“Star Trek” and “romance” aren’t exactly synonymous, to the disappointment of many a fan. The powers that be have long insisted that “Star Trek” is never to be romance-driven. That said, most drama of any kind is mighty boring without exploring one of the most important aspects of the human experience, so we do get a little Trekmance here and there. But it’s the sparing nature of these moments and pairings that make them so sweet even though there’s never any NSFW action.
What follows below is a list of Trek’s 15 best ships, be they the most fun, the most successful, the most tragic or the most infuriatingly unfulfilled. The common thread in all of them is that all of these couples at one point or another brought out the best in each other, despite the fact that one or two may never have so much as shared a kiss.
15. SPOCK AND UHURA
One of the more pleasant developments in Abrams’ Kelvin timeline was the relationship between Spock and Uhura. Zachary Quinto’s Spock wrestles far more visibly with his emotions than Nimoy’s ever did, so watching him try to navigate a romance with the tempestuous Lt. Uhura is as hilarious as it is provocative. For her part, Uhura attempting to have patience with Spock’s inability to express emotion the way she would like is a tragicomic study in empathy.
The fun part about these two is that they fail as much as they succeed. Kirk is constantly caught in the middle of their various arguments and it seems like at least once per film they’re going to throw up their hands and call it quits. Well, Uhura would throw up her hands. Spock’s facial muscles would probably just tighten a lot. That said, throughout all their ups and downs, there’s no denying the intensity of their connection. And Vulcan intensity (when it isn’t caused by some kind of mental illness) doesn’t come along every day. These two play off of each other wonderfully well and because they take care of the romance quotient for the new movies, Kirk can finally shed (to some extent) his playboy reputation.
14. SISKO AND MIRROR JENNIFER
Sisko’s grief over the tragic loss of his wife at Wolf 359 was well-established in the pilot and onward. However, given that we see so little of the original Jennifer, it was a thankful twist to introduce her Mirror Universe counterpart in that it grounded Sisko’s feelings a little more. We got a limited peek into what they might’ve actually been like as a couple, and it reminded us why Sisko was so distraught when he arrived on “DS9” in “Emissary.”
Mirror Jennifer isn’t the deified ghost Sisko mourns, she’s a human woman with a lot of flaws. Their relationship is far more interesting because of it, plus it comes with a side of sexy the Mirror Universe is so famous for. Watching Sisko try to turn her allegiance back to her own people feels like it was reminiscent of how he courted the original Jennifer, and that made us miss her along with him all over again.
13. Q AND JANEWAY
“Did anyone ever tell you you’re angry when you’re beautiful?”
After Q’s lackluster appearance on “DS9,” it was up in the air as to whether the universe’s favorite cosmic mean girl would pair well with anyone but Picard. But then he met Kathryn Janeway and our fears were put to rest. Q was intrigued by Janeway from the beginning, and while the feelings weren’t exactly mutual, the two had an undeniable chemistry. Q’s curiosity about and fascination with Janeway brought out parts of his character we’d never seen. He showed the occasional sense of vulnerability with her and, instead of toying with her the way he did with other captains, he treated her with a lot of respect.
Granted, he caused her no small amount of annoyance as he tried to tap her to mother his child, dragged her off to the Continuum and later forced her to babysit his son, but the two eventually formed a more equitable relationship over time, more-so and faster than he and Picard ever did. Watching their weird little friendship evolve was insanely delightful and more than a few wishful-thinking fanfics about them ruling the universe exist in tribute.
12. PICARD AND VASH
One of Picard’s most defining characteristics was his stuffy demeanor. The first two seasons of “TNG” introduced us to a workaholic captain, married to his job and pretty uninterested in vaycays or women. That is, until Commander Riker sent him to Risa, and all Vash broke loose. Vash was an archeologist of questionable moral fiber who brought out what little madcap adventurer there was left in Picard.
