It’s time to boldly go where no one has gone before. This post will tell you how to watch all the Star Trek movies and shows in the best way possible. Whether you’re a hardcore Trek fan who wants to know the chronological order or someone new to this franchise, I’ve got something for you.
What’s in the Star Trek Viewing Order?
Trek creators only consider the episodes and films to be canonical in the Star Trek universe so we display them here in chronological order according to stardate (though stardate definitions have changed over time, so we work with what we have).
This list attempts to create a viewing order for all Star Trek television and films, but does not attempt to split up any episodes to view congruently. Instead, it focuses on an easy to follow viewing list. In the event that two works cover the exact same timeframe we first list the one published first. Additionally the placement within the timeline is often based on where the work ends rather than where it begins. There may be a few exceptions which will be pointed out in individual reviews. This timeline includes:
- The Films
- The Original Series (TOS)
- The Next Generation (TNG)
- Deep Space Nine (DS9)
- Voyager (VOY)
- Enterprise (ENT)
- Short Treks
- Lower Decks
So enjoy this table version of the timeline, and continue reading for a detailed breakdown of all this information.
Star Trek Movies in Order
Believe it or not, the Star Trek movies as they were released, are already in chronological order. So I don’t have to give you two orders here. Even the films in the Kelvin timeline are best watched in this order. I’ll get more into why that is, but the short answer is that for old Spock, the Kelvin timeline is still chronologically later than all of the other films.
Here is the films order:
- Star Trek I: The Motion Picture (1979)
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982)
- Star Trek III: Search for Spock (1984)
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
- Star Trek VII: Generations (1994)
- Star Trek VIII: First Contact (1996)
- Star Trek IX: Insurrection (1998)
- Star Trek X: Nemesis (2002)
- Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
- Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
All of that said, the films are fun, but the heart of Star Trek is really in the television series. So that’s what were going to talk about next.
Star Trek Series in Order
Giving the order of the TV series is a little trickier, because several of them came out at the same time, and covered the same era. So we’ll be sure to break down those individually by season.
The release order look something like this:
- The Original Series (1966-1969)
- The Animated Series (1973-1974)
- The Next Generation Seasons 1-5 (1987-1992)
- The Next Generation Season 6-7/Deep Space Nine Seasons 1-2 (1992-1994)
- Deep Space Nine Seasons 3-7/Voyager Seasons 1-5 (1994-1999)
- Voyager Seasons 6-7 (1999-2001)
- Enterprise (2001-2005)
- Discovery (2017-)
- Picard (2020-)
- Lower Decks (2020-)
- Prodigy (2021-)
- Strange New Worlds (2022-)
And if you want to watch all of them chronologically, this is what that would look like:
- Discovery Seasons 1-2
- Strange New Worlds
- The Original Series
- The Animated Series
- The Next Generation Seasons 1-5
- The Next Generation Season 6-7/Deep Space Nine Seasons 1-2
- Deep Space Nine Seasons 3-7/Voyager Seasons 1-5
- Voyager Seasons 6-7
- Lower Decks
- Discovery Season 3 and onward
Star Trek Kelvin Timeline
Before we move on, let’s get into some of the details about how I place the new Star Trek movies in order.
First, let’s get one thing clear, the Kelvin universe is an alternate timeline from everything else, including Star Trek Discovery, and all of the new Star Trek TV shows.
However, there is one character from the main universe that shows up in the Kelvin universe, and that is old Spock. It’s his traveling back in time that creates this new universe.
So while this time period technically takes place before the events of the original series, I actually think a better place to watch them is where they take place chronologically, which would be after all of the main films, and after all of the series except for Picard in the later seasons of Discovery.
As of right now there are only three movies in the Kelvin timeline, and they are:
- Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
- Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
There is some debate on whether these are “good” Star Trek movies, as some say they are more like Star Wars, leaning heavily on the action. But whatever your opinion, it’s fair to say that these films are responsible for bringing in a whole new generation of Star Trek fans.
What Order Should You Watch Star Trek?
While the chronological order can be fun to do, especially for diehard Trek fans, I actually recommend going by release order if you want to watch everything.
Obviously, there is a lot to get through, so you might not want to watch everything, or if you do, you’ll want to pace yourself.
I would start with some of the films, and make your way through some of the most important episodes of The Original Series, as well as all of the shows that aired in the late 80s and 90s. That will get you caught up enough to be well-versed in Star Trek for the new shows that are coming out these days.
And I would definitely watch all of the films, because some of the most important events in Star Trek’s timeline take place in those films.
How to Watch Star Trek in Order
The best way to watch all of the Star Trek series and order is on Paramount+ which has pretty much everything.
However, if you don’t have Paramount+ and still want to get your Star Trek fix, there are a few other streaming services that have some of the older shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, though some of those streaming services are losing those shows as Paramount+ consolidates all of their Star Trek shows onto their own platform.
The other viable option is to buy them all for yourself, and there are links to do just that in the table above. This is particularly important if you want 4K versions of the films, you’re only interested in one specific type of show, or if you just don’t want to stream your Star Trek.
