Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation (abbreviated as TNG and ST:TNG) is an American science-fiction television series in the Star Trek franchise created by Gene Roddenberry that ran from 1987 to 1994. Roddenberry, Maurice Hurley, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor served as executive producers at different times throughout its production. The show was very popular, reaching almost 12 million viewers in its 5th season, and the season seven finale in 1994 was watched by over 30 million viewers. The show spawned two reasonably popular spin-offs set in the same sci-fi universe time and place, and 4 theater films with the cast of the show. In the early 2000s the show Enterprise, although more oriented towards re-booting the series was also in the same fictional universe, but an earlier time. The series involves a starship named Enterprise and is set in the nearby regions of the Milky Way galaxy, the Alpha Quadrant. The first episode takes place in the year 2364, 99 years after the start of the five-year mission described in the original series, which began in 2265.

It features a new cast and a new starship Enterprise, the fifth to bear the name within the franchise's storyline. An introductory statement, delivered by Patrick Stewart and featured at the beginning of each episode's title sequence, stated the starship's purpose in language similar to the opening statement of The Original Series, but was updated to reflect an ongoing mission, and to be gender-neutral:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.


TNG premiered the week of September 28, 1987, drawing 27 million viewers, with the two-hour pilot "Encounter at Farpoint". In total, 176 episodes were made (including several two-parters), ending with the two-hour finale "All Good Things..." the week of May 23, 1994. The series (1987-94) was broadcast in first-run syndication with dates and times varying among individual television stations. Further Star Trek spin-offs followed The Next Generation: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-99), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001), Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005), and Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present). The series formed the basis for the seventh through the tenth of the Star Trek films, and is also the setting of numerous novels, comic books, and video games. In its seventh season, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first and only syndicated television series to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. The series received a number of accolades, including 19 Emmy Awards, two Hugo Awards, five Saturn Awards, and "The Big Goodbye" (S1E12) won a Peabody Award. Some of the highest rated shows by Nielsen ratings were the pilot, the finale, "Unification" (duology), "Aquiel", "A Matter of Time", and "Relics". "Unification" includes the classic characters Spock and his father Sarek, and "Relics" includes Scotty. Other famous episodes include the "Best of Both Worlds" duology, "Inner Light", and "The Measure of Man", which was released in a 1080p extended version in 2012.


The series follows the adventures of a space-faring crew on board the Galaxy Class starship USS  Enterprise (NCC-1701-D), the fifth Federation vessel to bear the name and registry and the seventh starship by that name. (See Starship Enterprise for other ships with the name and/or registry). The series is set about 70 years after the final mission of the original Enterprise crew under the command of James T. Kirk. The Federation has undergone significant internal changes in its quest to explore and seek out new life, adding new degrees of complexity and controversy to its methods, especially those focused on the Prime Directive. The Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets have ceased wartime hostilities and become galactic allies, while more sinister foes such as the Romulans and the Borg take precedence on the series.

The Enterprise is commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and is staffed by first officer Commander William Riker, second officer/operations manager Data, security chief Tasha Yar, ship's counselor Deanna Troi, chief medical officer Dr. Beverly Crusher and her son Wesley Crusher, conn officer Lieutenant Geordi La Forge, and junior officer Lieutenant Worf. The death of Lieutenant Yar in the twenty-third episode of the first season (1987-1988) of the series prompts an internal shuffle of personnel, making Worf official chief of security. In season two, La Forge is promoted to chief engineer and Katherine Pulaski briefly takes over for Beverly Crusher.

The series begins with the crew of the Enterprise-D put on trial by an omnipotent being known as Q, who became a recurring character. The god-like entity threatens the extinction of mankind for being a race of savages, forcing them to solve a mystery at nearby Farpoint Station to prove their worthiness to be spared. After successfully solving the mystery and avoiding disaster, the crew officially departs on its mission to explore strange new worlds.

Subsequent stories focus on the discovery of new life and sociological and political relationships with alien cultures, as well as exploring the human condition. Several new species are introduced as recurring antagonists, including the Ferengi, the Cardassians, and the Borg. Throughout their adventures, Picard and his crew are often forced to face and live with the consequences of difficult choices.

The series ended in its seventh season with a two-part episode "All Good Things...", which brought the events of the series full circle to the original confrontation with Q. An interstellar anomaly that threatens all life in the universe forces Picard to leap from his present, past, and future to combat the threat. Picard was successfully able to show to Q that humanity could think outside of the confines of perception and theorize on new possibilities while still being prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the greater good. The series ended with the crew of the Enterprise portrayed as feeling more like a family and paved the way for four consecutive motion pictures that continued the theme and mission of the series.


By 1986, 20 years after Star Trek's debut on NBC, the franchise's longevity amazed Paramount Pictures executives. Chairman Frank Mancuso Sr. and others described it as the studio's "crown jewel", a "priceless asset" that "must not be squandered". The series was the most popular syndicated television program 17 years after cancellation, and the Harve Bennett-produced Star Trek films did well at the box office. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy's salary demands for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) caused the studio to plan for a new Star Trek television series, as it had thought to do in 1977 with Star Trek: Phase II before making the films. Paramount executives worried that a new show could hurt the demand for the films, but decided that it would increase their appeal on videocassette and cable, and that a show with unknown actors would be more profitable than paying the films' actors' large salaries. Roddenberry initially declined to be involved, but came on board as creator after being unhappy with early conceptual work. Star Trek: The Next Generation was announced on October 10, 1986, and its cast in May 1987.

