After doing some research online, we discovered that no such list exists. Well, not one we were satisfied with anyway. Some lists we found just listed “Enterprise” at the beginning and then basically listed all the episodes in the order that they aired on TV. Another listed all TNG followed by all DS9, etc. Still another listed only by stardate (with some missing episodes).
Some of these were pretty good, but we still had questions. We wanted to know how all the 24th century (TNG, DS9, VOY) stuff fit together. Where do the TNG movies fit in? What if no stardate is listed? What about multi-part episodes and arcs? (You can’t just split one complete story in half because another episode aired in between.)
We felt there could be a more comprehensive list based on all the available information. We wanted a list that would flow naturally, and provide both coherency and variety. To that end, we set out to create a chronological order that was absolutely comprehensive and, well… logical. A list that when viewed in sequence would let the complete story of the Trek Universe unfold naturally.
To do so, we devised a series of rules to follow. As with any set of rules, there had to be a few exceptions made. We did our best to account for as much as possible, including stardate, time travel, in-universe consistency, airdate, and in some cases even production number.
Below is an explanation of our process, followed by the list itself.
Step 1.) Time Travel
- One of the first questions we had to ask ourselves before we even began was what to do with all those pesky time-travel episodes. After all, this is supposed to be a linear listing and time travel isn’t exactly linear. After thinking about it for a while, it became clear that the best way to deal with this was to place these episodes at their “point of origin”. To be specific, from the point of origin of the Prime Universe Characters who are central to the story being told.
- For example: In “Star Trek: First Contact” the crew of the Enterprise-D travels from the late 24th century back to the mid 21st century to stop the Borg. We placed this episode in its appropriate spot according to its 24th century origin stardate, NOT in the 21st century during Zephram Cochran’s warp flight.
- Another Example: Although the Enterprise episode "Carpenter Street" begins and ends the actual episode in 2004, the main characters (our "heroes" if you will) hail from the 22nd century shortly after the events of "Similtude". Therefore, although the episode's "point of origin" may be in the past, the real perspective of the story is from the NX-01 crew's point of view, so it is placed accordingly.
Step 2.) Constructing the Basic Chronological List
- Unfortunately, there was nothing “basic” about this. We discovered after compiling a number of different lists that due to various factors, we would have to approach each era of Trek history slightly differently in order to get the most accurate chronology. So, we took it step-by-step:
- Since ENT was the latest show to be produced (at the time of the initial creation of this list), the writers and producers had a pretty good bearing on when and where these episodes fit into the rest of Star Trek lore. ENT is also one of the more serialized series (at least the last two seasons), so this one was pretty easy.
- We simply started everything off with “Broken Bow” and placed the episodes in the same sequence they originally aired on television... with a few exceptions noted below.
- We did, hold “These Are The Voyages…” until much later due to the fact that the events actually occur in a holodeck on the Enterprise-D. This made “Terra Prime” the last episode chronologically before Discovery.
Discovery Seasons 1 and 2
- These are super serialized and all take place between "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Due to the serialized nature, airdate order was the obvious way to go. Season 3 onward?... see below.
Strange New Worlds
The Original Series
- Unlike ENT, this was the first show produced and the-powers-that-be were still trying to figure everything out when they made/presented this show. Particularly the first season.
- Due to this, it made much more sense to us to order these episodes by their production number, rather than by air dates (which causes a lot of inconsistencies) or stardates (which were made up somewhat randomly at this point). Presenting them in the order they were produced made the most sense chronologically.
- So, we started with the first two pilots: “The Cage”, then “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and went by production number from there, ending with “Turnabout Intruder”.
- This was easy. After “Turnabout Intruder” comes “The Motion Picture” followed by Star Trek(s) II – VI.
TNG (Seasons 1 through 5)
- This is was the last grouping before things start crossing over. When looking at season one, we realized that the stardate system at this point in the production schedule still had something to be desired. The stardates don’t line up sequentially with either the original air date or the production number.
- Since ordering by either stardate or production number would likely cause some discrepancies (ie. Tasha Yar dies in one episode, but is alive in the next), we decided to play it safe and simply order the first 5 seasons of TNG by their original television air date, much like we did with ENT.
TNG Seasons 6 and 7 / DS9 / VOY / TNG Movies
- Here’s where it gets really tricky. There is a lot of overlap involved, but with some effort and care, we figured it out!
- One nice thing was that by this point, the stardate system seems to have been universalized by the producers, making stardates from this point on an extremely accurate way to determine how an episode from one series relates chronologically to episodes in the other series.
