When one thinks of Star Trek, images of interesting aliens, cool ships and Captain Kirk randomly losing his shirt come to mind. Well, maybe not so much the last one.
But one of the most memorable aspects of the more than 50 year-old sci fi franchise is the opening themes. So today we are going to rank all seven themes of the television series (no films) including newest kid on the block Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Anywho, time for your ears to get beamed up!
#9 Star Trek: Enterprise (written by Diane Warren and performed by Russel Watson)
After four instrumental themes we got the rock ballad Faith of the Heart (originally sung by Rod Stewart) likely because there was the line “I can reach any star.” Get it? Star? Star Trek? You get it. Now the song isn’t awful, and if you’re kicking back on a long drive and the song comes on the radio it would probably be welcome. But it just does not fit with the feel of a sci fi show, especially Enterprise which was mostly dark and action heavy.
When I was binging the show on Netflix hearing the song over and over was torture! Sure they jazzed up the theme in Season 3 but it was the same song. #Skipintro
#8 Star Trek: The Animated Series (Composer Ray Ellis)
Full confession: I didn’t originally have TAS on this list. But for the sake of completion, and for those who keep asking for it, here we go. This theme starts off with some pings reminiscent of the TOS theme but then has this understated trumpeting fanfare. Then it proceeds on its own groovy scene. It reminded me of similar themes from cartoons of that time and it is pleasant if not all that memorable.
#7 Star Trek: Discovery (Composer Jeff Russo)
I liked the Discovery theme but I just didn’t love it. Now it sounds all space cool and dramatic but it’s just kind of…forgettable. I actually had to listen to it again to remember how it went. The best part of the theme is the classic Trek nod at the end. Definitely not a good sign.
#6 Star Trek: The Original Series (Composer Alexander Courage)
All you need is the opening bars and you are beamed to a planet far away having adventures with Kirk, Spock, Bones and the crew. It was definitely a product of its time and is dripping with groovy, the hypnotic sounds conjuring images of dancing Orion girls and Space Hippies in your Herbert brain. Sadly the 60s aesthetic has contributed to the theme feeling dated and not as good as some of the other themes that succeeded it. Still a classic though. La laaaaaaaaa!
#5 Star Trek: Picard (Composer Jeff Russo)
While composer Jeff Russo leaned heavily on nostalgia for the Discovery theme he thankfully went in a different direction for the Picard theme. Reflecting its world-weary (or galaxy-weary) protagonist the piece is at times melancholic, at times hopeful. But really a beautiful piece complemented well by some artistic imagery. And the TNG nod at the end caps it off well. Engage!
#4 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Composer Jeff Russo)
It’s Jeff Russo one more time, and for the newest Trek series he combines TOS nostalgia with a modern flair, which perfectly reflects the show itself. And I love it. We begin with familiar strings and Anson Mount’s Captain Christopher Pike delivering his version of the familiar “Space, the Final Frontier” monologue as the lights on the Enterprise flick on one by one. And then we have some cool looking space sequences with a vibrant, adventurous score, like a ship taking to the open sea (or space, in this case).
We end things with a note of nostalgia, similar to Discovery’s theme but much more effective here. There will be no “skip intro” from me.
#3 Star Trek: The Next Generation (Originally composed by Jerry Goldsmith for TMP, rearranged by Dennis McCarthy)
This theme is originally from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (one of the few things that dull affair got right) and it phaser blasts your eardrums right from the start. It is big and grand and operatic. But it’s also kind of…loud, and too energetic and just a smidge too forceful. Welcome to the Final Frontier, now we’re gonna blast your eardrums! I mean you enjoy it but feel like you need to take a breath and listen to some smooth jazz when it’s done. Whew!
#2 Star Trek: Voyager (Composer Jerry Goldsmith)
Kick back, relax and let this theme wash over you like a slipstream over the hull of the Voyager. That’s probably scientifically inaccurate. I’m a writer, not a warp core engineer damnit! Anywho this Emmy-award-winning theme by the maestro Jerry Goldsmith is well-paced, grand, melodic and simply gorgeous. It gets you all ready for some sweet, sweet Trek action and is so good it could make Tuvok dance.
#1 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Composer Dennis McCarthy)
From the very first “duhm” you know you are in for something special with this theme. Then it slowly starts to build into a whole lot of epicness and goes full orchestral on your latinum-loving backside. Then it gets a little slower and sweeter in the middle and then epic in your face again you petaQ! I’m sorry I called you a petaQ. I got excited. Apologies. It is only fitting that the best Trek series EVER (yeah, fight me Amok Time-style) has the best theme of the entire franchise.
NB – As one commenter (shout out to Axemantitan) reminded me they “tweaked” the theme from season 4 onward. And for whatever reason they made it a bit faster and louder and sadly less impressive. My comments above relate to the perfection of the theme from seasons 1-3. I’ll post both below for comparison.
So what’s your favourite Trek opening theme? And you can check out more great Trek content below: