Fixed: The Odd/Even Star Trek Movie Law

Prepare to have your mind blown.

The law is this: every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is dreck. Every even-numbered Star Trek movie is terrific. This Law - the subjectivity of movie criticism notwithstanding - held up perfectly for decades.

  1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) (bad)
  2. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982) (good)
  3. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) (bad)
  4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) (good)
  5. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (bad)
  6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) (good)
  7. Star Trek Generations (1994) (bad)
  8. Star Trek: First Contact (1996) (good)
  9. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) (bad)

    Then everything was up-messed:

  10. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) (bad!? should have been good!)
  11. Star Trek (2009) (good??!?! should have been bad!)
  12. Star Trek XII: So Very Tired (2012) (???)

Now watch carefully as I restore the timeline.

  1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) (bad)
  2. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982) (good)
  3. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984) (bad)
  4. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) (good)
  5. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (bad)
  6. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) (good)
  7. Star Trek Generations (1994) (bad)
  8. Star Trek: First Contact (1996) (good)
  9. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) (bad)
  10. Galaxy Quest (1999) (good)
  11. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) (bad)
  12. Star Trek (2009) (good)

2013 update

Unfortunately the rule is now permanently scuppered because Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) was neither good nor bad, but mediocre.

Discussion (32)

2010-01-22 19:16:58 by Baughn:

It all makes sense now! o_O

2010-01-22 19:42:14 by Ampersand:

Oh hey, there's a hole in space and time under my bed. Was that you?

2010-01-22 20:37:25 by trekkie:

You're right until you get to Star Trek (2009). What an awful excuse for a movie.

2010-01-22 22:40:11 by Adin:

I must disagree, I feel that the new movie was the best way to re-boot a series. Realistically, there's no way to both attract new fans and appease the long term fans (who have an encyclopedic memory) without a radical change. The most recent TNG movies had a harder and harder time with this (either becoming dark and edgy or ignoring character's past behaviors). So what better way to reboot a dying series than by making a fundamental change in the nature of that universe. New fans don't need to worry about not having seen many (or any) of the old shows. Long term fans can compare this new universe to the old one, starting a whole new generation of discussions.

2010-01-22 23:01:05 by Neko:

The problems with the new trek movie had nothing to do with canon and everything to do with: 1. Bad acting. 2. A plot so full of holes you could use a printed copy to drain pasta with.

2010-01-22 23:17:13 by Boter:

I've heard of the Galaxy Quest fix and heartily endorse it. I liked the new movie. Not a Trek fan (a Star Wars fan, actually), but Trek was one of my Top 5 of '09.

2010-01-22 23:29:51 by qntm:

Actually I feel that ST '09 was enormously respectful of canon, by expanding upon and never contradicting it. I'll grant the plot holes, but realistically it's the best we could have expected.

2010-01-23 02:22:26 by Val:

Galaxy Quest was such a genius deconstructor of the genre, that I cannot watch Star Trek (or anything similar to it) anymore without finding it ridiculous. :)

2010-01-23 12:16:56 by Mark:

I consider the time travel movies (4, 8, "12") not to be my favorite...

2010-01-23 20:25:48 by Ross:

I seriously disagree with many of the first few entries in your list. ST1: Good ST2: Good ST3: Bad ST4: Bad (wife continues to make me suffer through it annually) ST5: Bad (I do not even remember the plotline) ST6: Bad (wife made me suffer through it twice) ST7: Meh (not really good, but calling it Bad compared to the other drek is overstating the case) ST8: Good (mostly. Picard unconvincing at being obsessed) ST9: Meh (see ST7) Galaxy Quest: good STX: Bad STXI: Bad (How could anyone work on a bridge that bright and flashy?)

2010-01-23 20:29:10 by Ross:

Google has healed my memory. It's ST5 that my wife made me suffer through a few times, and ST6 that I can't even remember (or remotely care about) the plot.

2010-01-24 02:42:52 by Mike:

You do realize that you've just doomed us to a bad Star Trek 12, right?

2010-01-24 20:07:34 by OtherMike:

I concur. Now that you've posted this, we're going to have a terrible next movie at the point where it's needed most. If the second doesn't keep up the momentum generated by the first, it seems unlikely that there would even be a third.

2010-01-25 10:03:41 by skztr:

In that case, we need Galaxy Quest II as soon as possible, and we need it to be a real stinker!

2010-04-22 01:20:59 by Lyne:

Thank you for making this very important guide. It has been years since I've watched Star Trek movies that I don't really want to suffer through ones that stink since I would like to watch them all over again.

