Every “Star Trek” fan has strong opinions about which series is the best. Of course, these opinions are highly subjective. Each fan has their own personal taste and their own idea of what makes for good Trek.
It’s hard to compare each of the “Star Trek” shows to the others because they’re so different. Some of the shows are episodic while others follow season-long arcs. Some focus on a completely optimistic vision of the future while others have a grittier, darker outlook. Some are character-based while others are action-based.
So, it’s difficult to get an objective view of which “Star Trek” series is truly the best. However, in the age of the Internet, people have come to rely on critic and user ratings to evaluate television and movies. These scores provide a benchmark for comparison that opinion alone cannot rival.
Which show is actually the highest-rated? Here’s what the numbers say.
‘The Original Series’ Average Rating: 87
Without “Star Trek: The Original Series” there would be no Trekverse. The show inspired generations of fans, creators, writers, and directors.
Trekkers who’ve been watching since the very beginning often rank TOS as the number one series in the franchise. However, fans who started watching Trek in the 90s or 2000s often can’t get past the very 60s aesthetic of the show.
That being said, TOS is still one of the most popular shows in the franchise. It’s rated 8.5/10 on IMDB and 84% average rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It hasn’t been rated by the critics on Metacritic, but users gave it a 9.3. So, it’s earned an average rating of 87.
‘The Animated Series’ Average Rating: 80.25
Many “Star Trek” fans have never even seen the short-lived animated version of TOS known simply as “The Animated Series.” It debuted in the 70s in response to the massive fandom that had formed around TOS.
Though not many fans would say that it’s their favorite Trek, it’s certainly well-loved. The series earned a 7.4/10 rating from IMDB users and an average rating of 86% from Rotten Tomatoes. It was not rated by the critics or users at Metacritic. That gives it an average rating of 80.25.
‘The Next Generation’ Average Rating: 82
About 20 years after TOS hit the air, Paramount decided to reboot the franchise with “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The reboot introduced a whole new set of people to the Trekverse and a new generation of Trekkers emerged.
Original Trekkers and new Trekkers alike often claim TNG is the best of the franchise. The show was given an 8.6 by IMDB users and an average rating of 90 on Rotten Tomatoes. Users on Metacritic gave TNG a 9.4 rating, but the critics gave the show a 51. All the reviews on Metacritic were based on the first season of the show. So, that should be taken into account.
With the low critic rating from Metacritic, the show ends up with an average rating of 82.
‘Deep Space Nine’ Average Rating: 83
The success of TNG led to the first spinoff of the reboot — “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” DS9 was a departure from previous Trek shows in several ways. It was based on a space station instead of a starship. It was much more about intergalactic politics than exploration. DS9 also introduced serial storytelling to the franchise.
‘Voyager’ Average Rating: 76
A few years after DS9 premiered, the studio decided to expand the “Star Trek” franchise even further with “Star Trek: Voyager.” The show introduced the franchise’s first female lead and followed a ship stranded a lifetime’s journey away from home.
”Voyager” returned to the episodic, adventure of the week format that TOS and TNG had followed. After DS9’s departure from classic Trek conventions, “Voyager” was an attempt to return to Trek norms.
‘Enterprise’ Average Rating: 71.5
With “Voyager” wrapping up, the studio wanted to capitalize on the Trek franchise. However, the showrunner, Rick Berman, was concerned that Trek was becoming overdone, as he told StarTrek.com. He was ready to give the franchise a rest.
The studio won the argument. Berman and Brannon Braga created “Enterprise,” a prequel to TOS. The show’s goals were to return to the Wild West exploration of TOS and provide an origin story for the Federation.
While many fans loved the classic Trek feel of “Enterprise,” the show was not well-loved by the fandom in general. It was the first Trek show since TOS to get canceled and the only one of its era to not make it to seven seasons.
The show was given a 7.5 by IMDB users and earned an average score of 66.5 on Rotten Tomatoes because of very low critic scores. Similarly, low critic scores give it an average rating of 73 on Metacritic. “Enterprise’s” average rating of 71.5 is, by far, the lowest among the classic Trek shows. However, it’s nowhere near as low as the ratings for the contemporary Trek shows.
‘Discovery’ Average Rating: 63.5
After the cancellation of “Enterprise,” the Trek franchise was dormant for almost a decade. In 2009, J.J. Abrams decided to reboot the franchise with blockbuster movies instead of a new show. He went on to make two more Trek movies.
“Discovery” was very different from the shows that came before. It was cinematic. It was dark and gritty science fiction rather than light and optimistic speculative fiction.
As a prequel to TOS, “Discovery” inserted itself into Trek canon in a way that many fans found very upsetting. It quickly became the most polarizing show in the franchise, which is evident in the online ratings.
Though the show was critically well-received, it was not well-received by the fandom. On Rotten Tomatoes, it earned a critic rating of 84, but a user rating of 42, for an average rating of 63. On Metacritic, “Discovery” received a 73 from the critics, but a 3.8/10 from the fans, for an average rating of 55.5. Users on IMDB were kinder to “Discovery,” but it still came in lower than the classic Trek ratings with a 7.2/10.
All told, “Discovery’s” average rating comes in at just 63.5.
‘Picard’ Average Rating: 68
Just over a year after “Discovery” premiered, CBS All Access announced that it would be launching a new show, centered on one of the most beloved captains in the “Star Trek” universe — Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The first season was received similarly to “Discovery.” Many fans were upset about the future “Star Trek: Picard” imagined and how their favorite captain was characterized in the show. However, other sectors of the fandom were delighted with the continuation of Picard’s story.
Though it wasn’t received as poorly as “Discovery,” the reactions to “Picard” were mixed, at best. Like “Discovery,” the show was generally well-liked by critics, but less liked by fans.
On Rotten Tomatoes, critics gave the show an 87 while fans gave the show a 55, for an average rating of 71. On Metacritic, critics gave the show a 76, while fans gave the show a 4.1/10, for an average rating of 58.5. Again, IMDB users were kinder to “Picard,” giving it a 7.5/10.
“Picard’s” total average rating ends up being 68, just a bit higher than “Discovery” but well below classic Trek.
‘Lower Decks’ Average Rating 60
In 2018, CBS All Access announced that they’d be launching a new animated “Star Trek” series targeted at teens and young adults. “Star Trek: Lower Decks” was the franchise’s first foray into animation in over three decades. It was also the franchise’s first concerted effort to target a younger audience.
The show ended up being a hilarious homage to classic “Star Trek” with references and Easter eggs galore. Though it was well-received by some fans, they were absolutely in the minority.
Overall, the show is disliked by critics and fans alike. On Rotten Tomatoes it earned an average rating of just 56.5. The average rating on Metacritic was just as dismal, a mere 53. It was also the lowest-rated Trek show on IMDB, though users were still kinder than on the other sites. IMDB users gave the show 7/10.
So, “Lower Decks” comes in dead last with an average score of just 60.
Based on the numbers from all three rating sites, “The Original Series” is the clear winner for the highest-rated show in the “Star Trek” franchise. “Deep Space Nine” and “The Next Generation” are essentially tied for second, though the low Metacritic ratings for TNG definitely skewed its average score.
The contemporary Trek shows are nowhere near as highly-rated as the classic Trek shows, especially with the fandom. Though critics liked them better than fans, even the critics didn’t like them as much as classic “Star Trek.”
And there’s no debating the fact that “Lower Decks” is the lowest-rated show in the entire franchise.
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