The Shuttle Pod Crew Gets Into The Numbers, Ranking ‘Next Generation’ Seasons

The Shuttle Pod crew uses IMDb rankings of the seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a jumping off point to discuss their own rankings of TNG. Seasons 3-6 are quite popular, but where do they rank for each podcaster? does a consistent season make it worthy to be higher on the list? or is it about the best episodes of a season? listen along and see if you agree with their rankings.

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IMDb rankings

Rank Season Rating Highlights Lowlights
#1 6 7.77 Chain of Command, Tapestry, Times Arrow, Relics Aquiel, Man of the People
#2 3 7.69 BoBW I, Yesterday’s Enterprise, Deja Q, Offspring The Price, Vengeance Factor
#3 5 7.67 Inner Light, Cause & Effect, Darmok, I Borg Imaginary Friend, Cost of Living
#4 4 7.63 BoBW II, Family, Redemption, Drumhead The Loss, The Host
#5 7 7.29 All Good Things, Parallels, Lower Decks, The Pegasus Sub Rosa, Masks
#6 2 6.95 Measure of a Man, Q Who, A Matter of Honor, Elementary My Dear Data Shades of Grey, The Child
#7 1 6.81 Conspiracy, Datalore, WNOHGB, 11001001 Code of Honor, Angel One

Shuttle Pod crew season rankings

Jared Matt Kayla Brian Overall
#1 3 5 5 4 5
#2 6 3 3 3 3
#3 2 6 7 5 6
#4 4 4 4 6 4
#5 5 2 6 2 2
#6 7 7 2 7 7
#7 1 1 1 1 1


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That’s fun… But I have a completely different take on this issue. I love the first two seasons of TNG, mainly because the focus was on the planet of the week, the adventure and not so much on characters, bottled mysteries and darker aspects.

When TNG became “better” in the eyes of many, it also abandoned the planet of the week, focused too much on individual characters each episode and mainly presented some on-board mysteries. Plus they shifted away from GR’s no conflict utopian agenda and “paved the way” for the much darker DS9 which was not my favourite step. Yeah, darker is more real, but I want to get away from reality, not keep brooding over it.

Most of my favourite eps I like to rewatch are in S1 and S2…Farpoint, Last Outpost, Where No One Has Gone Before, Justice, 11001001, Heart of Glory, Skin of Evil, We’ll Always Have Paris, Conspiracy, Neutral Zone, Where Silence Has Lease, Contagion, Time Squared, Q Who… I normally stop with Yesterday’s Enterprise and TBOBW when rewatching my favourites.

And I LOVE listening to the wonderful Ron Jones collection… So romantic and beautiful… My favourite era of Trek music…before it temporarily became bland…

So here is my list:

#1 S1
#2 S2

#3 S5
#4 S4
#5 S6
#6 S3
#7 S7

I know, unpopular opinion. But I AM an early TNG lover. Sorry…

Gotta say it’s hard to argue with Ron Jones :-)

No worries, to each his own.

Farpoint, which I hosted a viewing party for, and even bought a new TV and soundsystem for, was one the two most disappointing premieres in my life. The other one was David Lynch’s Dune.

I don’t know for sure that I’d say the first two seasons are THE best, but they’d rank very close for me, too; hell, I even manage to not hate “Code of Honor” and “Angel One”!

I have never been hard on the first two seasons of TNG as some other fans, but felt they were the weakest in the series.


When I did my grand rewatch last year of the franchise, I was partly dreading the first two seasons like I was dreading season three of TOS. But I have to say, I didn’t have that much of a problem with the first two seasons. It’s been so long since I had watched the majority, a lot of the episodes I forgot about that I really enjoyed watching a lot of them. There were definitely some that are still really, really bad ones (Up the Long Ladder, Shades of Gray and Code of Honor will always be stinkers) but there were a lot of decent ones I really enjoyed. Season 2 is actually pretty strong season WHEN compared to season 1 at least.

A lot of the episodes were really fun and imaginative. Where No One Has Gone Before is the type of Star Trek I love. Very trippy and got to go to far flung galaxy in the first season. I forgot how fun that one was.

And I always thought The Neutral Zone was one of the best season finales in the entire series actually. Just pure Star Trek. I rewatched that a week ago when it was playing on Paramount+.

Oh, yeah, that’s a terrific episode!

Up the Long Ladder and Code of Honor are offesive to many people. I get that. So I’m not gonne defend the content. But at least Code of Honor was the only TNG episode scored by a TOS composer. And I happen to love the score…

Don’t get the hatred for Shades of Grey though. It was a nice summary of the series so far…

My only but big beef with Shades of Grey was basically having a clip show as a season finale. Maybe if that episode aired earlier in the season I might have been more forgiving, but having a clip show as a season closer felt way too cheap for me. Also it was one of the rare occasion that Trek had to resort to clip shows.

My only but big beef with Shades of Grey was basically having a clip show as a season finale. 

I thought this was entirely because the writers’ strike left them little choice legally.

I hope the people who find “Up The Long Ladder” offensive at least level the same criticism at Voyage for “Fair Haven,” which is much, much worse.

