• Star Trek has explored various methods of time travel, including advanced technology and natural phenomena, which often leads to consequences such as alternate timelines and encountering past or future versions of characters.
  • “Time’s Arrow” and “Year of Hell” are standout episodes that showcase the franchise’s ability to blend humor, mystery, and drama in their time travel storytelling.
  • “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” are considered seminal moments in television history, providing thought-provoking narratives with emotional and tragic climaxes. “Trials and Tribble-ations” is a lighter, nostalgic episode that successfully blends new and old series footage.

Time travel has served as a recurring theme in Star Trek since the classic original series. Introductions to time travel have varied from series to series, with everything from advanced technology to bizarre, natural phenomena setting it up.


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In the Star Trek universe, time travel has been pulled off via everything from temporal rifts, to slingshot effects around celestial bodies, to advanced powers such as the Guardian of Forever. A common narrative trait across the franchise when it comes to time travel is the exploration of its consequences. These include inadvertently creating alternate timelines, changing important historical events, and the risks of encountering past or future versions of series characters. Of the many time travel episodes over the decades, a select few stand out from the rest.

5 Time’s Arrow Sends The Crew Back To The 19th Century

IMDB Rating: Part 1 – 8.3/Part 2 – 8.2

star trek tng time's arrow

  • Series: The Next Generation
  • Initial air date: Part 1 – June 15, 1992/Part 2 – September 21, 1992

This famed two-parter kicks off on a strange note when it appears that Data may have been around in 19th-century San Francisco. Intrigued, the crew travels back through time to investigate.

There’s a neatly balanced blend of humor and mystery on offer here, as the crew navigate both the challenges of time travel and of living in a completely different period. With some surprise appearances from historical figures of the day, the colorful plotline keeps viewers on their toes with its unpredictability. The second part takes viewers further into the mystery aspects of the plot, showcasing the series writers’ knack for heady, complicated mysteries and big reveals. Overall, it’s a fun showcase of the offbeat storytelling that made The Next Generation so special.

4 Year Of Hell Is A Tragic Epic

IMDB Rating: Part 1 – 8.7/Part 2 – 8.6

The Krenim temporal ship addresses the crew of Voyager

  • Series: Voyager
  • Initial air date: Part 1 – November 5, 1997, Part 2 – November 12, 1997

This thrilling two-parter sees the crew collide with a powerful adversary who can control time itself. A dangerous temporal manipulator named Annorax intends to create a year of perpetual warfare and destruction.


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Trapped in this hellish altered reality, the crew’s wits and resolve are put to the test as they face their darkest challenges yet. At one point planned to cover a whole season of Voyager, this dramatic epic provides some surprisingly poignant notes in among the apocalyptic thrills. The Annorax character proves to be far more complex than a standard villain, as viewers discover he’s haunted by accidentally causing the tragic death of his beloved wife. With a compelling look at time alteration, plenty of ringers for the Voyager crew to endure, and a memorable antagonist, “Year of Hell” was a fine chapter in Voyager‘s celebrated run.

3 The City On The Edge Of Forever Was A Seminal Moment In Television History

IMDB Rating: 9.2

Star Trek: The Original Series - The City on the Edge of Forever

  • Series: The Original Series
  • Initial air date: 6 April,1967

This classic episode from the first season of The Original Series sees Captain Kirk and Spock forced to travel back to the 1930s. A catastrophic change in history forms the centerpiece of this seminal chapter in the long-running franchise.


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The episode quickly descends into chaos when McCoy travels back in time via The Guardian of Forever and winds up inadvertently causing a timeline in which the Federation of Planets never comes to be. To save the day, Kirk and Spock must go where McCoy went in time, and undo the disaster his mishap led to. Widely considered a landmark moment for Star Trek and television as a whole, this seminal piece of high-stakes time travel drama manages to serve as both a fascinating piece of sci-fi existentialist storytelling and a surprisingly emotional thrill ride with a powerfully tragic climax.

2 Yesterday’s Enterprise Is A Dramatic Study Of The Perils Of Time Travel

IMDB Rating: 9.2

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Yesterday's Enterprise

  • Series: The Next Generation
  • Initial air date: 19 February, 1990

This thrilling entry in the beloved Next Generation series sees the crew encounter a rift in space-time. Through it there lies an alternate timeline in which the Federation is now at all-out war with the Klingon Empire.

Exploring complex themes of duty and sacrifice, viewers follow the crew as they grapple with the dangerous consequences of altering the past. This third-season entry was an immediate hit with fans and critics alike, with many highlighting its high-stakes plot and fast pace as key areas worthy of praise. The surprise return of Tasha Yar – who was infamously killed off in a polarizing fashion back in Season 1 – also leads to some of the third season’s strongest writing, as her brief but powerful arc emphasizes the grim importance self-sacrifice can play in heroism. Overall, it’s one of The Next Generation‘s most thought-provoking and layered episodes.

1 Trials And Tribble-ations Is A Witty Trip Down Memory Lane

IMDB Rating: 9.3

Star_Trek: Tribble DS9

  • Series: Deep Space Nine
  • Initial air date: 4 November, 1996

In a more light-hearted example of time travel in the Star Trek series, this episode takes viewers back to a much earlier chapter in the franchise. The Deep Space Nine team finds themselves in the period of the humorous “The Trouble With Tribbles” from Season 2 of The Original Series.

The original episode saw the Enterprise visit a space station that gets overrun with tribbles, fast-breeding furry animals. A hit with viewers at the time, the creatures get an update in Deep Space Nine, as it’s revealed that they’re one of the many species to have issues with the ever-dangerous Klingons. Cleverly blending new series footage with scenes from the original show, “Trials and Tribble-ations” is a cleverly composed piece of both nostalgia and original storytelling. With an unpredictable bomb-focused plot and a mountain of clever references, this is a fine example of time travel done right in the Star Trek franchise.


Star Trek
Created by
Gene Roddenberry

First Film
Star Trek: The Motion Picture

First TV Show
Star Trek: The Original Series

Creation Year


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