Wrath of Khan and TNG Make EW’s Best Sci Fi List

The editors of Entertainment Weekly magazine have picked what they consider to be the best 25 sci-fi TV shows and movies of the last 25 years. Two Star Trek items make the top 10: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (#5) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (#8). Topping the list was the 1999 film The Matrix and former TNG/DS9 writer/producer Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica got 2nd place. Star Trek XI producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof also made the list via their show Lost coming in at eleventh place.

Excerpts and the complete list below.

DIRECTED BY Nicholas Meyer
Klingons. Romulans. The Borg. Over the better part of four decades, the crew of the Starship Enterprise has tangled with many a pesky intergalactic foe. But none had as much genetically bred wit, wiliness, and… well, wrath as Ricardo Montalban’s Khan. Abandoned years earlier by Captain Kirk (William Shatner) on a barren planet (for trying to shipjack the Enterprise), Khan survived, sustained by his hunger for vengeance. The parallels between Montalban’s leathery-pec’d Khan (Corinthian leather, of course) and Moby Dick’s maniacal Ahab elevate what could’ve been just a bloated Trek episode. If revenge is a dish best served cold, then this movie is one chilling feast.

The genesis of the "even-number theory" (e.g., the only good Trek flicks are the even-numbered sequels), Khan is the benchmark against which all Trek films are measured.

The prize goes to an outwitted Shatner, frothing at the mouth and bursting with rage, bellowing " Khaaaannnnn!" at the top of his lungs.


CREATED BY Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman
It probably shouldn’t have worked, resurrecting Star Trek as a TV series. Lightning is hard enough to bottle once, but twice? Just the same, Trek godfather Gene Roddenberry gave it a go, and in doing so allowed us to take TV sci-fi seriously again. And the masterstroke was casting Patrick Stewart. By signing on as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, the Royal Shakespeare Company veteran gave The Next Generation a gravitas-laden foundation to build on. (Having Brent Spiner as Data and Jonathan Frakes as Commander Riker definitely helped.) As time went on, the writers and producers erected a sci-fi gold standard, tackling subjects as varied as homosexuality, euthanasia, and slavery all while flitting around the cosmos doing battle with Romulans, Klingons, and the Borg.

The Next Generation resuscitated the dormant Star Trek television franchise, spawning Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.

Season 3 brought landmark episodes like the time-travel gem "Yesterday’s Enterprise," the classic Trek touchstone "Sarek," and one of the best season-ending cliff-hangers in TV history: the Borg-centric "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I."

Lost makes the cut
Also making the list at number 11 is Lost  from Star Trek XI producers JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof

…here is what EW had to say about that 

11 LOST / 2004–Present
CREATED BY J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof

A mysterious island that’s home to a shape-shifting smoke monster, a weird science project tasked with saving the world, and a secret society of sinister "Others" who can’t make babies yes, Lost certainly has its fair share of sci-fi stuff. And yet, like the best examples of the genre, this unfolding saga about plane-crash survivors trapped in a tropical twilight zone doesn’t wallow in its genre elements, but uses them to embellish an exploration of identity, community, and reality itself. Coyly sublimating everything from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to Star Trek and Star Wars, Lost aspires to be an important entertainment for a pop-soaked, soul-searching age. Now, at the risk of missing the point, how about some damn answers?!

Building on pioneers The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost helped to usher in a new era of serialized storytelling and showed Hollywood how cult-pop TV can be leveraged into cash-cow franchises. Heroes, say hello to Daddy.

The Emmy-winning first season, with its perfect pilot and getting-to-know-you character flashbacks, is an object lesson in capturing the imagination.

More Trek connections
A few more items on the list have Trek connections. Number 22 Quantum Leap starred Enterprise’s Scott Bakula and number 18 Heroes features TOS’s George Takei. On the comedy side the Trek spoof Galaxy Quest made the list at #24 and Futurama had more Trek gags than you could shake a robot’s shiny metal ass at (including one episode featuring TOS stars Shatner, Nimoy, Takei, Nichols and Koenig). 

Entertainment Weekly’s complete list of the best Sci-Fi TV and movies of the last 25 years
1 THE MATRIX / 1999
4 THE X-FILES / 1993–2002
6 BRAZIL / 1985
7 E.T. / 1982
9 ALIENS / 1986
10 THE THING / 1982
11 LOST / 2004–Present
15 FIREFLY/SERENITY / 2002/2005
16 TOTAL RECALL / 1990
18 HEROES / 2006–Present
20 STAR WARS: CLONE WARS / 2003–2005
21 FUTURAMA / 1999–2003
22 QUANTUM LEAP / 1989–1993
23 DOCTOR WHO / 1963–Present
24 GALAXY QUEST / 1999

For more pick up EW’s May 11th Issue on newsstands next week.