- Some episodes, however have unknown stardates. When this occurred we used other episodes within the same series as a reference point, so that the sequence within a single series would remain intact (provided the stardates also aligned)…
- Occasionally, ordering by stardate would cause an episode to be placed in a different order within its own series than it originally aired on TV. In these extremely rare instances (listed below under "Temporal Anomalies"), we watched the episodes in question to make sure ordering by stardate would not cause any “in-series” continuity errors. If they did, we left them in their original order. This may have resulted in a few rare instances when stardates are slightly out of order, but this makes the most sense in regards to continuity. (production numbers also helped aid us in this aspect)
- Also on occasion, there would be an episode of DS9 and an episode of VOY that originally aired on the same night and both had unknown stardates. In these cases the sequence of these two episodes was basically up to our discretion, so we placed them in an order that would add the most variety to the viewing experience by alternating them depending on what episodes came before or after.
- We then went back through and adjusted to account for Multiple-Part episodes and arcs. We put these together so that a single “story” would not be broken up by episodes from another series. (Luckily, the stardates seemed to cooperate quite nicely here!) For example: VOY: “Warhead” originally aired just prior to DS9: “Dogs of War”. However, since “Warhead” has an unknown stardate, we chose to place it after DS9: “What You Leave Behind” as not to interrupt the final 8-episode Dominion War arc.
Star Trek: Picard
- This series takes place after the events of both Nemesis and Star Trek (2009)'s destruction of Romulus in the Prime Universe and is placed accordingly.
Step 3.) Sorting Out “Temporal Anomalies” (contradictions, exceptions, and where the real work is done)
ENT: “These Are the Voyages…”
- As mentioned above, this entire episode takes place on the holodeck of the Enterprise-D during the events of TNG: “The Pegasus”. Therefore, we placed this episode directly after “The Pegasus” on our list, rather than post ENT: “Terra Prime”.
- We also feel that the episode when placed here provides a nice throwback to the Archer’s mission when viewing these in chronological order.
VOY: "Lifesigns" and "Investigations"
- These episodes cause one of those rare moments (late in Trek) where the stardates conflict with plot ordering. Even though the Stardates would place "Investigations" before "Lifesigns", in "Lifesigns" Tom Paris is still maintaining his "misbehavior", a minor arc that is finally resoved in "Investigations".
- Since the Tom Paris plot-line is obviously more relevant than the stardate mentioned in Janeway's log, we re-ordered these to coincide with the former (and subsequently the original airing order).
"Star Trek: First Contact"
- This is another instance of the stardate conflicting with internal plot references. The stardate for "First Contact" would actually place it after DS9: "Children of Time", however the events of "First Contact" are actually referenced by Captain Sisko in DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow".
- As a result, we moved "First Contact" up, and like the VOY episodes above, chose plot references over the Captain's Log. (Hey, even Starship Captains forget what day it is from time to time ;)
“Star Trek: Insurrection”
- Ok, here we go. This is the big elephant in the room, but it's got to happen SOMEWHERE specifically in the timeline, so here's our best effort!
- It has no apparent stardate, and a number of lines and/or situations that suggest contradictory placements within the timeline. For one thing, Worf is present and still a Starfleet officer, which would suggest these events take place prior to DS9: “What You Leave Behind” when Worf agrees to become the Federation Ambassador to Qo'nos. Memory-Alpha.org even suggests that “Insurrection” takes place during the events of DS9: “It’s Only a Paper Moon” due to Worf’s absence from that episode. Although very good arguments can be made for placing this AFTER "What You Leave Behind", the majority consesus seems to be that Memory-Alpha's suggested placement is the best one, so that's where we put it. Thanks to all our readers who commented to help us come to this decision!
VOY: "Living Witness"
- UPDATED Jan 2021 - This episode takes place entirely in the distant future (from VOY's perspective) c. 3074. There are flashbacks to the 24th century where the Doctor's backup was lost, but the episode itself takes place in the Delta Quadrant somewhere around the time of The Burn (give or take a few decades). Since Discovery Season 3 has been released, we're placing it just before it in the timeline.
2009’s “Star Trek”
- Since Spock from the Prime universe is present and a main character in the film, we felt this movie should definitely be included in our chronology.
- Placing this film in our timeline was actually pretty simple. Since most of the events take place in an alternate universe, we simply used a variation of our time-travel "point of origin" rule (above). Using Spock-Prime's future as that point of origin, we placed this post- Star Trek: Nemesis on our list. The events from the original canon that Spock Prime recalls (ie. the destruction of Romulus) clearly take place after that movie and prior to the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series.
