With Star Trek: Picard debuting later this year on CBS All Access, now is the perfect time to boldly go explore the Star Trek Universe.

It is composed of 13 films and seven - soon to be eight - TV shows. Now, it'd be easy enough to watch them all in the order they premiered, but if you prefer to watch them chronologically (when the events take place), we've compiled an ultimate viewing guide for you. Below, you'll find the entire franchise origanised by stardates. It starts with the oldest event in the original Star Trek timeline.

Speaking of timelines, there are two in Star Trek: The original, which includes nearly all the films and TV shows; and Kelvin, an alternative timeline that kicked off with the latest three reboot films. To better understand what we're talking about, please read the guide below. Those of you who want to proceed spoiler-free, however, can scroll all the way to the bottom for the list version of this guide.

Also at the bottom, we've included another spoiler-free list. It's structured by order of release - or when each film and TV show premiered.

Star Trek: Best viewing orders
Original Star Trek timeline (Chronological) Original Star Trek Timeline (spoiler free)
Kelvin timeline (alternate/reboot order) Kelvin timeline (spoiler free)
Release date order (spoiler free)  

The original Star Trek timeline

The thing to remember about this order is that it is chronological - based entirely on the stardate time system in the Star Trek franchise. Think of stardates as years. In that case, the order below starts with the oldest events in the Star Trek Universe - but it excludes the Kelvin timeline films.

WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW.

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Star Trek: Enterprise (2001 to 2005)

Stardate: 2151 to 2156

Set right before the founding of the Federation of Planets (and about 100 years before the original Star Trek series), Star Trek: Enterprise is a TV show that follows the adventures of Captain Jack Archer, played by Scott Bakula, and the Starship Enterprise crew. This ship is the first Federation vessel to have Warp 5 capabilities, allowing its crew to be among the first deep-space explorers.

The series introduces many of the different alien species important to the Star Trek Universe, such as the Vulcans and Klingons. It also begins to lay the groundwork for the Federation of Planets, in the fourth and final season.

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Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)

Stardate: 2256

Star Trek: Discovery follows Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green, the first officer aboard the USS Shenzhou, before she is found guilty of mutineering. However, with the Federation at war with the Klingons, the captain of the new Discovery ship, Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs, enlists Burnham to help get the ship’s experimental warp drive properly working.

Discovery is the most recent Star Trek TV show, debuting on the CBS All Access streaming service in 2017. It’s also a major departure from all previous Star Trek shows, as it mostly follows Burnham, rather than a captain of a Federation ship.

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Star Trek: The Original Series (1966 to 1969)

Stardate: 2266 to 2269

This is the original Star Trek TV show. It began airing in 1966 and primarily follows the crew of the USS Enterprise, starting with them embarking on a five-year mission “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”. The series introduces William Shatner’s Captain James T Kirk and Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, too.

It also gives us the basis for the universe that makes Star Trek so successful, from introducing the numerous alien species like the Vulcans and Klingons, to showing us the inner workings of the Federation of Planets. The origins of the Star Trek Universe wouldn’t exist without it.

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*Optional* Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 to 1974)

Stardate: 2269 to 2270

After The Original Series ended, it quickly became a cult classic. Creator Gene Roddenberry then began work on an animated series that saw most of the original cast provide voice work for the animated versions of their characters. The show essentially functions as the fourth season of the original series, with the original characters navigating unexplored sections of space.

However, it was eliminated from canon by Roddenberry himself, when the rights we’re renegotiated following the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So, if you want to consume every drop of Star Trek content, add this to your list.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Stardate: 2273

This is the first feature film in the Star Trek Universe. It sees Captain James T Kirk retake the helm of a renovated USS Enterprise to investigate a mysterious cloud of energy that is moving toward Earth. The energy cloud destroys a Federation monitoring station, as well as three Klingon ships, but before Kirk is able to engage it, he must learn to operate an unfamiliar USS Enterprise.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Stardate: 2285

The second Star Trek movie is perhaps the most successful entry in the franchise. It sees Captain James T Kirk taking command of a USS Enterprise staffed with untested trainees in order to track down the adversary Khan Noonien Singh and his genetically engineered super soldiers.

In the process of escaping a planet that Kirk trapped him on, Khan learns of a secret device known as Genesis, capable of re-organizing matter to terraform (make them habitable) planets. Khan tries to steal the device, but, of course, Kirk will do all he can to stop him.

