Here are the most terrifying Star Trek episodes of all time!
If you’re a fan of Red Letter Media (and trust us, you should be), you may be familiar with Mike Stoklassa’s theory that Star Trek: The Original Series was more of a horror show than anything else. While we don’t fully agree with his thesis, the truth is that the shows everyone thinks are about warm and fuzzy space exploration has managed to churn out some of the scariest hours in television history. Just in case you’re ready to “boldly go” into some nightmares tonight, we’ve rounded up the scariest Star Trek horror episodes in the entirety of the franchise.
8. “The Man Trap” – Star Trek: The Original Series
The Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Man Trap” is the earliest franchise dips into horror (it’s literally the first episode of season one), and after all these years, it’s still more than a bit spooky. The plot concerns a creepy salt vampire that can easily stalk and kill its victims because it can change shape at will. What follows is a tense episode where the killer could be anywhere and even anyone, and the ingenuity of Captain Kirk may be the only thing standing between the entire crew and a very grisly demise.
7. “Schisms” – Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation is certainly not a show known for its horror episodes, but when we get one, the writers and directors always knock it out of the park. This is certainly true of the episode “Schisms,” where the crew begins to realize they have all been having similar dreams (nightmares, really) about an operating table and mysterious alien noises from creatures they can’t see at first. Eventually, they realize aliens have been abducting the crew and performing bizarre experiments on them without anybody knowing…such as poor Commander Riker, who is horrified to notice that his arm was severed and then reattached without him ever knowing.
6. “Frame of Mind” – Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek has told many different types of horror stories over the years, but the franchise is arguably at its best when exploring psychological horror. In The Next Generation episode “Frame of Mind,” Riker suddenly finds himself navigating two different realities: one in which he is about to star in Dr. Crusher’s big play and another in which he is a murder suspect that has been tossed into an alien asylum. His very survival hinges on figuring out what’s real and what’s not, and at every turn, he must fight back against the growing suspicion that he has simply lost his mind out on the far reaches of space.
5. “Empok Nor” – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
If you’re still not convinced that Star Trek can do horror well, you need to check out the Deep Space Nine episode “Empok Nor,” which was written by future Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller. The plot involves what is meant to be a simple supply run to Empok Nor, but it doesn’t take long for Garak to run afoul of mysterious drugs that have also driven a small group of remaining Cardassians violently insane. The drugs help him channel his inner murderous spy, and we are left with an amazing showdown between this killer tailor and Chief O’Brien, whose quick wits are all that can keep him and Nog from certain death.
4. “All Those Who Wander” – Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the modern love letter to The Original Series, and that meant it was only a matter of time before we got a throwback horror episode. That came in the form of “All Those Who Wander,” an ep that helped transform the Gorn (who were once the face of Star Trek’s penchant for goofy costumes) into horrific monsters that our intrepid heroes barely know how to fight, because almost nobody who sees a Gorn lives to tell the tale. And as if the Gorn weren’t already scary enough, we get introduced to some baby Gorn whose design is clearly inspired by the frightening xenomorph from Alien.
3. “The Haunting of Deck Twelve” – Star Trek: Voyager
If you happen to be a Star Trek fan who is also into cozy horror, then you might want to curl up with the Voyager episode “The Haunting of Deck Twelve.” The plot involves ship’s cook Neelix having to deal with Borg children (yeah, Voyager gets weird) who accidentally woke up early due to a power surge, and he decides to regale them with a spooky tale of a murderous entity on (you guessed it) Deck 12. While Neelix is likely fabricating the entire story, we are still treated to shocking sights, quite literally: the mysterious entity zaps anyone that gets in its way, and it’s not afraid to threaten Janeway with brutal suffocation.
2. “Vanishing Point” – Star Trek: Enterprise
It took a bit of time for Star Trek: Enterprise to find its footing, but when it did, this series could tell horror stories just as gripping as any other show in the franchise. Perhaps our favorite is “Vanishing Point,” in which Hoshi goes through the transporter for the first time and then effectively becomes invisible, with the crew eventually declaring her dead. Meanwhile, we see Hoshi deal with everything from an existential crisis to alien sabotage, all while she wonders (in the fine tradition of Dr. McCoy) just what the hell the transporter did to her.
1. “Conspiracy” – Star Trek: The Next Generation
As we noted before, Star Trek often focuses more on psychological horror, but in The Next Generation episode “Conspiracy,” the franchise veers into full creature feature mode. After getting a priority one call, Picard and his crew become embroiled in the titular conspiracy after discovering that alien parasites have begun to take over key Starfleet officers, and the aliens aren’t afraid to destroy entire ships to cover their tracks. All of this culminates in a showdown with the head alien, and trust us when we say that you’ll see more bloody violence and gore in this ep than you will for the rest of the entire series.