Star Trek: The Original Series

TV review by
Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media
Star Trek: The Original Series TV Poster Image
A cultural icon that's lived long and prospered.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 26 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive messages

The show's overall message is one of empathy and respecting one another's differences. Storylines often revolve around alien races with different social norms than humans (sexism, racism, politics), but the Enterprise crew isn't supposed to interfere. 

Positive role models & representations

While the characters all have their quirks (and a few flaws), the Enterprise crew is quite intrepid and resourceful overall, often getting out of tricky situations via teamwork or ingenuity.

Violence & scariness

Most episodes include some fighting, be it characters physically wrestling each other or using "phasers" (their weapons) or photon torpedoes. But blood is never shown. Mind control is a frequent plotpoint.

Sexy stuff

Women wear skimpy, skin-tight outfits (with mini-skirts and go-go boots). Some alien races portray women as subservient, while others have women in power. Crew members often flirt -- most notably, Capt. Kirk, who falls in love quite often. Some kissing (including a groundbreaking interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura).

Language

Mild overall. "Dammit, Jim!" -- uttered by Bones -- occurs in many episodes.

Consumerism

Lots of Star Trek products out there, but nothing in the show itself.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some drinking by adults in social settings. Scotty is often involved in drinking contests with other humans and aliens.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, compared to today's visually stunning special effects, Star Trek: The Original Series was very low-budget in both props and special effects and may consequently seem silly to modern kids. But beyond that, the series was a metaphor for the upheaval of the 1960s. Behind the storylines of space travel and aliens are important social commentaries on racism, sexism, politics, and the fear that machines might one day rule the world. Taken at face value, though, most of the adventures are pretty innocent and are fine for young tweens and up.

User Reviews

Parent Written byStefanLasiewski January 6, 2014

Great, but watch out for male and female sexual stereotypes

I started watching this with my 9 year old son. The series is very entertaining for him and me and we will continue to watch it. I appreciate that the series wa... Continue reading
Parent Written byCooldee April 21, 2010

For ages 11 and up, but please beware of younger children watching this show-it can scare them!

Please beware of the violence, even though blood is not shown, and the messages that are given are the following: Respect, duty, loyality, and friendship. I lo... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 16, 2011

The series that keeps on going where no man has gone before

A perfect tv show that ocassionally features things of a scary or sexual nature but people around 8 - 9 should be able to deal with it.
Kid, 12 years old January 2, 2010

THIS IS THE BEST TV SHOW EVER!!!

I have just started watching Star Trek, and I think that this is the best show that I've ever watched in my life! It's got good role models, and posit... Continue reading

What's the story?

Iconic series STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES -- a show that's launched a thousand spin-offs, movies, books, games, action figures, and conventions -- chronicles the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise, a spaceship representing the United Federation of Planets in the 23rd century. The ship is on a mission to explore the space frontier, but the show itself isn't as much about space as it is about the people on the Enterprise. Among them are brash, emotional Capt. Kirk (William Shatner); logical Vulcan Spock (Leonard Nimoy); and hot-headed Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Creator Gene Roddenberry also made a point of including crew members of various ethnic backgrounds, including Japanese Lt. Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), Russian Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig), and Scottish Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (James Doohan), and African-American Lt. Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols).

Is it any good?

Forty years after it's premiere, this series still succeeds in syndication because its messages about racism, sexism, politics, and respecting differences really are timeless, even if the special effects aren't. (Though the early episodes are being remastered and enhanced with more up-to-date effects and imagery). In their 80 episodes, the Star Trek: The Original Series crew encountered deadly diseases, alien races, time warps, beautiful women in skin-tight outfits, and furry creatures called Tribbles. Kirk was put on trial for crimes against humanity, split into two alter-egos (good and evil), and cloned into an android. But at the core of the show is the idea that humans are complex creatures, and dilemmas often have no right or wrong answer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of respecting differences and not asking others to conform in Star Trek: The Original Series. Parents, stress the value of teamwork, even when not all participants agree. How can people from different backgrounds come together to collaborate and achieve their goals?

  • What would our world be like if money was no longer used? If sickness and injuries were easily healed with high-tech medicine? If we could travel the universe and visit other planets? Would you be afraid, or would you embrace new ideas and new concepts?

  • A lot of the messages in Star Trek are meant to be social commentary on major issues in the 1960s. Which ones are still relevant today? How are racism, sexism, and prejudice portrayed in the Star Trek universe?

  • The show portrayed ground-breaking diversity in its cast. Why do media role models matter?

  • How do the characters in Star Trek: The Original Series demonstrate empathy and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love sci-fi

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate