(written from a Production point of view)
A narrator is a person who tells a story to the audience. Star Trek often used a narrator at the beginning of each new season or sporadically within a story arc. The narrator typically stated "last time on [series name]…" or "previously on [series name]…", to introduce or preface a montage of events to lead viewers to the events continued in the present episode, followed by "and now, the continuation" or "and now, the conclusion".
Initially, for Star Trek: The Original Series, narration was often given by William Shatner in the form of a captain's log as by Captain James T. Kirk, where he would describe events the viewers were seeing, often by breaking the fourth wall; as was evident in the episode "The Naked Time", when Kirk describes "…but unknown to us…". In other instances, Kirk's entries were made as a voice over to other events, overlapping with scenes of what he was describing, such as in the episode "Space Seed".
The introduction of "The Menagerie, Part II" the most unique example of this, during the run of the series, where the episode began with Kirk recording a personal log, "I find it hard to believe the events of the past twenty four hours or the plea of Mister Spock standing general court-martial," which lead into a short montage of events from the previous episode, that were being intertwined with the continuation of his log. This technique was similarly used as Kirk recapped the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, via Captain's log, at the introduction of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which also intertwined his log with the events from the previous films.
Majel Barrett was the go-to narrator for introducing such episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. She did not begin receiving credit for her contribution as narrator until Voyager, where she received credit in six out of eight episodes she voiced over. Her narration for "Cold Fire" was unique from previous narrations, as it began: "Ten months ago, the crew of Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant by an entity known as the Caretaker." This was intertwined with a recap of relevant scenes from "Caretaker", where she continued, "When he died, Voyager's best chance of getting home died with him, but he revealed one hopeful possibility." Rather than the usual, "and now, the continuation" or "and now, the conclusion", however, this recap was followed with the on screen text "ten months later…".
Over a decade later, narration became much more frequent and commonplace in introducing episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, where narration was provided by a multitude of various actors from their respective series.
Episodes introduced by narration
- TNG: Narrated by Majel Barrett (all uncredited)
- DS9: Narrated by Majel Barrett (all uncredited)
- "The Circle"
- "The Siege"
- "The Maquis, Part II"
- "The Search, Part I"
- "The Search, Part II"
- "Past Tense, Part II"
- "The Die is Cast"
- "Paradise Lost"
- "Apocalypse Rising"
- "By Inferno's Light"
- "A Time to Stand"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "Image in the Sand"
- "Shadows and Symbols"
- "'Til Death Do Us Part"
- "Strange Bedfellows"
- VOY: Narrated by Majel Barrett
- ENT: Narrated by Scott Bakula (all uncredited)
- ENT: Narrated by Jolene Blalock (all uncredited)
- DIS: Narrated by Sonnequa Martin-Green
- "Context Is for Kings"
- "Choose Your Pain"
- "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"
- "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"
- "Despite Yourself"
- "New Eden"
- "Saints of Imperfection"
- "Project Daedalus"
- "The Red Angel"
- "Through the Valley of Shadows"
- "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"
- "That Hope Is You, Part 1"
- "Far From Home"
- "People of Earth"
- "Die Trying"
- "Unification III"
- "The Sanctuary"
- "Terra Firma, Part 1"
- "Terra Firma, Part 2"
- "There Is A Tide..."
- DIS: Narrated by Jason Isaacs
- DIS: Narrated by Doug Jones
- DIS: Narrated by Mary Wiseman
- DIS: Narrated by Anthony Rapp
- DIS: Narrated by Shazad Latif
- DIS: Narrated by Mary Chieffo (in Klingon)
- DIS: Narrated by Annabelle Wallis
- PIC: Narrated by Isa Briones
- PIC: Narrated by Harry Treadaway
- PIC: Narrated by Michelle Hurd
- PIC: Narrated by Alison Pill
- PIC: Narrated by Evan Evagora
- PIC: Narrated by Jonathan Del Arco
- PIC: Narrated by Jeri Ryan
- PIC: Narrated by Santiago Cabrera