Paramount executive Rick Berman was assigned to the show at Roddenberry's request. Roddenberry hired a number of Star Trek veterans, including Bob Justman, D. C. Fontana, Eddie Milkis, and David Gerrold. Early proposals for the series included one in which some of the original series cast might appear as "elder statesmen", and Roddenberry speculated as late as October 1986 that the new series might not even use a spaceship, as "people might travel by some [other] means" 100 years after the USS  Enterprise (NCC-1701). A more lasting change was his new belief that workplace interpersonal conflict would no longer exist in the future; thus, the new series did not have parallels to the frequent "crusty banter" between Kirk, Spock, and Leonard McCoy. According to series actor Patrick Stewart, Berman was more receptive than Roddenberry to the show addressing political issues.

The series' music theme combined the fanfare from the original series theme by Alexander Courage with Jerry Goldsmith's theme for Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979). Some early episodes' plots derived from outlines created for Star Trek: Phase II. Additionally, some sets used in the Original Series-era films were redressed for The Next Generation, and in turn used for subsequent Original Series films. Part of the transporter room set in TNG was used in the original Star Trek's transporter set. Many production details, such as LCARS computer interfaces and starship design, were carried through in the production of subsequent spin-offs.

A major focus of the show is the faster-than-light starship visiting exoplanets, which, although some had speculated to exist, were still in the realm of science fiction when show started in the 1987. However, by the early 1990s more claims were coming out including for PSR B1257+12, and a year after the show ended there was a more definitive detection of planets around 51 Pegasi. Another example is the ubiquitous use of hand-held tablet computers, at the time a fictional technology props for the actors but became a more practical and common computing device by the 2010s

Syndication and profitability

Despite Star Trek's proven success, NBC and ABC only offered to consider pilot scripts for the new series, and CBS offered to air a miniseries that could become a series if it did well. That the Big Three television networks treated Paramount's most appealing and valuable property as they would any other series offended the studio. Fox wanted the show to help launch the new network, but wanted it by March 1987, and would only commit to 13 episodes instead of a full season. The unsuccessful negotiations convinced the studio that it could only protect Star Trek with full control.

Paramount increased and accelerated the show's profitability by choosing to instead broadcast it in first-run syndication on independent stations (whose numbers had more than tripled since 1980) and Big Three network affiliates. The studio offered the show to local stations for free as barter syndication. The stations sold five minutes of commercial time to local advertisers and Paramount sold the remaining seven minutes to national advertisers. Stations had to commit to purchasing reruns in the future, and only those that aired the new show could purchase the popular reruns of the original series.

The studio's strategy succeeded. Most of the 150 stations airing reruns of the original Star Trek wanted to prevent a competitor from airing the new show; ultimately, 210 stations covering 90% of the United States became part of Paramount's informal nationwide network for TNG. In early October 1987, more than 50 network affiliates pre-empted their own shows for the series pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint". One station predicted that "'Star Trek' promises to be one of the most successful programs of the season, network or syndicated."

The new show indeed performed well; the pilot's ratings were higher than those of many network programs, and ratings remained comparable to network shows by the end of the first season, despite the handicap of each station airing the show on a different day and time, often outside prime time. By the end of the first season, Paramount reportedly received $1 million for advertising per episode, more than the roughly $800,000 fee that networks typically paid for a one-hour show; by 1992, when the budget for each episode had risen to almost $2 million, the studio earned $90 million from advertising annually from first-run episodes, with each 30-second commercial selling for $115,000 to $150,000. The show had a 40% return on investment for Paramount, with $30 to $60 million in annual upfront net profit for first-run episodes and another $70 million for stripping rights for each of the about 100 episodes then available, so did not need overseas sales to be successful.

Season one

The Next Generation was shot on 35mm film, and the budget for each episode was $1.3 million, among the largest for a one-hour television drama. While the staff enjoyed the creative freedom gained by independence from a broadcast network's Standards and Practices department, the first season was marked by a "revolving door" of writers, with Gerrold, Fontana, and others quitting after disputes with Roddenberry. Roddenberry "virtually rewrote" the first 15 episodes because of his "dogmatic" intention to depict human interaction "without drawing on the baser motives of greed, lust, and power". Writers found the show's "bible" constricting and ridiculous and couldn't deal with Roddenberry's ego and treatment of them. It stated, for example, that "regular characters all share a feeling of being part of a band of brothers and sisters. As in the original 'Star Trek,' we invite the audience to share the same feeling of affection for our characters."

Mark Bourne of The DVD Journal wrote of season one: "A typical episode relied on trite plot points, clumsy allegories, dry and stilted dialogue, or characterization that was taking too long to feel relaxed and natural." Other targets of criticism included poor special effects and plots being resolved by the deus ex machina of Wesley Crusher saving the ship. However, Patrick Stewart's acting skills won praise, and critics noted that characters were given greater potential for development than those of the original series. Both actors and producers were unsure whether Trekkies loyal to the original show would accept the new one, but one critic stated as early as October 1987 that The Next Generation, not the movies or the original show, "is the real 'Star Trek' now".

