18 eerie, disturbing and downright scary Star Trek episodes

By: H&I Staff    Posted: October 26, 2017, 10:57AM

Sci-fi and horror go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Which is why franchises like Alien and Predator thrive to this day. The Star Trek universe may be known for its heady, philosophical take on science-fiction, and its utopian future, but it has occassionally dipped into the horror genre.

You can find chest-bursting aliens, haunted spaceships, psychological torment, split personalities and nightmares come to life across all of the Star Trek TV series.

In space, no one can hear you scream. But aboard a Federation craft? They are more screams than you might expect. Those who love the darker side of genre television should seek out these episodes. 


"The Enemy Within"

The Original Series

Teleporting through a transporter may seem like a magnificent dream for the future, but the things do seem to regularly malfunction. At least when a good horror story is needed. Just five episodes into the series, we get a taste of the dark side, as an "Evil Kirk" struts through the corridors of the Enterprise. Most unsettling of all is the scene in which our hero, who bear in mind had only been with audiences for a month at this point, attempts to assault Yeoman Janice Rand.



The Original Series

When it comes to good ol' fashioned Halloween scenery in Star Trek, no other episode tops Catspaw, with its witches, spooky castle, black cats, skeletons and cobwebs. Robert Bloch, writer of Psycho, penned the tale.


"Wolf in the Fold"

The Original Series

A serial killer is on the loose on otherwise peaceful worlds, and all fingers point to… Scotty?! Turns out, it's actually an entity once known as Jack the Ripper. The Ripper spirit eventually takes over the Enterprise computer.


"Beyond the Farthest Star"

The Animated Series

With their bright colors, cartoons have a difficult time being "scary," but we did not want to overlook the underrated Animated Series, which featured most the same talented cast and creators as the live-action original. Here, in its very first episode, TAS has a plot eerily similar to Alien — predating it by six years. The Enterprise comes across a derelict, insectoid ghost ship in the far reaches of space. Naturally, an evil entity is attempted to lure in our heroes to escape and infect the rest of the universe.



The Next Generation

Easily the goriest of any Star Trek episode, thanks to the wonderful work of effects artist Michael Westmore, "Conspiracy" climaxes with this gruesome parasite ripping through the charred ribcage of an unlucky Lt. Commander. I know you're likely screaming, "Kill it! Kill it with phasers!" Thankfully, a surprisingly calm Picard and Riker do just that.


"Night Terrors"

The Next Generation

Trapped in a rift in space, the crew of the Enterprise is plagued by unexplained paranoia and hallucinations. The episode, frankly, is widely disliked by fans, but it does feature some eerie imagery, like these corpses rising under shrounds in the morgue.


"The Next Phase"

The Next Generation

Geordi La Forge and Ensign Ro Laren are presumed dead after — you guessed it — a transporter accident. Turn out, however, that they have instead turned into some kind of ghosts who wander the Enterprise, unable to interact with the living crew.



The Next Generation

Some crew members complain of a lack of sleep, and suddenly find themselves terrified of ordinary objects. After some psychological probing, it is discovered the all have the shared experience of having been abducted. Creepier yet, Rikers arm seems to have been removed and re-attached without his knowledge. Yep, it's good ol' alien abduction! Only, these aren't little gray men.


"Frame of Mind"

The Next Generation

Speaking Riker, the guy looks like a bass player for the Cure in this gothic tale. The Commander keeps jumping between two realities — once of which has him as a mentally deranged man in an insane asylum.


"Sub Rosa"

The Next Generation

Deep Space Nine is certainly the darkest of the Star Trek series, literally in its lighting and in its overall tone. But Next Gen absolutely served up the most horror episodes, as you can see. In this late episode, we get a classic haunted house tale. When Beverly Crusher visits the house of her recently deceased grandmother, a ghost called Ronin bewitches her into falling in love with him.



Deep Space Nine

With its overriding theme of war, DS9 typically dealt with realistic horror. But it did dip into traditional spooks here and there. Actually, this episode is quite similar to a classic 1953 Philip K. Dick short story, "Imposter," which was adapted into a Gary Sinise flick decades later. O'Brien returns from a mission and everything feels… off. Is something wrong with everyone? Is something wrong with him?


"Distant Voices"

Deep Space Nine

Dr. Bashir is rapidly aging. Quark is cowering with fear behind the bar, muttering about how someone is going to kill them all. Bashir continues to deteriorate. For some, aging is the greatest fear.


"Empok Nor"

Deep Space Nine

O'Brien and a small team journey to an abandoned station to scavenge rare Cardassian parts needed for repairs. There, bodies of crew members are discovered hanging from the walls — bringing to mind Aliens — and a booby trap endangers them all.


"The Thaw"


As It has proven, audiences eat up a creepy clown. Here, Michael McKean plays a truly sinister clown who torments poor Harry Kim. The episode also has echoes of A Nightmare on Elm Street — not to mention serious parallels with The Matrix — as we discover that the Voyager crew are experiencing their greatest fears while stuck unconscious in stasis.




The tried-and-true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde trope inspires this episode, which sees the Doctor breaking bad, a la "The Enemy Within."


"The Haunting of Deck Twelve"


How do you frighten a bunch of Borg kids? Neelix tells a spooky campfire story. And what better ghost story is there in the Star Trek universe than a malicious entity taking over a ship?


"Dead Stop"


Enterprise proved that you don't need a shadowy, dim spaceship to elicit chills. Sometimes, bright, white and antiseptic can be equally unsettling, as we see when Archer, T'Pol and Tucker board a strange, desolate station. Things always seem to go wrong when the crew needs to make repairs, no?




At last, the Star Trek universe logically arrived at… Vulcan zombies?! A toxin called Trellium-D turns the typically stoic race into violent monsters. Right off the bat, we see the effects as T'Pol is strapped onto a bed, screaming and thrashing. It makes for a strange introductory transition, as we cut from a screaming T'Pol into that corny cheesy Enterprise theme song. Otherwise, this is about as straight-up horror as Star Trek gets.