The Star Trek franchise is no stranger to creating emotional moments. Its most memorable scenes range from death-defying, edge-of-the seat space battles, all the way to moments of happiness found between two characters who love each other dearly.


While they have generated a lot of happy moments over the years, the writers across the various series have also created a lot of sad, borderline depressing moments. Here are, in no particular order, the franchise’s saddest episodes that are sure to make viewers shed a few tears.

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Potentially one of the most talked-about episodes of TNG when it comes to pulling on the heart strings, this episode revolves around the idea of a dead civilization sending out a probe into space to let them know of their culture and people. Rather than just making a space-time capsule, however, they decide the best way to do it is through an intricately generated simulation. Whoever discovers it lives almost an entire lifetime among the long-dead people, getting to know them and love them, and watch their final moments unfold.

Of course, this isn’t revealed until the end of the episode. The main bulk of it shows Picard get put into the simulation, and slowly lose hope of leaving. After many years, he lets go of his old life and his focus turns inward, finding love and forming bonds with those around him. He grows old and has a family who he loves dearly. In the simulated world, he spends around 50 or more years among them, far longer than he did without. As the episode wraps up, an old Picard, who has lost his wife and close friend to the passage of time, is told what the simulation is all about. He wakes up once more on the floor of the iconic Enterprise D among his crew, with only mere minutes having passed.

This episode brings many of the old series fans in tears. Kirk finally, after many years of turmoil and trauma, finds happiness and peace in an indelicate setting. There is a lot wrong with this episode — namely, some fairly poor representation of Native Americans. However, it’s still poignantly sad

In the episode, Kirk loses his memory and becomes part of their tribe. He finds love, but while the episode starts with joy and happiness, it ends with him watching his pregnant (a real kick in the teeth) wife die from injuries inflicted to her during a stoning. All the while, Dr. McCoy is completely powerless to save her.

Another TNG episode, this one is often forgotten. Rather than focusing on the titular heroes of the show, this one focuses on four ‘lower deckers,’ ensigns of low ranking that are often the ones shown as cannon fodder or ‘red shirts.’ They are normally background characters, but this episode devotes its entire run to their story, their friendship, their passion for Starfleet, and the politics that come with that. While it seems at first like a celebration of the unsung heroes of the ship, it quickly turns into a story of brave sacrifice. One of the episode’s main characters, Sito Jaxa, volunteers for a dangerous mission, which ends in her untimely death.

The episode is unlike any other from the franchise. Audiences get to know and love these ‘sideline’ characters in a relatively short period of time, only to hear the most beloved of them die in the line of duty. It makes audiences realize that each character that perishes in the background has their own life, loved ones, and a story that was cut short. It makes every red shirt death that follows all the more emotional, a brutal reminder of Jaxa.

Moving away from TNG (which has several great, horrifically sad episodes), there is “Oblivion” from Voyager, a show that deserves more credit than it gets. This episode starts in the best of ways: a wedding between the two lovebirds Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres. It’s a joyous moment, but things start to slowly go south. The crew gets sicker as the episode continues. At the conclusion, it is revealed that this is not the real USS Voyager crew. Rather, it’s a set of duplicates of them and the ship, and they are starting to decay.

The episode goes from the marriage of B’Elanna to her death in a relatively short period of time. Finally, everyone dies, the ship disintegrating into nothing. While it may not be the original crew audiences had come to love over the years, they were still the crew, with all their memories and personalities. Having to watch all the fan favorite characters die, not knowing they were clones, was horrifying. Then, there was a possible chance of salvation, only to have that taken away once more. The crew fail in their attempt to save themselves, unlike any other episode where the morally ambiguous Janeway and her crew always succeed. As the dust settles, it was like they never existed, their lives lost to the vacuum of space like nothing had happened.

These are but a few of the franchise’s saddest episodes, but there are many more scattered throughout the multiple series. This list did not even touch on the death of Jadzia Dax in front of her husband Worf, or the crippling post-injury trauma faced by the once joyful Nog. Star Trek is not afraid of making powerful moments, pushing audiences to feel things they didn’t expect, and often making them reach for the tissues.

MORE: Star Trek: The Last Minute Rewrite That Completely Changed The Series

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