Since September 1966, the Star Trek universe has become one of the biggest entertainment franchises of all time. While others — particularly Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe — are perhaps more popular, it was Star Trek that led the way decades ago. Its legions of fans would not let this low budget three-season series disappear. This has led to 13 feature films, six additional live action TV series, and even an animated series, with more to come.
While there have been lots of Trek feature films, most people associate Star Trek with its many TV series incarnations. While you can find some Star Trek shows on platforms like Hulu and Netflix, CBS All Access is the place to go if you want access to every Star Trek show.
The reasons why Star Trek has lasted this long as a major mainstream franchise are varied. Its many popular characters are one reason, along with its main themes of exploring space, cooperation with a variety of races and species, and more. It’s sometimes hard to believe that that it all started on a small Hollywood soundstage in late 1964, when the first of two pilots for the original series started filming.
With that in mind, here are the best CBS All Access Star Trek shows you can stream right now. We will also take a look at all the announced CBS All Access Star Trek shows that are planned for the future. You can sign up for the service at the link below, with a seven-day free trial.
Best CBS All Access Star Trek shows
1. Deep Space Nine
This might be a surprising choice for some people, including some fans. However, in our humble opinion, Deep Space Nine deserves this top spot on our best Star Trek shows list. It was the first Trek series with a black lead actor. Until Star Trek: Picard came along, it was also the only Trek series that wasn’t centered on a single starship. Being set on a remote space station allowed this series to go in different directions compared to other Trek series. It took on a ton of themes that actually make it relevant to watch today, including diversity, the use of misinformation in society, and much more.
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Older Trek fans might remember that when TNG first debuted way back in 1987, it got slammed by fans, mostly because it didn’t star the actors and characters of the original series. It took nearly three years for the show to find its own voice. For the rest of its run, TNG helped expand Star Trek beyond its base of TOS Trekkies. It presented us with great characters like the human-aspiring android Data, the complex Klingon Worf, and especially the level headed, but still determined, Captain Picard. TNG expanded the Trek universe by introducing us to its best alien villains, the Borg, along with making the Klingons more than just a violent warrior race. It still holds up today.
3. Star Trek: The Original Series
The Original Series will always hold a special place in the hearts of many long time Star Trek fans, if only because it was the first one out of the gate. Back in 1966, serious science fiction on television was found on anthology shows like the original The Twilight Zone (also on CBS All Access) and The Outer Limits. TOS was the first adult sci-fi series with a recurring cast and setting. The look of the original U.S.S. Enterprise, and the many planets on its travels, definitely has a dated look (even with the remastered visual effects). However, the stories (at least from the first two seasons) still hold up, and Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock still stands out above the crowd.
4. Star Trek: Picard
The latest live action Trek series was something of a mixed bag in its first season. On the plus side, Sir Patrick Stewart is excellent as always, playing an older version of his TNG character. Picard remains a character who always searches for the truth in any situation, no matter how painful that truth might be like. His main task is to find out the secret of a woman who apparently is an artificial being, but just doesn’t know it yet. Isa Briones plays this character Dahj with both a wide-eyed innocence as well as terror (in fact, she plays multiple characters, but that’s going into spoiler territory). The visual effects of this series are the best ever made for a Trek TV show as well. On the downside, it takes far too long for this series’ story to actually get underway, and quite frankly there are lots of characters to keep up with that we don’t really care about. Hopefully, for Picard’s second season, we will get a more focused storyline, fewer characters, and more on Picard himself.
The idea behind this series was a good one; push a Federation starship into a region of space that had never before been explored, with no backup from any other Starfleet vessels. It promised us new things to see in the Trek universe, and also a chance to see how Federation values would be tested when the crew didn’t have anyone to answer to. Unfortunately, while there are a number of good Voyager episodes to watch, this series basically turned into “The Next Generation: Phase Two”. It was (mostly) the same old stories and situations we have seen before (indeed, there were more than a few episodes that connected directly with TNG). Despite excellent performances from Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway and Robert Picardo as the ship’s holographic doctor, Voyager was a missed opportunity.
This was the first of the live-action CBS All Access Star Trek shows. Discovery is supposed to take place roughly a decade before the adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in The Original Series. However, we have to wonder why the creators and producers of this show decided on this particular timeline for this series. It just feels like they used a dartboard, and the “10 years before TOS” was the section that was hit by the dart. As a result, Discovery feels like a mix of old Trek references and new storylines and formats. It just doesn’t jell well.
That’s not to say the show is all bad. Sonequa Martin-Green does an excellent job playing the rebellious Starfleet officer Michael Burnham. She has to learn some lessons herself even as she has to earn the trust of the crew of the Discovery. Jason Isaacs is excellent as Discovery’s mysterious captain Lorca and Doug Jones does his usual terrific performance, under lots of makeup, as the alien Saru. In the second season, we get treated to Anson Mount, who plays Christopher Pike, the Enterprise’s captain before Kirk, and he makes us believe in heroic Starfleet leaders again. Ethan Peck is also introduced as a young Spock, and he does an admirable job.
It’s really too bad. There are good actors, and excellent visual effects, in this series, but it has yet to find a focus for its storylines. Perhaps that’s why, at the end of the second season, we saw the Discovery time-warping several centuries into the future. Free from dealing with all previous Trek continuity, perhaps Discovery will come into its own in its third season.
This show seemed like a bad idea from the start. A show that takes place 100 years before Kirk and Spock, and even before the formation of the Federation? It seemed like something that could have been done in a movie, or at most a mini-series. In the end, Enterprise was an even more watered-down version of TOS and TNG, although it did get somewhat better in the final two seasons of its four-season run. Scott Bakula is always good, and he does the best that he can as Captain Archer, but this show, with the exception of a few episodes, is mostly not worth your time.
8. Star Trek: The Animated Series
A few years after TOS was canceled, Filmation got the rights to create a Saturday morning animated series based on the original show, with most of the cast returning to voice their roles. It was an admirable effort, with some episodes written by many of the writers of TOS. In the end, this series is more of a curiosity than anything else. It looks and feels even more dated than the live-action series in terms of visuals, and the restrictions of Saturday morning cartoons kept the storylines from being as good as the original show. This is yet another missed opportunity.
New Star Trek series on CBS All Access
CBS All Access will be the exclusive home to at least three new Star Trek series. One of them is about to debut in just a few weeks.
Star Trek: Lower Decks (Begins August 6)
While there have been comedic episodes in various Star Trek series, Lower Decks will be the first full-blown situation comedy set in this universe. Created by major Trek fan Mike McMahan (a former writer for Rick and Morty and the co-creator of Solar Opposites for Hulu), this series examines the characters who are on board the U.S.S. Cerritos during the TNG/DS9/VOY era. The twist is the main characters of this show are not the captain or the bridge crew of this ship, but a group of lower-ranked crewmen who still have to deal with various alien and internal issues. The trailer already has us smiling, and we can’t wait to watch the 10 episodes first season on August 6.
Strange New Worlds
This is a planned spinoff of Discovery that will take place onboard the original U.S.S. Enterprise, just a few years before Captain James Kirk takes command. Anson Mount will return as Captain Christopher Pike, as well as Ethan Peck as the young Ensign Spock, and Rebecca Romijn as Number One. This show will hopefully learn from the lessons of Enterprise and Voyager, with a mix of cool new encounters combined with some nods to the TOS era. There’s no release date yet for this series.
This is yet another planned Discovery spin-off, this time focusing on the mysterious, and sometimes evil, Federation agency known as Section 31. Michelle Yeoh, who played the Mirror Universe leader Emperor Georgiou, is expected to be the lead for this series. You may remember that Emperor Georgiou, after crossing over to the main universe, joined Section 31. There’s still no launch date for this series.
That’s our look at the current and new Star Trek Series on CBS All Access. Which ones will you watch, and will you stream the upcoming shows on the service?