Star Trek: The 50 Best Alien Races

From Tribble to Andorians, we're ranking the 50 best alien life forms explored in the Star Trek universe...

The crews of the various iterations of Star Trek boldly went where no one has gone before — and then boldly met a crap ton of alien species.

Star Trek may be the human adventure, but there have been countless non-human beings, critters, menaces, gods, and blobs that have been introduced in the Star Trek universe. From The Original Series to The Animated Series, to The Next Generation, to Deep Space Nine, the Delta Quadrant and Voyager, to the early adventures of Enterprise, to the modern day films, Star Trek has gifted fans with unforgettable species after species as the five-year mission has turned into five decades of first contact.

There have been vile races bred for combat, omnipotent races that use humankind as puppets, and even a bunch of cute little furry things. Star Trek just keeps on delivering the cool aliens show after show, film after film. Just imagine the species that will soon be coming to Star Trek: Discovery! But now is the time to celebrate the past as we present the fifty coolest Star Trek aliens ever to appear in films or TV.

50. Arcturian

First Appearance: Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

The Arcturian didn’t have a great deal of Star Trek screen time, but this alien race that resembled melted wax (eww) makes our list because it stands as a prime example of the story richness of the Star Trek galaxy. An Arcturian can briefly be seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the Mego toy company even made two versions of this blink and you’ll miss him creature (one 3 ¾ inch one 12 inch). But what intrigues us the most is this melty guy’s backstory…

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Star Trek costume crafters extraordinaire Fred Phillips and Robert Fletcher came up with a rich history for the Arcturian. According to Philips and Fletcher, the Arcturians were actually a race of clones that made up the bulk of the Federation’s infantry. While never seen on screen, there are legions of these guys running around, just waiting to be sent to some hostile planet to go to war. The Federation has always been portrayed as peaceful and benevolent, but it has the potential to unleash billions of melty looking monsters at a moment’s notice. Yikes.

Arcturians also appeared in the Star Trek daily comic strip and their back story continues to stand as a great example of the vast richness of the Star Trek galaxy, a place where billions of stories exist at all times. Including one about a race of wax soldiers that can be replicated and sent to do the Federation’s will. Eeep.

49. Edosian

First appearance: Star Trek: The Animated Series “Beyond the Farthest Star” (1973)

Edosians are a tripedal species and are skilled at using their three arms and three legs in navigation and piloting. Lieutenant Arex, the loyal Enterprise navigator that first appeared in Star Trek: The Animated Series, is a proud member of the Edosian species and was a recurring character during this era of animated Trek. Arex was voiced by Scotty himself James Doohan and was a standout character in the era between The Original Series and The Next Generation.

Arex popped up in comics and novels and took his place of honor among the original crew. Arex also was a character that fully utilized animation as the six limbs and distinct alien features of this character would have been impossible to pull off in live-action back in the day. But thanks to The Animated Series, the distinctive Edosians live on and prosper in Trek lore.

48. Excalbians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “The Savage Curtain” (1969)

Listen, any species responsible for bringing Abraham Lincoln into the Star Trek universe has to make this list. The Excalbians are a silicon based life form that possessed the ability to shape shift. These rock beings, who honestly looked like something Steve Ditko would have designed for Doctor Strange, were fascinated by the human notion of good and evil.

So they did what anyone would do in the same situation: they made a recreation of Abraham Lincoln and teamed it with Kirk, Spock, and famous Vulcan goodie-good Surak and sent them up against four representatives of evil — Kahless the Unforgettable of Qo’noS, Genghis Khan, Colonel Green of Earth and Dr. Zora of Tiburon. How’s that for a traditional Survivor Series match?

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For this wonderful bit of schlock and for making us believe that Ben Grimm could work in live action in 1969, we salute the ever curious Excalbians.

47. Caitian

First appearance: Star Trek: The Animated Series “The Survivor” (1973)

The cat-like Caitians were represented in Enterprise history by M’Ress, a feline female that served both as engineer and a communications officer during The Animated Series. M’Ress spoke in a purring voice and was a skilled operative that stood side by side with the more iconic members of the Enterprise.

Now, I would like to talk about how cool the Caitians were. I would like to talk about how M’Ress was the main character in the Power Records’ Star Trek book and record set Star Trek: Passage to Moauv (1975). I would also like to talk about how a Caitian also appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

But I just can’t help but wonder if Captain Kirk did what he does and somehow at some point bed down with this cat woman. This would make Kirk’s TV sci-fi’s first furry and I’m sort of fascinated by this idea. I don’t want to focus on this idea because it kind of reduces M’ress as a character and the Caitian as a race… But then I read that the alien twins that Kirk hooked up with in the first Abramsverse film were confirmed to be Caitian and everything just stirs up again and I fell absolved of all responsibility.

Anyway, M‘Ress and the Caitians might be considered obscure now, but she was a pretty big deal to Trek lore during The Animated Series era. So this race is a purr-fect addition to our list. Did the Enterprise come equipped with a giant litter box? Okay, I need to stop now; this is going to some bad places.

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46. Bolians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1988)

The Bolians have been a perennial background species since their first Trek appearance in 1988. The first Bolian fans witnesses aboard the Enterprise was an ambassador, but many other Bolians have appeared around the Trek verse since. They have been seen as barbers, manicurists, Federation troops, and high ranking officials.

Bolians are distinctive due to their blue skin and their ridge that bisects their anatomy. They are highly friendly individuals and compassionate. In fact, an episode of Voyager puts forth that Bolians were  supportive of assisted suicide. These deep seated beliefs make the Bolians an intriguing species ripe for future Trek exploration.

45. Lurian

First appearance: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “The Emissary” (1993)

Lurians were a very rarely encountered species that possessed multiple hearts, lungs, and stomachs. Fans got to know this ellusive species through DS9 regular/bar fly Morn. Yes, Morn is an anagram for Norm, because, like the famed Cheers fat man, in Quark’s Bar, everyone knew Morn’s name.

Morn was a bombastic and talkative fellow who fans never got to actually hear speak. He was a former thief that barely moved away from his bar stool. Morn was also fiercely loyal to Quark and got his little Ferengi pal out of many a jam. But mostly, Morn just sat there and drank stoically.

Although we only ever met one Lurian, we will always remember his name because Morn was such a constant (and inebriated) presence on Deep Space Nine. He also once had a torrid love affair with Jadzia Dax but that is a tale for another time. Raise a glass to the Lurians!

44. Roylan

First appearance: Star Trek (2009)

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So far, the rebooted Trek films have not really given funs much by way of alien species. The only classic races to get good screen time in the reboots have been Romulans and Vulcans. But the films did give us Keenser the Roylan, Scotty’s diminutive engineering pal.