While the events of most episodes of season one were self-contained, many developments important to the show as a whole occurred during the season. The recurring nemesis Q was introduced in the pilot, the alien Ferengi had their sentinel showing in "The Last Outpost", the holodeck was introduced, and the romantic backstory between William Riker and Deanna Troi was investigated. "The Naked Now", one of the few episodes that depicted Roddenberry's fascination (as seen in the show's bible) with sex in the future, became a cast favorite.

Later episodes in the season set the stage for serial plots. The episode "Datalore" introduced Data's evil twin brother Lore, who made several more appearances in episodes in subsequent seasons. "Coming of Age" dealt with Wesley Crusher's efforts to get into Starfleet Academy while also hinting at the threat to Starfleet later faced in "Conspiracy". "Heart of Glory" explored Worf's character, Klingon culture, and the uneasy truce between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, three themes that played major roles in later episodes. Tasha Yar left the show in "Skin of Evil", becoming the first regular Star Trek character to die permanently (although the character was seen again in two later episodes) in either series or film. The season finale, "The Neutral Zone", established the presence of two of TNG' most enduring villains: the Romulans, making their first appearance since the Original Series, and, through foreshadowing, the Borg.

The premiere became the first television episode to be nominated for a Hugo Award since 1972. Six of the season's episodes were each nominated for an Emmy Award. "11001001" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, "The Big Goodbye" won for Outstanding Costume Design for a Series, and "Conspiracy" won for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series. "The Big Goodbye" also won a Peabody Award, the first syndicated program and only Star Trek episode to do so.

The top episodes for Nielsen ratings were "Encounter at Farpoint" with 15.7, and the next highest was "Justice" with 12.7.

Debuted 1987-1988

Season two

The series underwent significant changes during its second season. Beverly Crusher was replaced as Chief Medical Officer by Katherine Pulaski, played by Diana Muldaur, who had been a guest star in "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", two episodes from the original Star Trek series. The ship's recreational area, Ten-Forward, and its mysterious bartender/advisor, Guinan, played by Whoopi Goldberg, appeared for the first time. Another change was in the opening theme, wherein at the end is a short fanfare. Owing to the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, the number of episodes produced was cut from 26 to 22, and the start of the season was delayed. Because of the strike, the opening episode, "The Child", was based on a script originally written for Star Trek: Phase II, while the season finale, "Shades of Gray", was a clip show.

Nevertheless, season two as a whole was widely regarded as significantly better than season one. Benefiting from Paramount's commitment to a multiyear run and free from network interference due to syndication, Roddenberry found writers who could work within his guidelines and create drama from the cast's interaction with the rest of the universe. The plots became more sophisticated and began to mix drama with comic relief. Its focus on character development received special praise. Co-executive producer Maurice Hurley has stated that his primary goal for the season was to plan and execute season-long story arcs and character arcs. Hurley wrote the acclaimed episode "Q Who", which featured the first on-screen appearance of the Borg, TNG's most popular villain. Season two focused on developing the character Data, and two highly regarded episodes from the season, "Elementary, Dear Data" and "The Measure of a Man", featured him prominently. Miles O'Brien also became a more prominent character during the second season, while Geordi La Forge took the position of Chief Engineer. Klingon issues continued to be explored in well-regarded episodes such as "A Matter of Honor" and "The Emissary", which introduced Worf's former lover K'Ehleyr. Five second-season episodes were nominated for six Emmy Awards, and "Q Who" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.

Debuted 1988-1989

Season three

Before the production of the third season in the summer of 1989, some personnel changes were made. Head writer Maurice Hurley was let go and Michael Piller took over for the rest of the series. Creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry took less of an active role due to his declining health. Roddenberry gave Piller and Berman the executive producer jobs, and they remained in that position for the rest of the series' run, with Berman overseeing the production as a whole and Piller being in charge of the creative direction of the show and the writing room. Doctor Crusher returned from her off-screen tenure at Starfleet Medical to replace Doctor Pulaski, who had remained a guest star throughout the second season. An additional change was the inclusion of the fanfare that was added to the opening credits of the second season, to the end of the closing credits. Ronald D. Moore joined the show after submitting a spec script that became "The Bonding". He became the franchise's "Klingon guru", meaning that he wrote most TNG episodes dealing with the Klingon Empire (though he wrote some Romulan stories, as well, such as "The Defector"). Writer/producer Ira Steven Behr also joined the show in its third season. Though his tenure with TNG lasted only one year, he later went on to be a writer and showrunner of spin-off series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Six third-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "Yesterday's Enterprise" won for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and "Sins of the Father" won for Best Art Direction for a Series. After a chiropractor warned that the cast members risked permanent skeletal injury, new two-piece wool uniforms replaced the first two seasons' extremely tight spandex uniforms. The season finale, the critically acclaimed episode "The Best of Both Worlds", was the first season-ending cliffhanger, a tradition that continued throughout the remainder of the series.