Outside of the workplace and inside an adventure with a beautiful lady, we got too see the Indiana Jones in Picard we all knew was in there somewhere. He loosened up around Vash and audiences finally got to see his dashing and, for lack of a better word, Kirk side. And watching him play frustrated Robin Hood to Vash’s anything but submissive Marion was comedy gold. Vash was just the right amount of sexy excitement Picard needed here and there. It was refreshing and perfect the way she ruffled his feathers and played against typical damsel stereotypes. They probably never figured out who wore the pants in their relationship, and that’s what made it so much fun.
11. SPOCK AND THE ROMULAN COMMANDER
Spock Prime got the seriously short end of the stick when it came to romance on “Star Trek.” That said, we did get a pretty hot couple of scenes between him and a female Romulan Commander (big ups to the Romulan Star Empire for being way more progressive than Starfleet when it came to females in command during the 2260s, by the way). And this Romulan Commander is no joke. She goes toe-to-toe with Kirk without batting an eyelash and calls him out on his obvious B.S. about the Enterprise “accidentally” wandering into the Neutral Zone. Yes, it’s all a ruse, but she’s still a badass.
Meanwhile, she bears great respect for Spock given that he’s a Vulcan, and also admits to keeping tabs on him. Read: totally crushing on him. While possessed of emotion, she’s a wonderful foil for Spock because she’s capable of taking extremely capable and decisive action using her emotions and logic in concert. Once Kirk is out of the picture for a minute, Spock and the commander engage in a battle of wits that’s somehow more exciting than any love scene could ever be. She tries to coerce him into betraying Starfleet, and while he’s totally working her the entire time, you can see a very small part of him is sorely tempted.
10. KIRK AND EDITH KEELER
Ah, Kirk and Keeler… A prime example of why one must never mess with the timeline, much less fall in love with someone from the past. In “The City on the Edge of Forever,” Kirk and Spock go back in time to 1930s America to figure out and undo some damage McCoy caused that resulted in a very, very bad alternate future. While there, they meet the lovely and progressive Edith Keeler (played by a smoking hot, pre-“Dynasty” Joan Collins), a pacifist possessed of some extremely accurate forward-thinking.
While waiting on Spock to build a computer that will enable them to detect McCoy’s presence and thus prevent him from doing whatever it is he does that changes the future (Bones was previously injected with a large dose of medication by mistaked and it’s driving him nuts), Kirk and Edith fall deeply in love. This was the one of the very few times on “Star Trek” that Kirk fell for a girl’s mind in addition to her looks. They were remarkably well-matched, too, given her beliefs and dedication to very Federation-like morals. The despair on Kirk’s face when he realizes its her death that must happen for his future to become reality is truly heartbreaking, so much so that their relationship remains a defining point of Kirk fandom even though it only lasted a single episode.
9. WORF AND K’EHLEYR
It’s a credit to Suzie Plakson and Michael Dorn that with one look they managed to make an entire transporter room take a step back and go, “Uh, what’s going on there?” Every second they were onscreen, they conveyed a rich and turbulent history that made us understand why Trek had waited to show us Klingon romance. The intensity was way too off the charts for our little science fiction show’s tastes. The two were former lovers that were mismatched due to Worf’s dedication to Klingon tradition and K’ehleyr’s fierce independence (get it, girl). But, of course, her ferocity in general is like 80% of why Worf loves her, while his unwavering character is why she loves him. They’re equally wrapped around the other which is why they managed to film a terribly hot (and weird) love scene with virtually no “love.”
The two drive each other crazy, but wind up respecting each other by the end of “The Emissary.” Everything’s dialed up to 11 when she shows up with Alexander in “Reunion” and we all thought for a minute that we’d get to see a really tempestuous relationship play out further by watching the two attempt to co-parent. The excitement of that prospect is what makes it so tragic when Duras kills her, and it’s also what makes it so very sweet when Worf ices him immediately afterward, regardless of the very real legal consequences. K’ehleyr was Worf’s best match and she was taken far too soon, a pattern Worf seemed destined to repeat.
