7 best Star Trek parodies, ranked

A space crew stand on a planet in The Black Mirror's USS Callister episode.
Netflix

For more than 50 years, Star Trek has been an institution, especially among the nerds of America. The original Star Trek series has spawned various movies and additional shows in the years since it aired, and those shows have been met with various levels of acclaim and criticism.

Alongside all of these more faithful series, though, there have also been a number of parodies of Star Trek, its tropes, and the world it’s set in. We’ve gathered seven of the very best of those parodies for this list, which range from TV episodes to entire movies.

7. Star Trek: Lower Decks

Star Trek: Lower Decks First Look

Why not kick this list off with a show that allows Star Trek to make fun of itself? Lower Decks follows the support crew on a fairly unimportant interspace vessel as they try to manage their personal lives, even as they deal with all sorts of sci-fi invaders.

As this list proves, Star Trek has become such an institution that it can be effectively parodied from dozens of different directions, but this show, which plays with the series’ tropes while offering a new perspective on the action, is a delight from minute one, and is still going strong after its fourth season.

6. The Muppet Show – Pigs in Space

The Muppets may not be as widely beloved today as they once were, but Pigs in Space was once a regular segment on The Muppet Show. The segment was flexible enough that it could parody any beloved sci-fi property, but Star Trek was undoubtedly a mainstay.

This was underlined by the fact that Captain Link Hogthrob seemed to be a pretty overt Captain Kirk riff, and Miss Piggy’s ship was called Swinetrek. Still, Pigs in Space was not particularly biting. Instead, it was the kind of sweet, earnest parody that the Muppets were so often great at.

5. Animaniacs: Star Truck

When the Animaniacs got a chance to invade their favorite TV show, they didn’t miss an opportunity to cause plenty of havoc. Star Truck follows the rascals at the show’s center as they meet characters like Dr. Squat and Captain Kork while also delivering the kind of jokes that only hardcore fans of both shows would fully understand.

If you’re a Trek fan, you probably loved this episode, which also gave Maurice Lamarche the chance to do pretty impeccable impressions of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelly.

4. The Orville

When Seth MacFarlane set out to create his own version of Star Trek, many people were alarmed by how genuine and sincere it seemed. The Family Guy creator has long been a megafan of the series, and while The Orville has elements of parody, it also seems to be a loving tribute to the show that spawned it.

The show featured notable guest stars from various Star Trek shows, and also captured the spirit of the planet-of-the-week adventures that made the original Star Trek so widely beloved. While it’s certainly jokier than the original series, The Orville is ultimately a loving tribute to what made Trek great.

3. Futurama: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this Futurama episode is that the show manages to reunite almost every member of the original cast to deliver voice performances. The episode imagines that the crew of the Planet Express stumble upon a planet where the entire original cast of the series is alive and well, having been revived hundreds of years after the show’s original run.

The notion of giving these actors a chance to live in a far different future than the one their show imagined was brilliant enough, but all of the actors brought their A-game to these versions of their actual personalities.

2. Black Mirror: USS Callister

Not every Black Mirror episode is as sharp and compelling as USS Callister, which is both a parody and a critique of the entire Star Trek ethos. The episode follows the crew of a Star Trek-esque ship as they’re tortured by their captain. Eventually, we begin to realize that this entire world is a virtual reality, and the entire crew are avatars for co-workers of a single isolated man.

USS Callister is specific in its references to the original Star Trek, but it’s also a pointed critique of the misogyny that could underlie much of what that original show tried to achieve, and more crucially, of the show’s many fans who totally misinterpret its message.

1. Galaxy Quest (1999)

Galaxy Quest (1999) Theatrical Trailer

One of the great parody movies of any kind ever made, Galaxy Quest is set in a universe where a show like Star Trek was a phenomenon when it first aired. Now, the cast assembles for reunions, but have grown to hate one another. When real aliens recruit them based on the belief that they are actually the characters they played on the show, they’re forced to prove that they have what it takes to be real heroes.

Thanks to a great ensemble cast that includes Alan Rickman and Sam Rockwell in standout performances, Galaxy Quest is genuinely funny. What has helped it endure, though, is that it’s also one of the more earnest movies on this list, and it manages to balance those tones beautifully.

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