Home, home again: at least some Starfleet officers like to be on Earth when they can. While Star Trek sees humanity boldly going where no one has gone before, some episodes feature the big blue ball that started it all: Earth. In some instances, Star Trek characters intentionally return to the third planet in the Sol system. In others, they find themselves unwittingly transported there, sometimes in a different time than their present.

For this week’s Trek Tuesday, here are 10 Earth-based Star Trek episodes. Did we include your favorite? There are plenty of episodes that aren’t on this list. Be sure and let us know in the comment section which one you like best.

“Assignment: Earth”

Gary Seven (Robert Lansing) and his feline companion Isis.

In Star Trek: The Original Series season 2 episode 26, “Assignment: Earth,” the USS Enterprise travels back in time to 1968 for “historical research.” Soon they encounter Gary Seven (Robert Lansing). While Seven is human, he’s been recruited by advanced extraterrestrials to ensure humanity does not destroy itself with nuclear weapons. Ultimately, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) assist Seven in completing his mission. 

RELATED: Time After Time Travel: 10 Star Trek Time Travel Episodes

Originally, “Assignment: Earth” was meant to be a pilot for a new series that never came to fruition. However, Star Trek: Picard season 2, which is largely set on Earth, picks up the subplot when Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) meets Tallinn (Orla Brady), a Romulan engaged in a similar mission as Gary Seven.

“Family”

Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) shakes hands with René Picard (David Tristan Birkin) at Chateau Picard.

Speaking of Picard, his family’s ancestral home, Chateau Picard, is located on Earth and visited on several different occasions and shows, including in all three seasons of Picard.

However, the Picard homestead made its first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 4 episode 2, “Family.” In this episode, Picard returned to France for the first time in two decades. But as suggested in the TNG finale “All Good Things” and confirmed by Picard, Picard would eventually return to Earth and call Chateau Picard home.

“Little Green Men”

Quark (Armin Shimerman) with a German Shepherd (actually Odo in disguise).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is primarily set on the titular “tacky Cardassian fascist eyesore.” However, like most Star Trek shows, it nevertheless has several episodes that are set on Earth. One of these is season 4 episode 7’s “Little Green Men.” 

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The catalyst for this episode is the matriculation of Nog (Aron Eisenberg) at Starfleet Academy. As Quark (Armin Shimerman) and Rom (Max Grodenchik) are taking him to San Francisco on Earth, they travel through time. This leads them to become the aliens captured in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Also present is Odo (Rene Auberjonois), who disguises himself as a German shepherd.

“Future’s End”

Tuvok (Tim Russ) fires a phaser in a parking lot while Rain Robinson (Sarah Silverman) and Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) look on.

On Star Trek: Voyager, the primary motivator for Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and her crew is a return to Earth. For the majority of the series, the USS Voyager is trapped in the Delta Quadrant. Nevertheless, there are a few episodes that are largely set on Earth.

One is the two-part season 3 time travel episode “Future’s End.” After encountering a ship from the future called the Aeon, a temporal rift pulls Voyager through time and space. Arriving at Earth in 1996, the same year that these Voyager episodes originally aired, the crew embarks on an adventure that features guest stars Sarah Silverman and Ed Begley, Jr. At the conclusion of this two-part episode, The Doctor (Robert Picardo) is equipped with a mobile emitter, which allows him to move much more freely than he had ever before imagined.

“Carbon Creek”

Stron (Michael Krawic) and T'Pol's great-grandmother (Jolene Blalock) in a 1950s kitchen in 1950s Earth clothing.

It isn’t just time travel that can allow a glimpse into the Earth of Star Trek‘s past. A flashback can also arrive via more conventional storytelling. That’s what happens in Star Trek: Enterprise season 2 episode 2, “Carbon Creek.” In this episode, T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) reveals First Contact did not take place during the events of Star Trek: First Contact, as previously believed. 

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Instead, a trio of Vulcans on a survey ship became stranded in Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Two were eventually rescued. However, the third, Mestral (J. Paul Boehmer), elected to remain on Earth. At the conclusion of this episode, T’Pol suggests this story may be apocryphal. However, she subsequently returns to her quarters and examines her great-grandmother’s Earth-purchased purse, suggesting the tale is truthful. This is corroborated by the appearance of the USS Mestral in Picard season 3’s “The Bounty.” 

“Children of Mars”

Ilmaria Ebrahim as Kima; Sadie Munroe as Lil; they are both looking on in horror among their fellow horrified students.

Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t be fooled by the title. The Star Trek: Short Treks episode “Children of Mars” is set at a school in San Francisco. It serves as a prequel to Picard season 1.

The story follows Lil (Sadie Munroe) and Kima (Ilamaria Ebrahim), two unrelated students whose respective parents are each stationed on Mars. Lil and Kima are initially antagonistic to one another. But at the climax of the episode, news of the synth attack on Mars is broadcast on the Federation News Network. This causes them to put aside their differences, taking one another’s hands in the face of tragedy.

“People of Earth”

Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Lt. Price; Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson; Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Oyin Oladejo as Operations officer Joann Owosekun; Patrick Kyok Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys and Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer. They are on the lawn of Starfleet Academy.

Photo Cr: Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

After traveling from the 23rd Century to the 32nd Century at the outset of Star Trek: Discovery season 3, the crew is shocked to learn just how much has changed in the intervening years. In Discovery season 3’s third episode, “People of Earth,” Disco‘s crew discovers one of the things that has changed is Earth. 

RELATED: 8 Star Trek: Discovery Episodes That Prove Disco Will Never Die

At first, the crew isn’t even allowed to set foot on their home planet, due to security reasons. However, once Discovery has proven itself sympathetic to Earth’s government, they are permitted to return. While not every crewmember joins, many of them take the opportunity to visit Starfleet Academy, where they locate a tree that has survived and grown in the centuries since they’d last visited.

“Grounded”

Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner and Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler. They are all dressed in Earth clothes and visiting the First Contact site in Montana.

Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2022 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The third season premiere of Star Trek: Lower Decks, “Grounded,” sees the crew of the USS Cerritos unwillingly returned to Earth when Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) is put on trial for an attack on Pakled Planet. While Freeman is exonerated by the end of the episode, the beta shifters get plenty of time to riff on Earth-bound Star Trek episodes in the meantime.

This includes copious references to First Contact, as well as plenty of references to Earth-set episodes from TNG and DS9. Plus, it gives Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome) a chance to spend some time with her father, Admiral Freeman (Phil LaMarr) at his home in San Francisco. There, she asks a question we’ve all been wondering since Star Trek: The Motion Picture: just what does a post-automobile society need with the Golden Gate Bridge, anyway?

“Supernova, Part 2”

Dal R’el (Brett Gray),  Rok-Tahk (Rylee Alazraqui), Zero (Angus Imrie), Murf (Dee Bradley Baker), Jankom Pog (Jason Mantzoukas) on the steps of Starfleet, enjoying a San Francisco sunset.

Over the course of Star Trek: Prodigy‘s first season, the crew of the USS Protostar are attempting to reach Starfleet. While they have a few explosive early encounters, this promise is fully fulfilled in the season 1 finale, “Supernova, Part 2.”

RELATED: 4 Ideas to Celebrate the Return of Star Trek: Prodigy

In this episode, the Protostar is sadly destroyed out of necessity. Fortunately, the intrepid young crew survives thanks to the vehicle replicator, which crafts a bare-bones shuttlecraft. A month after it was replicated, this shuttlecraft deposits the former Protostar crew in San Francisco Bay. Soon they are on trial at Starfleet Headquarters. Fortunately, this leads to all but one of them being accepted as warrant officers-in-training under Vice Admiral Janeway.

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”

Christina Chong as La’an and Paul Wesley as Kirk. They are wearing Starfleet uniforms but standing in contemporary Toronto.

Photo Cr: Gibson/Paramount+

While only twenty episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds have been released so far, several scenes have been set on Earth. In the cold opening of the pilot episode, “Strange New Worlds,” Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) is spending time in Montana. And in season 2 episode 2’s “Ad Astra per Aspera,” while awaiting trial, Number One (Rebecca Romijn) is detained on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

However, in terms of total screen time, the most Earth-based episode of SNW yet must be season 2 episode 3, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” Some scenes at the top and bottom of the episode take place on the Enterprise. However, the majority of season 2 episode follows La’An Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) in contemporary Toronto. Plus, she briefly visits 21st century Vermont to see Pelia (Carol Kane).

All these Star Trek episodes are currently available for streaming on Paramount+ except Prodigy‘s “Supernova, Part 2.” Find “Supernova, Part 2” on home video in Prodigy season 1 volume 2, or stream it when Prodigy season 1 arrives on Netflix.

Visit Starfleet IRL: STAR TREK: PICARD Filming Locations

 

Avery Kaplan