In Klingon, the phrase “to be or not to be” is “taH pagh taHbe!” And once again, it appears that the Klingons will be contemplating this question as they go to war with the Federation in Star Trek: Discovery. Since 1966, the Klingon Empire has been a major player on the stage of Star Trek’s galaxy. For almost the entire original series and the first six films, the Klingons — when they appeared — were the bad guys. But by the time of The Next Generation, the Klingons became the rowdy allies of Starfleet. The most famous Klingon of them all then, was Mr. Worf (Michael Dorn) a warrior raised by humans, but who served the peaceful Federation. Through Worf, and other characters, the Klingons became more than just enemies, they became a compelling alien race, just as memorable on Star Trek as the super-logical Vulcans.
With Discovery poised to add new pages to Klingon history, it can feel like a lot to wrap your mind around if you’ve never watched Star Trek. But, a true Klingon warrior knows know fear! Here are seven essential Klingon episodes to get you caught up for Star Trek: Discovery.
Star Trek: The Original Series (Streaming on Netflix, CBS All-Access and Amazon Prime)
Season 1 Episode 26: “Errand of Mercy”
This is the first episode with the Klingons. It establishes a few big things including a forced peace treaty. Keen viewers will notice wonky canon at this point: Spock calls himself a “Vulcanian” instead of a “Vulcan.”
Season 3 Episode 7: “Day of the Dove”
Captain Kirk and the Crew of the Enterprise fight with Klingons on the ship using swords. An evil alien made of pure hate watches all it and the ending might actually make you laugh, mostly because it’s awesome.
Movies (Streaming on Amazon Prime)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
This was the last movie featuring the entire original cast. The plot is about the Federation and Klingon Empire making peace. In many ways, this film is ulimate bridge between the original series and the Next Generation era. Michael Dorn even appears as his own ancestor; a Klingon named Col. Worf who ironically is Kirk and McCoy’s lawyer when they go on trial for murder. The director of The Undiscovered Country was the same writer-director who did The Wrath of Khan — Nicholas Meyer — and he’s a writer on Discovery. Some people think the new show is a kind of a prequel to this movie. This is also the movie in which the Klingon obsession with Shakespeare is introduced.
The Next Generation ( (Streaming on Netflix, CBS All-Access and Amazon Prime)
Season 3, Episode 17 “Sins of the Father”
If you only have to watch one Klingon episode on this list, watch this one. It’s all about Worf’s family, his brother, and what the Klingon high command is all about. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) yells at people, which is pretty dope. Plus, this episode sets up a lot of the politics of the different Klingon houses, which is going to be a big part of Discovery.
Season 4, Episode 26 and Season 5, Episode 1 “Redemption Parts 1 and 2”
This two-part episode continues all the stuff that was set up in “Sins of the Father,” and takes it up another notch. This time, Worf and his brother Kurn get wrapped up in a Klingon civil war. It’s pretty huge, and involves all sorts of awesome Star Trek stuff including cloak devices, secret Romulan plots, people changing uniforms a lot, and a huge armadas of starships fighting each other. Oh, and Patrick Stewart speaks Klingon like it’s his job. (Because it is?)
Deep Space Nine ( (Streaming on Netflix, CBS All-Access and Amazon Prime)
Season 2, Episode 19 “Blood Oath”
An underrated Klingon story in Deep Space Nine finds the centuries-old Jadzia Dax teaming up with three elderly Klingons from the original series in an act of revenge. Basically, she made a promise to her Klingon buddies in a past life, and now has to make good on going on a Klingon killing-spree wit them.
Season 4, Episode 1 “The Way of the Warrior Parts 1 and 2”
Worf crosses over from The Next Generation to become a full regular cast member of Deep Space Nine in this episode. Full of a lot of action (many Klingon episodes are) this episode is a kind of turning point for all of Star Trek. After years of peace, the Klingons and the Federation have a huge falling out. Like the premise Discovery, this conflict isn’t resolved in one episode.
Obviously, there are tons more episodes of Star Trek — including installments of Voyager and Enterprise — which feature the Klingons, but after these seven adventures, you’ll know enough to know that saying “k’plah!” (the Klingon word for “success”) will bring you way more good fortune than saying “good luck.”
Star Trek: Discovery debuts on CBS All-Access on September 24.