The Definitive Chronological Viewing Order For The Star Trek Cinematic Universe

Marvel might get credit for pioneering their transmedia “Cinematic Universe,” but truly, Star Trek in the 90’s was way ahead of the game.

In the span of that decade, the Star Trek universe saw the release of four feature films and three TV shows that all shared some degree of interconnected continuity, over a decade before the world realized that this was the future of entertainment.

Yes, Star Trek was twenty years ahead of its time, but most of it has aged so well there’s no reason not to go back and enjoy it. If you’re like us, and want to know how the puzzle fits together while you’re watching it built, we’ve got you covered.

Aside from the occasional stardate hiccup, Star Trek has done a pretty admirable job of keeping its continuity in order, making it fairly straightforward to place things into a timeline. With no end to Star Trek storytelling in sight, we’ll keep this page updated as frequently as possible as new movies and TV shows are announced and released.

[Update] We’ve added Star Trek: Discovery (Season 3) to the post.


Original Timeline

Star Trek: Enterprise

This series follows Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of Starfleet’s first warp 5 vessel: The Enterprise (NX-01).

This early placement in the timeline gave the show a lot of runway to explore some seminal events in the Star Trek universe, including first contact with the Klingons. The series was cancelled after four seasons, and began a nearly 12 year hiatus for Star Trek episodic series that ended with Discovery in 2017.

The Cage

“The Cage” is the initial pilot episode for the original Star Trek series. While at the time the network rejected it and ordered a new pilot (“Where No Man Has Gone Before”), the episode was retroactively canonized in Star Trek: Discovery.

Its new, official placement in the timeline is now notable for its introduction of Christopher Pike, the original captain of The Enterprise.

Star Trek: Discovery (Seasons 1-2)

This series was the first to debut on CBS All Access, with the first two seasons set about a decade before The Original Series. It follows the crew of the USS Discovery (NCC-1031) during the first Klingon-Federation war, with the second season revolving around a mysterious figure known as the “Red Angel.”

A third season is upcoming, but is set much further along in the timeline.

Star Trek: The Original Series

TOS crew

This is where it all began. Over a century after the events of Star Trek: Enterprise, this series follows the Captain James T. Kirk and the voyages of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) on its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before.

While the series only ran for three seasons, it continues to be some of the most defining storytelling in the Star Trek canon.

Star Trek: The Animated Series

This animated show essentially serves as a continuation of The Original Series, featuring the same cast of characters in 22 episodes across 2 seasons.

For a long time, this series was officially non-canon, but over the years it has become increasingly referenced in other material; and in 2007, the official website included information from The Animated Series in its “library” section, making a strong argument that the series is, at least in part, canonical.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Approximately four years after the conclusion of The Original Series, Kirk is now an Admiral. He resumes command of the USS Enterprise after a powerful alien being called V’Ger destroys several Klingon warships and sets a path towards Earth.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Wrath of Khan

The Wrath of Khan, widely considered to be the greatest Star Trek film, acts as a sequel to both Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the episode “Space Seed” from The Original Series.

In that episode, Kirk and crew tangled with the genetically engineered superhuman Khan Noonien Singh, who ruled more than a quarter of the Earth during a period called the Eugenics Wars. At the end of the episode, Khan is exiled to the uninhabited planet Ceti Alpha V.

In The Wrath of Khan, he escapes, and plans a revenge using a device known as the Genesis Machine, designed for terraforming planets.

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

TFFS

Picking up a few weeks after the end of Khan, The Search For Spock finds the crew of the Enterprise learning that there might be a way to bring back their deceased friend.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

The Voyage Home

The Voyage Home concludes the unofficial film trilogy that began with The Wrath of Khan. Returning to Earth to face trial for stealing the Enterprise in the previous film, the crew become embroiled in time travel hijinks when they’re tasked with traveling to the past. Their mission? Bring back a humpback whale, now extinct in their timeline, which holds the key to stopping a destructive alien probe that has emerged from deep space.

The film concludes with Kirk returning to the rank of Captain, and taking command of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A).

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

TFF

This film was William Shatner’s first feature directing credit, a result of his contract terms after Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek III and IV. The film takes place shortly after the conclusion of The Voyage Home, as the USS Enterprise-A is taken over by the rogue Vulcan Sybok who believes God lives at the center of the galaxy.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

TUC

The final Original Series film, The Undiscovered Country acts as a swan song for the cast as they embark on one final adventure together. One half murder mystery, one half Cold War political thriller, this is an often overlooked but really strong entry that closes out The Original Series era in style.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Seasons 1-5)

This series kicked off arguably the most explored era of Star Trek storytelling, with over 178 episodes, four feature films, and a ton of ancillary material. The numerous story arcs follow Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise-D as it embarks on a long-term exploration mission.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 6, Episodes “Time’s Arrow: Part 2” – “Chain of Command: Part 2”)

This batch of episodes in TNG‘s sixth season, culminating in the fantastic two-parter, “Chain of Command,” lead in to a period in the timeline where two Star Trek series ran concurrently.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 6, Episodes “Ship In A Bottle” – “Descent: Part 1” / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 1)

Deep Space Nine

Deep Space Nine, the fourth Star Trek TV series, is set concurrently with the events of TNG‘s sixth season, just in a very different part of the galaxy. It follows Commander Benjamin Sisko aboard the titular space station, located near a wormhole that allows passage to the distant Gamma Quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy.

Star: Trek The Next Generation (Season 7) / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 2)

These two seasons also take place at roughly the same time, though it’s worth noting that The Next Generation Season 7 ends just before the last few episodes of Deep Space Nine Season 2.

