Analyzing Star Trek episode titles
I recently found myself idly wondering what the shortest Star Trek episode title was. The first to come to mind was the Original Series episode “Arena” (the one which Captain Kirk fights a humanoid lizard in one of the most striking examples of 1960 “makeup”).
I guessed there were probably shorter ones, but was rather disappointed I didn’t know the answer for sure. So I decided to find out.
While investigating, I also started wondering other things, like: what is the longest episode title? Which series has the shortest or longest titles on average? How many episodes begin with “the”?
I have decided to gather the answers to these questions and more together into a series of blog posts.
Some ground rules
I quickly realised even for “shortest episode title” there were some decisions I would have to make about what would count.
- What counts as a letter?
- Any character is a letter. So including (but not necessarily limited to):
- The letters A-Z (regardless of case or accents).
- The digits 0-9.
- Any punctuation symbol.
- A space.
- An ellipsis (so three dots … is a single character).
- What counts as a word?
- Spaces separate words, nothing else does.
37'sis one word, as is
- Which series/episodes are included?
- I decided to include all episodes from The Original Series (including “The Cage”), The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise. This is for the simple practical reason that no more episodes are being produced for these (with the recent annocunement that season 5 of Discovery will be its last, I may redo this including Discovery in the near future).
- What about two-part episodes?
- For two part episodes (that don’t have completely different titles), I’m just using the “base name”.
About those two-part episodes
The first two-part episode of Star Trek was called “The Menagerie”. In the episode title sequence it is styled as
"THE MENAGERIE" PART I and
"THE MENAGERIE" PART II, with the part information clearly outside the quotation marks used to identify the title. This suggests the title is in fact “The Menagerie”.
“The Menagerie” (as far as I am aware) was never produced as a single feature length episode. Many other two-part episodes were either broadcast originally as a single episode, or later made available as one (often with additional footage included). This means an episode could potentially have three different names (one for each part individually and one for the whole) and using the “base name” seems most sensible in this case.
It should also be noted, there is little consistency in how the two-part episode titles are handled. Some of them give the first part the “base name” and add “Part II” after whereas others include the part information in both titles. Whether the part information is inside the quotes varies, and even whether the word “part” is included.
So overall, I feel justified in in using the “base name”, just as a way of establishing some kind of order. Although I can already tell I’m going to have to write a detailed blog post covering all of this (especially if I get to including Discovery, since that messes everything up by having an episode titled as if it is the third part of a three-part episode, the first two parts of which are from another series).
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