I am currently introducing four of my friends to Star Trek; however, each one of them are going at different rates and are watching them in different orders. Two friends have started with Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), one friend has started with Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP) and has made it through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (TUC), and one friend has started with nuTrek [Note 1] and has only seen the first two of those movies. One of the friends who started with TOS has already finished all of it and has moved onto Star Trek: Discovery (DIS).
Now, if there is one thing that Star Trek does, it is go back in time and mess with its own timeline. Because of that piece of storytelling, that sometimes makes it difficult to explain to newcomers where they are in the Star Trek timeline. It also leads to many fan theories about whether or not the last two Star Trek television series (Enterprise [Note 2] and DIS) are in the Prime Timeline or not. But therein lies a new problem: defining what is the PRIME TIMELINE. In my opinion, the Prime Timeline begins with “The Cage” (TOS 0x01), the original pilot episode that started it all. Also, in my opinion, the proper order for TOS is the production order - there are 4 ways to watch TOS: the production order, the original air-date order, the remastered air-date order, and the Netflix order. I am going to stick with production order.
This post is going to be broken down by year, and will have the stardate (if known) by the episode title. Except for certain instances, I will only be expanding on the episodes & movies that have to do with time travel. This post will only have the episodes/movies that my friends have seen so far, and as I take them through Star Trek, I will make updated posts to talk about what new has happened.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” (TOS 1x28) - Kirk and Spock have to go back in time to keep McCoy from changing the timeline. They put things right, and when we return to the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), everything seems to be set back to where they should be.
“Assignment: Earth” (TOS 2x26) - This episode takes place entirely in 1968. Once again, the crew of the Enterprise set things right and we seem to be able to continue on in the Prime Timeline. However, this episode seems to predict both the King Assassination, the Apollo 6 mishap, and the 17 July Revolution. Read more on Memory Alpha.
“Tomorrow is Yesterday” (TOS 1x21) - The hypermajority of this episode takes place in 1969. Krik and crew almost demolish the timeline by keeping Captain John Christopher, USAF. They may have done considerable harm by even showing him around, let alone beaming aboard the Air Police Staff Sergeant. But when everybody is put back in place, everything seems to be okay again.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - This is the 4th of 13 Star Trek films. There is some major damage to the timeline here - Dr. Gillian Taylor and two humpback whales are abducted, a Russian spy is captured by the MarDet on board the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) (which is played by the USS Ranger (CV-61) in this movie), the crew of a whaling ship see a UFO, garbage men see said UFO, joggers get knocked over by a freak windstorm caused by said UFO, Kirk sells his glasses to an antique shop (possibly creating a predestination paradox), and the formula for transparent aluminium is given to Dr. Nichols by Captain Montgomery Scott (creating a predestination paradox). THIS MOVIE IS NOTHING BUT ONE HUGE FUCK-YOU TO TEMPORAL STABILITY. Can we honestly say that anything that was produced after TVH still takes place in the prime timeline and not an alternate timeline that the crew of the Enterprise must have accidentally created? Also, a continuity error in this film: Captain Scott is wearing commander insignia whenever in uniform, even though he was wearing captain insignia in Star Trek III after he was transferred to USS Excelsior (NX-2000).
Star Trek (2009) - part of nuTrek takes place during this year. On stardate [Note 3] 2233.04 (January 4th, 2233), the Romulan mining vessel Narada arrived from the year 2387, causing the timeline to split into the Prime (supposed) Timeline and the Alternate Universe Timeline. That also means that nuTrek Kirk is slightly older than original Kirk (born March 22nd, 2233). The evidence presented by the Narada, the Jellyfish, and the USS Kelvin (NCC-0514) all point towards the pre-split timeline being an alternate universe already [Note 4].
TOS 0x01: “The Cage” - This is where I start my timeline calculations, as this was the first episode of Star Trek to ever be produced.
CE2255 (Alternate Universe)
Star Trek (2009) - the infamous bar fight scene takes place during this year, which leads to Kirk joining Starfleet Academy. In the Prime Timeline, Kirk would already have been promoted from ensign to lieutenant.
