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Star Trek: Release Timeline and Chronology

SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER! Here’s your one-stop for the entire filmography of Star Trek movies and TV series. This article will serve as an introduction to everything Star Trek. I’m going to list down all films, every TV series including the animated shows in their order or release, as well as chronologically. With 788 episodes spread across 37 television show seasons, and 13 movies, this is going to be one hell of a journey. Here we go!

WARNING! SPOILER ALERT. If you’re okay with knowing the main characters and the premise of each of the shows, you may proceed. As for the ‘Star Trek Movies’ section, you MIGHT find spoilers in the plot reveals. Skip to the end of the article for a chronological timeline of how to watch the shows and movies in order. 

Star Trek Shows 

Gene Roddenberry created what can be called one of science fiction’s most important and revolutionary media franchises. It all began with the pilot episode ‘Cage’, which was supposed to introduce the Original Series in 1965, but was rejected by NBC. In William Shatner’s Up Till Now, it states NBC thought the episode was “too cerebral” and deep. But isn’t that what the best sci fi is made of? The concept was so intriguing for them to just pass on, that they decided to pay for a second pilot episode. And the rest is history! 

The episode ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ was created. It was a moment that kicked off the Star Trek: Original Series in 1966. Let’s take a look at the television series. 

In Order of Release

The Original Series: 1966 – 1969 

Year: 2265 – 2269
Seasons: 3

To boldly go where no man has gone before! Remember that line? Here’s where it began. The Original Series (or TOS) tracks the five-year journey of the USS Enterprise. It also establishes the characters of Captain Kirk and his first officer Spock from the planet Vulcan. Notably, the late Leonard Nimoy played the role of Spock, and you will have seen a famous Vulcan salute image that’s pretty historic from here. There are notable moments like Captain Kirk visiting 20th century New York, the introduction of the genetically modified Khan (Khan Noonein Singh) and his 84 followers escaping the Eugenics Wars and ending up in suspended animation at the SS Botany Bay, and more. 

The Animated Series: 1973 – 1974

Year: 2269 – 2270
Seasons: 2

The Animated Series continues the journey of the USS Enterprise from the Original Series. There was much more that could be done with the animated series that TOS couldn’t feature, like non-humanoid alien creatures in roles of officers aboard the starship. 

The Next Generation: 1987 – 1994

Year: 2364 – 2370
Seasons: 7

This show appeared after 13 years of the animated series ending, and had the chance to do seven seasons for the next seven years. If you noticed, it also jumps an entire century ahead from the Original and Animated series. The series introduces Captain Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Enterprise-D. The century jump also facilitated new ideas for the starship, like an upgrade from the original Enterprise, and had a much larger crew. There are some fascinating things here, like the time-travelling crew meeting Mark Twain in San Francisco! 

Deep Space Nine: 1993 – 1999

Year:  2369 – 2375
Seasons: 7

You can say Deep Space Nine helped expand the Star Trek universe beyond just the treks into space, and exploration. It had a more engaging story about a commercial space station called Deep Space Nine, and dives into the political and diplomatic aspects. There’s also a few random journeys to earth, like three Ferengi aliens crash landing in Roswell, Mexico in the 20th century, and are taken in by the police as aliens. 

Voyager: 1995 – 2001

Year: 2371 – 2378
Seasons: 7

The USS Voyager was a separate ship, and was connected to the tail endings of The Original Series. It was also not a very big ship like the Enterprise, and had a limited crew. The tales of Captain Kathryn Janeway take the crew of the Voyager all the way to the Alpha Quadrant. The USS Voyager can also be described as a fantastic futuristic ship that was swift, and could land on practically any planet’s surface. 

Enterprise: 2001 – 2005 

Year: 2151 – 2161
Seasons: 4

As timelines go back and forth, it is obvious that the Enterprise is where it began. The show goes back to a time BEFORE The Original Series, and talks about the beginning of the warp-drive technology. The ship featured is the USS Enterprise NX-01 whose captain is Christopher Pike. This is the show that established how humans first made contact with other alien races such as the Ferengi, Andorians, and even first contact with Klingons, later long-time enemies of the Federation. 

Discovery: 2017 – present

Year: 2255 (Seasons 1 and 2, Season 3: 3185)
Seasons: 5 (3 released)

I am really glad this show was made, even though many older Trekkies will disagree with where the franchise started going. The show features protagonist Michael Burhnam (she/her), science officer aboard the USS Discovery NCC-1031. She is adopted as a child by Sarek and Amanda Grayson, who are the parents of Spock. The Enterprise’s Christopher Pike temporarily takes command of Discovery. The show also jumps to the FAR future by the end of the second season, a year I don’t think I can remember, somewhere around 2900-3000, leading the crew into another one-way trip into the advanced future. The third season explores an event called the Burn, a lot of new tech, and a glimpse into Section 31. 