8. TRIP AND T’POL
One of the bright spots on “Enterprise” was the back and forth relationship of Trip and T’Pol. Complicated from the start, these two tried their best to make things work, but their obstacles were eventually insurmountable. It was quite a ride before that, though. While T’Pol remained fairly disdainful of Trip at first, they grew closer during their time in the Xindi Expanse and eventually wound up becoming casual sex-friends. Trip clearly had more feelings than she did (common problem in Vulcan/Human relations), though, and eventually the two attempted a real relationship. And then T’Pol had to get married to someone else. And then that marriage was annulled. Then things got weird. Then they had a daughter. Then the daughter died. Then Trip died. See what we meant about obstacles?
Trip and T’Pol were a classic example of two people who had real feelings for each other, but kept getting thwarted by a universe that clearly had it in for them. It’s an ultimately tragic end to a relationship that benefited both parties so much, and we felt T’Pol’s heartbreak as she buried her face in Trip’s uniform after learning of his death.
7. DUKAT AND KAI WINN
We might take some heat for this one, but Dukat and Winn were so weird they worked. They worked really well, too. Watching them get together was like watching a slow-motion car wreck morph into some kind of demon phoenix. Okay, that’s hyperbolic, but it was strangely hypnotic and totally scandalous. Not only was Dukat the reigning Prince of Squick, but also they were essentially mortal enemies. Or were they?
What made their relationship so interesting and, frankly, so watchable, is that they were both at their most honest with each other. For Adami, it was the first time she admitted her faith was entirely a sham, while Dukat finally found a partner who could match his blind, mad ambition. Watching them plot the destruction of the Prophets, make out, then plot the destruction of the Prophets some more gave DS9’s final season an injection of mustache-twirling villainy that spiced up its journey to the finish line in the best of ways. For that, we thank them. We also thank them for dying, because this ship was way too strange to stay afloat for long.
6. TOM AND B’ELANNA
These two also shouldn’t have worked, but they did. On paper, B’elanna was much more focused and driven than Tom Paris, the perennial “What? Me worry?” hotshot pilot. Paris made a lifestyle out of not letting anything stress or anger him and B’elanna made a lifestyle out of reacting to everything. Plus, she was super hung-up on Chakotay for a minute, so there was that.
However, as the series progressed, the two started to meet in the middle. B’elanna stated to dial back the rage long enough to let in some friends and stop alienating people. Tom, rootless, and always up for an adventure, stopped playing 2 Kool for Skool long enough to realize B’elanna was a pretty decent adventure all on her own. Once the two finally got together, they formed one of the most well-balanced couples in Trek. They supported each other’s endeavors and were killer collaborators. These two went from bickering co-workers to true life-partners, and fans ate up every minute.
5. JANEWAY AND CHAKOTAY
“Voyager” was not kind to the J/C shippers it birthed. The two main characters rarely addressed what was or could’ve been between them, and the final episode saw Chakotay inexplicably get with Seven of Nine. That said, for a couple with a mere handful of episodes that hinted at romance between the two, the J/C shippers were a rabid, undeterred bunch. Chalk that up to the palpable chemistry between Robert Beltran and Kate Mulgrew, as well as to the high plausibility of two people being so close and faced with the same loneliness of command coming together to help each other shoulder the burden. In bed.
Beyond that, Janeway and Chakotay were at their best together. Chakotay softened the captain, and it was mostly in her scenes with him that she’d show rare vulnerability. As for Chakotay, Janeway gave him the sense of purpose and direction he’d purportedly been seeking for much of his life. Plus, the episodes in which they did flirt with romance, “Resolutions,” and “Coda,” and the episodes in which their partnership is threatened, like “Scorpion,” are some of “Voyager’s” best. If you need further proof of this powerful ship’s validity, check the internet for any Chakotay/Seven Of Nine shippers. We’ll wait.