Special thanks to Kevin Ganster help on this article

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See, Star Trek STILL resonates!

Oh yeah, FIRST!!!

Nice company… Futurama, Blade Runner.
But Total Recall? “If I am not me, den who da hell am I?”

Not one Star Wars Movie, just the Clone Wars animated series? What about Empire Strikes Back or Indiana Jones? The only thing from George Lucas is a 2 minute cartoon short from the Cartoon Network. V: The Mini Series was awesome back in 1983. Props to KHAAAAANNNN!!!

The list only goes back 25 years (1982), hence no Star Wars. Although Episode 3 was pretty damn good.

Beat me to it!! :D

You’re right. It’s funny how none of the new Star Wars movies didn’t make the list. I think Serenity should be ranked higher. Also, V for Vendetta was a very cool movie. I would have added Independence Day or The Incredibles. I think the Incredibles was the best CGI SciFi Movie of recent memory.

I’m mortified. Spaced Aliens didn’t make the list???? (Yes–a real movie. A real BAD movie!)

Where’s Babylon 5? And though The Matrix is good, is it really good enough to be #1?

Have to agree with #9.

Babylon 5 was terrific in its time and really belongs on this list…the show really rewrote the book on ongoing, connected TV shows in general, and certainly was great science fiction.

I and most of my Sci-Fi buddies were completely hooked on the show during its original run, and most of them had begun to turn away from the Trek of the time (mainly Voyager) as it was mediocre by comparison.

They kind of cheat on the list…Terminator/Terminator 2 as one entry? Filmed years apart? And the first years of the X-Files, but certainly not the end.

And, *ahem*, Dr. Who…1963–Present? Someone doesn’t want to count.

Obviously a subjective list. Mine would definitely not have Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Eternal Sunshine, Clones Wars, or “V”. It certainly would have Stargate SG-1 in the top 10. Why include Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars over his much superior Samurai Jack?

And where’s Snakehead Terror? Huh?!

My list:

01. Firefly (2002)
02. Babylon 5 (1993-1998)
03. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
04. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
05. Alien³ (1991)
06. Serenity (2005)
07. Farscape (1999-2003)
08. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999)
09. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
10. The Terminator (1984)
11. Blade Runner (1982)
12. The Matrix (1999)
13. Battlestar Galactica (2003-present)
14. Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)
15. The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
16. Futurama (1999-2003)
17. Star Trek: Generations (1994)
18. Back to the Future (1985)
19. Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991)
20. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
21. Lektionen in Finsternis (1991)
22. The Fifth Element (1996)
23. Galaxy Quest (1999)
24. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
25. Equilibrium (2002)

Oh forget to put the year of Star Wars Ep VI in there -> 1983

and “Akira” should be on place 6 and gladly “Equilibrium is now out. ;)

Actually, Kirk was not outwitted when he yelled “Khannnn!” He’d already made arrangements for the Enterprise to swing back around and pick him up, right? His overacting all for the sole purpose of fooling Khan.

Surprisingly, I think this is a pretty good list. Sure, I’d make some different choices, but most of these are solid. (But, really, Starship Troopers? Bleagh.)

I would definitely include Babylon 5, although for me its overall vision was much better than its actual execution. I might include Twelve Monkeys, but I wouldn’t include any of the Star Wars prequels. I liked Episode III, but that was purely borrowed glory.

Nice to see John Carpenter’s version of “The Thing” get some recognition.

re: 16 — I don’t think Kirk’s “Khaaaaaaan!” was just acting — I think he was genuinely POed at the guy, even if he did have a way out. He did just kill or wound a lot of kids on the Enterprise, as well as torturing and killing a bunch of civilians, after all.

Don’t people ever get tired of idiotic “Top Whatever” lists?
You can’t swing a dead Mugato without hitting one these days.
I’d rather watch Star Trek XI sitting beside the fake Kirk actor than to have to endure more of those things.

Nice to see Star Trek on the list. I’m surprise they didn’t add First contact.

Lope de Aguirre – Alien 3???