Keenser first appeared in the first Trek reboot film as Scotty’s ever present companion when Scotty was exiled on the Federation outpost on Delta Vega. When Scotty beamed to the Enterprise, he left Keenser behind which was kinda sad. JJ Abrams and company must have thought so too as Keenser was all of a sudden part of the Enterprise’s crew in Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Keensar is ever loyal to his pal Scotty as the two share one of the best bromances in the galaxy. The fourteenth issue of IDW Publishing’s Star Trek comic gifted fans with Keensar’s origin. It also revealed the name of his species — Roylan — for the first time.

In this issue, fans learned that Keensar was constantly mocked by his peers because he was so tall (heh). It also revealed that Keensar served with distinction aboard the USS Kelvin and was shipmates with none other than George Kirk.

Keensar the Roylan is a constant presence in the new Trek Universe and I’m sure this member of the Roylan species will have many adventures to come.

43. Mugato

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “A Private Little War” (1968)

Because sometimes in space, there are giant, poisonous horned gorillas. What’s not to love about Mugato? He’s kind of cute, very fuzzy, and is as poisonous as the nastiest snake. Poisonous gorillas in space, this is why we love Trek. Sadly, Mugato only appeared briefly, attacking and poisoning Kirk before being disintegrated by Doctor McCoy.

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But, remember: as you watch the hard sci-fi and techno jargon of Trek, as you witness the human adventure of Roddenberry’s galaxy, as you watch carbon-based life forms achieve full potential and enlightenment, remember, in this same world there are fuzzy, horned, albino gorillas that will poison the crap out of you.

42. Acamarians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Vengeance Factor” (1989)

The Acamarians are an advanced race of humanoids that have found a peaceful existence very late in its history. For centuries, the tattooed Acamarians lived in rival clans and their planet was split apart by warfare. One of the clan wars lasted three centuries and wiped one of the combating sides out of existence. When Picard’s Enterprise encountered the Acamarians, the people finally almost found peace.

However, a splinter group known as the Gatherers could not overcome centuries of clan warfare and refused to negotiate, so Picard had to navigate the complex web of Acamarians politics and bitterness as well as the assassination of the Gatherer ambassador to finally forge a peace with the Acamarians.

Despite all these issues, the Acamarians have a rich culture and mirror many contemporary Earth societies that have been splintered by war. Sci-fi works best when it reflects reality, and through the Acamarians, Trek fans got to see some really effective social commentary about tribalism and societal bitterness.

41. Denobulans

First appearance: Enterprise “Broken Bow” (2001)

A Denobulan served aboard the very first Enterprise as the ship’s doctor, thus making the species vital to the origins of the Federation. Our medic in question, Phlox by name, was one of the main protagonists in Enterprise and was a staunch example of the exemplary qualities of the Denobulan race.

Denobulans are loyal but quite hedonistic by human standards. Denobulan males can take up to three wives while the entire race embraces polyamory. As humanity headed off into space aboard the first Enterprise, Phlox served as a constant reminder of the varied belief systems and practices the people of Earth would encounter as space exploration began.

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Phlox and the Denobulan held ethics in high regard as Phlox would never allow a sentient being to suffer. Even though the ridge faced Denobulans had fierce tempers, they also were gentle and kind, and valued knowledge and pleasure over confrontation and violence.

Denobulans also have the propensity to puff out their faces when they were threatened — so, yeah, there’s that. Plus, Denobulans have really long tongues. What was it that I said about hedonism and Denobulans? Anyway, these cunning linguists were great doctors as seen through Enterprise’s first mayor of the sickbay: Doctor Phlox.

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40. Orions

First Appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “The Cage” (1966)

The green Orion slave dancer that shimmied into the dreams of Trek fans has been an iconic bit of Star Trek lore since her Shakiraesque debut, but the history of the Orions did not stop there…

Although a cosplay staple, the slave girl was just one Orion. Others have appeared in The Animated Series, Enterprise, novels, comics, toys, and one even prominently appeared in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek timeline as Uhura’s roommate and an early romantic partner of one James T. Kirk.

Orions are a species with close ties to the Federation — ties that are explored in some of the better episodes of Enterprise. Although the Orions will long be remembered because of the grinding of the hips of a slave dancer, there is so much more to this green-skinned humanoid species that has been part of Star Trek lore since almost day one.

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39. Ocampans

First appearance Star Trek: Voyager “Caretaker Part II” (1995)

The Ocampans carry an importance to the Star Trek universe because Kes, a noted member of the Ocampan species, was a member of the lost Voyager crew for three years. Ocampans are a race with powerful telekinetic powers but, sadly, this race of elf-like humanoids only have a life span of nine years. (So… combine Jean Grey with a mayfly and you get the idea.) 

Ocampans are very accepting of their short life span and a rather enlightened species. Through Kes, the crew of Voyager learned a lust for life as the wide eyed Ocampan enjoyed every minute of her existance even though she was trapped with the Voyager crew. When Kes’ power grew out of control, she left Voyager and her friends, including her constant companion Neelix, and used her abilities to push the lost Voyager out of Borg space and a year closer to home. This sacrifice taught the crew of the Voyager and fans of the show the innate nobility of the Ocampan race.

38. Vidiians

First appearance Star Trek Voyager “The Phage” (1995)

While the Ocampans were a nice, little, Tinkerbell-like species that fluttered about Voyager,there were also these Wes Craven nightmares… The Vidiians suffered a disease known as the Phage. The Phage is kind of like a hardcore space Ebola that utterly destroys the infected’s body and organs. So, yeah, Bones McCoy was sort of right about space being a petri dish of death and pain.

The ravaged Phage would wander the galaxy and rob sentients of their organs and body parts. So there you are, doing warp three with caution around the Delta Quadrant, and, all of a sudden, a few Vidiians beam unto your ship and rip out your liver and intestines. Then, they use said liver and intestines to replace their own — whether you filled out your Federation organ donor cards or not.

The Vidiians were eventually cured by the crew of the Voyager, but you have to assume that in a galaxy so big there are still some Vidiians cruising around out there taking hearts and lungs from innocent travelers. Yeesh.

37. Breen

First appearance: Star Trek Deep Space Nine “Indiscretion” (1995)

First off, cool points for the Breen because the helmet that this species wears looks kind of like the helmet Princess Leia used to disguise herself as a bounty hunter in Return of the Jedi. But the space awesomeness of the Breen doesn’t end there…

The Breen’s fighting prowess and technology are so advanced that even the Romulons and Klingon talk about this mysterious species in hushed whispers. And, indeed, when the Breen made themselves known to the Federation during the Dominion War, things got intense. These mighty warriors allied themselves with the Cardassians and the Dominion to take on the combined might of the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulons.

During this conflict, the Breen destroyed the USS Defiant, the flagship of the Deep Space Nine space station, and managed to attack the Earth city of San Francisco. The Federation managed to develop counter weaponry to defeat the Breen, but many will remember these armored badassess as race of military specialists to be reckoned with.

