Here are our choices for the best Klingon episodes in all of Star Trek.
Star Trek’s Klingons are one of the franchise’s most beloved and important alien races, perhaps explored in more depth on screen than any other. Through controversial redesigns, retcons, and revolutions, they have moved from Federation enemy to ally and along the spectrum in between. It’s arguably impossible to find a definitive list of the best Klingon episodes, but these are seven we believe are most honorable.
7. “Barge of the Dead” (Star Trek: Voyager)
This episode stands out as a singular depiction of Klingon legend and spirituality, giving us our only glimpse so far of the Barge of the Dead, bearing Klingon souls to Gre’thor, the underworld or hell of the Klingon afterlife. B’Elana Torres’ apparent hallucinations cause her to find herself on the barge, where her mother is on her way to Gre’thor for the dishonor of her daughter. Though the experience seems to be an outworking of B’Elana’s own personal issues, she is convinced of its reality and the audience is left to draw their own conclusion.
Providing unique insight into the Klingon afterlife, it also gives B’Elana some much-needed character development.
6. “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” (Star Trek: Discovery)
Like other aesthetic changes in Klingons throughout Star Trek, the alterations to the appearance of the famed alien race in Discovery were hotly debated. But that conversation distracted from the fact that the series contains some of the most carefully constructed presentations of Klingon society, culture, and language in the franchise. Especially deeply studied for this series were influential Klingon novels and the most accurate pronunciations of Klingon words.
This episode stands out as having the most Klingon dialogue in the series and shows the inner workings of Klingon culture and politics from a purely Klingon perspective, with the aliens in their own spaces and their own language, without humans present.
5. “Blood Oath” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Deep Space Nine has some of the best episodes exploring the Klingons and this one is a real highlight, bringing back Kor, Kang, and Koloth, the three most prominent Klingons from the Original Series. The trio come to the station seeking Curzon Dax, the previous Dax host with whom they swore a blood oath of vengeance against the one who murdered their firstborn children.
The story serves not only to explore Jadzia’s relationship with a previous Dax host, but also brings back TOS legends William Campbell (Koloth), Michael Ansara (Kang), and John Colicios (Kor), the latter of which would make two other appearances on the series.
Seeing this trio together and in more recognizable Klingon regalia makes for a bridge between Klingon portrayals and a delight for fans.
4. “Affliction” (Star Trek: Enterprise)
The question of whether to address the alteration in the appearance of the Klingons between at least smooth foreheads in TOS and bumpy foreheads from The Motion Picture forward was one that arguably could have been left with Worf’s “We do not discuss it with outsiders” from DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations.”
But Enterprise’s retcon stands as a significant event in Klingon history, whether one agrees with the change or not. When Klingons kidnap Dr. Phlox to compel him to find a cure for a disease on Qo’noS, it is discovered that the affliction is causing Klingons’ revered forehead ridges to disappear.
An answer to a long-standing fan question, the episode also provides insight into the extremely secretive nature of Klingon culture and how it almost destroyed them.
3. “You Are Cordially Invited” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
A fascinating look at Klingon rituals and family dynamics, this episode sees the marriage between Worf and Trill host Jadzia Dax, a union that is opposed by Sirella, Mistress of the House of Martok. As Jadzia spends the episode in conflict with Sirella, struggling to prove herself worthy of marrying a Klingon despite her alien heritage, we learn a lot about how Klingon unions are formed and about their family dynamics. The episode also depicts a Klingon wedding which includes a dramatic recounting of some of their culture’s deepest myths.
It also depicts the Kal’Hyah rite undergone by Sisko, Bashir, O’Brien, and Alexander as Worf’s “groomsmen.”
2. “Sins of the Father” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
This episode holds the distinction of being the first on-screen depiction of the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS, making it profoundly influential on the Klingon stories that would follow, especially in the Berman era (TNG-ENT). When Worf’s father is accused of crimes against the Empire, Worf faces discommendation rather than expose the lies that would destabilize Klingon society and spark a civil war. This story shows the importance of the Klingon concept of honor and how it has become a facade for the sake of political and social survival.
Given the fact that the Klingon Empire later devolved into civil war anyway, it also shows the difference between ceremonial honor and the true honor of the heart shown by Worf.
1. “Reunion” (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
After the death of K’mpec, the longest-reigning leader of the Klingon High Council, Captain Picard is tapped by the council to mediate the decision regarding his successor. At the same time, Worf’s former lover K’Ehleyr returns to introduce him to their son, Alexander. Not only does this episode provide a glimpse of a pivotal moment in Klingon history, it also expands Worf’s family in a way that will change him forever and later provide stories that will expand our understanding of Klingon families.
Worf’s conflict between his two worlds is also heightened as he struggles with the dishonor placed upon him by accusations against his father.
These episodes and more are streaming now on Paramount+.