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The Star Trek Series You Should Watch Based On Your Mood

Perhaps the biggest science fiction franchise of them all, there was a time not long ago that "Star Trek" fans thought they might never see a new series again. But thanks to a flurry of recent shows on Paramount+, "Star Trek" is alive and well in the 21st century, and even more new shows and movies are on the way. It was easier when there were just four or five series' to choose from when sitting down to relax, but now even the most diehard Trekkies may not know what to choose at the end of their evening. From the original series in 1966 to the Nickelodeon animated series "Star Trek: Prodigy" there's now enough show's to provide something for just about everyone: Dark dramas, upbeat adventures, kid's cartoons, and wacky adult comedies.

Never fear though, we've done our homework and catalogued every "Star Trek" series from the adventures of the original Enterprise to the kids of the starship Protostar, and put together a handy list to give you our best advice. No matter what mood you're in — happy, sad, bitter, or proud — we've found the "Star Trek" series for you. No matter the captain, no matter the ship, here's a handy resource to figure out which "Star Trek" series you should watch based on your mood.

Gloomy: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

When you're in a bad mood and feeling down, there's not much that can change the way you feel. But "Star Trek" may be a geek's best comfort food, so it's time to find the right series to watch when you're feeling the deepest doldrums. The series that many dismissed as "too dark" when it was first on the air, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" moved the action off of a starship for the first time and into the confines of an alien space station. No longer home to morally righteous Starfleet officers, everything about "DS9" was darker, from the stories and the characters to the uniforms and the sets. The series had many more moral shades of grey, with an exiled assassin, a former Bajoran terrorist, and an underhanded criminal in the cast.

But at the center of every dreary story was a message, and a group of characters who would always find a way to make things better. Despite its different take on the franchise, "Deep Space Nine" still managed to get a full seven seasons, and over the years it's aged like a fine wine — possibly more appreciated now than it was when it was on the air. Though many episodes are somber and gloomy, they usually end with a positive message — a shining light that peers through to lead you out of the darkness.

Unfocused: Star Trek: The Animated Series

It's been a tough day and you've run yourself ragged. You can hardly focus, let alone put thought into following a show that has a complex plot. Not in the mood for anything so high concept as "The Next Generation" or "Deep Space Nine," you just want something to put on and watch without having to think so hard about what's going on. Sure, you could put on one of the J.J. Abrams films, but you want something more classic. So try the short-lived "Star Trek: The Animated Series" from 1976 instead. Running for two seasons, the animated series was an attempt to recreate the magic of "Star Trek" on a cartoon for all ages, and while it does have a handful of fun episodes and includes most of the original cast, the stories are so ridiculous and disjointed that you don't even need to try to follow along.

In a haze, you can still marvel at the wacky animation of still images moved slightly to mimic motion, the bizarre creatures — from flesh-eating cat people and weird sentient plants to a giant version of Spock — and nonsensical plots. Just sit back and watch hilariously awful episodes that defy all logic (much to a Vulcan's dismay). Even if you could focus on would still leave you scratching your head. 

Ambitious: Star Trek: Discovery

When "Star Trek: Discovery" was first announced at the tail end of 2015 (via TrekMovie), many fans were skeptical, and the prequel series remains divisive among Trek fans to this day. Darker, moodier, and much more action heavy than any prior "Star Trek" series, "Discovery" is best enjoyed by those feeling ambitious. Because the series is different and bold, you'll want to be in an enterprising mood, eager to see something new and unique, unlike any "Trek" you've seen before. It's also fitting because the series' central character, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is likewise ambitious, seeking to become captain of the U.S.S. Discovery. After a failed first mission sees her get court martialed, it's going to be a rocky road if she's going to ever sit in the captain's chair.

Set just ten years before Kirk and Spock and "Star Trek: The Original Series," the crew of the Discovery has an experimental starship, an alien first officer in Commander Saru (Doug Jones) and — in the first season — a questionable but strong captain (Jason Isaacs). In the second season we meet Captain Pike (Anson Mount), who brings along his first officer Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck). They help save the galaxy from a technological menace called Control. And more recently, Burnham, Saru, and the rest of the Discovery crew took the ship nearly 1000 years into the future, in an adventure so ambitious that a simple synopsis can't do it justice.

Proud: Star Trek: The Original Series

Some Trekkies might tell you that the original "Star Trek" series is the best of them all, and perfect for every mood. Still, we think that when you're feeling proud and accomplished that you'll enjoy classic "Trek" the most. The iconic sci-fi series needs little explanation, but for those new to the franchise, it follows the legendary Captain Kirk of the starship Enterprise on its five year mission across the edges of the final frontier. With the Vulcan science officer Mr. Spock and a stalwart crew at their side, Kirk takes the Enterprise on bold missions around the galaxy — preventing war, brokering peace, and solving dilemmas, all while proving that phasers and photons are no substitute for a confident attitude and an indomitable spirit.