The alliance with the Dominion cost the Breen, though, and — after the War — it wasn’t easy being Breen.

36. Hunters

First appearance Star Trek Deep Space Nine : “Captive Pursuit” (1993)

Imagine a Trek alien that is pretty much Boba Fett mixed with Kraven the Hunter and you have these big game-tracking motherfuckers. The Hunters popped out of the Bajoran Wormhole and had their first contact with the Federation in the DS9 episode “Captive Pursuit.” In this stirring installment of this reporter’s favorite Trek show, fans were introduced to the Hunters and their chosen prey: the genetically enhanced Tosk.

The Hunters (whether this was the species name is unknown) would alter their Tosk prey in order to make the hunt more difficult. The pursuing of the Tosk was an obsession with the Hunters that rubbed members of the freedom loving Federation the wrong way.

The Hunters even gave the Federation a run for its money as the race of killers had advanced tech to assist them in their eternal hunt for Tosk. Sadly, the Hunters only appeared in one episode of Deep Space Nine, but their fighting skills and bloodthirsty rituals will be burned into the minds of Trek fans for a long time.

35. The Salt Vampire

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “The Man Trap” (1966)

Old Salty here, or creature M-113, is a reminder that space can be a really, really dangerous place because there are things out there called Salt Vampires. And, no, this thing doesn’t just hang around a Pringles factory, it freakin’ shape shifts and then kills innocent people and drains them of their salt. Kirk and his crew first encountered this thing as it took the form of a number of the Enterprise’s crew. It almost killed Sulu, Yeoman Rand, Spock, and Kirk before being shot and killed by Dr. McCoy who had no time for such foolishness.

I suppose Kirk could have kept the Salt Vampire alive and just fed it Wetzel’s Pretzels (those things are like licking the ocean), but I guess Kirk felt that a shape shifting thing that looks like it was spat out of the ninth plane of hell that brutally kills people and drains them of sodium probably needed to be deleted from the universe. One has to wonder what special M-114 might be: Cinnamon Vampire?

34. Cheron

First appearance Star Trek: The Original Series “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” (1969)

When we first met the Cheron, there was only two members of this species left: Bele (played by the Riddler himself, the great Frank Gorshin) and Lokai. Bele was hunting Lokai whom Bele deemed a traitor after the planet Cheron was wiped out due to centuries of racial wars.

Apparently, some Cheron were black on the left and white on the right while other members of this advanced species possessed the opposite skin alignment. Due to this difference, the entire population — save Lokai and Bele — were eradicated. Bele hijacked the Enterprise and used his vast array of mental capabilities to hunt for Lokai.

The whole opposite was a thinly veiled, but powerful allusion to the destructive potential and sheer idiocy of racism — a message as powerful today as it was in the ’60s. Of course, you know I’m going to say that Mego made a Cheron doll, a toy I treasured in my childhood and called Oreo Man.

We should all have an Oreo Man during our most innocent years. But who knew my beloved Oreo Man was actually a genocidal racist madman that used his vast power to almost destroy the Enterprise? Oh, Oreo Man…

33. Nausicaans

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Tapestry” (1993)

One of the surlier races in the galaxy, Nausicaans are big hairy warriors that hire themselves out as mercenaries throughout the galaxy. A Nausicaan had quite the impact on the life of Jean-Luc Picard. When the future captain of the Enterprise was an ensign, he played a stirring game of domjot with some Nausicaan thugs (as one does). Picard and his pals accused the Nausicaans of cheating and the bad-tempered badasses stabbed Picard through the heart. This required Picard to get an artificial heart. (The more you know!)

The Nausicaans gave the crew of Deep Space Nine a hard time as well. This hairy race of pirates even encountered Captain Archer and the original crew of the Enterprise back in the day, proving that big hairy thugs that cheat at domjot remain big hairy thugs that cheat at domjot.

All that aside, Nausicaan fighting prowess is equal to the fighting prowess of Klingons and the only thing that keeps the Nausicaans from being more of a threat is their mistrust and their inability to come together as a species. Instead of being intergalactic conquerors, the Nausicaans have remained bullies, raider, and cheaters. But they do have killer 80s rocker hair, don’t they?

32. Kazon

First appearance: Star Trek: Voyager “Caretaker” (1995)

The Kazon were the first race that the crew of the Voyager encountered when they arrived in the Delta Quadrant, and — as far as d-bag, aggressive alien species go — the Kazon take the space cake (because when you put the word space in front of something, it sounds like you are in the future).

The Kazon race was separated into rival sects, which made negotiating with them as a whole almost impossible. They were once a slave race that served the Trabe, but the Kazon were a fractured species before and during its enslavement. Despite their disloyalty to each other, the Kazon were fierce combatants who were unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with the Trabe or Voyager.

The Kazon had advanced technology and a back-stabbing blood thirst that introduced the crew of the Voyager to the Delta Quadrant and caused Voyager to be trapped in what was going to be a very hostile place, if the battle-hardened Kazon were any indication.

31. Metrons

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Arena” (1967)

We do so love the Gorn. And what alien species was responsible for Kirk’s immortal battle with the Gorn? Why that would be the shiny and nigh omnipotent Metrons.

The Metrons possess tremendous mental powers and can control matter and energy. These human like aliens fiercely guard their sector of space and regard even the most minor intrusion as a great trespass punishable by death. When the Enterprise and a Gorn vessel find themselves in Metron space, the Metrons mentally teleport both Captains to a remote planet and force them to fight.

The Metrons are intensely xenophobic and regard other races as barbaric, so when Kirk spares the Gorn, the aloof Metrons are impressed and free both vessels. You see, a simple act of kindness was all it took to free the Enterprise from the Metrons’ wrath and impress a race of people that do not impress easily. Also, the Metrons wear sparkly evening gowns so they have that going for them…

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30. Horta

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Devil in the Dark” (1967)

The Horta may look like a pile of bile soaked dog puke, but, hey, it was featured in William Shatner’s favorite Star Trek episode, so we have to give this blob of silicon its props.

The Horta was first encountered by a group of miners. After a miner was killed, Kirk and company were called to see what was up. They encounter the Horta, an extremely alien-looking beastie. After the creature is injured, Spock attempts a mind meld but the creature is in too much pain for Spock to connect with it. Soon, the crew of the Enterprise learns that the creature is the lone survivor of its race charged with protecting the eggs of the next generation of Horta. So Kirk and his pals dedicate themselves to protecting the thing’s little vomit eggs from the angry miners.

All jokes aside, the Horta was classic Trek alien: a semi-cheesy-looking beastie that stars in an episode with a powerful theme. The Horta was a prime example that all life has merit and even something that looks like a half-digested taco only wants to survive and thrive. By saving the Horta, the crew of the Enterprise shows that their most important mission is to contact and understand all life, no matter what it looks like. Thank you for that valuable lesson, Mr. Horta.

