The STAR TREK Top 13 Episode Countdown

It’s the anniversary of the show — and here are our picks for the very best!

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UPDATED 9/8/22: Star Trek premiered 56 years ago today. We first ran this Top 13 Episode Countdown across 13 days in 2016, but the list obviously hasn’t changed. So check out each link for what we had to say about these classic eps. Oh, and click here for this year’s 13 COVERS anniversary salute! Live long and prosper. — Dan

Over the last several months, we’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek with Trek Tuesdays, a weekly look at some of the more interesting and offbeat aspects of the Original Series. (Click here for all that cosmic coolness.)

Now, we’re at the heart of it: The STAR TREK Top 13 Episode Countdown.


Over 13 days, we’ve counted down from 13 to 1, with that top choice publishing on 9/8/16 — the 50th anniversary of the show’s debut. I’m sure a lot of you will agree with my choices, just as I’m sure even more of you will disagree. So bring on those comments!

Click the links below!

13. The Cage

12. The Gamesters of Triskelion

11. What Are Little Girls Made Of?

10. Arena

9. A Piece of the Action

8. The Trouble With Tribbles

7. The Devil in the Dark

6. Journey to Babel

5. The City on the Edge of Forever

4. Balance of Terror

3. Space Seed

2. Mirror, Mirror

1. Amok Time


— 13 COVERS: The Marvel-ous World of STAR TREK. Click here.

— 13 Bizarre Differences Between STAR TREK and Its Wacky UK Comics. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I know it won’t make it with some people, and frankly there 10 I like better, but of course I have a soft spot for Assignment: Earth.

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    • Anything with Teri Garr is Top 10 with me!

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  2. Gamesters does not belong in the top 13. Loved the blonde in wink of an eye. Her body and outfit alone should be in the top 13.
    Balance of terror should be 1 or maybe Gary Lockwood episode

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  3. I don’t agree or disagree with this list. I think all Star Trek is worth watching. My top 13 would probably have included “where no man has gone before”. It’s such a wonderful introduction of the characters and the other would have been “requiem for methuselah” it really did a good job depicting the concern Spock had for Kirk.

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  4. “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Enterprise Incident” would be on my list before “Gamesters” or “Little Girls.” “Doomsday” would probably be in my top 5 – In my opinion, it is TOS’s best action episode.

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  5. I think “The Doomsday Machine” should be high on the list. From the danger of an automated planet killer tearing through the galaxy, William Windom’s performance was tremendous as Decker – going from a broken officer who inadvertently killed his entire crew to a new Ahab and the face off between Spock & Decker on the Bridge. Even the cheesy use of one of the AMF kits to make the Constellation with all the damage was fun. This is one of my Top 5 TOS episodes with Tribbles, Balance, the 2nd, successful pilot & Khan’s introduction.

    For Doomsday, I would not put Gamesters on the list – its not even in my top 25. It’s enjoyable but not that memorable. “A Piece of the Action” is fun & points out the dangers of breaking the Prime Directive so that’s okay. Gotta admit Spock playing a gangster was tremendous!

    I would also reconsider Action or “Amok Time” for “The Corbomite Maneuver” – great gamesmanship by Kirk with Balok. And Ted Cassidy’s awesome voice for the facsimile Balok gave the character some great menacing depth.

    I also agree with the other post that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” should definitely be on this list.

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    • What happened to “Spock’s Brain,” “Turnabout Intruder” and “The Mark of Gideon”? (He laughs uncontrollably, resulting in several snorts)

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  6. My number one fave will always be Errand of Mercy. It introduced the Klingons, predicted their eventual alliance with the Federation and it features one of my favorite character actors of all time: The great John Colicos as the brilliant tactician Kor, devious yet fascinating to watch and Kirk’s opposite match in so many ways. The only thing it needed was McCoy.

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    • That’s a great episode. I loved Kor! John Colicos was great, not only on TOS but also in his appearances on DS9 as Kor. “Blood Oath” and “Once More Into the Breach” are great DS9 episodes that feature Kor.

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  7. Some of the best were written by excellent scifi writers. Of course Harlan Ellison wrote the script for City of the Edge of Forever, although his original script was far more gritty and modified for the show, and it is my personal favorite. Theodore Sturgeon wrote Amok Time which is my second favorite and Shore Leave which was fun but not great. Of course they both had years of experience writing great scifi. DC Fontana wrote a number of episodes and while not a real scifi writer did keep the stories in a more serious vein and helped the show immensely. Robert Bloch wrote some scifi for pulp magazines but mainly in other genres and wrote Cats Paw which is not one to remember so maybe he should have shied from ST.

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