Debuted 1989-1990

Season four

Brannon Braga and Jeri Taylor joined the show in its fourth season. The fourth season surpassed the Original Series in series length with the production of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". A new alien race, the Cardassians, made their first appearance in "The Wounded". They later were featured in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The season finale, "Redemption", was the 100th episode, and the cast and crew (including creator Gene Roddenberry) celebrated the historic milestone on the bridge set. Footage of this was seen in the Star Trek 25th-anniversary special hosted by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy which aired later in the year. Seven fourth-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" won for both Outstanding Sound Editing in a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Series. Character Wesley Crusher left the series in season four to go to Starfleet Academy. "Family" was the only Star Trek episode not to have a bridge scene during the entire episode and is the only TNG episode where Data does not appear on-screen.

Debuted 1990-1991

Season five

The fifth season's seventh episode, "Unification", opened with a dedication to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (though the prior episode, "The Game", aired four days after his death). Roddenberry, though he had recently died, continued to be credited as executive producer for the rest of the season. The cast and crew learned of his death during the production of "Hero Worship", a later season-five episode. Seven fifth-season episodes were nominated for eight Emmys. "Cost of Living" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series, and "A Matter of Time" and "Conundrum" tied for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects. In addition, "The Inner Light" became the first television episode since the 1968 original series Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" to win a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Season five had the introduction of a jacket for Picard, worn periodically throughout the rest of the show's run. The observation lounge set was altered with the removal of the gold model starships across the interior wall and the addition of lighting beneath the windows. Recurring character Ensign Ro Laren was introduced in the fifth season. The season 5 finale cliffhanger includes a cameo by Stephen Hawking (Part I of "Descent").

Debuted 1991-1992

Season six

The sixth season brought a new set of changes. Rick Berman and Michael Piller's time was split between the newly created Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation. Three sixth-season episodes were nominated for Emmys. "Time's Arrow, Part II" won for both Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series, and "A Fistful of Datas" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series. The highest rated episode of Season 6 for Nielsen ratings was "Relics", with a rating of 13.9. which featured Scotty played by original series veteran James Doohan.

NASA astronaut Mae Jemison plays in Lt. Palmer the Season 6 show "Second Chances".

Debuted 1992-1993

Season seven

The seventh season was The Next Generation's last. The penultimate episode, "Preemptive Strike", concluded the plot line for the recurring character Ensign Ro Laren and introduced themes that continued in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. The Next Generation series finale, "All Good Things...", was a double-length episode (separated into two parts for reruns) that aired the week of May 19, 1994, revisiting the events of the pilot and providing a bookend to the series. Toronto's SkyDome played host to a massive event for the series finale. Thousands of people packed the stadium to watch the final episode on the stadium's JumboTron. Five seventh-season episodes were nominated for nine Emmys, and the series as a whole was the first syndicated television series nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. To this day, The Next Generation is the only syndicated drama to be nominated in this category. "All Good Things..." won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects, and "Genesis" won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series. "All Good Things..." also won the second of the series's two Hugo Awards. "All Good Things.." also achieved the highest Nielson rating for all of Season 7, with a rating of 17.4.

The TNG cast went on to make 4 films after the conclusion of Season 7. Between 1994 and 2002 the main Cast of the show went on to star in Generations, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis. Meanwhile, on TV, DS9 continued with some of the prior TNG cast including Worf and O'Brien, and later in Fall of 1994 Frakes (TNG's Riker) guest starred on Deep Space Nine's "Defiant" (S3E9). In January 1995 the new Star Trek TV series Voyager show launched. and the aforementioned Generations movie had hit theaters in November 1994. Even with the loss of the franchise's guide and visionary, Roddenberry, Star Trek: The Next Generation had launched a golden era of new Trek media which would last well into the 21st century. In the finale of Enterprise, over ten years later Frakes and Sirtis reprising their roles as Riker and Deanna appear on television one last time. In the 2010s a project would be undertaken to convert all of TNG to 1080p High-Definition, and by 2015 it was all released on Blue-Ray, TV, and HD internet steaming services.

Debuted 1993-1994


Although the cast members were contracted for eight seasons, Paramount ended The Next Generation after seven, which disappointed and puzzled some of the actors, and was an unusual decision for a successful television show. Paramount then made films using the cast, which it believed would be less successful if the show were still on television. Season eight also would likely have reduced the show's profitability due to higher cast salaries and a lower price per episode when sold for stripping. The show's strong ratings continued to the end; the series finale was ranked number two among all shows that week, between hits Home Improvement and Seinfeld.

Star Trek: The Next Generation finale in Season Seven was watched by over 30 million viewers when it concluded in early 1994. TNG would provide the high-water mark in terms of viewership, with a peak of 11.5 million during its 5th Season prior to the launch of DS9, and between 1988 and 1992 it picked up half a million to a million additional viewers per year.

