As we commence celebrating Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, it’s a good time to start looking at the best of Star Trek through the decades. To begin, let’s look at one of the hallmarks of what made Star Trek (TOS) and its spinoffs so popular: the many diverse alien races that appeared in the shows and films.
10. Tholians: One of the most non-humanoid races ever featured in Star Trek. Crystalline and mysterious, the Tholians could only exist in high temperatures and were known for their punctuality and xenophobic nature. Often mentioned after they first appeared in the original series, the Tholians’ only other onscreen appearance happened decades later in Star Trek: Enterprise. Time for an encore! First Appearance: “The Tholian Web” Star Trek
9. Andorians: One of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets along with Vulcans and humans. These hostile, blue-skinned aliens with antenna weren’t fully explored until Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT) and episodes from that show that featured Andorians were some of ENT’s best. First Appearance: “Journey to Babel” Star Trek
8. Changelings: These enigmatic shape-shifting aliens used their distrust and fear of “Solids” to rule the Gamma Quadrant and conquer any world that dared to defy them. Whether using their shock troops in the Dominion or by simply using their shape-shifting abilities to spread confusion and misdirection, the Changelings were a race to be reckoned with. “Emissary” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
7. Cardassians: As former oppressors of the Bajorans, the militaristic Cardassians quickly made a lasting impression with their reptilian skin, bony necks and antagonistic but cultured manner. Harshness, nationalism and pride were their defining characteristics which led to many conflicts with other galactic powers. Their alliance with the Dominion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) to regain glory would come back to haunt this proud race. First Appearance: “The Wounded” Star Trek: The Next Generation
6. Romulans: Distant off-shoots of the Vulcans that never embraced a pacifistic, logical lifestyle, the Romulans while displaying a war-like, calculating demeanor were also seen to have a semblance of honor throughout the spinoffs and films. Plus, they get points for having that delectable Romulan ale. First Appearance: “Balance of Terror” Star Trek
5. Ferengi: Donald Trump would fit in nicely with these aliens! With their hideous bat-like ears (they’re yuuuuuge!) and small stature, the Ferengi are a profit-driven alien race with a shallow. unethical nature. Still, they’re humorous and effective foils for Star Trek’s more dull, er, enlightened human society. First Appearance: “The Last Outpost” Star Trek: The Next Generation
4. Bajorans: Conceived in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) as fugitives and terrorists fighting to liberate their people, the Bajorans were given center stage in DS9. This show allowed a deep exploration of the race as we learned they have a deeply spiritual nature that resonated with viewers. First Appearance: “Ensign Ro” Star Trek: The Next Generation
3. Borg: A cybernetic race made up of different alien species including humans, the Borg are one of the deadliest enemies faced by the Federation. Driven solely by achieving biological and technological perfection, the Borg are relentless and methodical as they assimilate any aliens they encounter including us. First Appearance: “Q Who?” Star Trek: The Next Generation
2. Vulcans: Pointy eared, cold and logical, but hiding a deep respect for other lifeforms, the Vulcans are one of the most popular aliens in Star Trek lore and part of our popular culture. Best represented by the Enterprise’s first officer, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the Vulcans are a founding member of the Federation and one of Earth’s staunchest allies. Forever mystified by our emotionally driven society, and slightly contemptuous of us, nevertheless, Vulcans are a fascinating race even if they are a bit dry. First Appearance: “The Cage” Star Trek
1. Klingons: Brutal, savage, war-hungry, but with a deep sense of honor, the Klingons are the best alien race showcased on Star Trek. First introduced as bitter enemies in TOS, they were perfect stand-ins for our Cold War rivals. Eventually, the Klingons were given a makeup upgrade and became strong but contentious allies for the Federation as seen in TNG and other shows. The spinoffs and the later Star Trek films presented another, prideful side to the aggressive aliens with their sagittal crested foreheads. Like the Vulcans, Klingons are now part of our popular culture in so many ways. First Appearance: “Errand of Mercy” Star Trek
Lewis T. Grove
Great list, I pretty much agree with the various placings – particularly putting the Klingons at the top. The Brog are of course great but the Klingons have had a much larger presence throughout the history of the franchise.
It’s be great if the Tholians could feature in some future Trek live action project, whether it be in the reboot movies or the forthcoming new tv series.
The Tholians are awesome! Hopefully the new series will feature them. I also hope we get more time spent on lesser enemy races like the Orions and the Gorn.
Gorn would be interesting (would they opt for CGI like in Enterprise). The Orions also, although they were explored a bit in the final season of Enterprise.
The Gorge and triples was one of my favorites aliens I guess I would also say the andorians and the shapeshifter