• Star Trek: The Original Series lays the franchise’s foundations by exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations with Captain Kirk.
  • Not every episode can be a winner, “Spock’s Brain” details the quest to rescue Spock’s brain from the Eymorgs, an entirely female alien civilization.
  • Star Trek addresses social issues like race through metaphor, as seen with the Cheronians in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.”

At its core, Star Trek is a franchise about exploring the depths of space and, as a result, exploring various facets of the human condition. Indeed, while later iterations of the franchise, such as Star Trek: Discovery and J.J. Abrams’ Kelvinverse chose to prioritize action set-pieces over measured exploration, Star Trek: The Original Series lays the franchise’s foundations by depicting the adventures of Captain Kirk’s Starship Enterprise.


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The heroes of Star Trek: The Original Series visit countless planets throughout their ventures. These ones, however, can easily be compared to Earth.

The Enterprise‘s five-year mission saw the crew of the Federation vessel coming into contact with all manner of strange creatures, from the furry and promiscuous Tribbles to godlike individuals like Trelane. Ultimately, however, nothing distracts Kirk from carrying out the show’s mission statement: to explore strange new worlds, and to seek out new life and new civilizations.

1 The Eymorgs

“Spock’s Brain” | Season 3, Episode 1

Two Eymorgs in the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain".

The Star Trek franchise is remembered for many amazing episodes, from “The City on the Edge of Forever” to “The Best of Both Worlds.” However, not every episode can be a winner, as evidenced by “Spock’s Brain.” This much-maligned episode details the Enterprise‘s quest to rescue Spock’s brain after it is stolen by an entirely female alien civilization, the Eymorgs.

Led by Kara, the Eymorgs inhabit an underground complex on the planet of Sigma Draconis VI. The Enterprise discovers that a life of luxury (all Eymorg desires and needs are handled by a powerful supercomputer) has resulted in intellectual atrophy. Despite possessing powerful technology, few Eymorgs understood how to use it. As such, they felt compelled to replace their vital computer with Spock’s brain.

2 Arretans

“Return To Tomorrow” | Season 2, Episode 20

Sargon, an Arretan, communicates with the Enterprise crew in "Return to Tomorrow".

The universe of Star Trek is no stranger to disembodied entities, from the Saltah’na in Deep Space Nine‘s “Dramatis Personae” to Beverly Crusher’s ghostly lover in The Next Generation‘s much-maligned “Sub Rosa.” A notable early example of the trope can be seen in “Return to Tomorrow,” in which the discorporate Sargon, an Arretan, demands that the Enterprise crew construct android bodies for his compatriots.

As a stop-gap measure, Sargon and two other Arretans assume control over several members of the Enterprise crew while their new bodies are under construction. This leads to conflict when one of the Arretans refuses to leave Spock’s body. The resulting power struggle sees the Enterprise crew emerge victorious, while the remaining Arretans choose to consign themselves to oblivion rather than cling to life.

3 The Eminian Union

“A Taste Of Armageddon” | Season 1, Episode 23

The Eminion Union in Star Trek's "A Tate of Armageddon".

Before Deep Space Nine‘s Dominion War, Star Trek avoided depicting open warfare between major powers. However, this is not to say that war stories are absent from the franchise’s early days, as evidenced by the novel take on conflict depicted in “A Taste of Armageddon.” The Enterprise makes contact with the Eminian Union, a civilization that conducts its wars through computers rather than on the battlefield.


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Nonetheless, there is a cost to this strategy, as the Eminians allow themselves to be killed if the simulation determines that they are a casualty. Kirk and his comrades point out that this sanitized approach to war robs the conflict of its immediacy, allowing it to drag on for decades with no resolution. Luckily, a classic speech by Kirk causes the Eminian Union to see sense.

4 The Providers

“The Gamesters Of Triskelion” | Season 2, Episode 16

The Providers in Star Trek's "The Gamesters of Triskelion".

The Original Series is not the only entry into the franchise that might be accused of an over-reliance on humanoid aliens with various forehead bumps. As such, the Providers depicted in “The Gamesters of Triskelion” are a welcome break from this norm, even if the show itself has rarely looked cheaper.

Despite being little more than brains in a jar, the powerful Providers are one of the Federation’s most worthy opponents. Their advanced transporter technology allows them to ensnare individuals over vast distances, while their control over the planet of Triskelion is absolute. It’s perhaps a mercy, then, that they dedicate their time to betting on gladiatorial battles rather than making wider plans against the galaxy.

5 The Cheronians

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

A Cheronian in Star Trek;s "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".

Gene Roddenberry did not shy away from using Star Trek‘s utopian future to address contemporary social issues. His foregrounding of Nichelle Nichols’ Lieutenant Uhura was genuinely groundbreaking, as was the interracial kiss depicted in “Plato’s Stepchildren.” Nor did the series shy away from discussing issues like race via metaphor, as with the Cheronians in “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.”

The black and white Chellonians are locked in a brutal racial conflict over differences that appear trivial to the enlightened crew of the Starship Enterprise. Lokai, a Cheronian with white skin on the left side of his face, is pursued by Bele, who has white skin on the right. Each possesses historical racial grudges against the other, but the episode suggests that their mutual hatred is ultimately suicidal. Prejudice, as demonstrated by the Cheronians, can only end in disaster.

6 The Kelvan Empire

“By Any Other Name” | Season 2, Episode 22

Two Kelvans in Star Trek's "By Any Other Name".

Star Trek‘s galaxy is divided into four regions: the Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma Quadrants. Many of the franchise’s most memorable creations hail from these diverse areas, but some civilizations come from even further afield. For instance, “By Any Other Name” sees the Enterprise make contact with scouts from the Kelvan Empire, a powerful state situated in the distant Andromeda Galaxy.


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The Kelvans are ruthless in the pursuit of their survival, even killing a female redshirt (a rarity for The Original Series) to demonstrate their power. Additionally, they possess impressive technical knowledge, as they can easily modify the Enterprise to pass the Galactic Barrier. The Kelvans’ downfall is the result of their social ineptitude, a flaw that allows the Enterprise crew to regain the upper hand over this domineering race.

7 The Scalosians

“Wink Of An Eye” | Season 3, Episode 11

The Scalosians in Star Trek's "Wink of an Eye".

Kirk’s Enterprise is no stranger to time travel, as the starship rocks up in the twentieth century on more than one occasion (likely for budgetary reasons). Yet while Star Trek makes time travel seem as easy as just slingshotting around the sun, relatively few temporally active races are discovered throughout the franchise. The usual rarity of time-active civilizations makes the Scalosians, seen in “Wink of an Eye,” all the more intriguing.

The Scalosians are unwilling temporal voyagers. A natural disaster caused them to experience time at a far faster rate than the rest of the universe, while also rendering all male Scalosians infertile. As such, the Enterprise‘s arrival represents a chance to save their civilization by kidnapping new breeding stock from the starship—a scheme that Kirk is determined to foil.


Star Trek
Created by
Gene Roddenberry

First TV Show
Star Trek: The Original Series

Latest TV Show
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Creation Year


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