Adjusted Nielson Ratings for Star Trek TV

  • Fall 1987 - Spring 1988: 8.55 Million TNG S1
  • Fall 1988 - Spring 1989: 9.14 Million TNG S2
  • Fall 1989 - Spring 1990: 9.77 Million TNG S3
  • Fall 1990 - Spring 1991: 10.58 Million TNG S4
  • Fall 1991 - Spring 1992: 11.50 Million TNG S5
  • Fall 1992 - Spring 1993: 10.83 Million TNG S6 (DS9 S1 Debuted in Spring 1993)
  • Fall 1993 - Spring 1994: 9.78 Million TNG S7 + DS9 S2
  • Fall 1994 - Spring 1995: 7.05 Million DS9 S3 + VOY S1
  • Fall 1995 - Spring 1996: 6.42 Million DS9 S4 + VOY S2
  • Fall 1996 - Spring 1997: 5.03 Million DS9 S5 + VOY S3
  • Fall 1997 - Spring 1998: 4.53 Million DS9 S6+ VOY S4
  • Fall 1998 - Spring 1999: 4.00 Million DS9 S7 + VOY S5 (Voyager also had two more seasons)

High-Definition Project

In the 2010s, Star Trek: The Next Generation was re-produced in high-definition (1080p) with a format of 4:3 (1.33:1). Many thought would not be possible, but CBS managed to do it and major work was done at CBS Digital. TNG was shot on 35 mm film, which meant the film could be re-scanned to a higher resolution, however, many of the special effects had to be re-produced. Also a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound option was created.

Season 1 achieved 95,000 units in its launch week in 2012. (further information Blu-Ray releases) In addition to the Blu-Ray packages, the HD was sold to many online streaming TV providers such as Netflix. The Netflix version included some additional special effect changes. The Blu-ray sets include many special features and videos, such as a 1988 episode of Reading Rainbow where Levar Burton (on TNG he is cast as Chief Engineer Geordi) documents the making of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode.

In June 2016 a 41-disc set was released with over 8000 minutes of TNG-content, including the entire show in 1080p (4:3).


  • Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard is the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Stewart also played the character in the pilot episode of Deep Space Nine and all four TNG theater films
  • Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker is the ship's first officer. The Riker character was influenced by concepts for first officer Willard Decker in the Star Trek: Phase II television series. Decker's romantic history with helmsman Ilia was mirrored in The Next Generation in the relationship between Riker and Deanna Troi. Riker also appears in an episode each of Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. In addition to William Riker, Frakes played William's transporter-created double, Thomas, in one episode each of The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge was initially the ship's helmsman, but the character became chief engineer beginning in the second season. Burton also played the character in an episode of Voyager.
  • Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar is the chief of security and tactical officer. Crosby left the series at the end of the first season, and the Yar character was killed. Yar returns in alternate timelines in the award-winning episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" and the series finale, "All Good Things...". Crosby also played Commander Sela, Yar's half-Romulan daughter.
  • Michael Dorn as Worf is a Klingon. Worf initially appears as a junior officer fulfilling several roles on the bridge. When Denise Crosby left at the end of the first season, the Worf character succeeded Lieutenant Yar as the ship's chief of security and tactical officer. Dorn reprised the role as a regular in seasons four through seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and also played another Klingon, also named Worf, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; with 282 on screen appearances, Dorn has the most appearances of any actor in the Star Trek franchise.
  • Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher is the Enterprise's chief medical officer. As a fully certified bridge officer, Dr. Crusher had the ability to command the Enterprise, if circumstances required her to do so. She also, on occasional, commanded night-watch shifts on the ship's main bridge to stay on top of starship operations. McFadden was fired after the first season, but was rehired for the third season and remained for the remainder of the series.
  • Diana Muldaur as Doctor Katherine Pulaski was created to replace Dr. Crusher for the show's second season. Muldaur, who previously appeared in two episodes of the original Star Trek, never received billing in the opening credits; instead, she was listed as a special guest star during the first act.
  • Marina Sirtis as Lieutenant Commander Deanna Troi is the half-human, half-Betazoid ship's counselor. Starting in the season-seven7 episode "Thine Own Self", Counselor Troi, having taken and completed the bridge-officer's test, is later promoted to the rank of commander, which allowed her to take command of the ship, and also perform bridge duties other than those of a ship's counselor. The character's relationship with first officer Riker was a carry-over from character ideas developed for Phase II. Troi also appeared in later episodes of Voyager and in the finale of Enterprise.
  • Brent Spiner as Lieutenant Commander Data is an android who serves as second officer and operations officer. Data's "outsider's" perspective on humanity served a similar narrative purpose as Spock's in the original Star Trek. Spiner also played his "brother", Lore, and his creator, Noonien Soong. In Enterprise, Spiner played Noonien's ancestor, Arik, and contributed a brief voiceover (heard over the Enterprise-D's intercom) in the Enterprise finale.
  • Wil Wheaton as Beverly Crusher's son Wesley becomes an acting ensign, and later receives a field commission to ensign, before attending Starfleet Academy. After being a regular for the first four seasons, Wheaton appeared sporadically as Wesley Crusher for the remainder of the series.