Overall, it’s not a bad list at all, especially the first half of it. I question listing Total Recall and Starship Troopers too, though.

But who said put Independence Day on the list? No way. ID4 was the definition of forgettable popcorn scifi–you forgot what the movie was about even as you were leaving the theater. I’m glad the Star Wars prequels didn’t make the list for the same reason.

The fact those films aren’t here tells me EW actually has some genuine, respectable genre-loving geeks on their staff. Well done, EW!

I always remember the best remarks about Starship Troopers and Total Recall: that American audiences totally failed to get what they were about! IIRC, Tim Burton laughed his ass off in an interviews saying how staggering it was that an entire nation failed to understand what are very straightforward films by anyone else’s standards.

Starship Troopers is a black comedy satire of American foreign policy. We’re supposed to laugh at the macho posturing and the cheesy dialogue. Verhoeven’s and Neumeier’s genius was to hire a bunch of American soap actors who would take the film seriously, because they wouldn’t understand the script, then have big bugs rip them to shreds. Starship Troopers is also a fascinating film to watch in light of the Iraq fiasco.

Total Recall, based on a couple of Philip K Dick stories, certainly counts as science fiction. It’s loaded with all the usual PKD themes of identity, real world perception and paranoia. When they were preparing the sequel (which never happened) they were going to base it on another PKD story called Minority Report!

Both of these films are classic Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven’s films are always very flamboyant and very European in their sensibilities, so in a sense, they have to be looked at as ‘world cinema’ rather than Hollywood cinema. Verhoeven’s sci-fi films are about the United States of America and how people see them from outside.

I still laugh at many of the major ‘critics’ out there who just don’t get these films. How sad. How naive. How uncultured. How narrow-minded!

Where is the Undiscoverd Country, First Contact, Deep Space Nine, or Stargate SG-1 ????

And Doctor Who only 23 ?? The same for Quantum Leap, only 22!!
And Heroes which has got only 1 season is 18 ???

WTF is this list ??!!!

A very subjective one !

Doctor Who is lucky to be there at all. The same for Star Wars. They aren’t science fiction. Star Wars just puts mythical stories in a spaceship context but there’s no actual science in the fiction. Doctor Who is a fantasy-horror series that uses a veil of ‘science fiction.’ DW has occasionally had SF in it, notably for a while in the 1980s, but calling the series ‘science fiction’ is really not accurate.

In fact, how you define a TV show as ‘sci-fi’ is very messy.

23 — Please, Dom. Don’t assume that just because someone doesn’t like a film that means they don’t “get” them. I fully got what Starship Troopers was poking fun at, but since it basically lacked the insider’s knowledge of how Americans _really_ screw things up, it fell flat. Plus it came out during the Clinton administration, so it wasn’t really relevant to the times. Now Verhoeven’s Robocop on the other hand–that was a great satire about 80’s America.

And Total Recall was just bloated and pompous–you could sense the movie had the potential have been great, but in the end Verhoeven lacked the right touch to pull it off.

So how sad, how naive, how uncultured and how narrow-minded…of you!!! ;-)

Wrath of Khan! BOOYAH!!!!

That’s STILL my favorite Trek movie. such a GREAT balance of interwoven themes, action, and drama.

re 26…

That sums it up for me too.

re the list?? Not an entirely inspiring list to my tastes. Though I’m glad to see Firefly get some props. I’m tempted to do some research and see what they’ve missed.

Yikes! – dl

Sleeper Agent X. Dude, you have every right to dislike a film when you DO get it. You clearly didn’t read my post properly as you were to busy wanting to grandstand. ‘Oooh!’ you thought to yourself, ‘How can I take Dom’s post and repeat sections back in a smug, ironic fashion?’

I simply commented on the hilarity that so many people dissed the film for being what it was a send up of! Critics like Ebert and Maltin just utterly missed the point. Tim Burton’s American and he got the film. My main point was that many of the major American critics attacked the film in error, because, from their criticisms, they clearly didn’t realise the film was a send-up: they actually genuinely thought Starship Troopers was a serious action movie.

Plus, the film is precisely about how people see America from the outside, so why should it be based on how people see it from the inside? Kind of defeats the object doesn’t it? Does that mean the only people who can make films about Nazis have to be Nazis themselves?

So try to be less sad, naive, uncultured and narrow-minded and read my post properly again instead of being pompous and self-righteous!

No Babylon 5????????????

The Matrix #1 ?????????????????

Khan could be even higher on the list.

