Star Trek: The Next Generation celebrates its 30th anniversary today. When the show premiered on September 28th, 1987 it arrived with some skepticism from fans who were not ready yet to move on from Kirk, Spock and Bones. After a bit of a rocky start, The Next Generation managed to win over and even surpass fan expectations, along with bringing in millions of new. The show eventually ran for seven seasons and spawned four feature films.
So in honor of the 30 year legacy today TrekMovie counts down what we see as the 30 greatest moments of the first Star Trek spin-off. Some are fun, some sad, some scary, but all show how Star Trek: The Next Generation remains with us today.
30. Remmick explodes (“Conspiracy”)
Picard and Riker investigate an alien infestation in one of the show’s best and weirdest episodes during the first season.
29. Riker rejects Admiral Pressman (“The Pegasus”)
In one of the better episodes written about Riker, he chooses the right side by rejecting Admiral Pressman.
28. Shut up, Wesley! (“Datalore”)
After Wesley persists in insisting that Data has been replaced by his evil brother Lore, Picard (and his mother) have enough and tell him to shut it, creating a perhaps unintentional cathartic moment for fans frustrated with the character.
27. Alternate Riker doesn’t want to go back (“Parallels”)
Multiple parallel-universe Enterprises converge, including one captained by a scruffy-bearded Riker from a reality infested with the Borg, and he doesn’t want to go back.
26. Worf breaks Geordi’s mandolin (“Qpid”)
After Q recreates Robin Hood and his merry men with the crew, Worf makes it clear is “not a merry man” and he demonstrates this with an homage to Animal House.
25. Data meets his maker (“Brothers”)
In a great showcase of Brent Spiner’s talent, he plays Data, Data’s brother Lore and his creator, Dr. Noonian Soong.
24. “Good tea, nice house.” (“The Survivors”)
Worf shows that there is honor in being polite when visiting a nice old couple who offer him a cup of tea, which he clearly isn’t enjoying.
23. Troi tells fantasy Troi to “muzzle it” (“Hollow Pursuits”)
When the crew discover what Barclay has been up to in the Holodeck, it makes for a quite amusing experience for the crew – especially Troi.
22. Data decides Kivas Fajo has to die (“The Most Toys”)
Data shows that he is more than just his programming when he decides enough is enough with an sinister collector who had abducted him, only to have the transporter whisk him away before he can finish the job.
21. The Borg take a slice (“Q-Who”)
Q throws the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and shows us just how vulnerable this ship and crew are as we meet the Borg and they casually carve up the ship.
20. “No bloody A, B, C or D…” (“Relics”)
James Doohan guest stars as Montgomery Scott after being saved from a transporter loop that suspended him for 80 years. Scott recreates the bridge of the original Enterprise on the Holodeck, giving us some tears in our eyes.
19. Picard pleads love for Lwaxana Troi (“Menage a Troi”)
In order to rescue Counselor Troi and her mother, Lwaxana, Picard must confess his love for Troi’s mother to the Ferengi.
18. Data and Spock talk life choices (“Unification, Part 2”)
Two of the most iconic characters in Star Trek history finally meet face-to-face and ponder the value of a pursuit of humanity.
17. Crusher figures out she is trapped in a bubble (“Remember Me”)
This is one of the better episodes for Beverly Crusher, who utilizes her scientific skills to work out she is trapped inside a warp bubble after members of the crew keep mysteriously disappearing.
16. Q gives Data the gift of laughter (“Deja-Q”)
In a fleeting moment at the end of the episode, Q gives Data a gift, albeit brief: unbridled laughter.
15. Picard mindmelds with Sarek (“Sarek”)
In order to help Ambassador Sarek keep his emotions under control for a critical negotiation, Picard agrees to take them on, even though he risks being overwhelmed by them.
14. Admiral McCoy tells Data how to treat the Enterprise (“Encounter at Fairpoint”)
In a rare appearance, DeForest Kelley appears as Admiral McCoy to tell Data to treat the Enterprise like a lady “and she’ll always bring you home.”
13. Picard laughs after being stabbed (“Tapestry”)
In one of the many episodes where Q makes Picard question his own humanity, he makes him revisit a defining moment of his youth as a Starfleet officer.
12. Data is “fully functional” (“The Naked Now”)
In the show’s second episode – a sequel to The Original Series episode “The Naked Time” – Data lets the audience know that he’s a “fully functioning” android whilst engaging in intercourse with Tasha Yar.
11. Crusher teaches Data how to dance (“Data’s Day”)
In a tender moment between the good doctor and Data, Dr. Crusher teaches Data how to dance for the wedding of Miles and Keiko O’Brien.
10. Picard uses Vulcan nerve pinch (“Starship Mine”)
When terrorists sneak on board an emptied Enterprise, Picard gets his John McClane on shows them who is the captain, including giving guest star Tim Russ (who would later play Vulcan security officer Tuvok on VOY) a rare human-delivered Vulcan nerve pinch.