4. KIRA AND ODO
This ship was long on the build-up and sweet on the payoff. Buttoned up Constable Odo had long nursed feelings for Major Kira Nerys. It made sense: Kira and Odo were great friends, sharing the same sense of justice and duty. But Odo was firmly in the Friendzone for years, watching Kira have several significant relationships while he missed opportunities to tell her how he felt. And when “he” did, it was hella awkward because it was an alternate version of himself who simultaneously offed 10,000 people in an effort to save her life. (It’s a long story.) It wasn’t until sometime after that they finally sealed the deal, but it was really sweet when they did in the very romantic (and unabashedly cheeseball) episode “His Way.”
Then audiences got to see a mature relationship blossom between two people who’d taken years to get there. What was even better is that the long-waiting period didn’t end up resulting in a fizzled spark between them as tends to happen to so many similar television relationships. These two were as fun to watch together as they were apart, and we loved it right up until the very bittersweet end.
3. TROI AND RIKER
These two crazy kids. They’d have probably gotten together a lot sooner had they not been the show’s respective male/female sex symbols. There’s apparently some rule that no one is terribly sexy and exciting unless they’re on the prowl, and that went double for Riker. But whatever, it was incredibly fun watching them start as smouldering former lovers and grow into true friends. Smouldering friends. Troi and Riker were a wonderful example of how two grown-ups can move past an earlier relationship and become healthy co-workers despite remaining feelings that always seemed buried just beneath the surface.
They obviously cared about each other so much that we never stopped hoping they would smarten up and just be together already. We hoped so much that people rioted in the streets (true story, we swear) when Troi looked like she was going to wind up with Worf. Thank God that was short-lived. It also made Troi’s “death” in “All Good Things,” one of the most tragic moments of that beautiful season finale. The Triker pairing was so intense that it seemed like a forgone conclusion, so thank goodness the movies saw them live happily ever after. #Imzadi
2. WORF AND JADZIA
If Worf couldn’t be with K’ehleyr, we’ll settle for Jadzia Dax seven days a week and twice on Sundays. Never has an interspecies romance worked so well. While Worf evolved quite a bit from his grouchy, single-minded, altogether too serious Klingon stereotype on TNG, his relationship with Jadzia gave him unprecedented depth. With Jadzia, Worf lightened up some, and damned if it wasn’t fun to watch. Plus, their romance made sense: they have so much in common considering Jadzia’s former life as an ambassador to the Klingon Empire, but they also had opposite personalities that allowed them to compliment one another. Jadzia lightened Worf, and Worf reigned in Jadzia.
Aside from all of this, fans actually got to see much of their relationship develop onscreen. We saw them fall in love with one another, a rare gift for Trek fans. We saw them go through almost every milestone, from dating to marriage to living together, and finally, tragically, to death parting them. Worf and Jadzia’s partnership is one of the most completely documented in Trek and it stars two fan-favorites. It was an embarrassment of riches, so much so that some of us even shipped Worf and Ezri for old times’ sake.
1. PICARD AND CRUSHER
No ship exemplifies the “touch hands and it’s thrilling” nature of Trekmance more than that of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Dr. Beverly Crusher. For seven seasons they rocked a killer friendship that always hinted at, but stopped short of, the possibility of more. Beverly was the only person on the ship with the ability to truly challenge Picard’s authority, both professionally and personally. With 20 years of history behind them and a familial bond given Picard’s relationship to Beverly’s late husband, it was almost the lack of romance that made this couple great.
It didn’t really make sense to rush them together given the baggage between them — it would almost have seemed disrespectful to Jack Crusher’s memory. Plus, it took the captain seven seasons to even want something resembling a wife or family, so his pursuit of Beverly would’ve been at odds with his character. However, there was always something akin to love lurking beneath the surface for these two, and they were better friends with each other than anyone else on the ship. When they finally did get romantic in the seventh season, it seemed like a natural evolution of their relationship, not something done to satisfy fans.
Which Star Trek couples did we forget to look at? Are they your favorite? Be sure to tell us in the comments!
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