Star Trek TV : By the Numbers

Recently, I found myself in a debate about the quality of different Star Trek TV series. and which one was better than the others. Being the data-minded individual I am, I decided to follow a “reals over feels” approach and collect some data to see what the real numbers were.

First, I threw the IMDB rating for each series into Excel and rendered it as a chart.

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Thus we can see that fans liked Enterprise about as much (ratings wise) as they did The Animated Series but more than Discovery. Given that Enterprise only has around 1.5 good seasons that didn’t come until many people stopped watching, that is hardly surprising.

Need proof of that? Check out this heatmap of the series IMDB episode ratings:

It’s also interesting that for the most part, the above list goes in order of production, with each show offering mostly diminished returns. I also expect Picard to drop in the ratings with time, as right now it’s still in the honeymoon phase, going down to probably around where Enterprise sits. 

Speaking of Picard, the heatmap for Picard looks like this:

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In case you’re wondering, Episode 7 was the one where he goes and hangs out with Riker and Troi. In other words, the episode people liked best was a TNG reunion episode, showing a strong lean towards nostalgia and fandom on this show. It will be interesting to see how many people show back up for the second season to watch. (Then again, I expect that will be the season which brings back the rest of the crew for more nostalgia hits.)

However, back to Trek as a whole. 

Another way to look at IMDB is how many people actually bothered to rate each show. This too shows passion among fandom and what people like and don’t like. So, that looks like this…

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Ironically enough, Enterprise still stays in the same spot!

That said, this chart is probably a bad way to look at the popularity of each series due to outside variables affecting things.

First, older shows have an advantage of time on the site and more people having had the chance to rate them.

Second, at the same time, there is the heated Internet fandom wars influencing things here. Discovery is very low rated, but has had many reviews due to lovers and haters each rooting for their team, which is why it has so many votes. Picard suffers from a similar effect, as while it was less divisive, there are still many who love or hated it and each side wanted to cast their votes.

Third, Voyager was on UPN, while Deep Space 9 was generally syndicated, so Voyager was seen by more people and also promoted more as the United Paramount Network’s flagship show. (The same way Discovery had the crap promoted out of it as CBS All-Access’s flagship series.) 

However, since some people don’t like IMDB, here’s what the order looks like on Rotten Tomatoes, using combined User and Critics scores to determine the order.

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Now, Rotten Tomatoes has gone to crap recently due to new corporate overlords and editorial manipulation. They no longer report the number of critics or number of users who voted in an effort to hide what the real numbers are to keep their advertisers happy, and for all practical purposes Rotten Tomatoes is a paid advertising site now. That said, it does paint a similar picture to the IMDB ratings in this case, with a weird tilt towards The Animated Series and DS9. (Going back to editorial manipulation, I suspect this is the result of The Animated Series DVD collection coming out a few years back so they fudged the numbers to encourage sales. Most people can barely manage to sit through The Animated Series, as the IMDB number of raters shows.) 


Anyhow. The definitive answer (in terms of actual social proof and data) is that Star Trek:TNG is the best Trek series of all time, followed by TOS, DS9, and VOY. Everyone else is sitting at the kids table.

Good Day, and God Bless!

Rob