believe VOY will be the next series for him to watch.

    TNG is very sexist in season 1, as season 1 is basically a clone of TOS. I wouldn't say later seasons are sexist, but you do have a majority male cast.

  • My daughter watched Avatar: The last Airbender series when she was about 7/8. We then showed her the Airbender movie which was her first real interest in non-animated film. We then showed her the Merlin series when she turned 8 and she loved it. When she saw the entire series I had to find something new. I found a website: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ where I got a recommendation to show her Star Trek, The Next Generation. She watched all 7 seasons and want more. TNG is defintely the place to start (Picard even has an iPad :-)). After 7 seasons she is hooked so I am now showing her The original series. She enjoys the stories but some Parental Guidance is advised. The 60's had some different ideas regarding females in the workplace :-). I will follow it up with Voyager and then Enterprise. With some of the early movies every now and again. DS9 will have to wait a year or two...

    I'd consider TNG a mediocre start. Especially the first seasons (or at least episodes) got a rather whacky tone, a lot closer to the original series. It's something that can work rather well, but it could backfire too. IMO, the best start would still be Voyager. To me the series always felt a lot more mature and less about "let's paint some whacky guys to get weird aliens with superpowers". Although this would mean you're missing references to TNG and DS9 (like the stranded Ferengi or Lt. Barklay (sp?)). But on the other hand, TNG might work, it's just important to know the tone changes.

  • I think it's rather easy to find out an order to watch the series. I take the Enterprise series and the new Star Trek movie as being an alternate universe. This is because of the events of First Contact would have altered the future even if they were small changes. The fact that TNG crew made contact with key figures that would shape the future and exposing them to future technology started a chain reaction of an alternate universe. Events in the Enterprise series shows signs of this alternate universe i.e Cochrane's speech clearly showing the Cochrane from First Contact and not the missing one in space from TOS episode. The destruction of Florida in ENT which I consider to be quite significant like the destruction of Vulcan in the new Star Trek movie has no mention in future canon in TOS, TNG, DS9 or VOY which makes me believe it did not happen in their version of the past. The events of the crew of ENT on board TOS enterprise is not their own future but an alternate future for them which is in fact the time line of TOS. Therefore I do not include ENT in the canon of TOS, movies TNG, DS9 and VOY but as the start of the alternate universe that leads into the latest movie.

    When Spock and Nero travel back in time in the Star Trek movie i think they not only go back in time but also to the alternate universe established by ENT. This would account for the technological differences to TOS. Obviously further changes to the time line are made during the movie. Also Captain Archers beagle is mentioned in this movie when the future Spock and young Kirk meet Scotty which strengthens the ties between ENT and the movie being from the same alternate universe. The external design and interior of the USS Kelvin more closely resembles a future looking ship of the USS Enterprise from ENT than a past ship of TOS.

    You could also go as far as saying that a more technological alternate universe was started during the movie "The Voyage home" when Scotty provides the information for warp speed on the computer. This could have sped up the development of future technologies by decades.

    In conclusion I therefore watch

    • TOS (TV)
    • The Motion Picture (Movie)
    • Star Trek Movies 2-6 (Movie)
    • TNG (TV)
    • Deep Space 9 (Start after the 5th season of TNG and watch them along side each other) (TV)
    • Voyager (Start right after the end of TNG and watch along side DS9) (TV)
    • Generations (Movie)
    • First Contact (Movie)
    • Insurrection (Movie)
    • Nemesis (Watch sometime in the second season of Enterprise) (Movie)

    If I am interested in following the alternate universe I only watch

    -First Contact (Movie)

    -ENT (TV)

    -Star Trek (Movie)

    or

    -Movies 1-6

    -Generations (Movie)

    -First Contact (Movie)

    -ENT (TV)

    -Star Trek (Movie)

    Actually Scotty gives the formula for "Transparent Aluminum" in The Voyage Home not warp drive. Also it's been stated as Word of God from Paramount that Enterprise is canon for all Trek media including the 2009 alternate universe film. It's the only thing that links them all together.

  • I think most 8 year old's would enjoy TOS, TAS and Enterprise more than TNG and DS9.

    The former [The Original Series, The Animated Series & Enterprise] are easier to digest and more about the spectacle as well as the adventure. The ladder [The Next Generation & Deep Space 9] are much more cerebral and I would suggest you wait until the child is 12 or 13 to show them those.

    Voyager is a conundrum as it has elements of both types of series. Though in my opinion none of the characters, save Seven of Nine, are worthy of admiration. Most are childish and do not learn anything about themselves despite the many opportunities they are given for growth. I find that, in any series, to be a hindrance to me when I think about what programs to show children.

    After all the problem solvers I endorse when I pick something out for them to watch, at such a young age, should have the basic elements I find praiseworthy. And while not every character in every Trek series makes the right decisions all of the time it seems the Voyager crew, more than most, holds a distinct monopoly on the types of personal failings that may negatively impact a developing mind.

    Enterprise is more comicbooky and two dimensional, while characters don't really grow here either at least most are not as lacking in personal responsibility and prisoners of their own preconceived notions throughout the entirety of the series.

    As for Continuity Order:

    • Star Trek: Enterprise seasons 1-5
    • Star Trek: The Original Series seasons 1-3
    • Star Trek: The Animated Series [Complete]
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation seasons 1-5
    • TNG season 6 begins
    • Star Trek: DS9 season 1 begins halfway through TNG season 6 - ep: "Chain of Command"
    • TNG season 7 and DS9 season 2 begins
    • TNG Ends
    • DS9 season 3 begins
    • Star Trek Generations, halfway through DS9 season 3 - ep: "Meridian"
    • Star Trek: Voyager season 1 begins halfway through DS9 season 3 - ep: "Past Tense"
    • DS9 season 4 and Voyager season 2 begins
    • DS9 season 5 and Voyager season 3 begins
    • Star Trek: First Contact, halfway through DS9 season 5 - ep: "Things Past" and Voyager season 3 - ep: "Warlord"
    • DS9 season 6 and Voyager season 4 begins
    • DS9 season 7 and Voyager season 5 begins
    • Star Trek: Insurrection, halfway through DS9 season 7 - ep: "Covenant" and Voyager season 5 - ep: "Thirty Days"
    • DS9 ends
    • Voyager seasons 6 and 7
    • Voyager ends
    • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • I'd say to start with Voyager. I grew up on Voyager, and it was flashy enough that it kept my focus wheres DS9 and sometime TNG would get a little too stuffy. I'd stay away from TOS and the first 3 seasons of DS9 till she's a bit more into it. As a side note, you might want to show her Andromeda as well. It's like Star Trek for people with short attention spans.

    I loved Andromeda. It didn't feel very Star Trek though, it was kind of missing something. Maybe it was the actors or the character development that was lacking...but I loved the premise. It was really a challenge that Dylan was taking on.

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