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?
Ah yes, Return of the Archons, CBS really should have sued those “Purge” hacks.
Spectre of he Gun is the 3rd Halloween ep of TOS which aired close to halloween 50y ago. very eerie and creepy like a Twilight Zone
You forgot to add ‘The Lights of Zetar’.
What’s Halloweeny about that? Maybe the voice? But even then.
Sure, possession. But there are a zillion Trek posession episodes.
It can be scary to young kids, and very exorcist esq. I think that qualifies as Halloweeny.
That Enterprise episode with the Borg was fairly creepy.
That’s very true! Regeneration is creepy. Might beat out Vanishing Point in my book. Though Impulse definitely deserves top spot — love that episode! :D
Oh, yeah, don’t forget the only Trek with both a ghost and a lightening-powered zombie grandmother: “Sub Rosa!”
“Leave Nana alone!!!”
I’ve never seen all of that ep, but whenever I see the title, I keep thinking it is about some BDSM sexvideo starring a woman named Rosa.
DON’T … go there. Just don’t. Please.
That’s more Valentines Day. Who doesn’t like a love story between a woman and a lamp?
I must say, when Granny sat up in that grave, it gave me a good jump first time I saw it…
When Star Trek filmed a Harlequin Romance novel!
I rewatched that episode recently and…I didn’t hate it. It’s not the worst episode.
And that Satanic animated series episode.
I wasn’t actually satanic, but it did get that reputation.
Lucien was specifically said to be the inspiration for Satan.
That doesn’t make it “satanic” though. I know a few satanists, they aren’t fans.
Say it with me: “FRRRIEEEND KIRK!”
Evokes Harry Mudd, when you say it like that.
The Magicks of Megas-Tu, I remember it well.
I was about 12 when MAGICKS aired, and convinced it was the most daring thing ever put on television (and for Sat a.m. tv, it probably was.)
As engaged as I was by the Lucian/Lucifer aspect, the shot of the Enterprise cracking in half did not amuse me.
Ed (Cmdr. Straker of S.H.A.D.O.W.) Bishop as the head Megan.
Trek Or Treat
The Vidiian episodes of Voyager were quite creepy, especially the one where they cut the Voyager crew man’s face off to repurpose it for themselves.
Heh, alright. Looks like you beat me to it by 8 minutes (see below) – guess I didn’t reload the page before commenting.
Hmm. DISCO has certainly set new standards in that regard, if you ask me.
That’s a fine selection though!
But there’s one addition that would come to my mind there: The Voyager episode “Faces” – I mean the Vidiians are just pretty friggin creepy by themselves, but that one scene where the Vidiian doctor steps out of the shadows with the “redshirt’s” face grafted to his own – ewww. Scared the heck out of me when I first watched it as a kid.
TNG’s “Identity Crisis” — the one where Geordi metamorphosizes into a creepy-looking alien with the ability to camouflage himself. The loss of identity and the compulsion to go back to the planet were sort of disturbing; the scene on the holodeck where they examine their old away-team recording, realize there are anomalous shadows being cast, and generate the amorphous humanoid blob on-scene that no one at the time saw was *really* disturbing.
Oh, I liked Identity Crisis.
Agreed! That was one of Trek’s spookiest moments.
That episode did creep me out. The idea that a person could change into a different species freaked me out. That holodeck scene is spooky.
That TNG “Conspiracy” photo got me thinking: I hope the people from CBS All Access can finally do the “Make It So” toward putting together a proper follow-up to that story. Have the story set in the TNG era, just with a different set of characters/performers from Picard’s Enterprise. That’s the one truly gaping hole among the entirety of “Star Trek” storylines.
Word is that the parasites from Conspiracy were the first incarnation of what became the Borg.
The holodeck scene with the inexplicable shadow was beautifully creepy!
huh, how did my reply end up here? Sorry, wrong thread…
According to the novels, they are related to the Trill Symbionts.
DS9 should have tied the “Conspiracy” menace to the Dominion in some way.
You’re welcome. I’m available for hire, CBS.
(Seriously, why do the fans always have the best ideas? And, yes, this is a TERRIFIC idea I’ve had for, what, two decades?
“Wolf in the Fold” still creeps me out. It holds up surprisingly well. John Fiedler is creepy throughout.
“Empok Nor” and “Impulse” are both very well done slasher and zombie movies, respectively, made for TV. They’re suspenseful, creepy, well acted and have good production values.
“The Darkness and the Light” works well enough as a suspenseful crime mystery, but the villain, as effectively played as he is, bears too much similarity to Francis Dolarhyde in Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, for my taste. Hence I find the reveal of the villain to be something of a let-down after being set up rather well.
“Conspiracy” holds up surprisingly well, too. TNG Season 1 gets heaps of criticism, but I find that episode quite enjoyable. And the story behind the exploding head at the end is a classic. For those who don’t know it, I’ll relay it below.