The second season of Deep Space Nine is notable for introducing the USS Defiant.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 3, Episodes “The Search: Part 1” – “Distant Voices”) / Star Trek: Voyager Season 1 (Episodes “Caretaker” – “Prime Factors”)

Following the end of The Next Generation, a new series called Voyager was aired that likewise overlapped with the timeline of Deep Space Nine. Voyager was the first Star Trek series to have a female captain, Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager. The series features the first appearance of a number of Star Trek species including the Kazon, Vidilians, and Hirogen.

Star Trek: Generations

Generations was the first of four Star Trek films set during The Next Generation era. This story worked as a bridge of sorts between The Original Series and TNG time periods, revealing the fate of Kirk, and giving him a brief meeting with his eventual successor, Picard.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 3, Episodes “Through The Looking Glass” – “The Adversary”) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 1, Episodes “State of Flux” – “Learning Curve”)

The second halves of Deep Space Nine‘s third season and Voyager‘s first overlap.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 4) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 2)

The Klingon-Cardassian war heats up for a strong season of Deep Space Nine that also introduces Worf to the cast.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 5, Episodes “Apocalypse Rising” – “For The Uniform”) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 3, “Basics: Part 2” – “Blood Fever”)

Deep Space Nine Season 5 is when the show started firing on all cylinders creatively. Tensions are rising, characters are growing richer, and the show’s plot threads are coming together. Voyager also went through a creative revamp, with season 3 containing some of its best episodes.

Star Trek: First Contact

FC

This film gives the crew of TNG their own shot at some cinematic time travel hijinks, as they head to the past in order to protect the inventor of the warp drive from the Borg.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 5, Episodes “In Purgatory’s Shadow” – “A Call To Arms”) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 3, “Unity” – “Scorpion: Part 1”)

This block of episodes are some of the best across both shows.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 6) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 4)

Voyager

The Dominion War arc is in full swing on Deep Space Nine, while Voyager brings in Seven of Nine and has arguably its best season yet.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 7, “Image In The Sand” – “Covenant”) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 5, “Night”  – “Infinite Regress”)

Deep Space Nine‘s seventh season is a little uneven in the first half but still has some great stuff. The rest of Voyager will never be as good as its fourth season, but Season 5 still has some great episodes.

Star Trek: Insurrection

STI

This film finds the crew of the USS Enterprise-E going up against a species known as the Son’a, who are attacking the population of a peaceful planet to steal their regenerative properties.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Season 7, “It’s Only A Paper Moon” – “What You Leave Behind”) / Star Trek: Voyager (Season 5, “Nothing Human”  – “Equinox: Part 1”)

The Dominion War (and Deep Space Nine overall) comes to a close with an ambitious arc.

Star Trek: Voyager (Season 6-7)

Voyager continues on after the conclusion of Deep Space Nine, acting as the only running Star Trek series until the premiere of Enterprise in 2001.

Star Trek: Nemesis

Nemshin

The Next Generation era comes to a close with this final film, as the crew of the USS Enterprise-D encounter a clone of Captain Picard (played by a young Tom Hardy), who has taken over the Romulan Star Empire.

Bonus: Star Trek Online

While technically not a film or TV series, it’s worth noting that Star Trek Online takes place in the original timeline and continues the story past the events of Star Trek: Nemesis.

Star Trek (2009)

The J.J. Abrams helmed Star Trek kicks off the “reboot” era known as the “Kelvin Timeline,” after the USS Kelvin. While most of the story takes place in an alternate timeline (which we’ll explore in a separate section below), events narrated by Spock take place in the original continuity, following the destruction of Romulus.

The aftermath of this event in the original timeline is explored in the series, Picard.

Star Trek: Picard

The eight Star Trek series, Picard, takes place about 20 years after Nemesis. Jean-Luc Picard is retired, having resigned in protest when the Federation chose not to aid the Romulans as their home planet was destroyed.

Short Treks: Calypso

One of the shorts in the Short Treks collection on CBS All Access is set way in the future, hundreds of years after the events of Discovery.

Star Trek: Discovery (Season 3)

The end of Season 2 of Discovery saw the crew embark on a one-way trip to the furthest we’ve ever explored in the Star Trek timeline. The season will pick up about 900 years after The Original Series era.


Kelvin Timeline

Star Trek

Spock’s attempt to intervene in the disaster that destroyed Romulus inadvertently sent him and the Romulan mining ship Narada back in time, causing the creation of a second, alternate timeline. In this timeline (now the home of the OG Spock, effectively removing him from the original timeline), James T. Kirk loses his father shortly after his birth, resulting in a very different start to his Starfleet career.

Star Trek Into Darkness

Into Darkness

Into Darkness reveals that in the Kelvin Timeline, the cryogenically frozen body of Khan Noonien Singh was recovered by Admiral Alexander Marcus of Starfleet, who covertly used him to develop advanced weaponry.

Star Trek Beyond

Screenshot 2015-12-14 09.47.29

Beyond takes place roughly two and a half years after Into Darkness, halfway into the crew’s five year mission. The crew of the Enterprise must contend with the dangers of the final frontier when they’re ambushed by a mysterious fleet. The end of the film sees the introduction of the USS Enterprise-A to the Kelvin Timeline.

To date, this is the furthest along we’ve seen of the reboot timeline, although rumors of a fourth film continue to persist (perhaps featuring the return of George Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth); as well as another Kelvin-set feature written by Quentin Tarantino.

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