29. Greek Gods

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Who Mourns For Adonis?” (1967)

Wait, what? Oh, by the bristling beard of Zeus, the Greek Gods exists in the Star Trek universe. 

The legendary deities of ancient Greece were actually super-powered aliens that lived on Pollox IV. They would visit Earth back in ancient times and bask in the worship of primitive humans. Well, the humans of the Enterprise were no primitives, and — when the Pollox IV alien that called itself Apollo trapped Kirk and his crew on the planet and refused to allow them to leave — Kirk and Spock fought back, kicking a god’s ass in the process.

Sadly, we never saw the other Greek gods. (Because could you just imagine Kirk versus Zeus?) But, it was established the other gods existed — and that they wore togas and laurel leaves like they were going to a frat party. The fact that this all exists in the same galaxy as Klingons and Borg just makes me very happy.

28. Hirogen

First appearance: Star Trek: Voyager “Message in a Bottle” (1998)

The Hirogen are a nasty Delta Quadrant species of reptilian hunters that view any other sentient beings as prey. When the Hirogen chose a victim, the religious ritual of the Hunt began and all aspect of Hirogen culture centered on this blood sport. After the Hirogen tracked and captured its prey, they would remove the victim’s skeletal system, muscles, internal organs, ligaments, and tendons and keep these parts as trophies.

The Hirogen ran afoul of the Starship Voyager a number of times and Captain Janeway and her elite crew always found ways to defeat these hunters. In one of the Hirogen’s more bone headed moves, they created advanced holograms that could feel fear and pain. These thinking holograms quickly became more advanced than the Hirogen and turned the hunters into the hunted.

Despite this addlepated move, the Hirogen were always a feared species for those that traveled through the Delta Quadrant because they were essentially Predators dropped into the middle of the Star Trek universe.

27. El-Aurians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Child” (1988)

El-Aurian were a race of wise and peaceful people that transverse the galaxy to listen to the stories of others. When the Borg wiped out the El-Aurian’s home world, the galaxy lost a race of wise listeners… Or it almost did, because the surviving members of this race spread out across the galaxy.

Fans met the El-Aurians when The Next Generation introduced Guinan, the proprietor of Ten Forward, the bar of choice for the crew of the Enterprise. When Guinan came aboard, the members of the Enterprise had a kind and quick-witted being to bounce their problems off of, and Guinan listened. It was a shame that so many people like Guinan were lost to the Borg as the El-Aurians long lived goodness was a boon to the galaxy.

But not all El-Aurians were benevolent. Tollan Soran was an El-Aurian survivor that was aboard a ship of refugees with Guinan when the ships ferrying the El-Aurians refugees was lost to the fiery Nexus ribbon. It seemed that the legendary Captain Kirk was killed in this rescue attempt, but it turns out Kirk was trapped within the Nexus.

Soran became obsessed with returning to the Nexus and his Ahab like need for knowledge led to the first and only meeting between James T. Kirk and Jean Luc Picard. Soran was an anomaly to the El-Aurians species as most of the race used their centuries of wisdom to spread enlightenment wherever they went.

26. Tellarites

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Journey to Babel” (1967)

Along with Andorians and Vulcans, Tellarites were one of the first species to join the United Federation of Planets. A Tellarite first appeared in The Original Series episode “Journey to Babel,” where Sarek, Spock’s father, was framed for the murder of a Tellarite ambassador.

Sarek was able to solve the crime, freeing his name and forging a long-lasting peace with the Tellarities. Early contact with the Tellarites was recounted in Enterprise, but members of the specials also popped up in The Next Generation and even in a couple of films. Tellarites, with their distinctive beards, hooves, and stubbornness, have long been one of the backbone species of the Federation.

25. Tamarians

First Appearance Star Trek: The Next Generation “Darmok” (1991)

“Temba, his arms wide. Shaka, when the walks fell.” Who can forget these poetic, yet somewhat ominous phrases spoken by Dathon the Tamarian to Captain Picard when the two were trapped on a hostile world together?

Trek lore has it that the Federation and the Tamarians only had seven encounters over the years because the Tamarian language was so hard to comprehend. Well, if he was to survive, Picard would have to understand it (and fast) because Dathon beamed Picard down to the planet in order to teach the human captain a language that was as complex as it was beautiful.

It turns out Tamarians only communicate in metaphors (I’ve had grad school professors like that), and in order for the Federation and the Tamarians to build an accord, Picard would need to understand those metaphors. “Shaka when the walls fell,” has become quite a famous little moment of Trek myth as the Tamarians stand as a metaphor themselves — for cultural understanding and empathy.

24. Species 8472

First Appearance: “Star Trek: Voyager” Part 1 (1997)

Species 8472 are so deadly that they even make the Borg poop their cybernetic underroos. (Hey, do you think when the Borg poops they all go at once? Or does one go make while the rest of the Collective just snickers? This is now the most ever written about Borg poop on the internet. Or is it? I’m not googling that.)

Anyway, Species 8472 existed in an extra-dimensional bit of hell known as fluidic space. When the Borg discovered the fluidic dimension, the ever deadly race of cybernetic killers busted through the dimensions and attempted to assimilate Species 8472. 8472 was having none of that and fought back, creating weapons that could slay the Borg with ease. In fact, 8472 was able to destroy the Borg Cubes in seconds. (Man, that’s like taking down the Death Star with a single bullet.) Sadly, Species 8472 also took out many innocent Delta Quadrant planets, which forced the crew of Voyager to get involved.

The Borg and Voyager had to form an unlikely alliance to drive Species 8472 back to fluidic space. 8472 was one of the closet things Trek fans ever got to Lovecraft-like cosmic horrors, as even the Borg could not stand up to these waling nightmares. This species appeared a few more times on Voyager until Captain Janeway was able to broker a peace with these terrors that exist behind the fabric of time and space.

23. The Gorn

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Arena” (1967)

Oh, the Gorn. Who doesn’t love Gorn? Of course, this rubbery looking and cold blooded reptilian monstrosity first appeared in the classic TOS episode “Arena,” where Kirk had to go mano-e-lizardo with the captain of a captured Gorn vessel. What followed was one of the most classic fights in Trek history as Kirk had to fashion a makeshift cannon to defeat this alien monster.

Despite its primitive appearance, future novels established the Gorn as a technologically-advanced race and, you just have to admit, Trek lore has not even scratched the surface of the Gorn. Imagine the spin offs. The Gorn Identity. Gorn to be Wild. Gorn on the Fourth of July. Fans were able to witness the Gorn home world for the first time in DC Comics’ Star Trek the Next Generation: The Gorn Crisis.