When Star Trek goes all Lucky Charms… yeesh.

Yeah Fair Haven was pretty bad too lol.

Don’t forget “Fair Haven’s” even worse sequel, “Spirit Folk!”

I don’t remember the score to Code of Honor at all and I don’t want to relive the episode to hear it lol.

Shades of Grey was just a clip show and pretty obvious it was done to save money. BTW, television doesn’t really do clip shows anymore now that I think about it. But as alphantrion said, it wasn’t that bad in itself, just being a season finale is what made it worse IMO. It’s the same thing with These Are the Voyages. It’s not THAT bad as an episode on its own and would be a fun one off if it was done in the middle of the season somewhere. But being the finale to Enterprise just made it feel pretty awful.

But I love TNG to my core, probably more today than when it was on. And while there are definitely some truly bad episodes, overall I enjoy the overwhelming majority of the show. So having a few truly bad ones is not the end of the world of course, especially for a show that has the most episodes in the franchise and looks like it will stay that way.

it a good thing that the POTW thing was lessened, more character arcs added and darker aspects increased.
no more re sets, the characters changed over time as well as broadening of the klingons, romulans and 24th century realpolitik

the show never lost its optimistic outlook, just grew up a little in the 90s in terms of how tv was being written and the general worldview of the era.

Yeah, it’s good they evolved the formula but I still miss the old ways :-) I like the rest of the series, just not to the same extend as TOS and early TNG…

You know whenever I hear this “growing up” argument I roll my eyes. It always seems like the easy way out.

Good grief. “Realpolitik” has been part of Star Trek since “Balance of Terror” and “Errand of Mercy.”

That is kind of my point though, it was already “grown up” in a sense even during TOS when and if it wanted to be. That was always the fun part of Trek, you could have episodes about “realpolitik” as you mentioned but you could also have stuff like “Spock’s Brain” which were cheesy but also immensely enjoyable when you stopped taking everything seriously all the time. This is why I say boiling all down to the “growing up” argument doesn’t really work and seems like the easy way out.

not sure ‘spock’s brain’ was intentionally cheesy as made when the show was at a low point.

difference is in TNG major decisions, changes to the alpha quadrant were not re set or forgotten by ep’s end

maybe ‘Where No One Has Gone Before’, ‘11001001, Heart of Glory, Skin of Evil,’, ‘Conspiracy, Neutral Zone,  Time Squared, Q Who’ but not much else in s1, 2.

The only two eps I would have highlighted in S1 are Where no One has Gone Before and Datalore. No other eps would rise to the level of “season highlights” for me.

Yes, the first season was that bad!

The Big Goodbye is genuine great early episode and won an award I believe.

Conspiracy is another great early episode.

Conspiracy is great!
Really hate Holodeck episodes with a passion, The Big Goodbye has a lot to answer for!


Too short a season?

I still say Season 1 was far better than Season 2 , but Season 2 of TNG beats anything that has been on TV since ENT ended

For my money, Season 5 has the strongest overall set of stories.

Honestly surprised that S7 doesn’t rank slightly higher for both the podcast team and IMDB. I knew it was maligned for the obvious budget cuts and high number of bottle episodes (I mean, how many times can the Ent-D’s corridors be re-used even when it doesn’t make sense), but I thought it was somewhat successful in giving each main character their own focus episodes, and none of the returning minor characters seemed shoehorned in just because it was the final season. It started on a high point (Descent II) and ended with what’s regularly cited as one of the best series finales in TV history, so I think it deserves more credit. By comparison, I consider VOY S7 to be much rougher, and pretty uninteresting, right until it hits the finale.

Funny enough, where I posted I now think season 1 is better than I remember it after rewatching it last year, I have to say it’s the opposite with season 7 and it was worse after rewatching it. I always read from others over the years they thought season 7 was bad or at least not up to par with previous better seasons but I always thought season 7 was great like the rest of them. It even got an Emmy nomination for best show over it.

But this is why grand rewatches are good things to have because I realized there were a lot more mediocre episodes in the final seasons, especially when compared to seasons 3-6, which were just stellar IMO. It was also the season where Sub Rosa lived so I didn’t have total blinders on to that season lol. But yeah, I realize it wasn’t as great as I remembered either. And besides Sub Rosa, one of the other episodes I always felt that was sooooo bad was Genesis. Not quite Threshold or Spock’s Brain bad, but BAD!!!! Masks is another one (what were they thinking???).

Same time, like every Trek show, they had great episodes, some the best in the franchise like Lower Decks, Parallels, Journey’s End and of course All Good Things. But overall when rating seasons 3-7, seventh season is my least favorite out of those.

But I don’t disagree with your thoughts about Voyager season 7 either. Liked most of the episodes, but very few standouts IMO and I was always on the fence with Endgame, but always enjoyed it. It should’ve just been a much stronger and more reflective ending after seven years in the Delta quadrant with Voyager and her gallant crew.

For me the only real saving grace of TNG season 7 is The Pegasus. That is one of the best episodes of the entire series in my opinion.

Agreed. Pegasus was also great and one of the best in the series.