Personally, I would just go with Paramount+.
The Complete Star Trek Chronological Order
All right, now that we’ve outlined the release and chronological orders for Star Trek, let’s get into the full breakdown of everything together.
Enterprise (Year 2151-2161)
First, at least chronologically, we have Enterprise. This was a prequel to the original series, set at a time when humans were first sending out their warp five starships, i.e. the first starships that were able to go into deep space.
It is set during a time of uneasy alliances and contention between humans and other races, including even the Vulcans.
It also lays the groundwork for a number of key events, including the first contact with the Klingons, Romulans, Andorians, and many others.
It was canceled after four seasons, which at the time was the shortest run since the original series. It also marked the end of episodic Star Trek television for 12 years, until Star Trek Discovery appeared in 2017.
While definitely not the strongest of Star Trek shows, it still follows the basic formula, so if you like that, you will likely enjoy Star Trek Enterprise as well.
The Cage (Year 2254)
The Cage was a pilot episode to the original series that technically takes place before Star Trek Discovery. It actually takes place a number of years before the rest of the Original Series, and doesn’t even feature Capt. James T. Kirk as a character.
While some elements will be familiar to later trek fans, such as the USS Enterprise itself and Mr. Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy), this really was a test ground for the series.
Although much of the original pilot would be scrapped in favor of a different Capt., several other different characters, and the shifting premise, overall The Cage would remain an important part of Star Trek canon, with a legacy that has built to the modern day with the introduction of Strange New Worlds, which features the same characters.
Discovery, Seasons 1-2 (Year 2255)
One of the newer entries of the franchise, Star Trek Discovery starts out in the years just before the time of The Original Series.
It focuses on a starship with a unique purpose, to discover the secrets of instant travel.
But doing so has consequences, and not to get too spoilery here, but let’s just say that, starting with season 3, the rest of this show takes place in a completely different time period.
The Original Series (Year 2265-2269)
The Original Series is what started it all when it aired in 1967, right at the height of the space race. It features Captain Kirk and a host of memorable cast as they elect to boldly go where no man has gone before.
It has since become iconic, spawning several films and multiple sequels until Star Trek became the media juggernaut that it is today.
Though a bit low on budget, and a little over the top in places, The Original Series still holds up remarkably well, and is a testament to how innovative and ahead of its time it truly was.
The Animated Series (Year 2269-2270)
Many people do not know that there was actually an animated series that followed the original series by a few years. I like to think of this series as the remaining two years in the supposed five year mission, following the original series cancellation after three years.
The animation looks a lot like the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the time, including the Flintstones and Scooby Doo, but the quality is not the best that Star Trek has seen overall, and this is definitely one that can be skipped unless you are a completionist.
The Original Series Films (Year 2273-2293)
In 1979, the first of the Star Trek films was released. It would be the first in a long line of Star Trek film and TV shows. There would be six films specifically focusing on the original Enterprise crew. Chronologically, these all take place after the original series but before The Next Generation.
The Next Generation, Seasons 1-5 (Year 2364-2469)
Next comes five full seasons of Star Trek: The next generation, which is one of the more uninterrupted periods of the chronological timeline.
This series deals with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) and his crew, as they continue the ongoing mission of the Star Trek Enterprise. It includes memorable characters such as Commander data, Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf (the first Klingon with the Federation), and Chief Engineer Jordi Laforge.
The Next Generation, Season 6-7/Deep Space Nine, Seasons 1-2 (Year 2469-2471)
Following the first five seasons of The Next Generation, we get the final two seasons plus the first two seasons of Deep Space Nine.
The seasons overlap with each other, interweaving their narratives. If you want to know the exact episode order, I recommend referencing the table above.
The Deep Space Nine is a favorite Star Trek show for a lot of people. It involved some of the most memorable characters, including Captain Benjamin Sisko, who for many people, is the best captain. During the show they encounter a series of threats, including the Cardassian Union.
Star Trek: Generations (Year 2371)
I’m one of those few people who actually really love Star Trek Generations, the film that took place just after Star Trek The Next Generation, and involves the same cast. It also marks the final film appearance of William Shatner as Captain Kirk.
While many criticize it as being just an extended episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, I find this to be one of the films that is most true to its Star Trek roots, and feels the most like Star Trek.
Deep Space Nine Seasons 3-4/Voyager Seasons 1-2 (Year 2371-2372)
We get a few seasons of Deep Space Nine and the start of Star Trek Voyager following the events of Star Trek Generations.
Voyager is another Star Trek show that would run for seven seasons, and features a crew led by Captain Janeway as they tried to navigate an unknown region of space so they can return home.
Star Trek: First Contact (Year 2373)
Interrupting the ongoing shows is Star Trek First Contact, the Next Generation film that many people consider to be one of the Star Trek films of all time. It includes a definitive confrontation with the Borg, and some time travel shenanigans that lead to the witness of first contact with Earth.
It’s definitely one of the best films of Star Trek in general, largely due to Patrick Stewart’s brilliant performance, and an emphasis on character development for him in particular.