In addition to the series regulars, other recurring characters include:

  • Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi is Deanna Troi's mother and Betazoid ambassador for the United Federation of Planets. She reprised her role in three episodes of Deep Space Nine. Barrett, married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, previously appeared in the original Star Trek. She also voiced the computer in The Next Generation and other spinoffs.
  • Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko is Worf's son. Jon Paul Steuer played Alexander in the character's first appearance, and James Sloyan played an older, time-traveling version of Alexander in another episode. Marc Worden played the character for his appearances in Deep Space Nine.
  • Rosalind Chao as Keiko O'Brien is Miles O'Brien's wife and a botanist. She also made recurring appearances in Deep Space Nine.
  • John de Lancie as Q is an omnipotent antagonist from the Q Continuum. de Lancie continued playing the Q character in both Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan is the El-Aurian bartender in the ship's Ten Forward Lounge.
  • Michelle Forbes as Ensign Ro Laren is a Bajoran helmsman, who is later promoted to the rank of lieutenant in season seven. That same season, however, she resigns from Starfleet to become a member of a group of renegade federation colonists known as "the Maquis". Forbes' character was considered for use in Deep Space Nine, although producers eventually developed a new character, Kira Nerys.
  • Colm Meaney as Miles O'Brien is an unnamed helmsman in the show's pilot, and appears several times in other positions during the first season. The character was eventually given a rank of Chief Petty Officer, and developed into the transporter chief. Meaney portrayed O'Brien for seven seasons as a series regular on Deep Space Nine.
  • Robert O'Reilly as Gowron is leader of the Klingon High Council. O'Reilly also appeared as Gowron in Deep Space Nine. O'Reilly appeared in an episode of Enterprise as a different character.
  • Dwight Schultz as Lieutenant Reginald Barclay is a technician and engineer who also plays a prominent role in the later seasons of Voyager.
  • Patti Yasutake as Ensign Alyssa Ogawa is a nurse in Dr. Crusher's sickbay.

There were certain big changes for regular characters, the major one was that Tasha Yar is only in season one, and Wesley left for Starfleet Academy in Season 4. In Season 2 the doctor is Pulaski not Crusher, but Crusher does come back and remains the ship's doctor thereafter (In All Good Things it is revealed she eventually marries Picard and has her own starship command, thus becoming the new Captain Picard, as he retired to tend a vineyard). In many cases the characters, or at least the actors, come back to act in some role on the show. There are many reoccurring characters, some of them have actually more appearances in episodes than Tasha. (See List of Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members#Appearances for a more in-depth table)

The character Q is very famous, and appeared in the first and last duologies, but overall only appeared in 8 shows

Notable guest appearances

The Next Generation included several guest characters who appeared in other iterations of Star Trek, and also introduced characters who appeared in later spinoffs and films. James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, Mark Lenard, and Leonard Nimoy appeared as the original Star Trek characters Montgomery Scott, Leonard McCoy, Sarek, and Spock, respectively. Merritt Butrick, Robin Curtis, Judson Scott, David Warner, and Paul Winfield played characters in various Star Trek films and later had roles in The Next Generation. Additionally, Alexander Siddig and Armin Shimerman played their Deep Space Nine characters, Julian Bashir and Quark, in episodes of The Next Generation. Before being cast in Deep Space Nine, Shimerman had played several Ferengi characters in The Next Generation. Jennifer Hetrick (Vash), Barbara March (Lursa), Richard Poe (Evek), and Gwynyth Walsh (B'Etor) reprised their Next Generation characters on Deep Space Nine.

Several actors who appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation later played other roles within the franchise. These include Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Phillips, and Tim Russ, who played Tom Paris, Neelix, and Tuvok, respectively, on Voyager. Salome Jens and James Sloyan appeared in episodes of The Next Generation before landing recurring roles in Deep Space Nine. Suzie Plakson and Tony Todd also appeared in The Next Generation, and they later played roles in both Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Marc Alaimo, who depicted one of the franchise's first Cardassians in The Next Generation, later played the Cardassian Dukat throughout Deep Space Nine's seven seasons. Like Armin Shimerman, Max Grodénchik played a Ferengi in The Next Generation before being cast as a recurring Ferengi, Rom, in Deep Space Nine. Emmy Award-winner James Cromwell appeared twice in The Next Generation, and he played Zefram Cochrane in the second Next Generation film, First Contact.

Other notable guest actors in the show include Erich Anderson, Billy Campbell, Nikki Cox, Ronny Cox, Olivia d'Abo, Kirsten Dunst, Mick Fleetwood, Matt Frewer, Walter Gotell, Kelsey Grammer, Bob Gunton, Teri Hatcher, Stephen Hawking (as himself), Famke Janssen, Mae Jemison, Ken Jenkins, Ashley Judd, Sabrina Le Beauf, Christopher McDonald, Bebe Neuwirth, Terry O'Quinn, Michelle Phillips, Joe Piscopo, Gina Ravera, Jean Simmons, Paul Sorvino, Brenda Strong, James Worthy, Tracey Walter, Liz Vassey, David Ogden Stiers, Ray Walston, Ray Wise, and John Tesh.