I have yet to listen to this podcast, but I remember Tony Pascale saying (in a previous podcast) that the Prodigy season one is the best first Trek season since 1966. I agree. So, without anyone asking, here is my rankings of “Season One”s from all Star Trek series:

3.Lower Decks
4 DS9
5 Enterprise
6 Voyager
9 Disco

Not a Star Trek: Picard fan, eh? :P

Sadly Picard is currently my least favorite show in the franchise. Hoping season 2 will change that though.

Same here.

Lol I forgot about Picard. Whoops. Wish I could edit my first post

I have to agree with Anthony as well, I think Prodigy is the best first season since TOS first season. That’s high praise. The second show I thought had the best first season since TOS was Lower Decks as well. The animated shows are really doing an amazing job IMO. I don’t think most of us thought they would end up being as good as they are (for the people who like the shows. I feel I always have to put a disclaimer on these things ;)).

But if I had to list the first seasons of the shows, for me:


Agree with this list.

Thanks, but I forgot Picard. I would put Picard at #7 and push the last three down.

Perhaps the ShuttlePod could do a ranking of first seasons after the end of Strange New Worlds’ first season?

My first season list goes:

6 DS9
10 PIC

My series list:

7 DS9
10 PIC

I liked the episodes where Picard was assimilated and joined an evil collective unimind and almost destroyed the Starfleet.Why they never brought back Shelby is beyond me (kind of like Saavik, why create an awesome character and then not use them again?!?!). Honorable mention – yesterday’s Enterprise was kind of ok too because it was in an alternate universe where TNG was more like the TOS movies.
Outside of that the TNG series was horrid. I watched because loved TOS and the TOS movies at the time and kept thinking it would pay off (so excited when Spock was going to show up for instance), but in retrospect it did not and the show was just… terrible.
Free energy, exploring the universe so boring people play holodeck on capital ships, the UFP with nothing to learn preaching to all aliens how great they are, all the aliens in the UFP pretty much human, no internal conflict allowed, no colonization, the once strategic Klingon Empire reduced to pseudo-TOS Romulans, the honorable Romulans reduced to connivers minus plasma torpedoes, life ain’t that special because we can program it, Starfleet feeling everyone loves them so much they load a bunch of kids on starships, just ugh.
The bridge was horrid too, the Captain can’t look around and talk to his crew and half the displays were hard drive lights.
It got a little better when the rules of 90s Roddenbery the Prophet were thrown out after he died – the bad guys were supposed to be the evil capitalist Ferengi, I kid you not. TNG in some ways was Roddenbery attempting to erase the success of the TOS movies.
Ironically the memorable bad guys ended up a collective.
DS9 threw out the rules more in favor of some TOS action/adventure/final frontier and was way WAY WAYYYYYY better.
New Trek too, ENT sucked when it abandoned it’s prequal foundation to play TNG (peace with the Klingons, phasers on stun, time travel resets, transporters, etc) but rocked when was anti-TNG (Andorians learning to like humans and Vulcans, shuttlecraft, technological limitations, exploration, etc).
Lower Decks is good but only because it accepts TNG as a comedy setting.
Prodigy again good when it’s kids on the frontier escaping captivity, facing challenges, learning about Starfleet, sucks when it incorporates time travel and some convoluted TNG plot complete with fake Dauntless now real.
All I can say is I bet a century from now elements of TOS will live on while TNG is long forgotten.

Yesterday’s Enterprise should have been a two-parter and basically a TV movie. I think that would have made it even better and we could have learned a bit more about the Enterprise C.

Great episode and a fun format. I also think that S2 is better than S7 and mainly due to Pulaski who in my view was one of TNGs missed opportunities. Whilst it was great to have Beverly back on board, I would have loved to have seen Pulaski have guest appearances throughout subsequent seasons.

As always, good discussion. These podcasts always make my days a little more fun.

As someone who enjoys ranking things, a while back I started evaluating all the episodes of Trek. Averaging the episode scores for each season, my TNG ranking is:

1st: Season 5, 23.79 (out of 30*)
2nd: Season 6, 23.70
3rd: Season 4, 22.96
4th: Season 3, 22.54
5th: Season 7, 21.57
6th: Season 1, 17.24
7th: season 2, 16.77

*Episodes are scored from 1-5 points for each of 6 categories: Plot, Character, Concept, Mood, Impact, and Acting

(I also ranked episodes overall, but stopped ranking them after #482 because once you get into comparing episodes like Captive Pursuit, The Wolf Inside, The Seventh, Stardust City Rag, and The High Ground what does their exact order matter?)

After listening to the podcast, here is my order:

  1. Season 5
  2. Season 6
  3. Season 3
  4. Season 4
  5. Season 7
  6. Season 2
  7. Season 1

Like Kayla, I cannot place 7 beneath 2, even though 2 is very good, it also is very bad.

I also have a conspiracy theory about season 1: Picard was supposed to leave towards the end of the first season and then Riker would have been captain. This is why Picard is such a jerk most of the first season and Riker seemed like the main character. As much as I like the character of Picard eventually, this would have been very cool to see.