Trek or Treat: The Top 5 Scariest Scenes in Star Trek
If you were to ask someone what their favourite horror movies or TV shows are, it’s very unlikely they would say Star Trek. Obviously, that’s because Trek is primarily a family-friendly, sci-fi show about exploring social issues through a sci-fi lens. Yet surprisingly, Trek does delve into horror, and does feature episodes and scenes that are actually pretty chilling. Scary Trek includes things like the body horror of First Contact or, at least to a young me, the shaving scene with Riker and Troi in Insurrection.
But what are the most chilling and disturbing scenes in Trek? With Halloween around the corner, it’s the perfect time to answer this question. Of course, these are my own personal rankings, so you might disagree. Alright, lets get started.
Number Five: Three Witches Yelling at Kirk
In the number five spot is a scene from the TOS Season 2 episode “Catspaw”. Frankly, I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. It’s the only holiday episode of Star Trek. It’s very cheesy, even by TOS standards. It has a very random line about credits and navy beans. It’s bad. But I love it and watch it at least once a year. Regardless of how you feel about the overall episode, you can’t deny that the scene with the three witches is very creepy and borderline scary.
In the episode, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a spooky planet with a spooky castle, and lots of fog. Along their journey to the castle, they encounter three ghost-like witches that yell, “Captain Kirk, Captain Kirk” at Captain Kirk. The witches then proceed to say very spooky-sounding things and disappear.
I still get creeped out, to this day, because of the voices, and there’s something even eerier about those old special effects. It also has a slight Ghostbusters vibe, with Spock’s “very bad poetry” line and Kirk’s dry “a more useful comment, please” response.
Number Four: Rojan the Cube Crusher/Red Shirt Killer
In the number four spot is a moment from another episode of TOS (I swear, I do talk about other series). This particular moment comes from the Season 2 episode “By Any Other Name”. I did talk about this scene in a previous episode of my podcast, Yelling About Star Trek.
In the episode, the Enterprise is taken over by aliens who call themselves the Kelvans. Their big advantage is that they can freeze people and turn them into compact shapes (as Rojan describes them). Rojan, in an attempt to show how serious he and his fellow Kelvans are, turns two helpless redshirts into the aforementioned compact shapes. Rojan then crushes one, while dryly declaring, “This person is dead.” However, he does restore the other officer, which I guess is a kind gesture.
While the episode is not meant to be scary, I find the scene disturbing because of how easily and casually Rojan kills the one guard. The idea of being turned into a rock and then being crushed gives me the willies.
Number Three: A Flying Troi Talking About Moons
At number three, I picked a recurring moment in TNG’s fourth season outing “Night Terrors”. If I could put the whole episode on this list, I would. In the episode, the crew of the Enterprise can’t dream, which causes everyone to hallucinate. The episode is very eerie, with great foreboding music suggesting that things are not going be super fun for the crew. There are a lot of great creepy moments, such as Worf saying that something is waiting for them. If Worf is scared, then you know that something’s up.
While those moments are great, the true standout is the recurring nightmare that Troi has, while trying to sleep. In these sequences, she is seen floating through greenish clouds with two moons in the distance. As she is floating, Troi hears a mysterious voice repeating the phrase “Eyes… in the dark, one moon circles.” While the visual effects are dated, the scene is extremely unsettling, and it never fails to put me on edge.
It’s 11:47 am as write this, and I’m definitely feeling uneasy. Even with my lights on and music playing. Before I leave this, I have to ask, what about the children?
Number Two: Got Them Worms in My Ears
In the number two spot, surprising no-one who’s watched Trek, is a particularly delightful, fun-for-the-whole-family moment from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Of course, I’m talking about the scene in which Khan, in a moment of pure generosity, puts a Ceti eel in Chekov’s ear. He does give one to Terrell, but it’s Chekov’s eel that sells the terror of what’s happening. It’s the way the eel lurches across Chekov’s cheek and then right into the ear that makes it terrifying. His reaction doesn’t help either.
As a kid, this used to give me nightmares, and I always had to skip this part of the movie. So much so that one of the biggest achievements growing up was when I could finally watch it without getting scared. Now, the moment doesn’t bother me at all, which is why I have it at number two and not at number one.
Number One: Tables, Lights, and Scissors in the Holodeck
The number one spot as the scariest scene in Star Trek, or at least creepiest, comes from TNG’s Season 6 outing “Schisms”. The episode is largely unscary and has a rather funny teaser with Riker falling asleep at Data’s poetry reading. Overall, I wouldn’t call this a great episode. Yet, it has the scariest scene in Star Trek and one of the best holodeck scenes all rolled into one.
Troi, Riker, Worf, Geordi and a one-off character meet in the holodeck to help them figure what the heck is going on. The scene starts off normally, with characters asking the computer to produce various tables and other objects. As each object is created and characters remember more and more details, things begin to get more tense and a little spooky. The scene hits max spookiness when Riker adds the voices and declares that they’ve all been in this room before. The music then builds and we cut to a commercial.
As with the “one moon circles” scene, this moment always manages to unsettle me. The acting is brilliant, the build-up is expertly paced, and the idea that Enterprise crewmembers are being abducted without anyone’s knowledge is truly terrifying. In the spirit of Halloween, you owe it yourself to at least watch this scene.
And Now, the Conclusion
So, there you have it, the five scariest scenes in all of Star Trek. Well, at least according to me. What do you think? Do you agree with my picks? Or am I missing one or two moments that should be up there. Feel free to sound off in the comments below