Thought the series only ran for three seasons in the late 1960s (and its third season only happened thanks to a famous letter-writing campaign), "Star Trek" set the stage for everything that has come since, and changed the sci-fi genre forever. There are some who think no "Star Trek" has ever matched the original  — and if that's true, it's because of the great sense of pride, admiration, and self-assuredness boasted by the inhabitants of the Enterprise, a sense of dignity and conviction that few crews have been able to achieve.

Naughty: Star Trek: Lower Decks

Whatever kind of naughty you may be feeling — a bit racy, a little scandalous, or even a tad aroused — it's "Star Trek: Lower Decks" that will scratch your itch. A mix of off-color adult humor, wacky offbeat silliness, and standard sci-fi Trekkiness, the animated comedy comes courtesy of "Rick and Morty" writer and "Solar Opposites" co-creator Mike McMahan. Inspired by a seventh season episode of "The Next Generation" of the same name, the series follows a group of younger officers whose adventures take place off the bridge of their ship, the U.S.S. Cerritos. Away from the veteran high-ranking Starfleet officers, rambunctious, silliness, and crazy adventures abound on the ship's lower decks.

Led by the anxiety-ridden Ensign Boimler — alongside his friends Ensign Mariner, green-skinned Ensign Tendi, and part cyborg Ensign Rutherford — do their best to impress the rest of the crew with their initiative and hard work. But despite their best efforts, the four ensigns always seem to find themselves in trouble, and on the wrong end of Captain Freeman ... who just so happens to be Mariner's mother as well. Despite being an adult comedy, "Lower Decks" is as much "Star Trek" as any other series in the franchise, and is filled to the brim with easter eggs and references to its predecessors. And as a risque — sometimes vulgar — animated series, it's just what you want when you're looking to misbehave. 

Adventurous: Star Trek: Enterprise

Launched in 2001, "Star Trek: Enterprise" was a major departure for the franchise, a prequel set some hundred years before "Star Trek: The Original Series" and Captain Kirk. There was no United Federation of Planets, no tractor beams, no vast network of starbases to help them on their journey; they didn't even have usable transporters. Dressed in astronaut-like jumpsuits, the crew of the experimental Warp 5 starship Enterprise ventured out into space all alone for the first time, boldly going where no human had gone before. As the first Starfleet vessel to explore deep space, nearly every mission saw them encountering new races, new planets, and new problems.

Captaining the ship was trailblazing adventurer Jonathan Archer, and by his side was skeptical Vulcan science officer T'Pol. Rounded out by a crew of inexperienced and eager officers, the pioneering ship set out to chart unexplored star systems each week, battling new adversaries and attempting to forge alliances on their mission of discovery and exploration. Entering uncharted territory every episode, the pioneering explorers of "Enterprise" even helped bring together the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites in the first steps towards the Federation. Though it had its critics, it remains the perfect show to entertain anyone feeling bold, adventurous, and fearless.

Frustrated: Star Trek: Picard

Annoyed and frustrated, everything seems to be getting your way. Every bit of progress you make, another roadblock pops up, and it's getting on your nerves. If frustration seems to be your mood of the day, fire up the "Next Generation" revival series, "Star Trek: Picard." You'll surely empathize with the former Enterprise captain's struggle, as everyone around him — even Starfleet — seems intent on getting in his way and stopping him from his latest errand of mercy. But you'll also be able to feel a sense of relief along with him when he finally punches through and saves the day against all odds.

Set more than 20 years after we last saw him in "Star Trek: Nemesis," Jean-Luc Picard is still mourning the loss of his friend — the android Data — when he discovers that his former officer may have left behind an artificial daughter, and clues that blow open a vast conspiracy. The discovery sparks an adventure, one that forces him to work with a renegade starship captain, a disgraced scientist, a Romulan swordsman, and the former Borg drone Seven of Nine. With few friends in Starfleet, and no longer commanding the respect he once did, the frustrated Picard must hang on to what allies he still has to solve a mystery and complete one final mission.

Bitter: Star Trek: Voyager

"Star Trek: Voyager" is the fourth spinoff series, and follows the intrepid explorers of the titular starship. In the first episode, the Voyager gets trapped in the far-flung Delta Quadrant and is forced to accept members of the Maquis — a terrorist group — into its crew. Captain Janeway is a skilled leader who commands respect, but her first officer is former Maquis, Commander Chakotay, who starts out with a serious chip on his shoulder. Many early episodes chronicle the Maquis crew members like Lon Suder and Michael Jonas, who want nothing to do with Starfleet (and who both betray the ship). Others must move past their bitterness to work together on their long journey back to Earth. More than any "Trek" series, "Voyager" is full of tough, bitter, angry officers who often don't get along, and being stuck halfway across the galaxy doesn't help.