ENT: "In A Mirror Darkly Parts I and II"
- This is an odd case where the episodes take place entirely in the Mirror Universe without any Prime Universe characters crossing over to form a "point of origin" for our timeline. Oddly enough, if there were in fact NO ties to the Prime Universe a case could be made for these episodes to be omitted from our list entirely. HOWEVER, although no "characters" from the Prime Universe appear, a SHIP from the Prime Universe does appear! So, we took the Primeline "point of origin" from the USS Defiant (NCC-1764) from the TOS episode "The Tholian Web". Since that ship from the Prime Universe plays a major role in the events of these episodes, we used our time travel rule the same way we did for 2009's "Star Trek" film, and placed these episodes directly after "The Tholian Web". This makes more sense chronologically than placing it between ENT: "Bound" and ENT: "Demons" where it originally aired, and keeps us consistent with our own rules. Thanks to a poster on our site for pointing these episodes out and causing us to think through it some more!
DSC Season 3 and onward...
- Discovery seasons 1 and 2 take place pre-TOS and are placed as such. However, season 3 takes place roughly 1,000 years after the first two seasons. As such, we will make an exception to our temporal "point of origin" rule, and place these episodes AFTER Nemesis, ST: Picard, etc. The reason being although the characters and ship are from a previous time period, the universe they inhabit from this point on is entirely that of the 32nd century. DSC Short Trek: "Calypso" is also being placed at the end for this reason.
"Kelvin Timeline" Films (Other than 2009's "Star Trek")
- Subsequent films that take place in the Kelvin timeline have very little to do with the Prime Universe. Although "Star Trek Into Darkness" does include a cameo of Spock Prime, and "Star Trek Beyond" mentions his death and features some images from the Primeline, we don't feel that they are enough of a plot point in those films to officially include them in our chronology of the Prime Universe. If you want to include them in your watching, we recommend watching them immediately following Star Trek (2009).
"Very Short Treks"
With Discovery Season 3 taking us further into the future than we've seen thus far, I thought it might be fun to do a list of episodes that "fill in" some of the gaps between the 22nd-24th centuries we know so well, and the 32nd century that Discovery now inhabits.
For this list we're turning our "point of origin" time-travel rule completely on it's head! Rather than list the episodes chronologically from our "heroes" point of view, this list is ordered chronologically based on the "far future" events that are either seen in the episode itself or are the catalyst for the events in the episode. It get's a little timey-wimey (to borrow from another franchise), but that's what makes it fun! Enjoy!
* - "TCW" indicates events within the Temporal Cold War which was fought between various factions originating between the 26th and 31st centuries
TNG A Matter of Time c. 25?? - A time ship from this era travels back to the 22nd century -> 24th century
ENT Azati Prime c. 2554 - The Battle of Procyon is depicted in which the Enterprise J takes part (TCW)
TNG Captain's Holiday c. 2666 - The Tox Uthat is created and sent back hundreds of years to Risa
ENT Cold Front c. 27?? - The Suliban's mysterious benefactor hails from this century (TCW)
VOY Future's End, Part I c. 2873 - The Federation Timeship Aeon travels back to 1967 and is captured
VOY Future's End, Part II c.2873 - Captain Braxton and the voyager crew repair the timeline
VOY Relativity c. 2875 - The Federation Timeship Relativity travels back to save Voyager
ENT Storm Front, Part I c. 29?? - The Na'Kuhl, led by Vosk travel back to Nazi Germany (TCW)
ENT Storm Front, Part II c. 29?? - The Na'Kuhl are defeated by he Enterprise NX-01 crew (TCW)
ENT Future Tense c. 3052 - A vessel from this year is sent back to the 22nd century (TCW)
ENT Shockwave, Part I c. 3052 - Agent Daniels is from this era - Archer is brought here in an alt. timeline (TCW)
ENT Shockwave, Part II c. 3052 - Timeline restored - Federation still operates and has temporal agents (TCW)
The "Burn" occurs sometime between 3068 and 3088 causing the widespread damage to the Federation
VOY Living Witness c. 3074 - In the Delta quadrant, the Doctor's backup begins the long journey home.
DSC That Hope is You c. 3188 - Michael Burnham arrives in the 32nd century
DSC Far From Home c. 3189 - The Starship Discovery arrives in the 32nd century