9. Picard ends the witch hunt (“The Drumhead”)
Perhaps one of Picard’s finest speeches – and finest moments – he ends Admiral Satie’s witch hunt trying to find any shred of evidence of a Romulan conspiracy. A speech that is still relevant today.
8. Riker removes Data’s arm (“The Measure of a Man”)
Picard must prove to Starfleet that Data is a sentient being with rights, but Riker doesn’t make it easy with his reluctant yet effective case.
7. “There are four lights!” (“Chain of Command, Part 2”)
After being captured and tortured by the Cardassians, Picard has a great moment of defiance and heroism by rejecting the brainwashing of his tormentors.
6. Lal dies (“The Offspring”)
In an incredibly emotional moment for Data’s quest to be human, he loses his daughter.
5. “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” (“Darmok”)
It’s one of the most memorable episodes ever. Picard gets a lesson in interspecies relations by speaking, and then understanding, this unforgettable line.
4. Picard plays the flute (“The Inner Light”)
Described by many as one of the best episodes in the entire series, after living a lifetime and then some Picard picks up the flute once more.
3. “Let’s make sure that history never forgets…” (“Yesterday’s Enterprise”)
In an alternative and darker universe a different Picard and crew sacrifice themselves to send the Enterprise-C back in time to restore the timeline, ensuring history never forgets the name Enterprise.
2. “The sky’s the limit” (“All Good Things…”)
In what became a hallmark of the show, the series ends with a card game between the senior officers. Except this time… Picard joins them.
1. “Mr. Worf, fire” (“The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1”)
In what may be television’s greatest cliffhangers, Riker tells Worf to fire on the Borg cube which carries a newly assimilated Captain Picard as Locutus of Borg.
What are your greatest TNG moments?
Well that’s our list, but we’re sure there are moments you think should be on the list. Sound off in the comments below.
Data realizing he belongs on the Enterprise at the end of “Tin Man”.
The episode All Good Things.
What exactly is Trekmovie saying with their commentary on #9 :)
Perhaps the left wing’s continual attempts to stifle the freedom of speech of those they disagree with. “…the first time any man’s freedom is trodden on we’re all damaged.”
There we go again…
Probably that they disagreed with the vast right wing conspiracy that tried to bring down President Clinton. ;-)
I’m assuming it’s just some clunky syntax, since J’Dan was guilty of espionage. The witch hunt was really against Picard.
Simon Tarses didn’t fare too well. Something that the post series DS9 books have fixed.
What a great show.
The day it was over followed by Spock and Best of Both Worlds where an anti individual collective comes in and uses Picard to come after Starfleet. Loved McCoy in the pilot too.
Picard grilling data about lying in “Clues,” only to find out he’d ordered him to. Picard finally breaking down to his brother about the Borg incident in “Family”.
“Oh, you’re so stolid! You weren’t like that before the beard!” – Q from TNG
What about the very first scene of the entire series?
Encounter at Farpoint (1987)
Captain’s log, stardate 41153.7 – Our destination is planet Deneb IV, beyond which lies the great, unexplored mass of the galaxy.
I feel like the mess hall scene from A Matter of Honor should be on this list.
Doctor, there must be a cure. Some formula. Huh hunh hunh hunh hunh hunh. Similar to the old one.
Scotty was stuck in a transporter, not a time loop. I think they have him mixed up with Kelsey Grammer’s character.
Speaking of Kelsey Grammer…Cause and Effect. It was a good time travel show. Face of the Enemy was a good turn for Troi. I am glad you included Chain of Command however there are some other parts that also made the episode work……Jellico’s more military style of command, the introduction of the Cardassians, and Troi once again wearing a Starfleet uniform.
Cardassians were introduced in The Wounded.
True but the Cardassians really started to take off in this episode. IMO. Plus Jellico was better at dealing with them than Picard was. I liked that it showed while Picard is a good captain he isn’t the only solution to every problem the Federation has. If that makes sense.?
Not sure how ‘Conspiracy’ rates a top 30 mention. A fairly pedestrian episode, and Remmick getting phaser splattered at the end of the episode seem to be there for shock value only. Even though the episode teased a future threat to the Federation, it went nowhere after that. A big tip off that it was a dead end episode and a dead end story arc….
TNG took flak for the gruesomeness of that scene from audiences, local stations, and Paramount. So they dropped that storyline completely.
I remember it because at the time it was amazingly rare for them to pull their phasers out much less fire them. It was shocking because we hadn’t seen something like that before. Similar to seeing the Enterprise get shot unshielded in WoK. My eye popped out my head seeing that the first time.
Even if that that story thread was never pulled.
This isn’t a list of great episodes. Its a list of great moments. The episode sucked, but that moment was cool.
Remmick getting splattered wasn’t a great moment, just a bit more messy then simply getting vaporized. Not to mention pointless. No one thinks Sonak being reduced to a pile of goo in the ST:TMP transporter accident as a great moment…
Still one of my all-time favorite TNG episodes, and I’m still waiting to see who answers the beacon.
…it’s the Amazon delivery guy!
I was so happy to chime in about one of my favorite Trek series. Then I saw all the negative comments and assumed I must have clicked a Discovery article by mistake.
