Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Process (please note: SPOILERS within) - UPDATED March 2017

The following are details of the steps we took to create our episode chronology. We hope you'll agree that we took great care in "getting it right".

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”.

- 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.

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:

- Enterprise

- Since ENT was the latest show to be produced, 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 TOS: “The Cage”.

- 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”.

- TOS Movies

- 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.

Step 3.) Sorting Out “Temporal Anomalies”

- 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. 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.

- However, there are some lines and situations within the movie that seem to indicate that the Dominion War has just ended. Our main arguements being:
       - The mention of "Dominion negotiations"
       - We learn in DS9: "Penumbra" that the Son'a are likely manufacturing ketracel-white during the war. If this was going on concurrently, we don't believe the Federation would be allying with them at all. Once the war is over, there would likely be some more leniency.  
       - The fact that the Enterprise being sent on this kind of mission during the height of a war seems well, illogical to us.
*This all of course, causes some confusion regarding Worf’s status at this time.

- Technically, we believe the events of this film take place during DS9: "What You Leave Behind", specifically, after the final battle with the Dominion, but before the signing of the peace treaty. For all we know, there could have been weeks in between those two scenes. However, since it would be silly to stop watching "What You Leave Behind" half way through to watch "Insurrection", we placed "Insurrection" directly afterward, similarly to how we placed "These Are the Voyages..." directly after "The Pegasus".

- We realize that reasonable people will disagree with this decision (and that's ok by the way!), but we feel given the lack of detailed information available this is as good a placement as any. Thanks to all those who have offered challenges to our thinking on this as well as alternative placement options, but for now we will stick to our original placement.

- NOTE: It could also take place entirely after "What You Leave Behind". It's possible Worf never actually went through with becoming an ambassador. His status as still being a Starfleet officer in "Nemesis" would seem to lend some evidence to the idea that he did not. We'll probably never know.

-VOY: "Living Witness" 

- Here is the one place we broke our own rules for the sake of what "feels right". Technically speaking, this episode is the latest episode of them all chronologically (taking place entirely in the distant future c. 3074). However, it just felt wrong to end the entire chronology on this somewhat forgettable episode (not that's it's a bad episode, just not really worthy of the "grand finale"). For that reason, we kept it in around the time the Doctor's backup holo-matrix was presumably lost (c. 2374). I doubt many people would disagree with this decision, but you should know we are aware of the issue, and this was a deliberate choice.

- 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. In fact, we feel it provides a fitting end to the overall story of the “Prime” canon, while at the same time passing the torch to a whole new canon.

- 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 rule (above) and, using Spock-Prime's future as the point of origin, placed this as the last “episode” on our list. The events from the original canon that Spock Prime recalls (ie. the destruction of Romulus) clearly take place post-“Nemesis”.

- 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 Primline "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!


-  "Kelvin Timeline" Films (Other than 2009's "Star Trek")

- Although subsequent films that take place in the Kelvin timeline have very little to do with the Prime Universe, "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 as well. We don't feel that they are enough of a plot point to officially include them in our chronology of the Prime Universe, but it's enough that we didn't feel we should ignore them either. So, we've added them to the list in grey lettering as an epilogue to the Prime canon story. These will very likely be the last of the Kelvin films to be included on this list.

Star Trek: The Animated Series

 - Whether or not TAS is included in the official Star Trek canon varies depending on who you ask. For many years it was generally accepted that only officially produced live-action episodes and films were considered canon. This seems to have changed in recent years and the latest official word from CBC/Paramount/Roddenberry is that it is canon. That being said, we originally set out to create comprehensive list of the Live Action, Prime Universe, Star Trek canon. Thus we made the choice not to include it on our list. However, once again reasonable people will disagree, so although we didn't name or number them, their overall place in the timeline has been noted on our list. If you want to watch them, we recommend watching them in their air-date order between TOS: "Turnabout Intruder" and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture".

Star Trek: Discovery

 - This is very exciting, and by all known accounts this show is said to be taking place in the Prime Universe, likely set between the main events of ENT and TOS. Rest assured, as more information and (more importantly) episodes become available we will update our list accordingly!


  1. Very great post, keep doing,I like reading startrek posts in my leisure time.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Love this page, so helpful. However, you do have Q-Less and Dax the wrong way round. Your order for DS9 reads Dax, Q-Less, The Passenger, Move Along Home.... In Dax, the O-Brien's take a trip to Earth for Keiko's mother's 100 Birthday. In Q-Less, O-Brien is on the station and interacting with Q....

    Q: Do I know you?
    O'Brien: Miles O'Brien, from the Enterprise
    Q: Oh yes.... weren't you one of the little people?

    However, in the Passenger and Move Along Home, the O'Brien's are still absent from the station and are mentioned as still being on Earth. Therefore Q-Less can not take place within this run of episodes and must take place BEFORE Dax as originally broadcast. I know Dax has a wacky stardate that throws it out of sync with the rest of the series, but it seems that it should follow Q-Less and be continued by The Passenger/Move Along Home.

    1. Thanks so much for pointing that out! Honesty, I think we just accidentally typed those two episodes backwards. We have corrected it! Thanks for letting us know. :)

  4. Using your list as a starting point, I did some obsessive formatting/color coding and included TAS in my document and placeholders for Discovery. Although I am curious as to whether or not Memory Alpha (the wiki) has accounted for/noticed what Steve mentions? I'll check...when I'm not buried in college biology homework. :)

    And while I've shared my document with a few other Trekkies via STO, your website is linked within it. :)

    1. What Steve pointed out was correct. It was simply an error on our part when we typed out the list. We just accidentally typed those two episodes in the wrong order. It's been corrected though. :)

    2. I truly appreciate the work that everyone has done here, I used this when watching the Star Trek universe and it was done very well. Kudos!