Star Trek’s Best Series Finales, Ranked

Here are our best picks for the best series finales of all the concluded Star Trek television series.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

star trek best finale

The revival series Star Trek: Picard recently delivered one of the best series finales in the history of the franchise, offering a wonderful opportunity to look back at all the other conclusions Trek has given us. From their beginnings on NBC to their current home on Paramount+, here are how all the series have ended and how each show handled the inevitable.

6. Star Trek: The Original Series “Turnabout Intruder”/Star Trek: The Animated Series “The Counter-Clock Incident”

star trek best finale

The finale episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series tie for last because on a list of best finales, it’s really the only fair spot for both. While they both deserve the lowest spot, judging them against one another seems pointless because — unlike every other finale on this list — neither was written to be a finale, but just another episode.

The final episode of the series that started it all, “Turnabout Intruder,” is the 24th episode of Star Trek‘s third season. The villain of the week is Federation scientist Dr. Janice Lester (Sandra Smith) who is angry about the greater career advances denied women. She’s so angry about it that in “Turnabout Intruder” she uses an alien device she discovers to switch bodies with her old lover Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and takes over the Enterprise.

If we were going to judge these two finales against each other, the Star Trek: The Animated Series final episode “The Counter-Clock Incident” might earn the higher spot on the best finale list if for no other reason than it introduces Commodore Robert April — the Enterprise captain who precedes Christopher Pike and who is played by Adrian Holmes in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

star trek adrian holmes
Adrian Holmes as Robert April in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

“The Counter-Clock Incident” finds April and his wife traveling on the Enterprise as honored dignitaries. The ship finds itself pulled into another universe where the crew ages backwards, and April and his wife are the only ones left in command when the rest of our heroes are turned into children.

5. Star Trek: Enterprise – “These Are the Voyages…”

star trek best finale

If I were to argue the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise deserves any higher spot on a list of best Trek finales, any fan would cry bloody murder, and they’d be right. “These Are the Voyages…” takes the events of the prequel series and makes them nothing more than fodder for Will Riker’s (Jonathan Frakes) holodeck meditations.

Airing eleven years before “These Are the Voyages”, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus” puts Riker in the difficult position of either betraying his current commander Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) or his former one, Erik Pressman (Terry O’Quinn). To help his decision making, Riker runs a program involving Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) and his crew.

To be fair, Enterprise — unlike the remaining series on this list — was canceled and the writers seemingly did the best they could to give Star Trek fans one of the best finales. But by making the entire story Riker’s holodeck simulation, they essentially confirmed critics’ biggest reason for changing the channel: that it was “just” a prequel show.

4. Star Trek: Voyager – “Endgame”

star trek best finale

In 2001, Star Trek: Voyager made good on the promise of the series concept and finally brought the heroic crew home. But before they make it back, they have to face their greatest enemies, the Borg, and a moral conundrum presented by a white-haired Admiral Janeway of the future. She tells them if they choose to destroy the Borg’s transwarp network — rather than take an opportunity she presents them with to get home — 23 more crew members will die including Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Chakotay (Robert Beltran) will be traumatized, and Tuvok (Tim Russ) will become afflicted with an irreversible illness.

Star Trek: Voyager‘s “Endgame” is one of the best finales in the franchise and if someone were to move it up a space or two on their own list, I wouldn’t cry foul. It’s powerful, explosive, and almost everything a Trek series finale should be. My only surviving complaint is the abrupt way it ends, with Voyager meeting the Federation fleet in the Alpha Quadrant, and no look at how all the subsequent reunions unfold.

3. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – “What You Leave Behind”

For a Trek conclusion to find itself higher than Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s “What You Leave Behind” on a list of best finales is a near impossible task. The DS9 finale ties up any and all loose ends, squeezes the tears out of you while it does so, and does it all while giving you the end of a galactic war storyline that had raged for over two seasons.

My one remaining gripe about DS9‘s finale is the fate of Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks). I get it, it makes sense, but as a fan I just didn’t want it to happen. Not to mention that coming, as it does, at the explosive end of the Dominion War, upon first viewing it couldn’t help but feel random and anticlimactic.

2. Star Trek: Picard – “The Last Generation”

With “The Last Generation”, Star Trek: Picard gives fans not only one of the best series finales in the franchise, but one that redeems the show as a whole. The first two seasons of Picard are very uneven, while both the final season and its conclusion are largely embraced by both fans and critics.

“The Last Generation,” like much of Picard‘s final season, is a love letter to Trek. From the triumphant return of the Enterprise-D to Walter Koenig’s surprise voice cameo to all of the many visual and musical nods to series and movies of the past, it’s “fan service” but in the best meaning of the phrase.

1. Star Trek: The Next Generation – “All Good Things…”

star trek best finale

It’s been almost thirty years but “All Good Things…”, the conclusion of Star Trek: The Next Generation still stands above the competition as the best Trek series finale. The two-part story finds Picard experiencing three timelines simultaneously courtesy of Q (John de Lancie) as well as facing his own mortality. It gives fans the opportunity to not only see future versions of their favorite heroes, but a wonderful throwback to the first season.

No, the plot is not perfect, but in every other way it’s not only a brilliant conclusion to The Next Generation, but a wonderful springboard for the crew’s film series.

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