Sick phaser burn.
Ugghhhaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That is how the Klingon lures a mate.
The witchhunt in “Drumhead” was against Simon Tarses and then Captain Picard. J’Dan was actually guilty. Very, very guilty.
Yeah… “Sorry” is #1 in a landslide.
“Mr Worf… Fire” is the best cliffhanger by far as well.
Other than that I find it a little difficult to populate this list. The ship carving by the Borg was
Impressive. Remmick getting phasered, sure.
One that I personally liked was from Tapestry. But not Picard getting stabbed. It was him looking amazingly depressed in the turbolift when he realized Q might just leave him in that “dreary” position forever. Asking to no one but the audience if Q was having a good laugh.
The top three for me are the aftermath of Wolf 359, Admiral McCoy passing the reigns (Bones is my favourite character across all incarnations), and Scott’s anguish at being a man out of time (we all feel that way as we are growing older). Fourth and fifth I’d put the death of Sarek and the death of Tasha (which would impact the series for years to come).
Great choices all around! I think Picard chewing out Wesley in “The First Duty” (…of every Starfleet officer is to the truth – be it scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth…) should’ve found a place here as well.
But then the list might’ve become a bit to Picard-heavy, I wager…
Like the list except number 12. That was just cringe worthy. I would add Spock mind melding with Picard to share his mind meld experience with Sarek.
The version of that dialogue in the Roddenberry pilot-movie “The Questor Tapes” was much better.
Firmly establishing Data as the vibrator that talks back. It begs the question, when Data created his ‘daughter’, was she fully functional as well?
Did you mean “raises the question”.
I’m so ashamed. I didn’t rise to the occasion.
And I ‘beg’ your forgiveness for playing “grammar police”
“What must I do to convince you people?”
“Wonderful Worf! Eat any good books lately?”
One of my favorite exchanges as well!
Didn’t see the Ronnie Cox episode on here…maybe I missed it, but that was one of their finest moments for sure.
“Chain of Command” is on the list, but they chose THE Picard moment from towards the end pf part 2; and Cox’s Admiral Jellicoe wasn’t in that scene.
“I’m not going to win this one, am I Chief?” – Captain Maxwell in “The Wounded”
That scene, and the singing of the battle hymn, is in my top 5 TNG moments for sure. It’s a wonderful episode that touches on much in this war ravaged age.
Happy 30th anniversary!
Nothing can beat TNG for me. It’ll always be my favorite Trek show.
Same here! TNG was “my Trek”, it’s what I grew up with. Even putting aside nostalgia, I don’t think any Trek managed to be as thoughtful, touching, or charismatic as TNG. DS9 came close, but in different ways. TNG will always be the high water mark of Star Trek to me and it’s my most beloved TV series of all time.
One of my top moments in TNG is in season 4, when Data is closing his letter to Dr. Bruce Maddox at the conclusion of “Data’s Day”. For me, this stellar episode is elevated to one of the series’ best by the soaring, triumphant crescendo of Ron Jones’ magnificent musical score. Google “Data’s Day Understanding/Becoming” to listen to a recording of this stupendous track.
I listen to this music from time to time whenever I’m feeling a little down, and it never fails to lift my spirits. If this scene and its transcendent musical accompaniment don’t leave you loving Data and Brent Spiner a little more, check your emotion chip; it must be malfunctioning.
Data is my favorite character across all Star Trek series, and Data’s Day is an absolute delight for me. You’re right, the score from that episode is fantastic and inspiring. Just like Commander Data himself.
p.s. A close second: The entire sequence where the Bynars are stealing the Enterprise in “11001001”. A rare bright highlight of Season 1, again elevated by Ron Jones’ exciting musical score.
Curse you, Rick Berman, for firing Jones and using “sonic wallpaper” for the back half of TNG. The show was diminished by your lack of imagination.
There are so many great moments from TNG, I wouldn’t be able to name them all (but love your list though). TOS made me a fan of Star Trek but TNG made me a fanatic. It was amazing to have a brand new Star Trek show that came one weekly and everyone talked about. I sometimes wonder where would Trek be today if TNG wasn’t the huge success it was because if it failed after first season and the TOS crew were basically done a few years after them I’m not sure we would have stuff like Discovery and the KT films today. We definitely wouldn’t have gotten DS9, thats for sure.
Its fun reading all the threads about his amazing show at Reddit. I still miss it sometimes all this time later but happy Star Trek is still boldly going. A great show and an amazing cast!
Data disciplining Worf after he mouthed off on the bridge in “Gambit”
For me, one of the hallmark moments of TNG was Riker’s pondering about the value we place on life in “The Bonding”.
“Maybe if we felt any loss as keenly as we felt the death of one close to us, human history would be a lot less bloody.”
Words I ponder often as I read the news.
Yeah there are so many great lines like that in TNG, but Star Trek in general. I think thats why I love Trek so much, how it gauges humanity as a whole.
Agreed, TNG and Star Trek as a whole are very good examinations of the Human Condition, as they often put it.