The Gorn were also one of the aliens made by Mego in its second set of Trek dolls. Fun fact: Mego’s Gorn looks nothing like the TV Gorn, as Mego just reused Marvel’s Lizard mold, painted it brown and decked old Gorny in the outfit used for the Klingon doll. Despite this lack of toy respect, and despite one of the cheapest prosthetic heads ever seen on TV, the Gorn’s battle with Kirk is still forever burned into Trek lore.

22. Tholians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “The Tholian Web” (1968)

Get a load of these psychedelic xenophobes. Yeah, the Tholians might look like a funky black light album cover come to life, but, really, they are brutal, territorial, hateful, and will do anything to keep other species out of Tholian territory. But, hey, they are known for the punctuality, so take heart in the fact that, when they kill you, it’ll be done in a timely fashion.

The Tholians cruise around their sector of space in geometric rainbow ships, making the aesthetic of the race more Yes album cover and less cool space despots. The Tholians first encountered the crew of the Enterprise when the USS Defiant flew too close to Tholian space.

Always protective of their borders, the Tholians phased the Defiant out of real space and into an interspace dimension. Kirk himself was phased out of time and space (for Shatner, it wouldn’t be the first or last time this happened), but Spock and the Enterprise were able to get their captain back and pimp-slap the Tholians.

The Enterprise under Jonathan Archer also ran afoul of these crystalline killers. The Tholians are a great example that in space, threats can come in any shape and even rainbows can kill you.

21. Talaxians

First appearance: Star Trek: Voyager “Caretaker” (1995)

One of the friendlier species of the Delta Quadrant, the Talaxians — or more accurately, an individual member of the Talaxian species — was pivotal to Voyager’s survival during the years it spent trapped in the Delta Quadrant.

Talaxians became dispersed throughout the Delta Quadrant after a devastating war with the Haakonian Order. Talaxians had no real home world, but that did not break their spirits. Talaxians are a very spiritual, upbeat, and whimsical race that — when confronted with two unpleasant paths to take in life — will find a third, happier path to traverse. This spiritual ability to find light and hope in any circumstance made the Talaxian Neelix indispensable to the crew of the Voyager.

Neelix was the cook and morale officer aboard Voyager and helped his friends out of many spiritual and literal crises. Throughout its wanderings in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager encountered many Talaxians that were always willing to lend a hand. Sadly, many aggressive species like the Borg also targeted the peaceful Talaxians — but, like Neelix, the Talaxians always found that third path.

Keep going, because we’ve got more aliens for you!

20. Organians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Errand of Mercy” (1967)

When Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the Enterprise first encounter the Organians, a non-distinct humanoid species, this new race appeared to be akin to an 18th century agrarian Earth society. Spock commented that his tricoder has more technology than the entirety of the Organians planet.

Sadly, the Organians home world became caught up in a war between the Federation and the Klingons. Kirk warned the Organians leaders that war was coming but the Organians were completely unconcerned… When the Klingons arrived and began to take Organians hostages, the Organians remained unconcerned — because, apparently, the Organians are millions of years more advanced than either Klingons or humans. The Organians mentally disabled the Klingon and Federation ships in orbit around their planet and calmly disarmed Kirk, Spock, and the Klingons.

The Organians have an advanced form of ESP and can predict future events. They also can possess the bodies of others. An Organian told Kirk that, one day, Klingons and humans would be friends — something ‘ol James T. couldn’t wrap his head around, but something Next Gen fans would know to be true. So here’s to the Organians, the Amish space gods of the galaxy.

19. The Traveler

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Where No One Has Gone Before” (1987)

Now, let’s all be honest. Yeah, we love Wil Wheaton as he is truly nerd royalty and has done a great deal over the last few years as a sort of geek ambassador. But, real talk: no one really liked Wesley Crusher. We love Wesley’s mom, Dr. Beverly Crusher, but Wes was kind of the Jar Jar Binks of Star Trek. The Traveler freed us of all of that.

The Traveler is a member of a mysterious race of immensely powerful beings. The Traveler could transverse time, space, and heavenly bodies at will and could use his thoughts to manipulate nature and reality. The Traveler seemed to be second only to Q in terms of power and omnipotence.

When the Traveler first met ‘lil Wesley Crusher, he compared the lad to Mozart. This caused Captain Picard to promote Crusher to ensign. Later in his Starfleet career, Crusher began to have doubts about his lot in Starfleet. The Traveler convinced Crusher to leave Starfleet after Crusher began to develop powers similar to the Traveler.

As Crusher’s powers grew, the Traveler took him on as protégé, teaching the former ensign how to best use his vast powers to help the galaxy. Wesley left the Enterprise with the Traveler as his very own Yoda and, for this, Trek fans hold a great debt to the Traveler as he freed us from the oft times insipid Crusher.

You know, looking back, I wouldn’t mind a novel or two explaining what happened to Crusher later in life. So, I guess we can give the Traveler credit for not only freeing us from Wesley, but also for making Bev’s boy into an interesting part of the Star Trek universe.

18. Crystalline Entity

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Datalore” (1988)

The Crystalline Entity is basically the Galactus of the Star Trek universe. The Entity is a giant, electromagnetic engine of cosmic death that lives to consume organic matter. It goes from planet to planet, absorbing all organic matter and leaving dry husks of death behind. A Crystalline Entity destroyed the outpost where Commander Data was created, essentially making Data an intergalactic android orphan.

Despite its destructive power, the Crystalline Entity is a beautiful sight: huge and multi-faceted, colorful and shimmering — frankly, an artist’s dream. But, behind the beauty, lies a bite that can lay waste to entire species.

This giant snowflake of death was pivotal in the origins of Data and is one of the most feared species in the entire galaxy. There are other Crystalline Entities out there in the void of space, but, thankfully, encounters with them are very rare. As of yet, no Crystalline Entity has been seen hanging out with a silver guy on a surfboard… but we remain hopeful.

17. Betazoid

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Encounter at Farpoint” (1987)

For seven seasons and a handful of films, Star Trek fans got to know a very special Betazoid: Counselor Deanna Troi. Troi was an exemplary member of the Betazoid race — a mostly peaceful people that possess empathic and telepathic powers.

Most Betazoids, including Troi, use their powers for the benefit of others. The Enterprise was saved many times thanks to Troi and her fantastic abilities as she served with honor and distinction about the Federation flagship. Betazoids are indistinguishable for humans except for their all black irises. It’s a very cool thought that there is a race of Charles Xaviers in the Star Trek universe and, with more Star Trek coming our way soon, let us hope we have the honor to meet more Betazoids.

Fun fact: Gene Roddenberry wanted the Betazoid women to have four breasts. Can you imagine trying to take Troi seriously with four breasts? Thankfully, Roddenberry was talked out of this silliness and the Enterprise’s resident Betazoid counselor became the stuff of Trek legend.

