My Top Ten Favorite Classic Star Trek Episodes

It seems like there’s a certain correlation between geeky things and software engineering. Most of the software engineers I know like Star Trek, Star Wars, and science fiction movies in general. Listed below are my ten favorite episodes from the original Star Trek series starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. My favorites don’t match most people’s lists because I tend to prefer more action-oriented stories than personality-oriented stories. My list is ordered by original air date.


1. “The Man Trap” (episode 1) – Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy visit planet M-113 and encounter a creature that can take on the appearance of anyone. The creature is not friendly. This episode has a certain similarity to the 1982 movie “The Thing” starring Kurt Russell.

2. “Balance of Terror” (episode 14) – Kirk and the Enterprise meet the Romulans for the first time and engage in a deadly cat and mouse battle. This story is very much like the plot of the 1957 WWII submarine movie “The Enemy Below”.

3. “Arena” (episode 18) – This is probably one of the most well-known and parodied episodes, but it’s one of my favorites. Kirk is teleported to a deserted planet where he faces a lizard-like Gorn in one-on-one battle. This episode is made fun of in one of my favorite movies, “Galaxy Quest”.

4. “Court Martial” (episode 20) – Kirk is on trial for negligence that resulted in the death of a crew member during an ion storm. All the evidence seems to indicate that Kirk panicked. When Spock beats the ship’s computer at chess, he gets suspicious.

5 – “The Devil in the Dark” (episode 25) – Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise go to planet Janus VI to investigate a series of unexplained deaths at a mining operation. The rock-burrowing Horta are one of my favorite Star Trek species.

6 – “Operation: Annihilate!” (episode 29) – The crew of the Enterprise travel to Deneva where they encounter flying amoeba-like parasites that control their hosts using pain. The plot reminded me of the great novel “The Puppet Masters” by Robert Heinlein.

7 – “Metamorphosis” (episode 38) – The Enterprise is pulled to planet Gamma Canaris N by a strange energy force. On the planet they encounter Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive. Cochrane is over 200 years old but looks to be about 35. The mysterious Companion holds the key to the mystery.

8 – “Journey to Babel” (episode 39) – While escorting Federation ambassadors to a conference, mysterious murders occur. This episode has an appearance by Spock’s mother and father. All the aliens are sort of a precursor to the cantina scene in Star Wars. (The image above is from this episode).

9 – “The Ultimate Computer” (episode 53) – The Enterprise is placed under total control of a super powerful computer, the M5. You can guess this will not turn out well. A classic computer-run-amok story.

10 – “Assignment: Earth” (episode 55) – A very unusual episode that was intended as a pilot for a spin-off series. The crew of the Enterprise encounters mysterious Gary Seven and his cat Isis. This story had me guessing until the very end.

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