10 Essential ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ Episodes

Ten Essential Star Trek: Enterprise Episodes

My journey through all of Star Trek is one series nearer to completion. I finished Star Trek: Enterprise, which completes all of the live action series. All I have left is the Animated Series.

The end is in sight!

Enterprise wasn’t nearly as bad as fan opinion led me to believe it would be. Sure, it didn’t reach some of the heights of the other shows, but overall it wasn’t awful. There were some truly awful episodes, true, but every Trek series has a handful of them.

I did find myself groaning aloud on occasion at the heavy-handed winks and nods to the other series and fan service, and shouting criticism at my television when Captain Archer made terrible decisions (which he does frequently.) My biggest criticism, in short, is that sometimes it seemed to be trying too hard to set up the other shows, particularly The Original Series, that it never got time to be its own show.

Basically, I didn’t hate it, but I definitely still like at least 3 other series more. Here are my top ten favorite Star Trek: Enterprise episodes. Two and three part story arcs are combined, else those would be my entire list.

1-10: Every episode with Shran. The end. (Just kidding. But I really do love Shran.)

Star Trek: Enterprise "Detained"

10. Detained

Captain Archer and Travis Mayweather find themselves at an internment camp full of Suliban, run by the Tandarans. We learn a bit about the Suliban, that their homeworld is uninhabitable and that they are a mostly nomadic people. The Suliban in the camp are innocent civilians, and not part of the cabal or genetically enhanced. Archer and Travis decide that they have been wrongfully imprisoned and help them escape. A pretty solid season 1 episode where we learn more about our characters and an alien species.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Andorran Incident"

9. The Andorian Incident

We’re introduced to my favorite character, Shran. The Enterprise visits the Vulcan sanctuary at P’Jem to find that a group of Andorians has taken the monks hostage. Hijinks ensue, and we learn that the Vulcans have a listening post at the sanctuary that they use to spy on the Andorians, who they’ve recently been at war with. We see that the Vulcans aren’t as trustworthy or as honest as we believe they are, and get back story on two founding worlds of the Federation.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Dear Doctor"

8. Dear Doctor

Phlox and Archer wrangle over whether or not to help an alien species cure a genetic disease, or to let the natural evolution of the world take its course, which would result in an oppressed species becoming dominant. This is one of the first instances in which human explorers have to hash out their policy on interference in other worlds. The Prime Directive episode before there was a Prime Directive.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Broken Bow"

7. Broken Bow

Enterprise’s pilot episode, which I thought was pretty strong. We get an introduction to all of our main characters, a handful of alien species, and our main antagonist for the season in the Suliban. It sets up the time period, state of human exploration. Solid first episode.

Star Trek: Enterprise "The Forge"

6. Similitude

Phlox creates a fast-growing clone of Trip to harvest organs needed after the original Trip is severely injured. We get to watch the clone, Sim, grow up rapidly and develop relationships with the crew. Archer agonizes over whether or not it’s moral to cause Sim’s death to save Trip. This episode reminded me a lot of the Voyager episode ‘Tuvix,” actually. It has some very Star Trek-y moral ambiguity and questioning.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Babel One"

5. Babel One/United/The Aenar

Tellarites, Andorians, Vulcans, Romulans, oh my! The Enterprise is ferrying diplomats to Babel One to negotiate a peace, but it’s threatened by those darn, scheming Romulans. I honestly just thought this arc was a lot of fun, and set up the foundations of the Federation.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Carbon Creek"

4. Carbon Creek

I liked this episode for the same reason I liked “Bride of Chaotica” from Voyager. It’s just good, wacky fun. Vulcans get stranded in the United States in the 20th century and have to try to adapt and blend in. We get to see Vulcans do things like wash dishes and watch “I Love Lucy.” This also carries on the proud Star Trek tradition of actors playing their character’s ancestors.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Borderland"

3. Borderland/Cold Station 12/The Augments

Speaking of actors playing their character’s ancestors, it’s Brent Spiner! He’s most of the reason I love this trio of episodes. The story itself is solid, too. Dr. Arik Soong, ancestor of Data’s creator Noonien Soong, finds the embryos for a group of Augments, the genetically enhanced superhumans created by villain Khan Noonien Singh. They naturally try to gain power, betray Soong, and meet their demise. Soong has to deal with the loss of his “children.” We end with Soong back in his prison cell, wondering about creating cybernetic life instead. With a giant wink to the audience, he muses that it may take “several generations.”

Star Trek: Enterprise "The Forge"

2. The Forge/Awakening/Kir’Shara

Earth’s embassy on Vulcan is bombed, killing dozens, including Admiral Forrest. The Enterprise arrives to investigate and learn that a Vulcan fringe group called the Syrannites may be responsible. Over the three-episode arc we learn that they are innocent. Archer helps them find the Kir’Shara, which contains the full, true teachings of Surak. We learn Vulcan has strayed from its intended path and that there is a conspiracy in the High Command. We get to meet young T’Pau, who we will later see in TOS, and learn about her past. Vulcan is set to rights.

Star Trek: Enterprise "Terra Prime"

1. Demons/Terra Prime

I now totally get why fans think this should have been the series finale rather than ‘These Are the Voyages.” This story arc is my favorite of the series because of its message and relevance to our world today. Terra Prime, a xenophobic terrorist group on Earth, threatens to destroy Starfleet Command unless all aliens leave the planet. They want Earth to be for humans alone, and fear and despise aliens. This hit a little too close to home for me right now. Some of Terra Prime’s rhetoric sounds like it could have been lifted from a certain U.S. presidential candidate’s campaign.

