×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Star Trek cast's all-time favorite moments

Star Trek as a franchise spans over 50 years, more than a dozen movies, and around 800 episodes over a growing number of TV series. With millions of dedicated fans around the world, everyone has their favorite moments. Countless "best episode" lists have been compiled, and fan consensus often sees similar episodes and moments pop up. From "The City on the Edge of Forever" to the cliffhanger ending of "Best of Both Worlds," we know what we think now.

But what do the stars of the shows count as their favorite moments? It's a different perspective, and just as important. Spending ten hours under bright lights in a spandex suit alone qualifies someone for an opinion.

Some have given many answers over the years, others have been consistent. Some love episodes for what they say about humanity, others appreciate all the hard work that went into one. More than a few just like ones they directed.

Here's a look back at some all-time favorite Star Trek moments, shared by the cast of the franchise.

Patrick Stewart - Jean-Luc Picard

Few people are more associated with Star Trek than Patrick Stewart. As Jean-Luc Picard, he was the face of the franchise for roughly two decades. Now he's starring in Picard, the most-streamed show in CBS All Access's admittedly short history. As such, he has a lot of episodes to choose from for favorite moments, and he's had a lot of time to think about it.

Patrick Stewart, over the years, has mentioned several episodes as favorites. He is fond of "In Theory," in which Data enters a relationship, but that's almost entirely because he directed it. In 2015, though, we got the definitive answer. During a Reddit AMA, Stewart confirmed that "The Inner Light" is his favorite episode.

Often ranked as one of the best episodes in any Star Trek series, "The Inner Light" sees Picard get knocked unconscious and experience a new life on a new planet. He lives life as Kamin, who suffers from delusions of being a starship captain. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew works on reviving their unconscious comrade.

Stewart appreciated how different the episode was, especially for Picard. "It was a beautiful script," he said, "which for me was almost entirely located away from the Enterprise — and its crew! And because I was given the chance to perform what Picard would have been like if his life experience had been different." Stewart also appreciated that his real-life son, Daniel, got to play Kamin's son.

Robert Picardo - The Doctor

Despite Voyager's mixed legacy among Star Trek enthusiasts, several parts are fondly regarded by almost all fans. One such part is Robert Picardo's role as the Emergency Medical Hologram, a.k.a. the Doctor, an artificial intelligence forced to act as Voyager's chief medical officer. The show took several opportunities to examine the implications of letting AI grow and change.

When Picardo was asked about his favorite episodes, he gave three answers: "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy," "Somebody to Watch Over Me," and "Latent Image." He mentioned the last one in particular as his favorite from a dramatic perspective.

"Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy," is Picardo's favorite comedic episode, where aliens mistake the Doctor's daydreams for reality. "Somebody to Watch Over Me" sees the Doctor fall in love with Seven of Nine, and Picardo loves it "for its romance and its bittersweet quality."

"Latent Image" starts with the Doctor realizing that a chunk of his memory has been deleted. His attempts to reconstruct the missing time build into a story about the ethics of AI, and may be the most vital point in the Doctor's character development. Picardo says on the Voyager season 7 DVD set that it was pitched as the episode in which the Doctor gets a soul.

Denise Crosby - Tasha Yar

Tasha Yar, played by Denise Crosby, was one of the original stars of The Next Generation. After about 20-odd episodes, where Yar stopped taking part in missions and was reduced to saying "aye aye" to Picard, Crosby was miserable. She asked to be released from her contract, which she was granted. This resulted in Yar getting unceremoniously flung to death by a dastardly goo monster in "Skin of Evil."

By season three, TNG had figured itself out, and the writers had an idea to bring her back. While resurrection wasn't in play, she got something better — "Yesterday's Enterprise," her favorite episode of Star Trek.