We seek PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE!!
So… Gene Roddenberry’s deal with Paramount for TNG was that the studio was to be hands-off and leave him alone to make the show as he saw fit. After his experience with TOS, GR would only agree to make TNG if he had total creative control over the show. And apparently his contract included a provision to that effect. The first cut of “Conspiracy” had a much milder effect for Remmick’s death scene at the end. When GR sent the cut over to Paramount, a studio executive (I forget who) sent GR back a note asking him to tone down the gore in the Remmick death scene. So, GR re-shot the death scene, making it even gorier than in the first cut, and sent it over to the studio. The Paramount exec sent back a note complaining to GR that “this version is even worse than the first one!” And again asked GR to tone down the gore. So, GR again re-shot the death scene, making it even gorier. Now, Remmick’s head totally explodes at the end, which was far gorier than anything ever shown in Star Trek before. This level of gore was like something out of a horror movie, not a Star Trek TV episode. And this time, the Paramount exec sent back a note to the effect of, “OK, I get the message.” And that was the last time that any studio exec gave GR content notes for TNG.
probably true tho. You don’t f**k with Gene
By the end of season 1 Gene had mostly been forced out. Watch “Chaos on the Bridge” for a factual account of those years.
Given the production/time pressures on TNG s1’s post processes, which often rivaled TMP’s for ‘flat-out impossible’ I would be very surprised to find they had time to iterate the head effect three times. And probably just as surprised that GR had that much clout left that late in the season, for that matter.
If this story comes from that guy who oversaw the comic books and novels during the last years of GR’s life, that would cast some doubt on it as well … do you recall where you read it?
If anything like that happened, it was a script change. Notes like “you say he bleeds from the eyes, can we remove that?” or “Now you have his whole face peeling off, this is too much.”
That is possible, but as others have said even in concept the whole thing reads like fan fiction to explain why such an uncharacteristically gorey scene was created for Trek.
Also makes me chuckle when fans complain about DSC. This was 1987– that was downright rated-R for the era!
Man, I’m sorely disappointed if the story isn’t true. It’s one of the best Trek production stories I’ve ever heard. I’ve been searching online for it and turned up nothing. I don’t remember where I read it.
None of the above is true. That simply didn’t happen. It’s an urban legend. Even the tiniest amount of thought would make one realize the expense of doing this would have precluded it.
The expense of putting another layer on the image — and the Remick stuff was a clear example of layering — using the finish-on-video techniques of TNG would be minimal, but booking time to do the work would be difficult.
Well, it was the last episode of the season. Couldn’t they have come in under budget up to that point and then used the remaining time and budget for re-shoots in the final episode?
Firstly, no. That show well documented over budget. Second, no. The show was also well documented behind schedule. Thirdly, no. I’ve not heard of shows particularly back then, doing expensive reshoots for anything other than something completely disastrous like the death or illness of an actor. It is far more likely that a show would cut or edit a scene in post if it came back as something the producers or censors didn’t like.
They wouldn’t spend money and time reshooting a scene to make it MORE gorey, and certainly not to just out of personal spite.
Besides, who was approving these reshoots? Gene may have had creative control, but the studio still had to OK the money to pay for them.
Gene did not have creative control either. Maurice Hurley had already told Gene he would quit if Gene didn’t back off. Maurice would be with the show until the end of season 2.
Geeze people this is the worst kind of aggrandizing myth that does not in even the smallest way match up with reality.
It wasn’t the last episode of the season.
I would say Voyager’s Scorpion Part 1 scared me so much as a kid I had nightmares…the first reveal of species 8472..the pile of dead Borg bodies..creepy stuff indeed
I love the episode where Species 8472 are playing humans in a Starfleet simulation to try and figure out what makes them tick.
Yeah, but that one ends on a very positive note and the overall bright scenery mitigates pretty much all creepiness.
You mean “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury?
Creepiest trek moment for me (outside of McCoy suspended in air in THE EMPATH, which was full-on horror, from lighting to his expression) is still from BY ANY OTHER NAME, when the Kelvan picks up the big 12-sided die that was a yeoman and crushes it. Everybody at jr. high school saw that show in syndication for the first time the same afternoon. The next morning I had people saying, ‘what if they switched her back to human form after crushing the cube? Would you see guts AND personality spilled all over the ground?’
There was something horrible in a metaphysical way about the crushed yeoman, like there was more than another body lost there. As much as I like ‘subdued’ early 1st season Kirk (who Nimoy somehow manages to revive briefly in the early going of TSFS), I also very much buy the Kirk we see in 2nd season who seethes and self-berates over loss of crew, here and in THE APPLE.
So you’re not going to mention Beverly Crusher’s ghost lover?
Impluse was really creepy
What’s the one where Hoshi is like held prisoner by a really creepy alien I always found that one unsettling.
