10 best thought-provoking episodes of Star Trek The Original

Deep Themes are not only in Kirk's interest

by Pete
Published: Updated: 20 minutes read

Ok, so this is not exactly Linux or open source related. But I couldn’t resist make a list about Star Trek.

For those living under a rock: Star Trek: The Original Series is a sci-fi classic that has stood the test of time. Its impact on popular culture is undeniable, and its influence on the genre is still felt today. One of the things that made the series so special was its ability to tackle deep and thought-provoking themes, while also delivering exciting and engaging stories.

We’ll dive into the top 10 episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series that take place on the Enterprise and explore deep themes, challenge the crew’s understanding of the universe, and are considered serious and thought-provoking by both fans and critics alike. Whether you’re a die-hard Star Trek fan or a newcomer to the series, these episodes are sure to leave a lasting impression and make you appreciate the depth and complexity of the Star Trek universe.

Let’s get into it

We’ll try not to be too contentious here. :P

1
“Balance of Terror” – Season 1, Episode 14 (15 on Netflix)

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“Balance of Terror” is an episode from the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. This episode stands out for its intense action, its exploration of the nature of war, and its memorable characters. The episode centers around a battle between the Enterprise and an unseen alien race, the Romulans. It is the first time that the Romulans are seen in Star Trek universe and the episode is a great example of how the series explores the nature of war, tactics, and the price of victory.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise and the Romulan ship engage in a cat-and-mouse game of strategy. The episode also features a great performance by Mark Lenard as the Romulan Commander, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the enemy. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “Balance of Terror” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

2
“The Doomsday Machine” – Season 2, Episode 6

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“The Doomsday Machine” is an episode from the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. This episode stands out for its intense action, its exploration of the nature of war, and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise being sent to investigate the destruction of several planets and ships, and they encounter a mysterious machine that is capable of destroying entire planets.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the horror of war and the cost of victory. The episode also features a great performance by William Windom as the ship’s former captain, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to stop the machine from destroying more planets, and also the psychological impact it has on the characters. The episode is also notable for its special effects that were groundbreaking for its time, and it still holds up today. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “The Doomsday Machine” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

3
“The Changeling” – Season 2, Episode 3

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“The Changeling” is an episode from the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of consciousness and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise encountering a rogue probe named Nomad, which has been reprogrammed and has become a dangerous and deadly machine.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of consciousness, the dangers of artificial intelligence, and the implications of technology run amok. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to stop Nomad from destroying more planets, and also the psychological impact it has on the characters, specially captain Kirk. The episode is also notable for its special effects that were groundbreaking for its time, and it still holds up today. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series.

4
“The Empath” – Season 3, Episode 6 (12 on Netflix)

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“The Empath” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of empathy, and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew being captured by an unknown alien race, who subject the crew to a series of experiments in order to test their capacity for empathy.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of empathy, the ethics of experimentation, and the importance of compassion. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to escape from the alien’s clutches, and also the psychological impact it has on the characters. The episode is also notable for its emotional and powerful climax that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “The Empath” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

5
“Requiem for Methuselah” – Season 3, Episode 21 (19 on Netflix)

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“Requiem for Methuselah” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of immortality and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew encountering a man named Flint, who claims to be a 6,000-year-old immortal and has the power to create advanced technology.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of immortality, the ethics of power, and the importance of morality. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to uncover Flint’s true identity and also the psychological impact it has on the characters. The episode is also notable for its emotional and powerful climax that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “Requiem for Methuselah” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

6
“The Mark of Gideon” – Season 3, Episode 22 (16 on Netflix)

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“The Mark of Gideon” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series by fans and critics alike. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of overpopulation and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew visiting a planet that is suffering from overpopulation, and they are trapped in a simulation created by the planet’s inhabitants in order to study the effects of overpopulation on a smaller scale.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of overpopulation, the ethics of population control, and the importance of understanding different cultures. It also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to uncover the truth behind the simulation and the psychological impact it has on the characters. The episode is also notable for its thought-provoking story and its exploration of the implications of overpopulation in a future where humanity has reached the stars. It is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode. As a self-proclaimed trekky, I strongly recommend this episode for its powerful storytelling and its ability to make the audience think about important issues that still resonate today.

