Halloween may seem like a holiday better suited to the likes of The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, or Night Gallery, but Star Trek has its own Trekkie version of spooky, creepy, and sometimes downright disturbing episodes.
Submitted for your approval, our list of episodes (and one movie) from across the franchise, in no particular order.
Star Trek Films
First Contact – The “Borg as zombies” motif has never been stronger than in First Contact. Moody lighting, brand new Enterprise-E sets, and memorable moments both on Earth and up on the borgified Enterprise-E make this one a crowd pleaser.
The Original Series
Catspaw – The episode made specifically for Halloween, it features dungeons, skeletons, black cats, witches, and bizarre little aliens parading around in human form.
The Man Trap – The first episode of Star Trek to air was much more of a monster-of-the-week episode befitting The Outer Limits, but the salt vampire sucking its knuckle and changing its shape, to say nothing of its native form, are all pretty freaky sights.
Wolf in the Fold – The is the other obvious Halloween-type episode in TOS. Written by horror author Robert (“Psycho”) Bloch, the episode continues the legend of Jack the Ripper, who’s now terrorizing women on colonies out in space.
The Return of the Archons – There’s something unsettling about a society stuck in a complacent limbo, broken only for a periodic violent bender called “Festival.” It was a unique idea in its day and Landru appearing in the underground hiding place of the resistance while the crew had just dodged a mob of brainwashed townspeople is still kind of creepy.
The Next Generation
Schisms – This is a very Trekkian take on the classic “alien abduction” sci-fi story. Poor Riker can never feel rested, and it soon turns out that he, along with a handful of other crew members, has strong reactions of mundane goings-on in their lives. The holodeck is used as a tool for the group to explore the subconscious memories, as they come to realize they’ve all been experimented on, and the moment when they all start describing the exact same thing is definitely goosebump-inducing.
Genesis – Returning to a drifting Enterprise, Picard and Data realize that the crew has started to de-evolve. The makeup effects team had a field day with this one: Heavily plated acid-spitting Worf, Spider Barclay, and Fishy Troi are among the highlights. Even Picard got spooked!
Conspiracy – This is one of the most disturbing episodes and almost certainly takes the prize for the goriest episode of Trek. It’s another alien invasion tale where a pattern of strange decisions by top Starfleet officers leads the Enterprise crew back to Earth. This TNG season one episode feels like it could have been an episode of The Outer Limits; it’s even somewhat reminiscent of the OL episode “The Invisibles,” down to creepy multi-legged aliens that merge with humans in key positions of power.
Night Terrors – Adrift in a remote area of space called the Tyken’s Rift, the crew can’t get any REM sleep, except for Troi who keeps having the same nightmare every time she tries. Not getting REM sleep will really mess with you, and this episode shows just how creepy and violent things can get. Fights break out, bodies suddenly sit up in the morgue, eventually people can’t even concentrate enough to run the ship. If they can’t break free and get some solid sleep they will all eventually go insane — except Troi, who can look forward to becoming catatonic instead.
Deep Space Nine
Empok Nor – It wasn’t really Deep Space Nine‘s style to get into the spooky creepy stuff. But “Empok Nor” is the shining example for the series, the episode is a kind of “haunted house in space.” The creepy abandoned (and now off-kilter) sister station to DS9 (aka Terok Nor) was a great way to have our characters face fear in the dark.
Equilibrium – As mentioned, DS9 doesn’t do a lot of spooky stuff, but “Equilibrium” is an homage of sorts to a psychological thriller, with a Hannibal Lecter-type of character in Joran Dax. Joran is a previous host to the Dax symbiont who snapped and became homicidal. His memories were suppressed by the Trill Symbiosis Commission, but suddenly start to surface and affect Jadzia Dax, who hadn’t even known he existed.
The Darkness and the Light – A disfigured Cardassian systematically murders Kira’s old Bajoran resistance comrades, and eventually traps a pregnant Kira (who is acting as a surrogate for Keiko O’Brien). It gets even scarier when we find her restrained on an operating table in the dark, as he plans to remove the child from her body as punishment for her actions as a resistance fighter years ago.
Distant Voices – Bashir’s mind is invaded by an aggressive alien. Trapped in his own mind and rapidly aging, he has to figure out how to fight his way back to consciousness before he dies.
The Haunting of Deck 12 – Essentially a version of telling ghost stories around a campfire, Neelix tells the Borg children a scary story around a lantern. A freaky energy alien, a spooky nebula, Neelix working to face his fear, and Janeway fighting for her ship are all part of the story.
The Thaw – Perhaps the scariest episode of Voyager ever, B’Elanna and Harry unwittingly join some aliens who are trapped in an alien simulation that could kill them just by scaring them to death. The alien artificial intelligence in control takes the form of a clown (played to perfection by Michael McKean), one that tortures with fear on a whim–and has his own collection of freaks along for the ride nobody wanted to go on.
Scientific Method – Another creepy episode, this one is kind of body horror-based. Invisible aliens experiment on the crew, creating all kind of bizarre (and dangerous) issues for them. The Doctor tunes Seven of Nine’s optical implant to see them and then the visual nightmare begins as she watches herself and her fellow crew members get the screws put to them, literally–and has to pretend she can’t see a thing, even when they’re sticking a probe in her.
Coda – Captain Janeway, near death, sees a vision of her father, Admiral Janeway, who keeps wanting his daughter to accept her death. Her alarm increases along with his increasingly aggressive attitude about how her time has come.
Impulse – Filmed like a zombie movie, this season three episode shows what happens when Vulcans are exposed to Trellium-D, a substance that is used to line the hulls of starships to protect against the effects of the Delphic Expanse where the Xindi reside. A deadly neurotoxin for Vulcans, it gradually degrades their neural pathways, effectively turning them into zombies.
Vanishing Point – Hoshi is anxiously transported for the first time, now that transporters can be used on humanoids and not just cargo, and then through a series of events she starts to think that something went wrong and she is becoming invisible to the rest of the crew. This Twilight Zone-esqe season two show is a good option for an intriguing and slightly unsettling episode; even the title is reminiscent of something from The Twilight Zone.
Dead Stop – After the events of “Minefield,” where the NX-01 is pretty badly damaged by a field of Romulan mines, the crew gets word of an automated repair station. It sounds like just what the battered Enterprise needs, but most of the station is off limits, and there’s no one around except for the automated repair system. It starts to look like things may be a little too good to be true…
Fight or Flight – The third episode of the entire series shows just how new and uncertain things are to the Enterprise crew when they encounter a ship filled with corpses which are being drained of their bodily fluids for some kind of experiment.
Context Is for Kings – In the first regular episode of Discovery (episode three), we’re introduced to the spore drive and how using it can go terribly terribly wrong. The Discovery’s sister ship, the USS Glenn, is adrift — filled with distorted people turned into gory inverted pretzels, a freaky monster, and a shushing Klingon. The episode also features a character reciting Lewis Caroll.
This is just a selection; what episodes would you pick for a creepy Halloween vibe?