DIS 1x01: “The Vulcan Hello” Stardate 1207.3 (May 11th, 2256)
DIS 1x02: “Battle at the Binary Stars” Stardate 1207.3 (May 11th, 2256)
CE2258 (Alternate Universe)
Star Trek (2009) Stardate 2258.42 - The majority of this movie takes place in this year. Spock arrives in the Jellyfish, further damaging the already damaged timeline. Also, we find out that Chekov is older in the Alternate Universe than he is in the Prime Timeline - in the Alternate Universe, he is born in 2241, but in the Prime Timeline he is born in 2245. As both of these dates are after Nero’s incursion into the timeline, all sorts of temporal shenanigans can happen. Also, my capstone project for my BA degree was a paper about why I hate this movie. I will be posting that paper online here within the next week.
CE2259 (Alternate Universe)
Star Trek Into Darkness Stardate 2259.55 - The majority of this movie takes place in February and March of 2249.
CE2260 (Alternate Universe)
Star Trek Into Darkness - The end of this movie takes place in this year.
TOS 1x01: “Where No Man Has Gone Before” Stardate 1312.4
TOS 1x02: “The Corbomite Maneuver” Stardates 1512.2 - 1514.1
TOS 1x03: “Mudd's Women” Stardates 1329.8 - 1330.1
TOS 1x04: “The Enemy Within” Stardates 1672.1 - 1673.1 - Content Warning for this episode: attempted rape.
TOS 1x05: “The Man Trap” Stardates 1513.1 - 1513.8
TOS 1x06: “The Naked Time” Stardates 1704.2 - 1704.4 - This is the first episode with time travel - however, the crew of the Enterprise only goes back three days. As long as the crew lays low for those three days, it should have a minimal effect on the timeline.
TOS 1x07: “Charlie X” Stardates 1533.6 - 1535.8
TOS 1x08: “Balance of Terror” Stardates 1709.2 - 1709.6
TOS 1x09: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” Stardate 2712.4
TOS 1x10: “Dagger of the Mind” Stardates 2715.1 - 2715.2
TOS 1x11: “Miri” Stardates 2713.5 - 2713.3 - The first time where we get to see that there are other Earths within our universe. Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development is in full force in this episode. Mid-1960s New York with no living adults.
TOS 1x12: “The Conscience of the King” Stardates 2817.6 - 2819.8
TOS 1x13: “The Galileo Seven” Stardates 2821.5 - 2823.8
TOS 1x14: “Court Martial” Stardates 2947.3 - 2950.1
TOS 1x15: “The Menagerie, Part I” Stardates 3012.4 - 3012.6 - Much of this two-parter shows us the events during “The Cage.”
TOX 1x16: “The Menagerie, Part II” Stardates 3013.1 - 3013.2 - Much of this two-parter shows us the events during “The Cage.”
TOS 1x17: “Shore Leave” Stardates 3025.3 - 3025.8
TOS 1x18: “The Squire of Gothos” Stardates 2124.5 - 2126.3
TOS 1x19: “Arena” Stardates 3045.6 - 3046.2
TOS 1x20: “The Alternative Factor” Stardates 3087.6 - 3088.7
TOS 1x21: “Tomorrow is Yesterday” Stardates 3113.2 - 3114.1 - The crew of the Enterprise get thrown back in time to 1969. Temporal accidents ensue, but with super-science shenanigans, everything seems to be put back in order.
TOS 1x22: “The Return of the Archons” Stardates 3156.2 - 3158.7
TOS 1x23: “A Taste of Armageddon” Stardates 3192.1 - 3193.0
TOS 1x24: “Space Seed” Stardates 3141.9 - 3143.3 - Content Warning for this episode: abuse, coercion.
TOS 1x25: “This Side of Paradise” Stardates 3417.3 - 3417.7
TOS 1x26: “The Devil in the Dark” Stardate 3196.1
TOS 1x27: “Errand of Mercy” Stardates 3198.4 - 3201.7
TOS 1x28: “The City on the Edge of Forever” - Due to the mechanisms of the Guardian of Forever, this episode takes place mostly in 1930. We’re told that things are as they were.
TOS 1x29: “Operation -- Annihilate!” Stardates 3287.2 - 3289.8
TOS 2x01: “Catspaw” Stardate 3018.2
TOS 2x02: “Metamorphosis” Stardates 3219.8 - 3220.3
TOS 2x03: “Friday's Child” Stardates 3497.2 - 3499.1
TOS 2x04: “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Stardate 3468.1 - This episode is where we establish Prime Timeline Chekov’s age as 22, meaning that he was born in 2245.
