When Star Trek gets goofy it gets really, really goofy, usually when it feels the need to deflate after an extended period of high drama or haughtiness. There’s also an official comedy series now, so that quotient has amped up significantly. Here’s a list (with accompanying videos!) of some of my favorite moments where Trek gives up and gets weird.
(Note: I didn’t include the movies in this list because otherwise this list would be ten times longer and even after I’d finished it I’d still somehow be writing it.)
Star Trek: The Original Series
When it comes to TOS, people always cite “A Trouble With Tribbles,” but most of us have the episode memorized. So here are a couple other suggestions for silly moments.
You can’t go wrong with Harry Mudd’s particular histrionics. You also can’t go wrong with trying to shut down androids by illogic-ing at them. Even Spock agrees.
“A Piece of the Action”
The entire episode is pure gold… but nothing beats Captain Kirk making up a card game on the spot. Or having to hush his Spock.
When you’re watching a Star Trek episode and the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland just shows up, and you wonder what you did to deserve this perfect show.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The dynamic of the Next Gen crew always made for a laughs, but here are some of their best….
It’s worth its weight in dilithium when the captain has to call his First Officer his “Number One Dad.” (Honorable Mention also goes to Riker cuddling a Picard doll on Captain Picard Day.)
Immortals love to play games. Sometimes they love to turn your crew into legendary characters. Sometimes this means that your Chief of Security is going to break your Chief of Engineering’s lute.
“Menage a Troi”
Majel Barrett was a treasure in every role she filled in Trek, but perhaps none so much as the great Lwaxana Troi. Especially when she gets Picard to endlessly quote Shakespeare for her.
“Goodnight, Sweet B”
Wait what do you mean this isn’t a real Next Gen episode?!??
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Most of Deep Space Nine’s funny moments were character-based—strong personalities coming up against each other constantly on the station—which was precisely the point. It’s hard to capture that kind of humor outside of its context, but there are some sublime moments…
Come to Quark’s! Quark’s is fun! (But seriously, can I have that mug, though.)
Sorry, it’s just, I love cooking, and I love watching Sisko cook, and then I love watching Odo not understand how to use a whisk. You know what? I’m not sorry, I’m right. It’s adorable.
“Take Me Out to the Holosuite”
When your captain and Worf get into a fight with the umpire, and then umpire ejects your captain from his own baseball game….
Star Trek: Voyager
Deep in the Delta Quadrant, convinced it will take you a lifetime to get home… let’s just say the rules dissolve pretty quickly, and creative thinking is the skill of the year, every year.
I’m a sucker for certain tropes and “first time being drunk” is definitely one of them. Particularly if you’re as adorable as Seven of Nine.
See, Captain Janeway has a problem in this episode where someone assumes that she’s after their man, so she does the only thing that makes sense—she pretends that she and Tuvok are quite happy together.
“Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy”
At 1:39 in this video, The Doctor gets to say what we’ve always wanted to hear on a Star Trek show. AND THEN THERE’S EXPOSITORY SINGING.
Star Trek: Enterprise
They’re figuring it all out. It’s their first time in space and stuff.
When people on the ship start getting loopy, Trip Tucker’s first response is “I’m gonna build you a THRONE.” Like ya do.
Thankfully, Dr. Phlox does know what Tribbles are, and precisely what to do with them. Hoshi is suitably shocked, on the other hand.
“Breaking the Ice”
When you’re trying to re-enact Frozen and your captain calls you up to scold you. Oops.
Star Trek: Discovery
When your ship is powered by a spore drive, everything can (and will) happen. Let’s be honest, most of this show is entirely off the rails, and that’s what makes it good.
“Such Sweet Sorrow, Part Two”
Do not suffer professionalism in supposed future-space utopias. Keep Commander Jett Reno on hand at all times.
I mean, yes, by all means, have Mirror-universe former-Emperor Georgiou questioned in the far future by David flipping Cronenberg. Why not.
A thoughtful science fiction show spends a hefty portion of an episode going SHOW CAT. As it should.
Star Trek: Picard
It’s a show that’s doing some pretty heavy rumination on fear and age and purpose in life, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing weird going on here.
“Stardust City Rag”
Picard is all “We’ll do this operation, and I’ll use my French accent and wear an eyepatch and a beret and pretend to be a seedy underworld type, what could possibly go wrong?” And the answer is… a lot, obviously. Pretty much everything will go wrong.
Santiago Cabrera is a treasure as Cristobal Rios. And all of Rios’ emergency holograms on La Sirena. Who are also Rios. But with different accents. And sweaters.
Star Trek: Lower Decks
When you are not Main Character, but the plot doesn’t seem to agree with you.
Don’t we all assume that being pals with a Klingon would be more like this than having Worf as Security Chief?
“No Small Parts”
I would also like to make friends with a robot that named itself Peanut Hamper. That is basically my #1 request in recruitment incentives for Starfleet.
And just to cap it off, some perennial favorites, such as….
Q in his element!
Riker sitting in chairs!
Picard intent on his flute!
Michael waking up!
And Shatner of the Mount!
An earlier version of this article was published in May 2017.