It’s a warning of what could happen if hatred escalates and triumphs over compassion and tolerance. The peaceful society of the United Federation of Planets and xenophobic organizations like Terra Prime cannot coexist, and we have to overcome those impulses to create a better universe.

Those are my favorite episodes from Enterprise. I’m sure everyone’s list will vary a bit, but I do think some of the better episodes of the series are included here. Would you have added anything else? Let us know in the comments!

Star Trek: Enterprise Season One, Season Two, Season Three and Season Four are all available in high-definition on Blu-ray.

(photos: CBS Home Entertainment)

Michelle Toven

view all posts

Michelle Toven lives in northern Minnesota, where she does normal things by day and nerdy things by weekend and night. Her interests range from Star Trek, to history, archaeology, languages, fantasy and sci-fi, politics, and cats. Find her on Twitter at @mtoven.

8 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • Darkthunder

    Can’t really disagree with this list. Thou a little cheating by including multiple episode “arcs”. Thou, would be nice if someone would one day re-edit some of the episodes into feature length films. Demons/Terra Prime certainly fits the bill, not just as a series finale but as a worthy feature.

    • Michelle

      I had to leave some room for the good one-off episodes. 🙂

  • Ultra Tiny Frog

    Mine

    1- Carbon Creek (2×02)
    T’Pol tells the story of what she pretends to be the real Vulcan First Contact on Earth,
    when her great-grandmother and two other Vulcans, crash landed in Pennsylvania in 1957. Fantastic narrative, fable style episode. In my opinion, the greatest Enterprise episode with ‘Twilight’ a close second.

    2- Twilight (3×08)
    Archer loses his ability to form new memories after his trip to the Delphic expanse. Twelve years after humanity has lost the war and is practically wiped out, we hear T’Pol re-telling him the story, probably for the thousandth time. Remarkable Archer/T’Pol episode.

    3- In a Mirror, Darkly part 1 (4×18) & In a Mirror, Darkly part 2 (4×19)
    In the mirror universe, Commander Archer mutinies to get his hands on a ship from the future lost in Tholian space. Hands down the greatest of the re-visits to the mirror universe since the original. And since the series finale is controversial in the eyes of many (but not me), this two-parter fully deserves to be considered the true crowning achievement of Enterprise. Great opening titles music theme as well, that should have been the main theme all along.

    4- Similitude (3×10)
    In order to save a critically injured Tucker, Phlox creates a clone to harvest parts from. This is a very emotional and damned good Trek episode, filled with moral issues, ethical dilemma and smart character interactions. Connor Trinneer is one of the greatest actors to have been in Star Trek, and is too often overlooked as such.

    5- First Flight (2×24)
    When Archer learns of the death of old comrade (and competitor) A.G. Robinson, he tells the story of his early days flying spaceships to T’Pol. It’s true that this episode has a ‘The Right Stuff’ feel. It’s also fun to have this episode being a prequel to the prequel (that is the Enterprise show).

    6- The Council (3×22)
    Captain Archer, with help by Degra, meets the Xindi council to try and convince them that he is not the enemy they are led to believe he is. Totally nail biting episode of Enterprise.

    7- Stigma (2×14)
    T’Pol has contracted a mind-melding disease and tries to keep it a doctor-patient matter. Meanwhile, one of Phlox’s wives is hitting on Trip, who seems to be the only one a little uncomfortable with the whole situation. Really great episode of Enterprise.

    8- Demons (4×20) & Terra Prime (4×21)
    Xenophobes don’t want aliens on Earth and the whole Sol system. Their leader is operating from the Moon. Penultimate two part episode of Enterprise, that many consider to be the real finale of the show, since they dislike so much ‘These are the Voyages’.

    9- Broken Bow (1×01/02)
    The Launch of Earth’s NX-01 Enterprise, on a mission to return an injured Klingon to his homeworld. This is the series premiere two hour episode of Enterprise. It looked promising and I wasn’t disappointed. But the opening title song was just painful and horrible.

    10- These Are the Voyages… (4×22)
    Commander Riker, facing a tough decision of his own, observes a simulation of the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise, in the days just before the birth of the United Federation of Planets. Many Trek fans despise that episode, considering it unworthy of a series finale mainly because of the use of Next Gen stars. I’m not one of those. I thought it was a pretty good and moving ending.

    • Gregory

      I love all those, but am clearly in the 4×22 was the very worst episode in the worst order.

  • Roger McCoy

    It’s sad when the tenth best episode of the series is only “pretty solid”.

  • DeanHI

    I really like the show when they came across the Borg, but that one was just fun. My favorite episode however is Observer Effect. Archer’s willingness to do whatever it takes for the slim chance to save Trip and Hochi is a powerful demonstration of empathy and compassion and the very best of the human condition. One that seems to have a powerful impact on T’Pol who is watching things unfold on the bridge monitor. For me it was absolutely Star Trek at its finest and easily competes with the very best of all the shows and all the movies. Just IMO.

  • Jens Joe Nick

    Good choices!

    But I would add “Twilight”, where Archer suffers from memory loss for decades…

    And I would add 4.01. and 4.02 “Stormfront I and II”… I love those time-travelling, multiverse/saving the timeline episodes (think about Worf’s “Parallels”-episode in TNG)…

  • jackson roy kirk

    I am one of the folks that really enjoyed the 4 seasons. I believe the good episodes outweighed the bad