TOS 2x05: “Amok Time” Stardate 3372.7
TOS 2x06: “The Doomsday Machine” Stardate 4202.9
TOS 2x07: “Wolf in the Fold” Stardates 3614.9 - 3615.4
TOS 2x08: “The Changeling” Stardate 3541.9
TOS 2x09: “The Apple” Stardates 3715.0 - 3715.6
TOS 2x10: “Mirror, Mirror” - A jaunt into the Mirror Universe (not to be confused with the Alternate Universe). Here we see that there are more possibilities as to how the universe could play out, as there is a whole multiverse out there (although, as this episode was produced in 1967, we really only know of the two universes).
TOS 2x11: “The Deadly Years” Stardates 3478.2 - 3479.4 - Kirk’s age of 34 is established in this episode, meaning that he was born in 2233.
TOS 2x12: “I, Mudd” Stardate 4513.3
TOS 2x13: “The Trouble with Tribbles” Stardates 4523.3 - 4525.6 - Such a funny episode. Everybody loves it.
TOS 2x14: “Bread and Circuses” Stardates 4040.7 - 4041.7 - The second time where we get to see that there are other Earths within our universe. Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development is in full force in this episode. Romans rule the Earth!
TOS 2x15: “Journey to Babel” Stardates 3842.3 - 3843.4
TOS 2x16: “A Private Little War” Stardates 4211.4 - 4211.8
TOS 2x17: “The Gamesters of Triskelion” Stardates 3211.7 - 3259.2
TOS 2x18: “Obsession” Stardates 3619.2 - 3620.7
TOS 2x19: “The Immunity Syndrome” Stardates 4307.1 - 4309.4
TOS 2x20: “A Piece of the Action” - What could happen if there is no prime directive.
TOS 2x21: “By Any Other Name” Stardates 4657.5 - 4658.9
TOS 2x22: “Return to Tomorrow” Stardates 4768.3 - 4770.3
TOS 2x23: “Patterns of Force” - The third time where we get to see that there are other Earths within our universe. Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development is in full force in this episode. A reminder that Nazis are bad.
TOS 2x24: “The Ultimate Computer” Stardates 4729.4 - 4731.3
TOS 2x24: “The Omega Glory” - The fourth time where we get to see that there are other Earths within our universe. Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development is in full force in this episode. Also, this episode is hella racist.
TOS 2x25: “Assignment: Earth” - Supposed to be a pilot episode for another television series that never happened. Takes place entirely in 1968, and seems like a predestination paradox (though not as much as Star Trek IV was).
TOS 3x01: “Spectre of the Gun” Stardate 4385.3 - It gets facts about the shootout at the OK Corral wrong.
TOS 3x02: “Elaan of Troyius” Stardate 4372.5
TOS 3x03: “The Paradise Syndrome” Stardates 4842.6 - 4843.6 - This episode is hella racist.
TOS 3x04: “The Enterprise Incident” Stardates 5027.3 - 5027.4
TOS 3x05: “And the Children Shall Lead Stardate 5029.5
TOS 3x06: “Spock's Brain” Stardates 5431.4 - 5432.3 - An incredibly campy episode.
TOS 3x07: “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” Stardates 5630.7 - 5630.8
TOS 3x08: “The Empath” Stardate 5121.5 - This episode references previous episodes.
TOS 3x09: “The Tholian Web” Stardate 5693.2 - This episode messes with the Mirror Universe’s timeline. But we won’t see how until I add Enterprise into the mix.
TOS 3x10: “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” Stardates 5476.3 - 5476.4
TOS 3x11: “Day of the Dove”
TOS 3x12: “Plato's Stepchildren” Stardates 5784.2 - 5784.3
TOS 3x13: “Wink of an Eye” Stardates 5710.5 - 5710.9
TOS 3x14: “That Which Survives
TOS 3x15: “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” Stardates 5730.2 - 5730.7
TOS 3x16: “Whom Gods Destroy” Stardate 5718.3
TOS 3x17: “The Mark of Gideon” Stardates 5423.4 - 5423.8
TOS 3x18: “The Lights of Zetar” Stardates 5725.3 - 5725.6
TOS 3x19: “The Cloud Minders” Stardates 5818.4 - 5819.3
TOS 3x20: “The Way to Eden” Stardates 5832.3 - 5832.6 - Another incredibly campy episode.