16. Talosians

First Appearance: Star Trek Pilot “The Cage” (1965)

You know we had to include the first aggressive alien species ever encountered in a Trek episode. And, yes, we’ll get this out of the way quickly: the Talosians’ heads look like asses. We know. ‘Ol fanny foreheads. Butt heads. Get it all out of your system. Okay, done? Good.

The Talosians were the sole survivors of a nuclear holocaust. The remaining Talosians manifested the power to create illusions. These beings grew addicted to the illusions and abandoned technology. Like the Lotus Eaters of old, their existence was now tied to their narcotic-like illusions. Soon, the Talosians grew bored. The buttheads lured alien races to their planet and fed off the psyche of their victims.

Captain Pike of the Enterprise and his science officer Spock were drawn to the Talosian home world. The Talosians tempted the Federation officers with everything they could desire, but — through the minds of both men — the Talosians learned that humans hated captivity. The Talosians showed compassion and let Pike and Spock go. Later, Spock would return to the Talosian planet after Pike was left paralyzed. The Talosians once again showed compassion as they allowed the broken Pike to live his life on the planet.

The Talosian story ends sweetly, but just remember that, somewhere in the galaxy, there are siren-like, androgynous aliens (the male Talosians were actually played by female actors), ready to lore victims into a life of captivity. The Talosians were Trek’s first encountered, named alien species and they are also some of the most memorable as these illusion-casting humanoids set the standard for all Trek species going forward. Not bad for a bunch of ass-heads.

15. Vorta

First appearance: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “The Jem’Hadar” (1994)

The Vorta were genetically bred by the Founders to be the perfect military commanders and strategists of the Dominion. Vorta are sly, cunning, and corrupt. Try to imagine an entire species of Littlefingers and you get the idea.

In addition to the strategic acumen baked into Vorta DNA by the Founders, Vorta are also programmed to believe that the Founders are gods — and the Vorta serve their gods in all things. The Vorta created the Jem’Hadar and could clone themselves so the Dominion would never be without its master strategists for long. Even after death.

But, like the Jem’Hadar, the Vorta were programmed to serve. Upon capture or defeat, a Vorta was programmed to commit suicide, and during the Dominion War, many Vorta pulled the trigger on their own demise. The Vorta was one of the most cunning and immoral races Starfleet ever faced, even if the immorality was inserted into their genetic makeup by another species.

14. Xindi

First appearance: Star Trek: Enterprise “The Expanse” (2003)

The Xindi are a collective of six subspecies — avian, arboreal, primate, reptilian, insect, and aquatic — that form a single race. As a whole, the Xindi posed a great threat to the early Federation.

The Xindi worship a race known as the Sphere Builders and, when this mysterious race warns the Xindi that they will be involved in a war with Earth, the Xindi preemptively strike, killing millions of humans. Jonathan Archer and his crew take the fight to the Xindi who provide the first crew of the Enterprise its greatest challenge.

The Xindi was one of the first warnings to humanity that not every race is benevolent as the six races of this advanced culture reined death upon an Earth that was still getting used to the idea of contact with alien life.

13. Trill

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Host” (1991)

Trills are an advanced species of humanoid that are passionate and kind in most of their dealings. Some Trills are joined with wise Symbiotes that chose different member of the Trill species with which to share a mutual bond. The Symbiotes retain the personalities and memories of each host and pass these aspects on to the new hosts.

The first Trill Trek fans encountered was named Odan. Odan quickly struck up a romance with Dr. Beverly Crusher and, when Odan was tragically killed, the Symbiote was moved into the body of William Riker. Riker had long been friend-zoned by Crusher, so this began one of the most awkward romances in Trek history.

It also gave fans the legacy of the Trill, a legacy that continued into Deep Space Nine with the beloved Jadzia Dax. Through Dax, fans learned about almost every aspect of Trill life. It was a fascinating meditation of duality, sexuality, and identity and the character of Jadzia Dax was almost a dozen disparate characters in one. When Jadzia was lost, the Symbiote moved into Ezri Dax, a wonderful new character that continued the exploration into what it is like being many beings at once.

12. Tribbles

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “The Trouble with Tribbles” (1967)

They’re fuzzy, they squeak, they can be deadly — who doesn’t love Tribbles? Ask any casual fan to name a Trek alien, and there’s a good chance Mr. Joe on the street guy will say Tribbles because these bundles of fur are just that darn famous.

“Trouble with Tribbles” — The Original Series installment that first introduced these puff balls — allowed Shatner, Nimoy, and company to really flex their comedy chops. But, when you break down the threat the Tribbles represented, they actually are pretty terrifying… Imagine a species that reproduces so fast, a ship can be suffocating on the things in a matter of days. That’s a bit more Giger than Pokemon.

Despite the threat, the Tribbles also brought the laughs to generations of fans. Of course, the Tribbles were revisited in the classic DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” and also played a major role in the recent film Star Trek: Into Darkness. To quote a great man from a rival space franchise: “Not bad for a little fuzzball.”

11. Jem’Hadar

First appearance: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “The Jem’Hadar” (1994)

One of the greatest and most efficiently deadly militaries the galaxy have ever seen, the foot soldiers of the Dominion — the Jem’Hadar — are also one of the more tragic species that can be found in the Trekverse.

Jem’Hadar reach maturity in the span of about three days. They are genetically programmed to be the perfect galactic foot soldier by their masters, the Vorta. To insure control, the Vorta have withheld an essential enzyme from the Jem’Hadar genetic makeup. This enzyme is supplied to the Jem’Hadar in the form of The White, a liquid that the Jem’Hadar has filtered into their systems through a tube in their necks. Essentially, Jem’Hadar are drug-addicted soldiers unleashed upon the galaxy.

The Jem’Hadar were the main Dominion force that laid siege to Deep Space Nine during the Dominion War and were nearly unstoppable. The need for The White was a religion to the Jem’Hadar, who became one of the most feared species in any quadrant.

Jem’Hadar are incredibly resilient and possess keen minds that help them plan for battles. Despite all this, most Jem’Hadar die very young due to the fact that they are essentially cannon fodder for the Dominion. Yet, the Jem’Hadar value duty and loyalty above all else as they embrace their lot as pawns of the Dominion. All for The White.

The Top 10 Star Trek aliens await on the next page!

10. Changeling

First appearance: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “The Emissary” (1993)

As we all know, life in the Trek universe can take many and varied forms. One of the most profoundly different races of the Trek galaxy are the Changelings, a race of intelligent liquid-based shape shifters that reshaped the political climate of the galaxy with the same ease that they reshape their bodies.

The Changelings were also known as The Founders and were the puppet masters behind the Dominion War. From their wormhole homeworld, the Changelings manipulated the universe. The Founders used entire races like chess pieces showing the Federation and its enemies that there are beings that exist within and behind the galaxy that are willing to go any lengths for power.