Are you talking about the Beauty and the Beast episode during the Xindi arc?
I always loved the way McCoy looked over at that skeleton. Like, “What in blazes…”
“Catspaw” has some funny asides. Spock’s assessment of the witches on the planet is that they are using very bad poetry.
I’d say the silly rumor going around that Megan Fox will be in a Star Trek movie qualifies as a nightmarish horror story.
I wouldn’t mind experiencing that nightmare.
Megan will be in the next movie along with Walberg. Star Trek vs Transformers. Directed by Michael Bay
Sounds about right.
The Borg are what the Transformers will evolve into. How’s that for the worst mashup since trying to fit Eddie Murphy into Trek 4?
Part of me has always felt that maybe, just maybe Eddie Murphy might have made Trek IV worth watching. If the script were funny enough.
You think Eddie Murphy would have made what is (arguably) the best Trek feature film “watchable”? Oy.
I think Eddie Murphy could not have made what is (arguably) the worst Trek feature film any worse than it was. He might have actually added some genuine laughs since that was the route they were interested in taking. Talk about “oy”…
By the time of STIV (1986), Eddie Murphy was hit-and-miss in movies. 48 HOURS and TRADING PLACES are fantastic, but who finds BEST DEFENSE (1984) or THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986) good enough to revisit? Next came the disappointing BEVERLY HILLS COP 2 (1987) followed by what I consider his crowning achievement, COMING TO AMERICA (1988). And then a string of forgettable movies after that. So, it would be interesting to see what STIV with Murphy would have been like, but I think there’s as good a chance as not that it would have been a stinker. And I find the STIV that was made wonderfully entertaining. I can’t imagine anyone playing the straight part better than Catherine Hicks played it. Differently, yes, but not better. And it’s hard to imagine Murphy playing straight. He’d have tried to yuck it up for sure. Would Murphy’s antics have been funny? It’s a coin flip, at best.
HONESTLY that could be what saves the Kelvinverse — a crossover with another CGI action slugfest like the comics just did. I can’t see anything else saving the series otherwise. Would probably be the first movie I’d skip.
That is definitely a film I would skip. And I wouldn’t be much surprised if that happened.
She should be cast as a Megan from Megas-Tu…
tuvok’s blood boils in ‘cold fire’.
khan crushes marcus’s head.
Truly terrifying, the Trek 14 Superman crossover, with the good ship Enterprise trapped in the Phantom Zone somewhere….
How did you leave the TNG episode “Frame of Mind” off this list??
That episode wasn’t scary as much as it was weird and strange. Definitely Johnathan Frakes best acting in the whole series though.
Schisms is a scary episode. I get creeped out when they are in the holodeck describing what they have dreamed. They all describe the same thing. Great episode.
“I’ve been in this room before.”
“We’ve all been here before.”
I honestly do no remember that episode at all. However, there are a lot of TNG episodes I don’t remember.
Why am I not surprised.
Because you know how very mediocre and forgettable most of TNG was.
Fair enough, but some of the best Trek ever produced was also TNG.
But I’m glad you pointed out how mediocre past Trek could be. And downright awful, particularly in the first two seasons. It’s why I laugh when people get worked up about DSC, as if past shows– even the onlycritically and commercially successful one– were perfect.
Sure. There were a handful of very good TNG scripts. But I’ve always argued that the good to bad ratio in TNG was possibly the worst of all the Trek shows. And that TOS’s ratio is by far the best. Although with a ratio of 1 of 15 for STD that might give TNG a run for its money…
For me, TNG has either the highest or second highest ratio of good to bad episodes. Though, I’ve seen them so many times that I don’t enjoy many of them as I did before I had them memorized. Oddly enough I’ve actually grown to enjoy and appreciate TNG Season 1 more as I’ve gotten older. It’s hard to put my finger on, but it’s like the writing has a more mature tone. It’s hard to compare TNG with TOS, so I won’t. But, those two series are by far the best, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not even close. And I don’t know what’s not to like about “Schisms.” I see some people remark that they don’t like the “mystery of the week” TNG episodes, which I can’t relate to, at all. Like Picard says in “Clues,” people find a mystery almost irresistible.
I’ve always thought that The Haunting of Deck 12: Voyager S6 is a pretty well constructed scary episode. I remember being pretty spooked a little by it when younger. Same goes for the episode with the garbage ship in a S5 episode of Voyager (a belonna episode). Another one which has a few spooky moments is One (Another Voyager episode)
Speaking of TOS witches, Mr. Atoz’s library (ALL OUR YESTERDAYS) did send Kirk to be tried as one. And Spock and McCoy was scuffled off to Trek’s twist on Raquel Welch’s ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.
Troi seemed TZ beset here,
Really Coda is scary? Sure there’s some violent moments but I wouldn’t call this a Halloween episode. What a random choice.