"Yesterday's Enterprise" sees the Enterprise-D encounter the Enterprise-C due to time-traveling science shenanigans. The Enterprise-C leaving the past changes the future, and the Enterprise-D transforms into a warship at battle with the Klingon empire. Everyone is armed, the crew has a much more adversarial relationship, and — perhaps most importantly — Yar is on the bridge again manning tactical. Only Guinan knows that something is wrong, and it's up to her to convince Picard to do the right thing.

Crosby notes that the episode had "much more realized writing for this character." The episode is a fan favorite, and also gave Yar the ending she rightly deserved. It also set the stage for Crosby's later returns as Sela.

Gates McFadden - Beverly Crusher

Beverly Crusher didn't always get the most screen time, but she was one of the most beloved characters. Need evidence? The producers fired Gates McFadden for season two and she was brought back in season three by sheer force of goodwill from cast and crew.

As with many of her fellow Star Trek: The Next Generation castmates, McFadden has an affinity towards the episode she directed. She'd asked for a chance to direct an episode since season one, and in season seven got to helm one that became her favorite: "Genesis." The story follows the Enterprise crew de-evolving as a strange infection spreads throughout the crew. Data and Picard, who were on an away mission when the Enterprise was infected, come back to the ship adrift and must save the crew. The episode is an outright creature feature, almost a horror show at times.

McFadden was particularly fond of longtime Star Trek makeup artist Michael Westmoreland's work. It was nominated for an Emmy that McFadden contends he should have won. Highlights include Will Riker as a neanderthal and Deanna Troi as an amphibian-human hybrid.

She's also proud of directing "one of my favorite scenes with one of my favorite cast members." Who might that be — Stewart? Dorn? Spiner? Nope. Spot, Data's cat. "That moment when he is behind the couch? I've never seen any cat play it so fierce, yet understated."

Michael Dorn - Worf

Michael Dorn has appeared in more episodes of Star Trek than anyone as self-styled Klingon warrior Worf. With such a breadth of episodes, it's a wonder he's able to pick a favorite moment so easily, but he's been pretty consistent. Dorn has an affinity for most episodes directed by Jonathan Frakes — he has a soft spot for "The Offspring," even with minimal Worf action — but most often lists "The Drumhead" as his favorite episode with his favorite scene.

"The Drumhead" follows the crew of the Enterprise hosting retired Admiral Satie (Jean Simmons) inspecting a conspiracy aboard the ship. A double agent is exposed, but Satie isn't satisfied and keeps hunting for a grander conspiracy. The episode is a metaphor for McCarthyism and witch hunts, and ends with a classic Picard speech to make everything right.

The episode features a lot of important moments for Worf. The cold open sees a soon-to-be-disgraced Klingon offer a way for Worf to re-enter Klingon society. Worf also buys into Admiral Satie's conspiracy and gets wrapped up in it.

Dorn's favorite moment is the final scene, in which Picard tells Worf that we must be vigilant against people "spreading fear in the name of righteousness." Dorn calls it "one of the greatest ending scenes I think has ever been filmed" before asking, "Did I tell you that I was in the scene?"

Jonathan Frakes - William Riker

Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker was front and center for many of Star Trek's best moments. Jonathan Frakes as a director was also behind the camera for many of Star Trek's best episodes.

There are many moments Frakes lists as favorites. As an actor, he calls "The Best of Both Worlds" the "best TV we did," especially the cliffhanger ending. As a director, he often references the Groundhog Day-before-Groundhog Day "Cause and Effect," which he calls a "directing symposium" because he "had to figure out how to shoot each act differently and tell the story differently, but the scenes were exactly the same."

But one episode comes up more than any other: "The Offspring" — his directorial debut.

"The Offspring" sees Data construct a child based on his own positronic brain. He tries to raise her like an actual daughter, and this brings him into conflict with Starfleet. Frakes himself barely appears in "The Offspring" — like most cast-directed episodes, the crew member behind the camera finds an excuse to disappear for most of the episode — but does appear long enough to awkwardly kiss the guest star. Sounds about right for Riker.

"I have a real soft spot for that episode," Frakes says, and rightly so. It's an episode that in some ways laid the groundwork for season one of Picard.