7
“Plato’s Stepchildren” – Season 3, Episode 10

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“Plato’s Stepchildren” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series by many Star Trek fans and critics. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of power, and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew visiting a planet ruled by beings who possess telekinetic powers and they force the crew to participate in a series of games and challenges.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of power, the ethics of using it, and the importance of standing up against oppression. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to escape from the planet’s clutches and also the psychological impact it has on the characters, especially Captain Kirk. The episode is also notable for its powerful and emotional climax that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. As a dedicated Star Trek fan, I highly recommend this episode for its powerful storytelling, its exploration of important themes and its ability to make the audience think about issues that still resonate today. “Plato’s Stepchildren” is a must-see episode of the series.

8
“Wink of an Eye” – Season 3, Episode 11

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“Wink of an Eye” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series by many Star Trek fans and critics. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of time and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew visiting a planet where the inhabitants are able to move at a faster rate of time, making them appear invisible to the crew.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of time, the ethics of using it and the importance of understanding different perspectives. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to understand and communicate with the inhabitants of the planet and also the psychological impact it has on the characters, specially captain Kirk. The episode is also notable for its thought-provoking story, that explores the concept of time in a unique and imaginative way and the way it challenges the viewer’s perceptions. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “Wink of an Eye” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

9
“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” – Season 3, Episode 15

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“Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series by many Star Trek fans and critics. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of racism and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew encountering two aliens, one half-black and half-white, the other half-white and half-black, who are locked in a bitter and violent feud based solely on the color of their skin.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as racism, prejudice and the importance of understanding and tolerance. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to understand and stop the feud between the two aliens and also the psychological impact it has on the characters, especially Captain Kirk. The episode is also notable for its thought-provoking story, that explores the theme of racism in a unique and powerful way, and its ability to challenge the viewer’s perceptions. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

10
“The Tholian Web” – Season 3, Episode 9

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“The Tholian Web” is an episode from the third season of Star Trek: The Original Series that is widely considered one of the best episodes of the entire series by many Star Trek fans and critics. This episode stands out for its unique and engaging story, its exploration of the nature of reality and its memorable characters. The episode centers around the Enterprise crew encountering the Tholians, a race of beings who have the ability to manipulate reality, and the Enterprise is trapped in an interphasic rift created by the Tholians.

The episode is a great example of how Star Trek can tackle heavy themes such as the nature of reality, the ethics of manipulating it, and the importance of understanding different perspectives. The episode also features a great performance by the main cast, adding a deeper layer of complexity to the story. The episode has a great dialogue and it is well-directed, making it a fantastic episode for both action and character development.

One of the most striking aspects of this episode is the tension and suspense it creates as the Enterprise crew tries to understand and escape the Tholians’ manipulation of reality and also the psychological impact it has on the characters, especially Captain Kirk. The episode is also notable for its thought-provoking story, that explores the theme of reality in a unique and imaginative way, and its ability to challenge the viewer’s perceptions. This episode is a must-see for any Star Trek fan, and it’s considered by many as one of the best episodes of the entire original series. “The Tholian Web” is a perfect example of how Star Trek: The Original Series manages to blend action, suspense, and thought-provoking themes in a single episode.

In Summary

If you’re a fan of Star Trek: The Original Series, you know that the show is not just about action and adventure, but also thought-provoking stories that explore important themes.

These episodes are considered by many to be the best of the entire series. From examining the nature of power and oppression in “Plato’s Stepchildren” to tackling racism and prejudice in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, these episodes use the Star Trek universe to explore real-world issues in a thought-provoking way. With thrilling plots, memorable characters, and powerful storytelling, these episodes are must-sees for any Star Trek fan. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the best episodes of one of the most iconic TV series of all time.