Short Treks: 2018 – 2020

Year: 2255
Seasons: 2

This show started off to accompany Star Trek: Discovery and it basically has short stories about characters from there, as well as from the Star Trek Universe. It was made keeping in mind a deeper storytelling, character development and themes from the shows. It was announced in 2018 itself by Alex Kurtzman, and ran parallel to Discovery’s second season. There were a total of 10 episodes across both seasons. 

Picard: 2020 – present

Year: 2399
Seasons: 3 (1 released)

Picard LITERALLY brings back Patrick Stewart to play the role of Picard! The show goes back where Picard is asked for help by a stranger, taking on one final mission and as usual, Starfleet is indebted to him! The show also shoots back to around 2,00,000 years ago, speaking of the Conclave of Eight, and referencing a race of synthetic beings. 

Lower Decks: 2018 – present

Year: 2380
Seasons: 2

It took 45 years for another animated series in the Star Trek franchise! I haven’t watched this one yet, but I’ve only heard good things about it. 



Star Trek Films: 2273-2293

In Order of Release

 

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Year: 2273

The movie revolves around a big energy cloud, former Enterprise captain Kirk – who now works on ground with Starfleet command taking control of the ship again, Spock’s appearance and inability to complete a ritual on Vulcan because of an emotional disturbance, and a robotic replica of abducted navigator Ilia called ‘V’Ger’ sent to study ‘carbon lifeforms’. This was the first gripping Star Trek film.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Year: 2285

The Wrath of Khan revolves around Khan Noonein Singh and his genetically superior followers. When trying to test the ‘Genesis’ device on an uninhabited planet, the USS Reliant stumble upon Khan who learns of the Genesis device and is after it. The USS Enterprise comes to assist, but Khan’s control over Reliant and the destruction of space station Regula I causes a dramatic turn of events and the device’s eventual activation. This movie is sad for Spock fans!  

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Year: 2285

Even chronologically, which you will see later, this movie follows with the Enterprise returning to earth after the battle with Khan. This film features the USS Grisom and a return to the Genesis planet to study the events that occurred, and well, spoiler, the resurrection of Spock. How and where? You will have to watch the movie to find out. But yes, more Klingons. 

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Year: 2286

The movie revolves around a mysterious object traversing space and disabling every ship it passes. Earth is now in danger as the object approaches closer and the sky is overcast. The Enterprise crew on Vulcan with the newly resurrected Spock have to travel back in time using the Klingon ship they renamed Bounty, and procure humpback whales. The whales communicating would act as a response to the vessel at its frequency, like an answer to an alien signal. The movie logs the journey, and the eventual meeting with the Federation Council for disobeying direct orders! 

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Year: 2286

The movie features the newly commissioned USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), who embark on a rescue mission to save Federation, Romulan and Klingon diplomats. The Enterprise heads to Nimbus III, a planet set aside for diplomatic relations. They soon realise Spock’s half-brother Sybok has intentions to use the USS Enterprise to go to the planet of creation, Sha Ka Ree. Much ensues, a vengeful Klingon called Klaa tries to kill Kirk, and the Enterprise has to come up with an escape plan. 

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Year: 2293

A shock wave hits the USS Excelsior, destroying the Klingon moon of Praxis and the ozone layer of the Klingon’s homeworld. Kirk has to face the Klingons to maintain diplomatic peace relations, and assassins that are cabal of Federation, Klingon and Romulan origin wanted to sabotage peace relations. Kirk and McCoy are sentenced to life on an icey Klingon planet, and finding out who was responsible is the plan of what happens in the movie. 

The Next Generation Films

Star Trek Generations (1994)

Year: 2293

This movie goes from a possible Kirk, lost in space during a rescue mission in 2293, to Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the Enterprise-D. He receives a distress signal from the same race of El-Aurians the Enterprise was trying to save almost a century ago. Problems follow when the El-Aurian, Dr. Tolian Soran, wants to reach the ‘Nexus’, an extra-dimensional realm where he can escape the deaths of his wife and family.  The story continues with a plea to the Duras sisters, the Veridian system, and a chance to atone for past mistakes. 

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) 

Year: 2063

First Contact kind of jumps back in time to stardate 2063, before TOS (The Original Series). 

The movie dives into the coming of World War 3, the first warp flight, the Vulcans introducing Earth to the Galactic Federation, and Borg’s attempts to destroy Earth. Captain Picard takes the Enterprise-D on another mission to the past, and ensures Borg’s attempts fail. 

