The discussion of which Star Trekseries is the best Star Trekseries is a contentious debate. Even when I am the only one in the discussion, I have a hard time coming to a firm conclusion. (The Next Generation… No! Deep Space Nine… Forget it. I can’t decide.)
This is when I turn my mind to a much easier debate: which Star Trekseries has the best opening sequence. Sure, it’s still a tough, emotionally-complex question, but the stakes are much lower.
Just like in the discussion of favorite Star TrekTV series, we all have different things we prioritize and look for in our opening sequences. Are you a sucker for the song? Do you look for an intro that best reflects the values and interests of the series it represents? Or do you shamelessly just pick the opening sequence for your favorite of the TV shows?
Whatever your criteria (and you know you have a biased one), one thing is certain: All of these Star Trekopening sequences are pretty great…
6. Star Trek: The Animated Series
Confession? I find the opening sequence for The Animated Seriespretty adorable. The way the animated Enterprise moves horizontally across the screen as if its mom is in the front row telling it what to do? So cute.
However, when it comes down to it, The Animated Seriesopening is really just a re-tread of The Original Seriesopening. This makes sense, given the timing of the show and the fact that it shared so many of the same cast. But it’s nothing to captain’s-log home about.
5. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Sorry, Deep Space Nine.You know I love you, but your opening sequence is just, well, fine. Sure, you have a great first five seconds as we follow a rogue comet through the blackness of space only to come upon a little space station on on its own in the middle of space-nowhere. Then, you lose your momentum a little with shot after shot of the stationary space station doing what it does best: just sort of floating there.
Don’t feel too bad, Deep Space Nine. Between you and me, you can stand to lose this opening intro contest — because, unlike some of the other series ranked higher on this list, you are in the running to be the best series of Star Trekwhen it comes to narrative. And, really, isn’t that the contest you would rather win?
4. Star Trek: The Next Generation
As someone who both grew up on Star Trek: The Next Generationand who loves Patrick Stewart’s voice, it pains me to rank The Next Generation‘sopening sequence so low on this list. Hearing this theme song still wakes a giddy childish inside of me. However, it just doesn’t have the ambition to beat out most of the inspired Star Trekopenings.
The Next Generation opening sequence has some good moves: Stewart’s killer delivery of “The final frontier…” spiel as if it were a Shakespearian monologue. Some shots of some beautiful space wonders. The Enterprise zipping past the screen in-between cast members, just like in The Original Series’introduction. It’s all good, it’s just not going to make me sign up to the trip to Mars or anything.
3. Star Trek: The Original Series
How could we not put the intro from The Original Seriesnear the top of this list? After all, it was the opening that started it all — that influenced and shaped so many of the Star Trekopening sequences that would come after it.
The Original Series’intro is very much of its time — with the “ahhAHH!”s and the limited special effects — but it also has always had something slightly exciting, fast-paced, and imaginative about it. (Probably the starship doing its damndest to get you pumped up by repeatedly zipping across the screen.) If a TV’s opening sequence is a promise of what’s to come, then Star Trek‘s promise was to never stop moving forward — both in terms of action and in terms of ideas. To never stop exploring and pushing the limits of what was possible in science fiction TV, and society, of the time.
2. Star Trek: Enterprise
Star Trek: Enterprisemay be the quasi-black sheep of the Star Trek universe, but it’s not the fault of its opening sequence, which is is imaginative, inspiring, and filled with optimism. Sure, it has a cheesy pop song as its ballad, but it somehow works when accompanied with images from humanity’s exploration through the years.
It may be a controversial choice to put Enterprise‘s theme at the top of this list, but I think it’s well-deserved. Enterprisemight not have always struck narrative gold in comparison to some of the better-considered Star Trekseries, but it wasn’t afraid to take chances and try to do its own thing — as was demonstrated by the opening sequence that, unlike all of the other post-Original Series series, didn’t mimick the space-journey design.
By giving us images of real-life explorations from our past and present, Enterprisemade us believe that a future like the one Star Trek imagines is a possible, tangible outcome of our world in a way that none of the previous Star Treksequences attempted. For that, this opening sequence will always hold a special place in my Star Trek-loving heart.
1. Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyagercould have snagged an impressive spot on this list based on its theme song alone. You hear the opening notes of the Jerry Goldsmith classic, you are hooked — and it only builds from there.
Though Voyagerdidn’t always succeed in its storytelling execution, it had a great premise: a ship lost on the other side of the galaxy, trying to find its way home. And the opening sequence reflected that beautifully (emphasis on the beautiful). Sure, Voyager’s mission was daunting and, sometimes, disheartening, but the crew/family of this ship never stopped appreciating the beauty of the galaxy — they never stopped exploring. The opening sequence gets that, and it makes for a magical introduction into each episode, and into the larger Star Trekuniverse.
Your move, Star Trek: Discovery…
Bonus: Enterprise’s “Mirror Darkly” Opening
Special bonus! This Enterprise opening was created specifically for the “In A Mirror, Darkly” episode, which saw mirror-universe versions of Captain Archer and his crew (a la The Original Seriesepisode “Mirror, Mirror”).
Rather than focusing on images of exploration over human history, the “mirror darkly” sequence instead highlighted militaristic themes. The result is a fun, twisted version of the Enterprisetheme song that immediately got you in the mood for this episode, as well as a reminder why Star Trekis such a great narrative universe — because, unlike so many of the other franchises that have come and gone over the years, Star Trekvalues exploration over domination.
Do you agree with our ranking? Sound off in the comments below…
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