Kate Mulgrew - Kathryn Janeway

Playing Star Trek's first female captain, Kate Mulgrew was protective of Kathryn Janeway, especially when it came to the Captain's non-professional life.

Every captain had a different approach to romance. Picard mostly shunned romance, but regretted it. Kirk often fell in love but also had the attention span of a gnat. Janeway, meanwhile, held onto hope that her fiancé would wait for her. Mulgrew's own aversion to sexualizing Janeway also limited this, turning down proposals to pair off with crew members. Thus, the rare occasions when she got to express herself in such a way were special.

As such, her favorite episode is one where Janeway got to be vulnerable and romantic: "Counterpoint."

"Counterpoint" has Voyager pass through space controlled by the Devorians, a race suspicious of telepaths. The crew works to find a way through space, while Janeway forms a connection with Devorian inspector Kashyk. She's suspicious of his motives but finds herself falling in love with him.

Mulgrew calls it "a story about the woman under the scientist" who was "dealing with a man within a man within a man." She found herself wondering "where was the truth, where was the lie, who was going to betray who." The relationship was "was so close to love that I don't think I even knew the difference." She has high praise for the man who played Kashyk, stating that "it was a symphony every scene with Mark Harelik."

Avery Brooks - Benjamin Sisko

Avery Brooks made history as Benjamin Sisko, the first African-American series lead in Star Trek. One of the benefits and downsides of Star Trek is that it portrays humans as having transcended racial discrimination, which made this history important in the real world but hard to mention in the Trek universe. This was addressed in Brooks' favorite episode, "Far Beyond the Stars."

Series creator Gene Roddenberry's vision for the future was a world without sexism, racism, or any kind of prejudice between humans. Star Trek is also at its best when it examines social issues by putting them in a new perspective. Deep Space Nine, which drew acclaim for going in directions Roddenbery would have hated, squared this circle by telling a story set in the past... in a sense, at least.

Writer Ira Behr approached Brooks while writing, and asked that Brooks direct it. Brooks gladly took the challenge, and ended up directing one of the most acclaimed Star Trek episodes ever. Unlike most cast member directed episodes, in which their character finds an excuse to barely appear, "Far Beyond the Stars" prominently features Sisko.

Sisko experiences a vision in which he is Benny Goodman, a 1950s African-American sci-fi author writing stories about a space station in the future. He has a hard time getting his stories published due to racial discrimination. The episode features the rest of the regular cast appearing sans makeup as normal people Benny encounters.

Brooks makes it clear that it's his favorite, explaining, "I'd have to say, it was the most important moment for me in the entire seven years." He says that Star Trek was at its best addressing difficult subjects and the fact that they were able to address racism — an inextricable part of the American landscape both then and today — was important.

Leonard Nimoy - Spock

The late Leonard Nimoy will always be one of the two men most associated with Star Trek, alongside William Shanter. Nimoy appeared as Spock in three generations of Star Trek stories, and luckily he told us his favorite moment before he passed.

In History Channel documentary 50 Years Of Star Trek, Nimoy names "The Devil in the Dark" as his favorite episode. Kirk, Spock, and Bones land on a mining planet following reports of a creature killing miners and destroying equipment. After several encounters with the creature — of a species named the Horta — they discover that she never wanted to cause harm and was just protecting her eggs from being damaged.

Nimoy called it "a wonderful episode about the fear of the unknown, how we fear and even hate something that we don't know anything about" and added that the lesson was "learn who your enemy is, and it's not, maybe then it's no longer your enemy."

George Takei - Hikaru Sulu

Long before he was the internet's collective Memelord Grandpa, George Takei was Helmsman Sulu on the Starship Enterprise. Unlike most of his castmates, who have cited multiple episodes as their favorites over the course of many years, Takei has been consistent in his for decades. Whenever asked, he dutifully names his "The Naked Time" as his favorite episode.