2010-04-24 05:57:07 by Izkata:

Yeeaah, all the Original Series fans I know of, myself included, disliked the 2009 movie. A lot. I tend to be good at suspending disbelief, not even noticing plot holes, but the 2009 movie? WAY TOO MANY... I couldn't even figure out the plot until old-Spock explained it, as the "Romulans" weren't in a Romulan ship and didn't have the Romulan forehead ridges. They looked like Vulcans.

2010-06-06 12:40:48 by ST:

Izkata: You're thinking of Klingons with the ridges. Romulans share ancestry with, and look just like, Vulcans.

2010-09-21 15:52:18 by Skeletor:

Am I the only one who liked The Search for Spock? (better than The Voyage Home, actually, which was just poorly masked 80's hippie "save the whales" propaganda, not an actual movie) And I thought the first half of Star Trek V was brilliant. I also didn't care much for the new "reboot", much like others here, not out of a disrespect for canon, but just for the plot which resembled Swiss cheese, and the exceptionally poor acting.

2010-09-21 15:58:42 by Skeletor:

@ Adin and Sam - not true. We might have hoped that they'd cast for the new movie based on actual acting ability, not just whomever they could find to look most like the characters they were representing. @ Ross - to see Patrick Stewart doing "obsessed" extremely well, check out the version of Moby Dick he's in.

2010-09-21 16:54:09 by qntm:

It's not like Star Trek XI was a serious acting challenge. Like the special effects, all the emotional moments were gigantic explosions. "Subtlety" is not in the New Trek's vocabulary.

2010-12-23 21:41:29 by Sharon:

Granted, I haven't seen every Star Trek movie (thus far, only II, IV, VI, Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and the new one), but I still don't see why people hate some of them so much. Okay, IV was certainly far from the best, and in VI Chang would not stop with the Shakespeare quotes, but they weren't terrible movies. All of them (even the ones on there that were odd numbers) had something to enjoy, even if it was something rather silly.

2010-12-24 09:56:12 by qntm:

Sharon, so what you're saying is that you haven't seen Star Trek I, III or V and you don't get why every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is supposed to be terrible? I mean, those were the movies which gave rise to the pattern.

2011-05-24 09:13:24 by williamthebloody:

Romulans share ancestry with Vulcans but they have a distinct bump across their brows. They manipulated their genes slightly by adding Reman DNA to their genome. This stabilized their emotions but also left a physical mark. As for the 2009 movie, what a piece of garbage. Greed and the inability to be creative led to the allowance of JJ Abrams to make this Star Wars clone. JJ is not a fan of trek. He said so himself. Why not create your own characters to put in this swiss cheesed plot, bad acting movie? "Kirk, a farmboy on a desolate planet, grows up without his father. A wise old man (who knew his father) has to convince him to leave his planet for a greater destiny despite his rebellious actions and underlying desire to leave. (Part of the convincing involved telling him what a good pilot his dad was)" Sound familiar? I'm surprised George didn't sue JJ's rear end off him just for that bit! Star Trek doesn't need to be Star Wars. I'm a rabid fan of both and they are not similar. They're not supposed to be. Why does anyone need "a new fan base" for trek, anyway? There's millions of us! We're often nerds and geeks and we have money. We attend trek conventions and argue incessintly about all things trek but are mostly united by what it stood for, Gene Roddenberrys ideals. Why would anyone need to make a movie to look elsewhere for fans? I've heard of people that don't even speak the same language talking to each other in klingon. I could write a book about how wrong this movie is but I've already tried and tried to get people to understand to no avail. I'll just say it plain. The average people of this world like this movie because its sparkly, sarcastic and fast paced. There's no big words, there's a cool bar fight and lotsa cool explosions. Everyones young, cool and edgy. There's also some hot bodies and monster chases. Exactly what average joe wants, all flash and no substance. Joe blow doesn't want to hear an old bald guy quote shakespeare while he sips tea. I do. Average joe doesn't want to hear about all the little details involved in fixing the shuttle so they can leave the planet. I do! Give joe blow some other movie to gawk at while he wipes his drool. Leave my cerebral Trek alone.

2011-05-24 10:13:09 by williamthebloody:

1 wasn't great. It dragged on way too long. I liked it. It gets better the second time you watch it when you can fast forward the pointless parts. The concept was decent. Voyager goes to cybertron and they send it back to find its maker and exterminate the infestation it finds there.2 was great! KAAAAAHHHNNN!!! Nuff said. I liked 3. Klingons can be such paranoid morons. Killing Kirks son just added fuel to the fire. I! Have had enough! Of you! 4 is really good except for the extended time travel scene. Fast forward. I loved seeing our gang deal with contemporary san fran circa 1985(?) Star Trek 5, the search for a better script. Spocks jovial brother (what!?!) thinks he found god and convinces a bunch of other morons to steal the Enterprise to go pick him up. Ok, next! 6 was ok. We help the klingons, they still hate us. "Let them die" maybe we should have. 7. Generations. This movie caused a sizable surface level blunder. If Scotty knew that Kirk bit the dust in that room on the Enterprise B, why was he asking for Kirk when Geordi brought him out of transporter suspended animation on that little ship, the Jenolin, that crashed into the surface of the Dysons sphere? Old age? Ok. This was a decent movie as well. I really liked the chip problems Data had and the Stellar cartography scenes. First contact was awesome and everyone knows it. This movie succeeded in bringing in many fresh audiences to the genre without compromising the integrity of Trek (unlike some movies I know). Insurrection had its moments but it was mostly a blah movie. It was kind of like a long episode of Next Generation, really. And not a good one at that. I 65/35 % like/ dislike this movie. But I'll spare you all my thoughts on this one. This brings us to the unworthily self titled Star Trek. This movie would have been great if they made it as some other franchise, with some other characters. All the time line changes made by a time travelling Romulan mining ship full of pirate like thugs is perfectly fine. Yes, even blowing up Vulcan. Its all good and fine as long as someone fixes it! Where's Daniels and the Temporal Agency of the 31st century? Or that future version of starfleet that monitors the time line from those few voyager episodes? One small ship (voyager) goes back in time and they're all over it. Vulcan is destroyed by a giant Romulan mining ship and no one shows up? Whatever. This movie is simply a catalyst to turn Trek into flashy junk that the masses will pay to see. Hollywood is not interested in being true to its loyal Trek fan base anymore.

2012-01-10 07:51:02 by DanielB:

How would your wife make you sit through ST 5 more than once? What is wrong with her? That is one of the worst movies ever made, not just the worst Star Trek. The recent movie was mediocre at best.

2012-10-06 01:17:06 by errok:

@williamthebloody: those temporal police or whatever they were. I had completely forgotten about them.... It does seem strange that they didn't turn up!

2013-05-15 15:52:59 by CPTDAVE:

BULL FUCKING SHIT.: tHE MOTION PICTURE, wRATH OF kAHN and Search for Spock are an excellent trilogy, admittedly # 3 was a mild dissapointment, but nothing compared to the 2 following sequels. 4 & 5 suck. No. 4 is the ultimate sci fi cop out, placing the story in "present day" reducing the cost of set pieces and effects, where as no. 5 looks like it was made in somebodys attic. No. 6 was a triumphant return to form. When we jump to Generations, it sucked. Firts Contact ruled, Insurrection was assmeat and Nemesis cleared the barrier to be considered good despite too much of Riker and Troy, but saved by the excellent Ron Pearlman and Tom Hardy. JJ Abrams vision is a new book, we cant even place the new franchise alongside the original 10 movie series, even though it rules....

2016-06-01 00:14:44 by PhantomHoover:

I mean Search for Spock was mediocre as well and it didn't scupper your rule; I think it's doing fine.

2016-07-15 09:21:57 by Daniel B:

"Unfortunately the rule is now permanently scuppered because Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) was neither good nor bad, but mediocre." Eh, Into Darkness was crappy, so if you use Galaxy Quest, it still can work. I think if you use Galaxy Quest as a placeholder for an even movie then it works - I would still rank all the evens as better than all the odds (I can't rank GQ at all b/c it's a different genre, being parody). My best to worst: Great: 1. Wrath of Khan (2) 2. First Contact (8) Good: 3. Undiscovered Country (6) 4. Voyage Home (4) 5. ST 2009 (12) Below Average: 6. Nemesis (11) 7. Search for Spock (3) 8. Generations (7) 9. Into Darkness (13) Horrendous: 10. Insurrection (9) 11. The Motion Picture (1) 12. Final Frontier (5) This also means, even without GQ, if we ignore the reboot as being, well, a freaking reboot (at ease, folks, at ease), then we still have "the evens are all better than the odds" in the original ten movies, even though not all the evens were "good" ... although I go back and forth on how to order that "below average" category, I wouldn't always put Nemesis at the top, it depends on the day.

2016-08-03 18:54:46 by Phantom Hoover:

Beyond was great, the rule abides.

2022-07-11 00:03:13 by Paradukes:

The thing is, odd numbered films aren't necessarily terrible (I liked Insurrection, for all its flaws), in some cases they're just not as good as the worst of the even numbered films. I'd say Into Darkness is worse than several of the odd numbered films, whereas Beyond was quite good. IMO the rule still holds, which unfortunately means we're due another stinker...

2022-10-18 17:56:52 by Pioneer_11:

I wouldn't really consider 2009 onwards "trek" films. The distinguishing feature of trek films was being something smarter than merely "shooting things fun", love them or hate them the modern trek films are mostly just a bunch of stuff blowing up.

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