Since 1966, Star Trek has been one of the most dynamic, progressive sci-fi franchises ever created. Promising to boldly go where no one has gone before, Star Trek has taken on the form of television shows, films, books, comics, games, toys and much, much more.

Today I’m going to talk about the Star Trek movie series – specifically the best order to watch the films. This post should help to make it clear for all franchise newcomers what films to watch, and how to watch them in order to get the best experience.

OK, let’s ‘engage’ with the timelines/viewing orders.

The original timeline order

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

First up, the original Star Trek movie timeline. A timeline that is comprised of ten films, divided up between two distinct eras.

The first ear is spearheaded by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), who appears in seven consecutive movies beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). The second era is led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart), who appears in four movies beginning with Star Trek: Generations (1994).

This viewing order is as follows:

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Star Trek III: The 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: Generations (1994)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

As you can see from the list above, the first six movies have a number in the title, making it clear what order they are to be viewed in. The numbering system was dropped for the seventh movie, which also marked the transition from Kirk’s era of Trek movies, to Picard’s era.

Of course, should you only like the Kirk era, or vice-versa, then you could simply divide them up as follows:

Kirk era

Image: ©Paramount Pictures
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Star Trek III: The 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: Generations (1994)

Picard era

Image: ©Paramount Pictures
  • Star Trek: Generations (1994)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

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The rebooted timeline order

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

Following the underwhelming response to Star Trek: Nemesis, plus a strong desire to update the Trek brand for a new era, the franchise was given a reboot (of sorts) in 2009. This reboot began with Star Trek – a prequel which started the series back at the beginning, with a new Captain Kirk (this time played by Chris Pine).

If you wish to watch the rebooted timeline, the order is as follows:

  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)

And now for some housekeeping. Although 2009’s Star Trek kick-starts a new run of Trek movies, the film – and its sequels – are still connected to the original timeline.

During the course of 2009’s Star Trek it is established that an alternate timeline has been created – one that allows the original timeline to exist, while a new one is formed. As such, while these films can be viewed separately, they can also be viewed as part of one big Trek-verse with the Kirk/Picard movies.

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Production order

Image: ©Paramount Pictures

Should you simply want to watch all of the Star Trek movies in the order of their release, then you should opt for the production order. If you watch the films this way, then you will be able to follow the story as it moves from Kirk to Picard, before heading back to Kirk for the alternate timeline.

Watching the Star Trek films in production order is as follows:

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
  • Star Trek III: The 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: Generations (1994)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)

If I were to choose an order to watch the Star Trek films, then I would opt for production order. This order follows the original timeline, then explains the divergence into a new timeline and beyond.

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Should you want to go further than the movies, there are various Trek series’ to watch, from Star Trek: The Original Series through to Star Trek Discovery and more.

My favourite of all the Trek shows is Star Trek: The Next Generation – aka the Picard era. Star Trek: The Next Generation is available on Blu-ray from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

So, what is your favourite way to watch the Trek films? Do you watch them all in order or do you pick a specific era (Kirk, Picard, Kirk Mark II, etc) and watch those? More importantly, which is the best Star Trek movie? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading – until next time, happy viewing.

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