Star Trek has a history of tugging at our heartstrings, from the “his was the most… human” speech at the end of Wrath of Khan, to the death of Data at the end of Nemesis (okay, the rest of the film is kinda trash, but still his sacrifice is pretty emotive).
Both of those examples come from the films, which are given two and a half hours to make us cry, as well as the weight of seasons go past. However, even in the forty-five minutes of a regular episode, there are still some incredibly powerful moments in the Star Trek oeuvre. This might be more telling of what makes me cry than is possibly comfortable, but hey, here we go!
Naturally the first is Inner Light which often tops lists of the best ever episodes of the Star Trek canon. Picard with the flute at the end is guaranteed to break even the stoniest visage into at least one tear, right?
The next one is a bit more of a wild card, but I rewatched it recently and the end is simply heartwrenching. Innocence, a season two episode of Voyager, is the one where Tuvok has to look after the children on the asteroid and disappear one at a time. In the end, questionable biology aside, the kids are actually the aged members of this society and they are going off to die. Tuvok’s final speech at the end of the episode, reassuring the little girl that death is a natural end, is gorgeous.
Another strong contender is of course Deep Space Nine’s The Visitor — who can forget Jake Sisko’s final sacrifice to save his father and undo the timeline? Continuing our DS9 sob-fest, why not Hard Time? That’s the one where the most important Starfleet officer of all time, Chief Miles O’Brien, lives in prison for 20 years and is driven to murder and almost to suicide… Powerful stuff.
Finally, we have the absolute classic TOS episode, City On The Edge Of Forever, in which Kirk has to stop McCoy from saving the woman Jim loves in order to save the timeline. Beautiful in its simplicity, this episode will always have a place in my heart.
So, this week, we want to know…
Which episode of Star Trek is the most heart-breaking and emotive?