How 'Strange New Worlds' Fits Into the 'Star Trek' Timeline

The Star Trek canon and timeline is a complicated, ever-shifting thing that can leave all but the most ardent Trekkies a little confused.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the latest addition to that canon, but the Paramount+ show tries to sidestep some of the dense lore that has sometimes weighed down Discovery and Picard. Instead, it tries to get back to more simple fun of The Original Series and The Next Generation.

Strange New Worlds, then, is a great jumping-in point for newer fans. If that describes you, however, there are a few important things to know from other shows in the Star Trek universe that might enrich your experience of watching Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Here's how the new show links to the other Star Trek shows, and where in the timeline it sits.

Where is Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in the Star Trek timeline?

star trek strange new worlds
Ethan Peck and Anson Mount in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds." The show is set a few years before the events of "The Original Series." Paramount+

Technically speaking, the show is a direct spin-off of Star Trek: Discovery—but thanks to a plot twist in that show, the two are not set in the same time period.

Strange New Worlds mostly takes place on the USS Enterprise, the ship first captained by James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) in The Original Series. This version of the ship, however, is captained by Captain Chris Pike (Anson Mount), who was first introduced as the Enterprise captain in Discovery Season 2.

At that time, however, the Enterprise was being repaired, so Pike became the captain of the Discovery until the end of Season 2.

The Season 2 finale of Star Trek: Discovery was when the timeline of Strange New Worlds splits off from Discovery. In that episode, "Such Sweet Sorrow," the crews of the Enterprise and Discovery battle an evil AI named Control. To defeat it, they forge a plan—the Discovery team lead by Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) will go far into the future where Control cannot access the data the Discovery has, while the Enterprise stays in the present to provide cover. As such, Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is set hundreds of years after Strange New Worlds, which picks up the timeline where Discovery left it.

And where is that exactly? The 23rd century, a few years before the events of The Original Series, which spanned 2266 to 2269 in in-universe time.

At some point, the story of Strange New Worlds dovetails exactly into that of The Original Series—in the franchise's chronology, Pike is Kirk's immediate predecessor as captain of the Enterprise. He is given command of the ship in 2250, and serves on board until 2265. In fact, Strange New Worlds Season 2 will feature Kirk, played by Paul Wesley.

A bit of real world history is needed here. Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) was the captain in the original pilot for The Original Series, but Hunter left the project when the pilot was rejected and was replaced by Shatner. In fact, the only reason that the character got incorporated into the canon is because the budget-challenged Original Series decided to reuse that pilot footage in an episode titled "The Menagerie." In that episode, it was explained that Pike had piloted the Enterprise before Kirk. As Leonard Nimoy's Spock is also in that pilot, it was explained that the Vulcan had worked under Pike before Kirk.

(It should be noted that the version of Spock in Strange New Worlds, played by Ethan Peck, is different from the one played by Zachary Quinto in the Star Trek movies, which take place in an alternate timeline for reasons too complicated to go into here.)

There are four main characters in that pilot, three of whom appear in Strange New Worlds: Pike, Spock and Number One (originally played by Majel Barrett, now played by Rebecca Romijn). If you want to see Spock and Number One's first day working together, this was shown in an episode of Star Trek: Short Treks titled "Q&A."

"The Menagerie" is also important to the Pike timeline. In it, we see an elderly Pike in a mechanized wheelchair, after being very seriously injured saving Starfleet cadets from an explosion. In a Discovery episode, Pike gets a vision of this future, but this explosion is many years ahead of the events of Strange New Worlds.

Just a few more Star Trek connections to be aware of before you start the new show. Strange New Worlds features a character named La'an Noonien-Singh, who is related to the titular Khan of movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Spock is also Burnham's step-brother, as revealed in Discovery. This is alluded to in the first episode of the new show.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds airs Thursdays on Paramount+. All other Star Trek series mentioned above are also streaming on Paramount+.