Story arcs & themes

Star Trek had a number of story arcs within the larger story, and oftentimes different episodes contributed to two or more different story or character arcs. These could be grouped in different ways, and one way was by the aliens they were interacting with, for example TNG introduced the Borg and the Cardassians. The Klingons and Romulans had been introduced in the original series (1966-69); however, the Klingons were somewhat re-booted with "turtle-head" look, although a retcon was given for this in an Enterprise episode. Another way to group them is by a certain character such as Q or Ro Laren or by a technology like the holo-deck, and there were many other alien encounters (usually funny foreheads, face-paint, or no-body). Often the plot for alien encounters involved some eccentric alien nature that caused tensions, revealed at the end

Alien sagas

The Borg:

  • Q Who (May 8, 1989) - introduces Borg also a Q-show
  • The Best of Both Worlds, Part I & Part II (June 18, 1990 & September 24, 1990) - Major Borg diptych
    • Family (October 1, 1990) - Aftermath of BoBW
  • I, Borg (May 10, 1992) - Introduces Hue
  • Descent, Part I & Part II (June 21, 1993 & September 20, 1993) - Another Borg diptych

Certain episodes go deeper into the Klingon alien saga, which are famous for having an actual Klingon language made for them in the trekiverse. The Klingon stories usually involve Worf, but not all Worf-centric shows are focused on Klingons. The famous Duras sisters, a Klingon duo Lursa and B'Etor, were introduced on TNG in 1991 on Redemption (S4-S5 bridge) and they later appeared in the film Generations

Klingon stories (examples) :

  • "Heart of Glory" (S1E20)
  • "A Matter of Honor (S2E8) - Riker on a Klingon vessel
  • "Sins of the Father" (S3E17) (introduces Worf's brother Kurn)
  • "Reunion" (introduces Alexander, son of Worf and K'Ehleyr, and delves further into Klingon politics)
  • "Redemption" (S4-S5 cliffhanger and bridge, two parts) (Explores Klingon politics and homeworld)
  • "Birthright" (S6E16 & S6E17, two-part episode)
  • "Rightful Heir" (S6E23) - Introduces Kahless
  • "Firstborn" (TNG S7E21) (Alexander-Worf focused episode)

The Klingon saga established by TNG was significantly continued on the Deep Space Nine tv show, which continued the Worf character for another 4 seasons


Reginald Barclay (played by A-Team veteran Dwight Schultz) stories:

  • Hollow Pursuits
  • The Nth Degree
  • Realm of Fear
  • Ship in a Bottle

Barclay's character also has several important episodes Star Trek Voyager TV show such as Projections (Star Trek: Voyager).

Lore is an android like Data, and is played by the same actor. Lore was introduced in S1E13 .

  • Datalore (January 18, 1988)
  • Brothers (October 8, 1990)
  • Descent, Part II (September 20, 1993)


  • "Encounter at Farpoint" diptych
  • "Hide and Q"
  • "Q Who?"
  • "Déjà Q"
  • "Qpid"
  • "True Q"
  • "Tapestry"
  • "All Good Things..." diptych
  • Also the 1996 computer game Star Trek: Borg includes video segments with actor John de Lancie as Q

A thematic grouping is also possible, and a number of TNG dabbled in softcore terror/horror

  • Night Terrors (March 18, 1991)
  • Schisms (October 19, 1992)
  • Chain of Command, Part I & Part II (December 14, 1992 & December 21, 1992)
  • Frame of Mind (May 3, 1993)
  • Sub Rosa (January 31, 1994)
  • Genesis (March 21, 1994)


The Next Generation's average of 20 million viewers often exceeded both existing syndication successes such as Wheel of Fortune and network hits including Cheers and L.A. Law. Benefiting in part from many stations' decision to air each new episode twice in a week, it consistently ranked in the top ten among hour-long dramas, and networks could not prevent affiliates from preempting their shows with The Next Generation or other dramas that imitated its syndication strategy. Star Trek: The Next Generation received 18 Emmy Awards and, in its seventh season, became the first and only syndicated television show to be nominated for the Emmy for Best Dramatic Series. It was nominated for three Hugo Awards and won two. The first-season episode "The Big Goodbye" also won the Peabody Award for excellence in television programming.

In 1997, the episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" was ranked No. 70 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. In 2002, Star Trek: The Next Generation was ranked #46 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list, and in 2008, was ranked No. 37 on Empire's list of the 50 greatest television shows.

On October 7, 2006, one of the three original filming models of the USS Enterprise-D used on the show sold at a Christie's auction for USD $576,000, making it the highest-selling item at the event. The buyer of the piece was Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, owner of the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. The piece is on display within the Science Fiction Museum.

In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at No. 7 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years", saying, "The original Star Trek was cult TV before cult TV was even a thing, but its younger, sleeker offspring brought, yes, a new generation into the Trekker fold, and reignited the promise of sci-fi on television." Although TNG did develop a cult following, it was noted for its prime-time general audience viewership also.

The flute from "Inner Light" was valued at only a few hundred to perhaps 1000 USD when it went to auction, but was sold for over 40,000; in this case the auctioneers admitted they had underestimated the appeal of the prop.

In the days leading up to the auction, Denise Okuda, former Trek scenic artist and video supervisor, as well as co-writer of the auction catalog, said: "That's the item people say they really have to have, because it's so iconic to a much-beloved episode."