But not all Changelings were adversarial. Through Odo, Trek fans saw another side to this fascinating species. Odo was the constable aboard DS9, a by-the-books cop who went to any lengths (literally) to solve crimes. He was a defender of his Federation friends, particularly Kira Nerys the woman he learned to love. When the Founders merged their liquid forms with Odo, they learned about humanity, and his love and bravery spread even to the hidden spaces of the galaxy.

Plus, The Changelings are an alien species that can easily disguise themselves as furniture. You can’t teach that!

9. Andorians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Journey to Babel” (1968)

The Andorians are an aggressive yet advanced race that was one of the first alien races that formed the original Federation of Planets with humanity.

The Andorians have distinctive blue skin, white hair, and two protruding antennae. The blue skinned humanoids have an advanced armada and a long history of conflict with the Vulcans. This conflict was put aside as Andorians entered into the Federation and, with it, decades of peace. But peace wasn’t easy, as seen in Star Trek: Enterprise, in which Federation Captain Archer and Andorian Captain Thy’lek Shran developed an adversarial relationship that, thankfully, culminated in a friendship based on mutual respect.

The Andorians are more than a bit xenophobic as they refer to humans and Vulcans as “pink skins” and have a long standing mistrust of everything not Andorian. In fact, the Andorians don’t even trust their offshoot race, the very rarely encountered, white-skinned, psychic Aenar.

Enterprise is a bit unfairly-maligned by some Trekkers, but it will always be the show that took the Andorians from background characters to a narratively-explored race with deep contradictions. Of course, I need to mention that the Andorian was also one of the final Trek dolls Mego produced. It is very sparkly.

8. Ferengi

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Last Outpost” (1987)

I would tell you some facts about the Ferengi, but I’d have to charge you about ten bars of (snarl, drool) gold-pressed latinum first. Because that’s what drives the Ferengi race: cold, hard, glimmering, wonderful cash-money.

By the time fans met the crew of the Kirk’s Enterprise, most races in the galaxy had abandoned cash-based economies to focus on the improvement of science and technology for all beings. But not the Ferengi. These big-eared, fanged critters utilize science and technology to procure cash and heaven help any sentients that stand in their way.

Fans first me the Ferengi in Next Gen as the greedy race of miscreants became the first real adversaries Picard’s crew had to face. The Ferengi in Next Gen were vile and greedy, sort of like spacefaring Daffy Ducks. But, in Deep Space Nine, fans were introduced to Quark, Rom, Nog, and other Ferengi that had a streak of nobility. Oh, they were still as greedy as they come, but this Ferengi family, saved the DS9 space station more than once. Heck, Nog even became the first Ferengi to serve in Starfleet.

In DS9, fans learned many of the finer points of Ferengi culture. For example, Ferengi women aren’t allowed to wear clothes. In addition to their odd dress codes, the Ferengi live by the Rules of Acquisition, an almost religious text that teaches the Ferengi the best ways to make money. Quark constantly had to choose between loyalty to his friends and his Ferengi impulses for cash and this often humorous double nature led to some fun dramas.

But, if you have a piece of latinum in your pocket, be warned that there are many Ferengi out there who would kill for it because that is the Ferengi way.

7. Romulans

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Balance of Terror” (1966)

All sentient races in the galaxy have a good, healthy fear of the Romulans — and with good reason. In many ways, the Romulans are like the anti-Vulcans. In fact, Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcan race. Centuries ago, the Romulans rejected the Vulcan idea of repression of emotions and struck out on their own, finally settling on the twin planets Romulus and Remus and forging an empire.

Where Vulcans are cold, collected, and benevolent, Romulans are fiery, aggressive, and often power hungry. This passionate need to conquer led to the Earth/Romulan war, the first time humanity experienced total war on an intergalactic scale. Earth was eventually victorious and, during the conflict, no human ever actually saw a Romulan. Years later, it was the crew of the Enterprise that actually saw what Romulans looked like and it was Mr. Spock that postulated a common ancestry between Vulcans and Romulans.

The Romulans were based on the aggressiveness and culture of the Roman Empire, which is seen through the race’s military aggression and clothing. Despite years of ill will, the Romulans sided with the Federation in the Dominion War. A Romulan also changed reality, as fans of the new Trek films know…

A Romulan named Nero used a Red Matter device to destroy Romulus and punch a hole in time and space. Nero then went back in time and destroyed the USS Kelvin, causing a new reality to splinter off from the original Trek timeline — a reality Trek fans are currently enjoying in films.

Romulans have touched every part of Trek history and have even created a huge amount of it. They continue to serve as a counterpoint to the Vulcans and their name brings fear and respect throughout the Trek galaxy.

6. Q

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Encounter at Farpoint” (1987)

If you can imagine God in the Star Trek universe, you understand Q. Q isn’t a kind god or an emotionally-distant god, hungry for worship. Q is a curious god that wants to test the intelligent races of the galaxy — particularly Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Enterprise.

Q is a member of The Q, a race of omnipotent beings that observe the universe from afar and interfere in the lives of mortals when it suits their whims. The Q are a force of nature, appearing when and where they want to bring gifts or utter destruction to lesser beings. It all depends on a Q’s whims. Q became a sometimes-ally, sometimes-antagonist to the crew of the Enterprise and even popped up on DS9 and Voyager. (And, really, how awesome would it be to see Q pop into J.J. Abrams’ Kelvin Universe?)

Q is everywhere and everything. Wherever Q went, great storytelling followed — mostly because of the deeply complex and often comedic relationship between Q and Picard. Whether it was TV, comics, or novels (most notably the eminently readable Q Continuum trilogy by Greg Cox), The Q’s force of nature omnipotence have made them one of the most feared and gloriously divine species in the Trek universe. Yes, in Trek, Q definitely stood for quality.

5. Bajorans

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Ensign Ro” (1991)

It is apropos that the Bajorans and Cardassians are so close on this list because the two races are forever linked in the mind of Trek fans. Trekkers first met the Bajoran through Enterprise Ensign Ro Laren, a fiery and ultra-capable young Starfleet cadet.

Ro had everything it took to get ahead in Starfleet. She was loyal, dedicated, brilliant, and strong willed. Yet, the past of her people, the Bajorans, was filled with so much tragedy. The loyalty to her race led Ro away from Starfleet and into the waiting arms of the Marquis, a group that abandoned Starfleet to form a renegade fleet of rebels dissatisfied with Federation doctrine.

Ro’s discontent was expanded upon by the inclusion of the Bajorans in Deep Space Nine. In DS9, fans learnt of the suffering that the Bajorans were forced to endure at the hands of the Cardassians. Bajorans were a race of freedom fighters, a highly scientific and artistic race that had to embrace militarism and xenophobia in order to survive.

