In an attempt to maximize the money they’re spending on building starship sets for Star Trek: Discovery, CBS came up with Short Treks. This anthology series takes short-form stories in the Star Trek universe and gives them a one-shot episode of varying length.
The longest Short Treks run around twenty-minutes but some are as short as five-minutes. Most of them are live action, but Short Treks have started mixing in totally animated episodes as well. Short Treks also mix up time periods and eras. Some don’t even involve any Star Trek characters you’ve seen before.
With such a wide varieties of styles and approaches, that means the quality of Short Treks also varies wildly from one episode to another. Some Short Treks simply may not be worth your time, while others are not to be missed.
To see where Short Treks rank in our master list, head over to Star Trek: Everything The Franchise Has Ever Done Ranked.
Find out where to target your Star Trek attention with our list of Short Treks, ranked from best to worst.
1. The Escape Artist | S1E4
Rainn Wilson returns as Harry Mudd and also directs “The Escape Artist” for CBS All Access. His investment in the character paid huge dividends and this particular Short Trek is not only well written, it’s perfectly directed. It’s the most fun you’ll have with any of these and it actually makes sense, unlike some of the lower ranked Short Treks.
Using Short Treks to breathe more life into one-shot characters like Mudd is a great idea and one I wish they’d repeat should some other great single episode character make a splash on any of Star Trek’s new shows.
2. The Trouble With Edward | S2E6
There’s no denying that “The Trouble With Edward” doesn’t jive at all with any of the well established Star Trek tribble canon. But does anyone care THAT much about Tribble canon? If you can get past that, this clever Short Trek is not only funny, it’s sharply constructed and visually interesting. It gives us a close look at a totally new type of starship and also a bevy of quotable lines.
Tribbles ARE very slow moving after all and that makes them easy to hunt. What does a tribble taste like anyway? Outside of the original “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode, “The Trouble With Edward” may be the funniest thing Star Trek has ever done.
3. Q&A | S2E1
Both Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck return to reprise their roles as Number One and Spock, respectively in “Q&A”. The Short Trek gives us a look at Spock’s first ever day aboard the Enterprise as a young Ensign. He spends all of it trapped in a malfunctioning turbo lift with the ship’s first officer and he has a lot of questions. Since they have nothing else to do, Number One encourages him to ask all of them.
It could have been an opportunity to deliver something really interesting and revealing about Spock, but instead “Q&A” uses it to let Romijn belt out a musical number. It’s a pleasant enough few minutes, spent with two really good characters. Still, it feels like “Q&A” had the potential to be truly great and instead the script settled for just kind of good.
4. Calypso | S1E2
Part teaser for the future of Star Trek: Discovery and part self-contained story, Calypso follows a mysterious new character who boards the starship Discovery in a far off future. In this future the Discovery has been entirely abandoned by her crew and has also somehow become self-aware. The ship, taking on a female persona, nurses her new passenger back to health and develops a relationship with him, before allowing him to go on his way in search of his family.
It’s filled with touching moments and does a great job of hitting the right notes. The plot of “Calypso” doesn’t always make a lot of sense though, and that keeps it from hitting the Black Mirror level of greatness it seems to be aiming for.
5. Ephraim and Dot | S2E4
“Ephraim and Dot” is an almost Looney Tunes style adventure in which a Tardigrade looking to lay her eggs and a Federation repair droid (yes I guess those are canon now) looking to keep her off his ship, chase each other around Captain Kirk’s original series era Enterprise.
The Tardigrade first shows up during “Space Seed” (we see Khan talking to Kirk from his hospital bed through a window) and stays on the Enterprise right through her refit and the Short Trek ends with the destruction of the original Enterprise over the Genesis planet. It’s hugely fun and a great way to nostalgically revist great moments.
6. Ask Not | S2E3
“Ask Not” is a trifling story which probably wasn’t worth telling, but is elevated by the presence of Anson Mount as Captain Pike. It involves a cadet trapped in a room with the legendary Captain after being ordered to hold him prisoner. There’s a thinly veiled mystery which you’ll figure out ten seconds after they set it up, but any time Anson Mount is on screen it’s totally worth watching. It’s just a shame they didn’t give him a Short Trek more worthy of his talents.
7. The Brightest Star | S1E3
“The Brightest Star” attempts to tell the origin story of one of Star Trek: Discovery’s best characters, Saru. The result is a few minutes spent watching aliens wander around in a swamp and talk about wanting to get out (or not).
Doug Jones is so good as Saru you’ll really WANT to like “The Brightest Star” but the script is so incredibly bad, you may find it impossible to do so. None of it makes sense and it seems to totally contradict Discovery’s own established canon. I have no idea what they were thinking with this one.
8. Children of Mars |S2E6
“Children of Mars” is the first Short Trek not set in or somehow connected directly to the stories of Star Trek: Discovery. This one is designed specifically to foreshadow Star Trek: Picard, though you may not realize it until the end.
It begins with what amounts to footage of kids going to school and bullying each other, set to an incredibly weepy and annoying rendition of the song “Heroes”. It’s basically a really terrible music video and the only reason you can tell it has anything to do with Star Trek is that there’s a shuttle taking off in the background in one scene, and some of the characters have a little alien makeup. Later they reuse some great effects shots from Star Trek: Picard.
Near its end the dialogue-free short takes a turn and the kids sit around watching and reacting to a breaking news report about an attack on Mars. The coverage includes a quote from an “Admiral Picard”. Additionally, some of the footage from the Mars attack is straight from the Star Trek: Picard trailers, indicating that this is perhaps backstory to the plot which will unfold on the show.
Without the Picard connection this Short Trek is mostly vapor. Inconsequential and largely uninspired. At least it’s shot really well? Good enough to land it a few spots up from the bottom on our Short Treks ranking list.
8. The Runaway | S1E1
If my eight-year-old daughter who refuses to watch Star Trek with me set out to write a Star Trek episode this is what it would look like. “The Runaway” involves a super cool alien princess-scientist-warrior who just shows up for some reason and starts making trouble and it’s up to also super cool Ensign Tilly to help her find her truth… or something.
Not one second of “The Runaway” makes any sense at all and it totally operates on the level of a My Little Pony toy commercial. It’s embarrassing that this is associated with Star Trek and it represents everything Star Trek: Discovery has ever done wrong. Later Discovery revisits this Short Trek by bringing the character introduced in it, onto the show proper. Her time there is just as embarrassing and nonsensical as it is here. Do yourself a favor Discovery and never mention this again.
9. The Girl Who Made The Stars | S2E5
“The Girl Who Made The Stars” is a folk tale about ancient Africa which really has nothing at all to do with Star Trek in any way. They tried to make it seem like it has a lot to do with Star Trek, by framing it as a story told to Michael Burnham by her father. This is literally nothing more than super-thin excuse to slap the Short Treks label on something unrelated. Also the folk tale itself is pretty terrible and boring.
“The Girl Who Made The Stars” is a disgrace. It’s not worse writing than “The Runaway” so maybe I should rank it above that particular disaster, but since it has nothing at all to do with Star Trek and this is a list of Star Trek Short Treks, “The Girl Who Made The Stars” has to go below anything which even tries to be Star Trek.