There is so much to love about “Star Trek,” the venerable franchise that is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sept. 8. So much, in fact, that when I started putting together this list of the 50 things we love about “Star Trek,” I had hit 80 things in just a matter of minutes.
With that in mind, and the understanding that hard, difficult choices must be made, here are 50 things we love about the franchise.
1. James T. Kirk: The man, the myth, the legend.
2. Mr. Spock: Not including our favorite Vulcan wouldn’t be logical.
3. Leonard “Bones” McCoy: The irascible doctor is the perfect foil for Spock.
4. Montgomery Scott: The Enterprise’s chief engineer has so many quintessential moments, but our favorite is the episode “Relics” from “The Next Generation,” lassie.
5. Hikaru Sulu: A fun character in the original series has become a groundbreaking one in the new films.
6. Nyota Uhura: From the brave performance by Nichelle Nichols to the badass-ness of Zoe Saldana, the character has long been a role model and a revolutionary character.
7. Pavel Chekov: A wonderful character, but we’re going to show our love to Anton Yelchin, the young actor who took over the role for the new movies and was taken from us way too soon.
8. Khan: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNN! Enough said.
9. Tribbles: Quick! Which furry little monster reproduces faster, Tribbles or a New York City rat?
10. Redshirts: Let’s all drink in memory of the soon-to-be fallen comrade aboard the Enterprise. One seems to die each episode, but there will always be more.
11. Tricorders: Slowly, but surely, our iPhones are getting closer to these multi-purpose tools.
12. The Enterprise: Perhaps the most famous spaceship ever?
13. The Mirror Universe: Slap on a goatee and you get an evil version of yourself. This plot twist has been used effectively across multiple series.
14. Jean-Luc Picard: Stern and strong, yet playful. There are countless reasons to love Picard, but we’ll just name our favorite: He was a Borg in two of the best episodes of “TNG.” Oh, and people might think that Michael Jordan made bald cool, but no, it’s this guy.
15. Data: “Star Trek” has long shown characters working to find humanity, and the character arc of the android Data was amazing as the synthetic character learned how to feel right before our eyes.
16. Geordi La Forge: Geordi’s visor almost made the list instead of the man himself, but then we remembered the wonderful “TNG” episode “Relics” (again) where he worked with Scotty from the original series. His visor, which allowed the blind man to see, looked cool in a retro-1980s-technology kind of way.
17. Will Riker: Always better with a beard, Riker was the loose, fun guy to Picard’s by-the-books persona. And he played a mean trombone.
18. Worf: The Klingon went from “TNG” to “Deep Space Nine,” and through all those seasons, we really saw so many sides of character: warrior, father, soldier and husband. Just a great character arc.
19. Q: Not really a villain, more like a disruptive, impish omnipotent force in the galaxy, Q caused havoc on “TNG,” “DS9” and “Voyager.” He could bend space and time, drove Picard nuts and often lightened up the shows. Q episodes are always a good time.
20. Guinan: Whoopi Goldberg actively sought to get on “TNG,” landing the role of Guinan, a member of an alien race who live for hundreds of years. She could be mysterious, insightful and coy. Interestingly, she first meets the crew of the Enterprise in San Francisco in the 19th century is an episode involving the severed head of Data.
21. The Borg: The cybernetic beings are a scary-as-hell villain in the franchise, with their haunting mantra of “resistance is futile.”
22. Benjamin Sisko: A great captain and an even greater father, Sisko ran Deep Space Nine and brought a real coolness to the captain’s seat. His relationship with his son Jake led to many memorable moments.
23. Quark: The Ferengi bar owner with a love for the Rules of Acquisition and gold-pressed latinum was at the center of many unforgettable episodes of “DS9.”
24. Quark’s Bar: “Cheers,” in space, where the Ferengi knew everyone’s name. A place for gambling, boozing and holodeck rentals. Looks like a ton of fun.
25. Morn: If Quark’s Bar is cheers, then Morn is Norm. He never says a word in the entire “DS9” series, but he’s at the center of a great episode, “Who Mourns for Morn?,” and he has the reputation for being incredibly funny. Just ask Quark.
26. Odo: The shapeshifter and Deep Space Nine constable had a cool power that let him be everything from a chair to a bunch of goo in a bucket, and his constant battles with Quark on “DS9” are very memorable.
27. Miles O’Brien and family: O’Brien graduated from bit player on “TNG” to full-fledged lead on “DS9.” The chief of operations followed in a long line of gruff but lovable engineers, but it was his family — wife Keiko and children Molly and Kirayoshi — that really set him apart.
28 Dr. Julian Bashir: The good doctor has some skeletons in his closet, but he’s always fun, often goofy and his tense scenes with the Cardassian Elim Garak are riveting.
29. Elim Garak: Tinker tailor soldier spy. The Cardassian, who lived on Deep Space Nine, was a former spy turned tailor who still dabbled in his old profession. Played beautifully by Andrew Robinson, he was always interesting.