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Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

Stardate: 2285

Following their battle with Khan, the crew of the USS Enterprise returns home to Earth in this third feature film. Once there, Leonard H “Bones” McCoy, played by DeForest Kelley, begins to act strangely, leading to him being detained. Captain James T Kirk, with the help of Spock’s father, Sarek, played by Mark Lenard, then learns that Spock transferred his Katra into McCoy before dying.

If nothing is done, McCoy will die from carrying Spock’s Katra. So, the crew of the USS Enterprise go back to the site of their battle with Khan - in the hopes of retrieving Spock’s body. To top it all off, they must battle with the Klingon Kruge, played by Christopher Lloyd, over control of the Genesis Device. The Search for Spock is also directed by Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Stardate: 2286

In this film, a mysterious ship begins orbiting Earth and destroys the planet's power grid. It emits strange noises, too, and the newly resurrected Spock realizes the sound is similar to the now-extinct humpback whale. Believing the strange ship is expecting to hear back the song of humpback whales, the crew goes around the Sun and travels back in time to 1986 to get a humpback whale.

Nimoy returned to direct this film, as well.

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

Stardate: 2287

After finishing a mission, Kirk, Spock, and Bones are enjoying a camping trip in Yosemite in this film when they are ordered to rescue hostages on the planet Nimbus III. But, once arriving on the planet, the crew realizes Spock’s half-brother, Sybok, is responsible for taking the hostages in order to lure a starship, with the hopes of reaching the mythical planet Sha Ka Ree and meeting a God.

Sybok realizes he’ll need Kirk’s expertise to navigate through the barrier at the center of the Milky Way that leads to this mythical planet. Along the way, the Klingon Kraa decides to hunt Kirk. The Final Frontier is also the only Star Trek film directed by William Shatner. 

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Stardate: 2293

In the final film of this series, we see the Klingon homeworld nearly destroyed, leading the hostile empire to engage in peace talks with the Federation. Captain James T Kirk is assigned to escort the Klingon ambassador, but is instead blamed when assassins beam aboard the Ambassador’s ship and kill him. The Klingons then sentence Kirk and McCoy to life imprisonment on a frozen asteroid.

At that point, Spock and the rest of the crew must find the true culprits behind the attack of the Klingon ship and rescue Kirk and Bones.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 to 1994)

Stardate: 2364 to 2370

Set 71 years after the USS Enterprise’s last mission with Captain James T Kirk at the helm, The Next Generation introduces us to a new USS Enterprise staffed with the next generation of Starfleet officers, led by Captain Jean Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). This TV series also shows us new species of aliens, the Cardassians and the Borgs, which replace the now-friendlier Klingons as the Federation’s primary adversaries.

The Next Generation ran for seven seasons and featured a couple cameos from The Original Series, like Spock and Bones, among others.

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 to 1999)

Stardate: 2369 to 2375

This TV show overlaps with the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It focuses on the former Cardassian space station, a backwood outpost that the Federation now controls and has ordered a Starfleet crew to run, with Avery Brook’s Benjamin Sisko as the commanding officer. It's not about a starship exploring the unknown, but rather the trade disputes and political maneuvering surrounding a crucial military hub.

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Star Trek Generations (1994)

Stardate: 2371

Star Trek Generations is the first film to feature the crew of The Next Generation while also starring some of The Original Series cast. The plot primarily centers around an El-Aurian, named Dr Tolian Soran (played by Malcolm McDowell), as well as an energy ribbon known as the Nexus.

You see, in 2293, Soran is rescued from the Energy Ribbon by a retired Captain James T Kirk, who is attending a maiden voyage of a new USS Enterprise. Then, in 2371, while answering a distress call, Captain Jean Luc Picard finds Soran - and he has a weapon capable of destroying stars.

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Star Trek: Voyager (1995 to 2001)

Stardate: 2371 to 2378

After leaving Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in search of a group of Maquis rebels, the Starship Voyager, led by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), is captured by an energy wave that sends it - and a ship of Maquis rebels - into the middle of the unexplored Delta Quadrant. With both ships damaged and far from home, the crews agree to join forces and begin a 75-year journey back to Earth.

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Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Stardate: 2373

In this film, the USS Enterprise tries to help defeat a Borg Cube attacking Earth, with Captain Jean Luc Picard assuming command of a fleet of starships. However, just before the Cube is destroyed, it releases a smaller ship that enters a temporal vortex. The USS Enterprise gives chase through the vortex, but in the process, realizes the Borg traveled back in time and assimilated the entire planet.