TOS 3x21: “Requiem for Methuselah” Stardates 5843.7 - 5843.8
TOS 3x22: “The Savage Curtain” Stardates 5906.4 - 5906.5
TOS 3x23: “All Our Yesterdays” Stardates 5943.7 - 5943.9
TOS 3x24: “Turnabout Intruder” Stardates 5928.5 - 5930.3
Star Trek: The Motion Picture Stardates 7410.2 - 7414.1 - It is unclear as to when TMP actually takes place, because it is never said in the movies. However, due to when we know Kirk to have finished his five year mission (dialogue from an episode of Star Trek: Voyager) and information provided in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Ensigns of Command” (TNG 3x02), we’re able to narrow it down to somewhere between 2272 & 2274 [Note 5].
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Stardates 8130.3 - 8141.6 - The best Star Trek movie ever made. It is a sequel to TOS 1x24: “Space Seed”. Also known as the first movie in the Star Trek Trilogy.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Stardate 8210.3 - Picks up right where TWOK left off. Second film in the Star Trek Trilogy.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Stardate 8390.0 - Picks up right where TSFS left off. We are given specific dates here, from dialogue stating that they traveled back in time 300 years, television advertisements specifically saying that they travel back in time to 1986, and confirmation from Leonard Nimoy on “Good Morning America.” The third film in the Star Trek Trilogy. Most people love this film, Trek fans and non-fans alike.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Stardate 8454.1 - Picks up where TVH left off. The campiest of the movies, but not the worst of the movies [Note 6]. Not considered to be a part of the Star Trek Trilogy.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Stardates 9521.6 - 9529.1 - The second best of the Star Trek films, and the final film with all of the original cast.
Star Trek (2009) - A part of the movie takes place here. The “Countdown” comic book series that takes place immediately before this movie gives stardates of 64333.4 - 64467.14 [Note 7], even though the movie gives the stardate as 2387.
The minor temporal infractions in the 2260s seem to have little effect on the timeline, either because the crew of the Enterprise was very careful to put everything back to where it belonged. However, the events during TVH were one temporal blunder right after another, with no attempt to set anything back to sorts, meaning that the timeline was seriously corrupted in 1986/2286. That means, from the point of view of the crew of the Enterprise, everything in 2286 and beyond may be normal, but anything that took place before that could have been corrupted.
That being said, perhaps DIS does take place in the Prime Timeline, as advertised - however, it is a corrupted Prime Timeline (and not one of the Alternate Universes) because somebody didn't put something back where it was supposed to be during one of the jaunts into the past. Also, when figuring out 23rd Century Starfleet uniforms, perhaps that's why the uniforms of the 2230s and in DIS don't correspond with the uniforms that were worn either before or after them.
I call the Abramsverse Star Trek films “nuTrek” because it’s easier than saying “The Alternate Timeline,” “Abramsverse,” “JJ-verse,” or “Kelvinverse” - however I cannot for the life of me remember where I originally got the term “nuTrek” from.
The 6th (of 7) Star Trek television series was called Enterprise for its first two seasons, before the name was changed to Star Trek: Enterprise.
nuTrek uses a different version of Stardates than what was used in any of the shows or movies - using the system as it originally was, stardate 2233.04 would have been Feb 28, 2266 (according to this calculator) or April 16, 2267 (according to this calculator), not Jan 04, 2233.
The future that the Narada and the Jellyfish come from use a stardate system that does not match with the stardate system from the prime timeline, which is evidence that they came from an alternate timeline, went back in time, and altered that alternate timeline into yet another new alternate timeline. Also, the technology used on the Kelvin, most noticeably the viewscreen/window, does not mesh with the technology used in either ENT or TOS (let alone any other series).
It is actually technically possible that TMP takes place as late as 2278, because there is an episode of TNG where we see the earliest that the Monster Maroon uniforms are being worn (2278), and TWOK, taking place in 2284, has a stardate of 7130.4 included in it. However, I discount that stardate, believing it to be a scripting error, as the other stardates in that movie all start with an 8 instead of a 7.
I actually rather enjoy TFF - it even helped me pass my religion classes in high school. Yes, even though the film is filled with cheese.
Using the calculators from Note 3, stardate 64467.14 should be April 18, 2388 or Sept 18, 2388 - however, the movie specifically states that it is 2387. I chalk this up to the comics miscalculating the date.
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