We cover the 7 best Star Trek episodes dedicated to Michael Dorn's iconic Worf.
He’s got a turtle shell forehead, he gets beat up a lot, and on the bridge of the Enterprise-D, his input is usually the first to be dismissed. In spite of it all, Star Trek’s Worf, played by Michael Dorn, has proven to be one of the most iconic and prolific characters in the franchise. He was a regular character in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the latter half of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the final season of Star Trek: Picard, all four TNG era films, and even had a kinda-sorta cameo in 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Plenty of episodes of both TNG and DS9 were dedicated to Star Trek’s Worf, and we thought we’d give you our choices for the seven best of them.
7. “Sons And Daughters” – Star Trek: DS9
After the long cold war with the Dominion finally turns hot in the Season 5 finale of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf joins General Martok (J.G. Hertzler) as his second in command aboard the IKS Rotarran. It’s there that Worf finally has a reunion with his grown son Alexander Rozhenko (Marc Worden) in “Sons and Daughters.” Alexander fights to prove himself in a crew of war-hardened Klingons, while his father struggles to figure out why his son has embarked on the path of a warrior.
“Sons and Daughters” forces Worf to face his greatest failing in Trek: his abandonment of his only son. It unfortunately doesn’t deal with his weakness as a truly horrible older brother, but it’s a start.
6. “Change Of Heart” – Star Trek: DS9
With “Change of Heart,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine confronts Worf with an almost impossible choice. When Jadzia (Terry Farrell) is mortally wounded during a mission to recover a Federation informant, Worf must either leave his wife to die or fail in his duty to Starfleet. By this point, we’ve seen Worf’s overwhelming love for Jadzia and we’re more than familiar with his unwavering sense of duty, so it truly is a choice that could go either way.
When his choice is made, it means that much more because of what he sacrifices for it. “Change of Heart” is one of the most important pieces of Worf’s character growth.
5. “Rules Of Engagement” – Star Trek: DS9
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s “Rules of Engagement,” Worf nearly becomes a victim of the Klingon Empire, but ironically his would-be executioner is a lawyer rather than a more traditional warrior. The Klingon advocate Ch’Pok (Ron Canada) wants Worf extradited to the Empire for supposedly destroying a ship full of innocent civilians without cause.
Inspired by Akira Kurasawa’s 1950 classic Rashomon, Star Trek alum LeVar Burton — who directed the Worf-centric episode — chose to tell the same story from different, contradictory points of view. In the process we see Worf confronted not just with a potentially tragic error, but with his own identity as a Klingon living among humans.
4. “Once More Unto The Breach” – Star Trek: DS9
With the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine comes “Once More Unto the Breach,” in which Worf is caught between his duty and his desire to help the aged Kor (John Colicos) regain the glory of his earlier days. Securing Kor a spot on the Rotarran, Worf soon learns not only that Martok harbors a life-long grudge against Kor, but that the older Klingon is suffering from some kind of dementia.
“Once More Unto the Breach” is a powerful episode that examines the challenges of the elderly, along with serving as a great send-off for Kor, the very first named Klingon in Trek who first showed up in the Original Series episode “Errand of Mercy.”
3. “Soldiers Of The Empire” – Star Trek: DS9
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s introduction of Martok as a recurring character and friend to Worf is the first time we ever get to see the latter regularly interact with another adult Klingon. That friendship begins to truly turn into an unbreakable bond in Season 5’s “Soldiers of the Empire” when Worf is forced to go to extreme measures to awaken Martok’s warrior’s soul.
When Martok takes command of the Rotarran, it’s obvious he’s suffering from his long imprisonment with the Dominion. He refuses to engage in battle with the Jem’Hadar, even steering away from easy victories. Morale gets so bad in the Rotarran crew that even Jadzia urges Worf to challenge Martok for leadership — a challenge that could only end in one of their deaths.
Worf’s decision proves incredibly risky, but it wins him Martok’s brotherhood and loyalty.
2. “Parallels” – Star Trek: TNG
In the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Michael Dorn gets to lead an episode different from almost every other Worf-centric entry. In “Parallels,” Worf returns from a bat’leth tournament to find things much different aboard the Enterprise. Eventually, we learn Worf is randomly traveling between parallel realities and is trying to find his way back to his own.
Along with giving us a fun look at a lot of different alternate versions of the Enterprise and her crew, as well as beginning the romance between Worf and Troi (Marina Sirtis), “Parallels” is one of the only Worf-centric stories in the franchise that does not completely revolve around Worf being a Klingon. He doesn’t have to choose between Starfleet and the Empire, he doesn’t get officially kicked out of Klingon-ness, and at no time does he pry open another Klingon’s eyes and scream at the ceiling. He’s just a Starfleet officer trying to solve a mystery.
As much as the Klingon stuff is great, “Parallels” is a fun, smart, and refreshing outlier.
1. “The Way Of The Warrior” – Star Trek: DS9
With “The Way of the Warrior,” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine not only gives us the best Worf episode, but the story that marks a huge turning point for the series. It’s Michael Dorn’s first episode of DS9, set after the events of 1994’s Star Trek: Generations. Still mourning the loss of the Enterprise-D, Worf is asked by Sisko to figure out why a massive fleet of Klingon ships is hanging out at his station.
“The Way of the Warrior” ends with a huge space battle between the Klingon fleet and the titular station. It’s the first sequence of its type in the history of Trek, and it would be used to help the show create a similar battle almost two seasons later in “A Call to Arms.” Along with serving as an explosive introduction for Worf to DS9, “The Way of the Warrior” signaled to fans that — for better or worse — DS9 was becoming an epic war story.