30. Jadzia Dax: Jadzia Dax is an alien known as a Trill, which is a symbiotic creature made up of the long-lived Dax and the host Jadzia. A previous host, Curzon, was close friends with Benjamin Sisko, and their friendship was almost as fun as the vast majority of the guys on “DS9” pining for her.
31. Jake Sisko: The son of the station’s captain, Jake was a troublemaker around Deep Space Nine with his buddy Nog, but grew up before our eyes to become a reporter for the Federation News Service. Look! The news industry survives well into the future.
32. Nog: I have a theory that you could remake the entirety of “DS9” from the perspective of Nog, the nephew of Quark who we see grow up in the seven seasons of the series to become the first Ferengi in Starfleet.
33. Deep Space Nine: While the spaceships in “Star Trek” are these super-clean, sterile vessels, this station, formerly run by the Cardassians as Terok Nor, was anything but clean and sterile: grimy, broken-down and full of character, with a new story in every dank corridor.
34. Kathryn Janeway: The character started off a bit bland, but quickly grew on us as her moments in the holodeck creating art alongside Leonardo da Vinci matched well with her toughness.
35. Seven of Nine: “Voyager” got a whole lot better when Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01 showed up in the fourth season. The Borg drone who is unassimilated from the collective brought a lot of sex appeal to the series, but she also delivered a lot of conflict and great character moments as Seven learned what it was to be human. Yes, a recurring theme.
36. Tuvok: The struggle of a Vulcan is containing emotions, and you often see Tuvok struggle with just that, which makes him a fascinating character. There’s an episode in the sixth season of “Voyager,” “Riddles,” where Tuvok suffers neurological damage that stops him from curtailing his emotion. It’s a powerful episode, and he really shines, understanding how his logical self distanced him from the rest of the crew.
37. The Doctor: The Doctor is an Emergency Medical Hologram meant for use only in an emergency who is forced into being the full-time doctor when Voyager gets stranded in space. A program, he starts off as a bit of a jerk but becomes a seriously heroic figure as he evolves into a unique life form, and Robert Picardo is just perfect in the role.
38. Neelix: The Talaxian chef is often the comic relief on Voyager, but there’s a lot of depth to the character. He can be annoying, but endearing.
39. Jonathan Archer: “Enterprise” gets a bad rap. It took a few seasons to get good, and then it got canceled, but nobody would ever say it’s because of Captain Jonathan Archer.
40. T’Pol: Again, the Vulcan struggle to contain emotion is what makes for an interesting Vulcan, and this alien from “Enterprise” struggled to keep things in check. Very much at odds with the Federation, she’s a fascinating figure who’s very different from Vulcans to come later in the timeline.
41. The novels: There are more than 700 “Star Trek” episodes and 13 movies, and even that isn’t enough for many “Trek” fanatics. Good thing there are hundreds of novels available, covering not only each of the television series, but also branching off into their own unique franchises, such as the “Starfleet Corps of Engineers” and “Starfleet Academy.”
42. The comic books: There have been “Star Trek” comics for nearly as long as there has been “Star Trek,” with titles first showing up 50 years ago. There are tons of titles available now, from old runs about the original cast, “TNG,” “DS9” and “Voyager,” as well as new series about the current film characters.
43. The toys: While it’s not on par with “Star Wars,” there are tons of “Trek” toys out there, from stuff geared toward children and big kids like, such as action figures and models of the spaceships, to major prop replicas aimed at collectors, who I’m sure would quibble with me for calling their collectibles toys.
44. “Engage” podcast: The official “Star Trek” podcast, “Engage,” available on all the usual platforms, is hosted by noted “Trek” guru and New Yorker Jordan Hoffman and is a celebration of all things “Star Trek,” with interviews, reviews and more.
45. Streaming access: We live in a world where if you have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account, you can easily stream most of the “Star Trek” episodes and films on your TV, computer or phone from wherever you are. Want to see a specific episode at some random time? No worries. That’s insane and amazing.
46. The fandom: Famously mocked on “Saturday Night Live” by William Shatner in 1986, “Star Trek” fans — Trekkers, Trekkies or whatever, you want to call them — are one of the most feverish fanbases out there. It might not have been the cool thing to do 25 years ago, but these days, you can and should wear your Vulcan ears with pride.
47. Its inclusiveness: Take a look at the casts of any of the “Star Trek” series, and you’ll see a diverse crew, and that was not by accident. “Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry was a man ahead of his time, which leads us to...
48. The social commentary: Look at the original series and you’ll see social commentary all over the place, especially when it came to racial equality. Roddenberry’s future is one we should all hope for.
49. The quotes: There are so many memorable lines from “Star Trek.” “Live long and prosper,” “I’m a doctor, not a [fill in the blank],” “Make it so,” “Resistance is futile” and the list goes on and on.
50. “Star Trek: Discovery”: What is there to love about “Star Trek” more than more “Star Trek?” This new show, created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman and set before the original series, will launch in January with a new ship, the USS Discovery, and a whole new crew. It will have a preview air on CBS before streaming weekly on CBS All Access. Sign me up!