Episodes with highest Nielsen ratings (Examples)
  • "All Good Things..." (1994), the finale achieved a rating of 17.4
  • "Encounter at Farpoint" (1987), rating of 15.7
  • "Unification" (1991), 15.4, a duology featuring Leonard Nimoy as Spoc in Part II brought in the highest Nielsen ratingsof that Season, and the one of the highest known for TNG except for the pilot and finale.
  • "Aquiel" (1993), 14.1 (Featured Guest star Renée Jones as Aquiel)
  • "A Matter of Time" (1991), 13.9 (Featuring guest star Matt Frewer as a time traveler)
  • "Relics" (1992), 13.9 (This one featured James Doohan as Scotty)
  • "Time's Arrow, Part II" (1992), 13.8 (S6 opener and conclusion of the Time's Arrow duology)
  • "Tapestry" (1993), 13.8 (Q-show)

DS9's "The Emissary", which came out half-way through season 6 of TNG achieved a Nielsen rating of 18.8. Star Trek's ratings went into a steady decline starting with Season 6 of TNG, and the second to last episode of DS9 achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.9.

Computer and video games

Examples of video games based on The Next Generation TV series, movies, and characters include:

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Future's Past (1993), for the SNES
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Echoes from the Past (1993) a port of Futures Past for the Sega Genesis
  • Star Trek Generations: Beyond the Nexus (1994), for Nintendo Game Boy or Sega Game Gear
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation - A Final Unity (1995), for MS-DOS or Macintosh
    • A Final Unity sold 500,000 copies by 1996.
  • Star Trek: Borg (1996) (Includes live action segments directed by James L. Conway and acting by John de Lancie as Q)
  • Star Trek Generations (1997), for IBM PC
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard (1998), for Mac and Windows 95 and 98
  • Star Trek: Hidden Evil (1999), for Windows 95 and 98
  • Star Trek Invasion (2000), for the PlayStation
  • Star Trek Armada (2000), for Microsoft Windows 98
  • Star Trek: Armada II (2001)
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander (2002)
  • Star Trek: Conquest (2002) (Wii, PlayStation 2)

The Enterprise and its setting is also in other Trekiverse games like Star Trek: Armada (2000), by which time it was common to have a game set in the time and place inhabited by TNG, but also occupied by two more television shows and the films. For example, in Star Trek: Armada voice actors from The Next Generation contributed to their characters in the game including Patrick Stewart reprised the roles of Jean-Luc Picard and Locutus, Michael Dorn voiced Worf, Denise Crosby reprised Sela, and J. G. Hertzler voiced Chancellor Martok. Several other voice actors who had been previously unaffiliated with Star Trek also voiced characters in the game, among them was Richard Penn.

Star Trek: Armada II was set in the Star Trek: The Next Generation era of the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek: Hidden Evil, which came out in 1999 not only included voice acting by Brent Spiner as Data and Patrick Stewart as Picard, but the story was a follow-on from the ninth Star Trek movie, Star Trek: Insurrection.


Four films feature the characters of the series: Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).

Worf played by Dorn also appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

``I think it was kind of an honor they had my character be sort of the link between the two series. It was wonderful to be working with the other cast (from the original Star Trek series). It was kind of a fantasy because who would have thought when I was watching the original show that I`d be working in the movie? Beyond that, it`s like professionalism takes over and you just kind of do the best you can and not make yourself look bad


Gross with TNG-cast ST films (not-inflation adjusted)

  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    • $74,888,996
    • Released 12/6/91
  • Star Trek: Generations (also has some TOS cast)
    • $75,671,125
    • Released 11/18/94
  • Star Trek: First Contact
    • $92,027,888
    • Released 11/22/96
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
    • $70,187,658
    • Released 12/11/98
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
    • $43,254,409
    • 12/13/02

Lenard Nimoy as Spock also had some TNG episodes (e.g. Unification (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and was featured in the re-boot Star Trek film in 2009

Starting with First Contact, they get a new ship the Enterprise-E with a similar but modified designed as the D-model featured in TV and in Generations


Paramount published all episodes on the LaserDisc format from October 1991 using an extended release schedule that concluded in May 1999. Each disc featured two episodes with Closed Captions, Digital Audio, and CX encoding. Also published were four themed "collections", or boxed sets, of related episodes. These included The Borg Collective, The Q Continuum, Worf: Return to Grace, and The Captains Collection.

There was a production error with episode 166, "Sub Rosa", where a faulty master tape was used that was missing 4½ minutes of footage. Though a new master copy of the episode was obtained, no corrected pressing of this disc was issued.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was also released on LaserDisc in the non-US markets Japan and Europe. In Japan, all episodes were released in a series of 14 boxed sets (two boxed sets per season), and as with the US releases were in the NTSC format and ordered by production code. The European laserdiscs were released in the PAL format and included the ten two-part telemovies as well as a disc featuring the episodes Yesterday's Enterprise and Cause And Effect. The pilot episode, Encounter At Farpoint, was also included in a boxed set called Star Trek: The Pilots featuring the pilot episodes from Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.


The first season of the series was released on DVD in March 2002. Throughout the year the next six seasons were released at various times on DVD, with the seventh season being released in December 2002. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the series, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment released Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Series on October 2, 2007. The DVD box set contains 49 discs. Between March 2006 and September 2008, "Fan Collective" editions were released containing select episodes of The Next Generation (and The Original Series, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager) based on various themes. The individual episodes were chosen by fans voting on StarTrek.com. In total, six "Fan Collectives" were produced, along with a boxed set containing the first five collectives. In April 2013 all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were re-released in new packaging featuring a silhouette of a different cast member on each box. However, the discs contained the identical content that was previously released in 2002.

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