The episode sees an infection spread throughout the Enterprise. Crew members slowly lose their inhibitions. Some act violently. Some lose control of their emotions. Some decide to get a little feisty and show off their skills. This is all a drawn-out way of saying that, yes, this is the episode where Sulu gets oiled up and fences shirtless on the bridge. "That's when I got to demonstrate my swashbuckling prowess,” Takei says of his favorite moment.

Takei has an affinity for the episode because it was the first time Sulu got to step away from the console. About a month before the episode aired, writer John D. F. Black met Takei on set. Black originally planned for Sulu to get a samurai sword, which Takei conceded was "ethnically appropriate" for the character, but explained that he never played samurai growing up. He instead emulated Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. Black took that suggestion after Takei lied about knowing how to fence. He took his first fencing lesson that weekend, and coincidentally his fencing instructor was the man who choreographed the fencing scenes in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Nana Visitor - Kira Nerys

Deep Space Nine is remembered for its character development, an few characters developed more than Nana Visitor's Kira Nerys. The first officer aboard the titular Deep Space Nine, we spend the show watching her come to terms with her past as an insurgent and grow into a respected commander. But even with all this growth, Visitor's favorite Star Trek episode remains DS9's pilot episode, "Emissary."

"Emissary" begins Benjamin Sisko's career as station commander of Deep Space Nine, and introduces much of the cast, including Kira. Her love for the pilot, however, goes beyond the contents of the episode. It's all about what it meant to her — an achievement, proof all the hard work was worth it.

"Emissary" was shown in a theater, but Visitor had the flu and missed the premiere. She was later sent a tape and it stunned her. "I remember goosebumps when the station appeared and that haunting music started playing," she recalled. "I just couldn't believe what the show looked like. I knew what the sets were, what the actors were, but putting it all together, I found it stunning."

Ethan Phillips - Neelix

Ethan Phillips played Neelix, the Talaxian chef aboard the USS Voyager. The often goofy if not irritating character was a mainstay for almost all of Star Trek: Voyager. Though Neelix was primarily a comic relief character, he was at his best as a dramatic lead.

Phillips often points out two episodes as his favorites. The first is "Jetrel," in which Neelix confronts and makes peace with the titular Jetrel, who created a superweapon that killed 300,000 Talaxians. The second, which he brings up more often, is "Mortal Coil."

"Mortal Coil" sees Neelix die on an away mission before the title sequence — not get knocked unconscious, not barely cling to life, die. After 18 hours dead, Seven of Nine revives him using Borg science, only for him to realize that his promised Talaxian afterlife doesn't exist. Crushed that he'll never have a chance to reunite with his lost loved ones, Neelix falls into a deep, existential depression.

Phillips singles out the penultimate scene in the episode, where Chakotay talks him out of committing suicide, as the most impactful. "The brilliance of the episode," he says, "is its lesson: There is no security in life, safety is a myth, and what saves us in the face of this great uncertainty is the kindness we bestow on each other."

Marina Sirtis - Deanna Troi

Originally hired to be the Enterprise's resident eye candy, Marina Sirtis and the writers slowly elevated the role of Counselor Deanna Troi to that of a valuable crew member. She's now so beloved that she came back for Picard.

The episode that cemented her as a useful character outside ship therapist, and thus her favorite Troi-centric episode, was "Face of the Enemy." The episode follows Troi as she's captured by Romulans and is forced to masquerade as one to escape. "That's when they lost the big hair and the glamour makeup and the skintight spacesuit and put me into something that was really unattractive." Sirtis recognized this as a turning point for the writers: They seemed to go, 'Oh, wow, yeah, we hired her because she's an actress.' From then on, it seemed that my part got much better in terms of a variety of things."

Her favorite episode overall, though? That would be "Measure of a Man." Often considered the first great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it features Picard arguing for Data's rights as a sentient being. Troi herself is mostly a non-factor in the story, but Sirtis loves the episode regardless. "Even though I was hardly in the episode," she noted, "I thought it encapsulated everything that was good about Star Trek."