In DS9, fans learned almost every aspect of the Bajoran race. What began with Ro continued the Kira Nerys, the second in command of the Deep Space Nine space station and a woman who would do anything to keep her people free and punish her former oppressors.

DS9 introduced many Bajoran notables in its many seasons, and not all of them were benevolent. Of all the races introduced in Star Trek, the Bajorans might be the most tragically human as they had to see their own darkness in order to survive the unthinkable in order to survive the Cardassians.

4. Cardassians

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Wounded” (1991)

Nowhere in the Trek universe have there been a race more troubling, more complex, and more narratively-interesting race than the Cardassians. Fans first met the lizard like, leathery Cardassians in the Next Gen episode entitled “The Wounded,” in which the martial struggle between the Cardassians and the Bajoran was introduced.

The Cardassians were first seen as Nazi-like war criminals that committed a horrible genocide against the Bajoran people. The anger against the Cardassians, amongst other points of discontent, caused a large segment of Bjorn sympathizers to break off from the Federation and form the Marquis.

Cardassians warred with both the Federation and the Klingon Empire and took both fleets to the absolute limits. When the Cardassian/Bjorn conflict ended with the Bajoran victorious, it was up to the Federation to help the galaxy heal. The Federation set up the Deep Space Nine space station to oversee this transition of power as Cardassians began to be tried for war crimes that were simply unthinkable in such an enlightened galaxy. 

At this time, fans met Gul Dukat and Garak. Garak in particular demonstrated that there was more to the Cardassians than violence. He became a DS9 wildcard who, for the most part, was loyal to peace and harmony.

However, both Garak and former Cardassian military leader Gul Dukat had spilled their fair share of blood and the Cardassians began to stand-in for any race that committed genocide. Parallels were drawn not only to the Nazis but to Imperialistic Europe and to America’s treatment of indigenous peoples as well.

The Cardassians were a difficult mirror to look into because they exposed many societal flaws of the contemporary world. Through rich, powerfully crafted characters like Garak, Trek reminds viewers that in all species, there is the capacity for tremendous good and unthinkable evil.

3. Borg

First appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation “Q Who” (1989)

Throughout Trek history, the wonderful men and women who have crafted stories for Star Trek have often reminded fans that space can be a cruel and terrible place — but no race has represented the horrors of the Final Frontier more than the Borg.

The Borg is a race of cyborg drones that share a hive mind. Their only aim is to assimilate the universe and make all Borg. Borg are mindless automatons that answer to the Borg Queen and the Collective. They are unstoppable and fiercely efficient. The Borg roam the galaxy in their distinctive Borg Cubes and, when they encounter any organic race, that race is forcibly assimilated into the Borg. All hopes, history, art, passion, and individuality become part of the Collective while the individual becomes a living weapon, a husk dedicated only to the Borg. Famously, Jean-Luc Picard fell to the Borg and was transformed into Locutus. As Locutus, Picard came an eyelash away from assimilating the Enterprise.

Later, through characters like Hugh Borg and Seven of Nine, some humanity was given to the Borg. Hugh was an injured Borg healed by Picard’s crew, while Seven of Nine broke her programming and served on Voyager. Through both characters, more and more history was revealed about the Borg. Fans even got to meet the Borg Queen in the film Star Trek: First Contact — and what an H.R. Giger nightmare that was.

Throughout the decades, Star Trek has been the most hopeful of sci-fi franchises. Trek is infused with humankind’s potential for greatness and a hope for an enlightened future. The Borg serve as a reminder that technology can lead to paradise, yes, but it can also lead to a cold future of pure horror where individuality is worthless and resistance is futile.

2. Klingons

First appearance: Star Trek: The Original Series “Errand of Mercy” (1967)

When we first met the Klingons, they were classically humanoid aliens that mirrored the worst of humanity. In the earliest Klingon appearances, Klingon society was portrayed as brutal and despotic. They were slave masters that would do anything to crush any opposition.

The Klingons were constant threats. At times, the Klingons seemed to be analogous to the Nazi Third Reich. In other instances, they resembled Communist Russia. But whatever real world nightmare the Klingons represented at any given moment, whenever a Klingon Bird of Prey warped into a confrontation with the Enterprise, fans know that intense action would follow.

When the Klingons returned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this brutal race’s appearance was altered. Suddenly, Klingons were shown to have deep forehead ridges and a more bestial appearance. The real reason this was done was because Trek now had a budget, but there has never been an in story reason for the Klingon alteration. This just adds to the mystique of the Klingon race.

Klingons take the next step of their story evolution in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now, a Klingon served on the bridge of the Enterprise, and it could be argued that this Klingon — Mr. Worf — was the very model of what a Starfleet officer should be. Through Worf, Next Gen explored every aspect of Klingon culture and made it more like a race of honorable technologically-advanced Vikings or Mongols than an analogy to fascism. That exploration continued into Deep Space Nine and, through the half Klingon-half human engineer B’Elanna Torres, onto Voyager.

There is an actual a Klingon language that exists in the real world. A whole freakin’ language has been created inspired by these honorable and violent warriors of the cosmos. So, raise a glass of Klingon Warnog, grab your Bat’leth, and salute the Klingons — a race that started out as typical villains, but evolved into one of the most engaging and inspiring races in the galaxy.

1. Vulcans

First Appearance: Star Trek Pilot “The Cage” (1965)

Is there any race in genre fiction more beloved than the Vulcans? This race of logic-driven, emotionless, pointy-eared people have defined the Star Trek experience since day one.

In the Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” the world was introduced to science officer Spock, a cold, calculating yet brave and benevolent alien who loyally assisted his captain. Fifty years later, Spock is still the strong right hand of the Enterprise. The Vulcan’s lack of emotion serves as a perfect narrative contrast to human nature, with the interactions and differences between Spock, McCoy, and Kirk as the beating heart of Trek since Roddenberry first put pen to paper.

But the wonder of the Vulcans don’t end with Spock. Over the decades — through countless books, films, TV episodes, and comics — many Vulcans have taken center stage and have, in the words of the most famous Vulcan of them all, fascinated fans for generations…

There has been Sarek, Spock’s father who dared to follow his emotions and take a human wife. There has been Tuvok, the brave and able Vulcan officer who served on Voyager. There has been T’Pol, the sometimes cold but always loyal commander that served as the first officer of the first Enterprise. By being so alien, all these characters and so many more have shown the world what it means to be human.

Trek lore has delved deeply into Vulcan history, creating one of most fully-functioning and detailed fictional worlds in all of sci-fi. Sadly, in the latest set of Trek films, Vulcan has fallen and this magnificent race is endangered. But take heart that Spock, Vulcan and Earth’s favorite son, is endeavoring to rebuild the race that has long made Star Trek so awesome.