And once through the Vortex, the crew arrives in 2063. More specifically, they arrive one day before Zefram Cochrane (played by James Cromwell) uses the first warp drive system, which draws the attention of the Vulcans, leading to humanity's first contact with an alien race. 

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Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

Stardate: 2375

The action now centers around a planet with a type of unique radiation that rejuvenates its people, known as the Ba’ku. The effects of the radiation makes the Ba’ku nearly immortal. In this film, Brent Spinner’s Data is sent undercover to monitor the Ba’ku people and soon begins to malfunction, which causes Captain Jean Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise to investigate.

They uncover a conspiracy between a species, which is hostile to the Ba’ku, and Admiral Mathew Doherty, a Starfleet officer played by Anthony Zerbe. The crew of the Enterprise must stop them both in order to save the Ba’ku from being forcibly removed from their home planet. 

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Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Stardate: 2379

Captain Jean Luc Picard and the USS Enterprise crew are sent on a mission to meet with the leader of the Romulans, Shinzon, played by a super young Tom Hardy. Once there, they learn that Shinzon is actually a clone of Picard, created in the hopes that he would one day be able to infiltrate the Federation. The Romulans had abandoned the plan and sent Shinzon into slavery.

He led a rebellion, however, and created his own starship, the Scimitar. Soon, the Enterprise learns Shinzon’s true plan is to use a form of radiation poisonous to all life in order to attack the Federation and destroy Earth.

Kelvin timeline: The alternate Star Trek timeline

These films kick off JJ Abrams' alternate Star Trek timeline. Officially called the Kelvin timeline, it's named after the USS Kelvin. If you want to watch them, you can do so either before or after Star Trek: The Original Series. We prefer you watch it after - in fact, watch it after you've finished the original Star Trek timeline, because it literally takes place in a different timeline.

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Star Trek (2009)

Stardate: 2258 to 2259 (Kelvin timeline)

This film begins with the Romulan Nero, played by Eric Bana, attacking the USS Kelvin. The first officer aboard that starship is Captain Kirk’s father, George, played by Chris Hemsworth. When George dies, the events of the original Star Trek Universe are altered dramatically. However, Bones (Karl Urban), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Kirk (Chris Pine), and the original crew still find their way to the USS Enterprise.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Stardate: 2259 (Kelvin timeline)

Even in the alternate timeline, Captain James T Kirk and Spock have to face off with Kahn. This time, the genetically modified super soldier is played by Benedict Cumberbatch and begins his assault by bombing a Starfleet office in London, before attacking the Starfleet headquarters and killing Admiral Pike (Bruce Greenwood). Kirk and Spock are sent on a mission to capture Kahn on the Klingon homeworld.

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Star Trek Beyond (2016)

Stardate: 2263 (Kelvin timeline)

In this film, the USS Enterprise is three years into its five-year mission to explore the unknown when it is sent to rescue an escape pod. The escape pod’s occupant is Kalara, who tells the crew her ship is stranded on a nearby planet, Altamid. Once close to the planet, the USS Enterprise is attacked and destroyed by a swarm of small ships controlled by an alien named Krall, played by Idris Elba.

The USS Enterprise crash lands on Altamid, and most of the surviving crew is captured by Krall. Only Captain James T Kirk, Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Kalara escape from him, leaving them on their own to find out his larger intentions and to free the rest of the crew.


The original Star Trek timeline at a glance

This is the very same original Star Trek timeline order as above, but in a bulleted list so that you can quickly skim and avoid all spoilers.

Note: The TV shows are in bold.

  • Star Trek: Enterprise (2001 to 2005)
  • Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)
  • Star Trek: The Original Series (1966 to 1969)
  • Optional: Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 to 1974)
  • 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: The Next Generation (1987 to 1994)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 to 1999)
  • Star Trek Generations (1994)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (1995 to 2001)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

Kelvin timeline at a glance

Here's another bulleted list, but for the Kelvin timeline, so you can quickly skim and avoid all spoilers. Watch this after the original timeline.

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

Movies and shows in order of release

Here are all the Star Trek movies and series, by order of when they premiered in theatres or on TV. 

Note: The TV shows are in bold.

  • Star Trek: The Original Series (1966 to 1969)
  • Optional: Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 to 1974)
  • 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: The Next Generation (1987 to 1994)
  • Star Trek Generations (1994)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 to 1999)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (1995 to 2001)
  • Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  • Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  • Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
  • Star Trek: Enterprise (2001 to 2005)
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)

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