Like the John Carpenter love, before 1990 he was a genius

Technically Star Trek The Motion Picture Directors Edition could be on the list – I think we can kick Futurerama’s ass off to make room.

Robocop? Lists are always subjective. They put them out ad infinitum. Yes to V and Galaxy Quest. Not surprised at the new BSG being there, despite low ratings. Matrix, however is one of very few new SF properties to really resonate hugely. Babylon 5 deserves to be there, but,,hey it all comes down to who’s sitting around the table and how good their memories are that day. The stuff that’s really good doesn’t need a list.

29 – Dom, those movies were made by Hollywood studios and were marketed as serious action movies–at least in the U.S.. Given those cricumstances I could see how people might get confused.

And by the way, just because you slap the label of “world cinema” on something, that doesn’t excuse it from being a complete piece of trash. Sadly, too many people both inside and outside the U.S. believe exactly that, and you sound like one of them. So who’s guilty of being the pompous, ersatz cineaste here? That’s right…you!!!

Sleeper Agent X . Who’s guilty of not taking other people’s opinions into account now?! You pronounce a film as ‘a complete piece of trash’, which I openly say you’re entitled to do, while I simply state that the criticisms of certain major critics indicates that they were dismissing the films for the wrong reason. I say that a film should be approached as a non-American film and you start spouting off about ‘ersatz cineastes.’

I work in TV and make small, insignificant films myself, mostly because I enjoy it. I have no time for the pseudo-intellectual, smug media class. I have to hang out with them occasionally because work requires it and they mostly make me want to vomit.

Where I come from, ‘world cinema’ implies anything outside of the Hollywood machine. It’s a shame for American audiences if studios mis-market films for them and it’s a reflection of lack of sense within the studios. I can understand people in the US getting annoyed in those ‘cricumstances’ (sic.)

But, seriously dude, you need to deal with whatever childhood trauma a Cahiers du Cinema reader caused you and join the real world. Saying that a European filmmaker who openly states that he approaches his films from the point of view of a European looking in at a different culture is not an opinion pronounced by an ‘ersatz cineaste’. It’s a statement of fact. Read some interviews with Verhoeven if in doubt.

For what it’s worth, I have hundreds of films in my DVD collection from all over the world. The cinema is an important part of my life and the media is something I have made my career in because movies of all types are important to me. I love anything from well-made trash to well-made arthouse.

Oh, and if you get wound up over what I’ve just said, try ending your post without writing something along the lines of ‘That’s right…you!!!’ or ‘how narrow-minded…of you!!!’ It’s repetitive and dull and resembles a drunk in a bar who keeps pestering you looking for a fight!!

Just for the record, I spelled “circumstances” correctly when I posted (though there are a bunch of grammatical errors that are my own). I don’t know what it is, but sometime after my posts first go up, little positioning errors somehow creep in, like some dyslexic elf is messing with them. Gotta wonder what’s going on there…

And the fact you would take such a cheap shot at my spelling in the first place indicates you ARE the posturer with highbrow pretensions you so vehemently deny being. But it’s all so obviously true. That’s right…J’accuse!

Good morning, Sleeper Agent X. How are you today? I’m just sat here eating my corn flakes after a long, pleasant sleep. Love the ‘j’accuse’ remark: it reminds me of when Robert McKee trashed Citizen Kane on an episode of the ‘J’Accuse’ series.

The remark about the spelling was intended as a joke and should probably have been accompanied by a smiley. It’s the biggest trouble on this site, not being to edit the ferocity of some remarks post-posting! I have no problems with you.

That’s right… je t’aime. ;)


Seriously, Dom, I do appreciate the views you express on this site. Good to have you here.

The very notion of a cinematic image from “The Wrath Of Khan,” ranking behind a cast shot of those Battlestar Galactica martinets in their Coast Guard uniforms and “with all due respect, sir” gaze, is sufficient reason to despair the good taste of our age.

Big Trouble in Little China

Jacobs Ladder


The Matrix??? At number one?

Such a fanboy-ish choice of a paper-thin, style-over-substance crapfest kills the value of the article.

The Star Trek TV Series are Great shows. The characters are filled with firey flames of passion and cold logic. Klingons, Romulans, Borg, Vulcans, Madmen, Murderers, Illogical emotional Humans, Androids and technological wizzardry!! Dont forget the cool ships. I love Star Trek which is why I created a blog and filled it with this stuff!!!