Deep Space Nine Seasons 5-7/Voyager Seasons 3-5 (Year 2373-2375)
As with many of these films, you will find several seasons of Deep SpaceNine and Star Trek Voyager in between. In this case you get the final two seasons of deep space nine, as well as two more seasons of Voyager.
Star Trek: Insurrection (Year 2375)
Next we get Star Trek Insurrection, which was not as well received as Star Trek First Contact. It’s plot was more mellow, trying to do too much, inject too much humor, and is overall a rather dull film. Nevertheless this film takes place right as Deep Space Nine ends, and should be watched at this point.
Voyager Seasons 6-7 (Year 2376-2378)
Here we finish off the last of the 90s era television shows. Star Trek Voyager ended with a bang, and although Star Trek Enterprise did come to take its place in 2001, by this time the golden age of Star Trek had kind of fizzled out.
In addition to Enterprise being canceled after four seasons, we will see with our next installment that people had rather grown tired of Star Trek.
Star Trek: Nemesis (Year 2379)
According to release date, Star Trek Enterprise would’ve been the next installment after Voyager, but chronologically our next step is Star Trek Nemesis. This Star Trek movie came out in 2002, to a weak box office return and lukewarm critical reception.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of this film, though it did lay the groundwork for a sort of Search for Data type of story, which I was very excited about at the time. And it does introduce us to Tom Hardy as the lead villain Shinzon.
Unfortunately this was the last we saw Star Trek for many years, and certainly the last of the Next Generation crew that we saw until just recently.
Lower Decks (Year 2380-2381)
With a revived interest in Star Trek television came an animated series called Lower Decks, which was a series geared for fans of adult animated series like Rick and Morty.
Though not quite is “adult” as Rick and Morty or similar television shows, it’s definitely not meant for kids. Chronologically, it takes place one year after Star Trek Nemesis, and spends a lot of time throwing Easter eggs and fun bits of Star Trek lore at us.
Overall, it’s a good time.
Prodigy (Year 2383)
Prodigy is another animated series, this time intended for children. It takes place just a few years after Lower Decks, and involves a group of young aliens coming across the USS Voyager.
It features the returning voice of Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway, and is a great entry point for younger fans of the Star Trek franchise.
Picard (Year 2399)
Picard is one of the flagship series in modern-day Star Trek. It shows the fallout of several key events, including the Romulan tragedy that resulted in Spock going back in time to inadvertantly start the Kelvin universe.
It takes place over a decade after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, and a lot has happened at that time. Of note is the fact that the former Captain Picard is no longer satisfied with the way Starfleet works, and he has to take some matters into his own hands.
Chronologically, this takes place several years after the last appearance of the Next Generation crew, but is technically not the end of the Star Trek timeline…
Discovery Season 3 and onward (Year 3188-89)
Finally we get back to Star Trek Discovery. Starting in season three, this show takes place nearly a thousand years after the main part of the timeline, and shows a very different universe than what we would expect.
To say more would be to spoil the show, so I won’t do that, but Star Trek Discovery is one of those shows that started off a little shaky, but has ended up being extremely good. I highly recommend it.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Star Trek Timeline
I’ve got a few extra questions that I get asked a lot related to this watch order, so I thought I’d include them in a short list here at the end.
Where does Star Trek Discovery Fit in the Timeline?
The first two seasons of Star Trek Discovery take place in 2255, just 10 years before the events of the original series. Beginning with the third season, Discovery takes place nearly a thousand years further in the future.
What is the Kelvin Timeline in Star Trek?
The Kelvin timeline is an alternate reality in Star Trek, one where Kirk’s parents died, Vulcan is destroyed, and a lot is different in general. It does not have any direct effect on the main timeline for Star Trek’s other shows. Right now it only consists of three films, the first two directed by JJ Abrams, and starring Chris Pine, along with a lot of other amazing actors.
When is the Picard Series in the Star Trek Timeline?
The Star Trek Picard series takes place in the year 2399, 20 years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis.
Where does Lower Deck Take Place in the Timeline?
Star Trek Lower Decks takes place in the year 2380, one year after the events of Star Trek Nemesis.
Where does Star Trek Prodigy Take Place in the Timeline?
Star Trek Prodigy takes place in the year 2383, four years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis, and three years after the events of Lower Decks.
Where Does Strange New Worlds Take Place in the Star Trek Timeline?
Strange New Worlds takes place in the year 2255, beginning immediately following the events of season two of Star Trek Discovery.
Do You Need to Watch Star Trek in Order?
No, you do not need to watch Star Trek in order. If you are a completionist, and want to watch everything in order, I recommend release order over chronological order. But most of the shows are designed to stand on their own, and can be watched without prior knowledge of the franchise.
Where is the Best Place to Start Watching Star Trek?
Star Trek began with the Original Series, but that show is hard for some to get through since we’re used to much higher modern standards. Generally, I encourage people to start with the first films (starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The new Kelvin timeline can also be a good place to start, but be aware that those films are much different than most of the Star Trek media. As always, if you have questions or comments about this timeline, we recommend you visit our contact page.