Things crank up a notch when the fan-favorite Seven of Nine joins the series. An ex-Borg drone, she objects to having essentially been kidnapped by Janeway and forced to become a human member of the ship. And despite how well she adjusts over time, Chief Engineer B'Ellana Torres may be the most strong-willed and angry officers on the ship, always ready to have it out with whoever is on her nerves each week. With so much bitterness on the ship, it's the perfect series to watch if you're feeling angry and resentful.

Curious: Star Trek: Prodigy

Even though the series is designed for kids, "Star Trek: Prodigy" has proven exceptionally well-written, fun, and just as enjoyable to most adult Trekkies as it is to any kid watching it on Nickelodeon. Family friendly and full of science fiction adventure, "Prodigy" is "Star Trek" in the truest sense, and it's aimed at those who find wonder and awe in learning and discovering new things. The show introduces viewers to a rag-tag group of alien kids on a mining colony, where they've been forced to work for a tyrant named The Diviner. But after finding a crashed Federation starship, the U.S.S. Protostar, they manage to escape and find new adventures. "Prodigy" also features the return of "Voyager" star Captain Janeway ... well, a holographic assistant that looks and sounds like her, anyway.

As the misfit crew of youngsters learn more about their new ship, and holo-Janeway teaches them about Starfleet ideals — exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new live and new civilizations — they also learn what it means to be friends. Each episode is more than just an adventure, though, as stories also teach the audience new lessons, new ways of thinking, and new ways to solve problems, as the crew grapples with all kinds of fantastical situations each week. But there's also an ongoing mystery, which will keep you curious about what will come next. 

Compassionate: Star Trek: The Next Generation

You might find yourself full of love for your fellow man, or in a hearty and compassionate mood. If that's the case, we know just which "Star Trek" series is right for you. If you are thinking about working a shift at a soup kitchen, handing out supplies at a food bank, or otherwise volunteering your time, money — or both — to those in need, put on an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" to help motivate and inspire you. The first "Star Trek" spinoff launched in 1987, made a star of Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and became a sci-fi phenomenon in and of itself. But look past the better-known episodes like "Best of Both Worlds" and "Yesterday's Enterprise" and you'll find a series focused primarily on a Starfleet crew out to help those in need.

Whether it was saving a pre-warp species from destruction after getting a little girl's distress signal ("Pen Pals"), helping an injured Borg drone discover his individuality ("I, Borg"), or showing sympathy for a persecuted criminal ("The Hunted"), episodes of "The Next Generation" were very often centered around the crew's compassion and understanding. If your heart is feeling big and swelling with empathy and brotherly love, this is the series to watch.

Optimistic: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Things are looking bright, and you're feeling positive and upbeat, hopeful of a beautiful new day. Nothing can bring you down, but why not keep the positive vibes coming? If that's the case, you'll be happy to check out the upcoming series, "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds." Spun off from the second season of "Star Trek: Discovery," the series will chronicle the missions of the original starship Enterprise in the years before it was commanded by Captain Kirk. This time, Captain Christopher Pike (played by Anson Mount) is at the helm, with Ethan Peck's Spock by his side on the bridge. Other "Original Series" characters will appear, including Uhura, Nurse Chapel, and "Number One," the first officer seen in the 1966 episode "The Menagerie."

The show's creators told Variety that "Strange New Worlds" will shed the darker, more serious tone of "Discovery," opting for more hopeful and upbeat stories. The series will return to the more episodic storytelling style of classic "Trek" shows like "The Next Generation" and "Voyager," and from the trailers even the color palette seems brighter. So when May rolls around, and the series premiere drops on Paramount+, be sure to tune in if you're the hopeful type, because this one was designed for you. 

Impatient: Short Treks

Are you a little on edge, tapping your foot in anxiousness, and just don't have the focus for a full season, movie, or even episode of "Star Trek"? Worry not, we've got just the show for you. Airing in the fall and winter of 2018 and 2019, "Short Treks" were designed to bridge the extended gap between the different seasons of "Star Trek: Discovery." Appropriately titled, episodes ranged from 5 to 15 minutes, and featured new short stories — some of which would tie directly into episodes of "Discovery," either by giving added context to a story or providing a quasi-sequel or prequel. 

The best of part of "Short Treks" is that it was an anthology; each episode is self-contained, usually with a different cast of characters, and even an entirely unique style and tone. One ambitious episode was an animated entry aimed at kids, in what may be seen now as a precursor to "Star Trek: Prodigy," while another episode even tied into the then-upcoming "Star Trek: Picard." If you want something quick and light, this is it.