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Year: 2375

This is one of my favorite movies. Jean-Luc Picard suspects Admiral Matthew Dougherty of the USS Enterprise-E of defying a Prime Directive. He intends to harvest the homeworld of the Ba’ku people of the ring’s ‘metaphasic particles’ that has advanced healing medicinal properties. Much tension continues on the discovery of Son’a, a banished race who were originally Ba’ku, and pursued technological advancement over living in peace. Watch this one!  

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Year: 2379

This is one of the movies you watch to maintain the continuity because you’ve committed quite a bit to the series by now! The 10th and final movie from the older films had the revived cast from The Next Generation. This one comes with a Picard clone called Shinzon who was a Reman rebel leader taking revenge on their Romulan oppressors. The Enterprise is lured to Kolarus III where they also had discovered B-4, an android that looked just like Data. All the double faces, the ambush by Reman ship Scimitar, and the eventual plan of using thalaron radiation is a trip across the Romulan world. 

 

The Kelvin Timeline

Chris Pine is a fine Kirk, and Zachary Quinto, a brilliant Spock. The Kelvin timeline originated from the destruction of the USS Kelvin starship by the Romulan ship Narada. What I love about the Kelvin timeline is that the movies were taken up by some of my favorite science fiction writers and directors – JJ Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci! At least the first two movies had them involved, and it did take forward the legacy of Star Trek to a whole new level. With polished VFX, attention to detail, and the most believable futuristic tech, we’re heading into the three newer Star Trek movies that are in an alternate universe, caused by the destruction of the Kelvin starship.

Star Trek (2009)

Year: 2233

This movie establishes how the Kelvin timeline occurred. George Kirk, the father of popular Captain James Tiberius Kirk, is the captain of the USS Kelvin, and dies saving the lives of his crew. This movie takes on the Romulan’s attempts at destroying Vulcan by plunging its core, Kirk meeting the old Spock from the original timeline (PLAYED BY LEONARD NIMOY HIMSELF!) telling him how he and Nero (Romulan commander of Narada) are from 2387. Spock attempted to save Romulus from a supernova using red matter but the plan failed and Nero lost his family, and both the Romulan and Spock’s vessel were sent back in time. This led to Nero attacking the USS Kelvin and changing history by creating an alternate universe. 

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

Year: 2259

This is definitely my favorite new Star Trek movie from the Kelvin timeline. The film is notable for a lot of things, one being the destruction of Vulcan by Narada, a Romulan ship. An Admiral named Alexander Marcus is curious to further the military capabilities of Starfleet, and he stumbles upon the SS Botany Bay. This is a few years before it is actually discovered in the main Prime timeline. It is exactly when Khan is recruited by Section 31. The story of Khan’s destruction continues, and how he has to temporarily side with the Enterprise to work together and find out about Section 31. 

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Year: 2164

The movie celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, and all imagery was keeping the original series and crew in mind. The Enterprise crew crash land on a planet where all the crew are scattered. The starship is destroyed by Krall, who is after a device on the Enterprise. He needs it to complete an ancient bioweapon. This, however, remains the most underwhelming of all the movies in this trilogy, and there’s an unforgettable Beastie Boys moment in the main battle. 

How You Can Watch it in Chronological Order

Well, you could watch it in extreme detail if you take GamesRadar+’s advice. They’ve given a year by year breakdown of the series, the movies, and all timelines, which I absolutely admire. It’s worth a check out HERE.

I’m just going to write down the order more or less in chronology of how it all fits together. Here’s how you should watch Star Trek if you want to watch it in order of YEARS.

The Prime Star Trek timeline

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) | Year: 2063

Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005) | Year: 2151 – 2161 

Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969) | Year: 2265 – 2269

Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974) | Year: 2269 – 2270

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) | Year: 2273

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982) | Year: 2285

Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock (1984) | Year: 2285

Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home (1986) | Year: 2286

Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier (1989) | Year: 2286

Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country (1991) | Year: 2293 

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) | Year: 2364 – 2370

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999) | Year: 2369 – 2375

Star Trek: Generations (1994) | Year: 2293

Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) | Year: 2371 – 2378

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) | Year: 2375

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) | Year: 2379

Star Trek: Lower Decks [Animated] (2018-present): 2380

Star Trek: Picard (2020-present) | Year: 2399

Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present) | Year: 2255, jump to 3185

 

The Kelvin Star Trek timeline

Star Trek Beyond (2016) | Year: 2161

Star Trek (2009) | Year: 2233

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) | Year: 2259

 

Information gathered from Memory-Alpha, StarTrek.com – The Official Star Trek website, GamesRadar+, Wikipedia, and watching the shows and TV series myself. It’s a lot to remember so I needed some help!

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A singer, rapper and musician from Mumbai, India and host at Ticket Fairy (India), I've worked in the music business for over 7 years now, specialising in music marketing, public relations, social media, event management, hospitality and stage management.

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