Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, here’s a look at the 25 best episodes from that show’s seven-year run.
25. “Conspiracy” This paranoid episode has the Enterprise D crew fighting against a conspiracy to takeover Starfleet by worm-like aliens.
23. “Future Imperfect” First Officer Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) wakes up sixteen years in the future without a memory of what has happened in all that time.
22. “The Pegasus” Riker and the Enterprise crew must assist his former commanding officer (Terry O’Quinn) to salvage an experimental starship before the Romulans do.
21. “Remember Me” Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) finds herself in a reality where people begin to disappear without anyone remembering the losses.
20. “The Defector” A Romulan officer defects to the Federation with a warning of a pending war. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) must decide if he’s trustworthy.
18. “The Most Toys” The android Commander Data (Brent Spiner) is captured by an eccentric and heartless collector who thinks of him as a priceless commodity.
17. “Relics” Scotty (James Doohan) from the original Star Trek is rescued by the Enterprise crew and must adapt to a life that is very different from what he knew.
16. “The Ensigns Of Command” Data has to evacuate unwilling, prejudiced colonists from a world before a malevolent alien force arrives.
15. “Redemption II” The Klingon Civil War concludes as Picard leads an armada to aid Worf’s (Michael Dorn) side and deals with intervening Romulans.
14. “The Inner Light” Picard unwittingly lives out an entire lifetime in his mind as a member of a long-dead alien race as a means of preserving their entire culture.
13. “Cause And Effect” The Enterprise is caught in a nasty time loop where it’s destroyed over and over again.
12. “Hollow Pursuits” This episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation spotlights on Enterprise crewmember Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), who is addicted to the holodeck where he creates perfect scenarios for himself.
11. “A Fistful Of Datas” One of the best broken holodeck episodes has Worf, his son and Troi trapped in a wild west setting against a town full of Datas portraying various characters, complete with all the great Western clichés.
10. “Transfigurations” In many ways, this episodes best exemplifies Gene Roddenberry’s hopeful vision for humanity. The Enterprise crew rescues an amnesiac alien with healing powers. The nascent would-be romance between him and Dr. Crusher was very tender and uplifting. As was his metamorphosis into a higher state of being and his high regard for humanity.
9. “Chain Of Command, Parts I & II” Captain Picard is unceremoniously reassigned to infiltrate a Cardassian bioweapons facility and is captured. Meanwhile, Riker has to contend with Picard’s acrid replacement (Ronny Cox). The acting by Stewart while Picard is tortured by the Cardassians was exceptional, as was the level of tension onboard the Enterprise as war loomed.
8. “Ship In A Bottle” The best holodeck episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A self aware holographic simulation of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Prof. Moriarty holds the Enterprise crew hostage until a way is found for him to leave the holodeck. See the episode’s end when Picard wryly wonders if their reality is actually a form of entertainment for someone else!
7. “Parallels” Lt. Worf finds himself drifting through several different realities. One has Riker commanding the Enterprise while Worf is married to Troi. At one point, the starship’s viewscreen is filled with many alternate Enterprises. One of them coming from a shocking reality which has a desperate and haggard Riker on the run from the triumphant Borg.
6. “Tapestry” The god-like entity Q (John DeLancie) comes to Picard after the captain dies and offers him a chance to rewrite his own history. The result being that Picard’s life isn’t so wonderful. He learns the hard way that he needed pain and adversity to help him succeed in his life and career. A sobering lesson for anyone who want to play it safe in life.
5. “Darmok” This is a high bar for a first-contact scenario show. What made “Darmok” so memorable was Paul Winfield’s sympathetic performance of an alien Picard meets. The problem is that the alien speaks in confusing metaphors which cannot be translated. The alien risks his and Picard’s life by transporting the themselves down to a hostile world so that they can find a way to communicate. It’s something rarely seen in Star Trek where universal translators always come in handy.
4. ” Q Who?” The cold and powerful cybernetic race called the Borg make their debut in this second season episode. Feeling that the Federation and Picard were getting too pompous, Q transports the Enterprise into deep space and a first-time encounter with the horrifying Borg. Before long, Picard realizes that his ship is outmatched by the superior Borg cube ship and has to swallow his pride and beg for Q’s help.
3.”All Good Things…” One of the very best series finales for any show. It ended the show just right and left many wanting more. In this finale, Q returns and bounces Captain Picard across three different time periods; the present, the future and to the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation to figure out what will cause the universe’s destruction. It was great seeing the future versions of the crewmembers and how they looked at the beginning, which illustrated how far they and the show had come.
2. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” One of Star Trek’s best time-travel episodes mostly takes place in an alternate universe. Picard’s Enterprise is a strictly military vessel and part of a Federation that is losing a brutal war against the Klingons. The Enterprise encounters a time rift where its predecessor, the Enterprise C, emerges. It turns out that the vessel and crew were critical for cementing peace between the two galactic powers and needs to go back to its original time period to correct the timeline. Picard has to decide if he should risk sending the older ship back in time. Viewers got to see a more militant and harder edged crew including a very much alive Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), who died back in the first season.
1. “The Best Of Both Worlds, Parts I & II” The Borg at their best! Before being overused and watered down by Star Trek: Voyager, the Borg are shown in their nearly invulnerable, terrifying glory. The third-season ender has the Borg sending a cube towards Earth. Picard and his crew grapple with the fact that they or even the Federation may not survive the invasion. The first part of the storyline ended with the best Star Trek cliffhanger as Captain Picard was captured and assimilated, forcing Riker to turn against him. The second part has the Enterprise crew desperately trying to keep the Borg from invading Earth and saving Picard. Both episodes were chilling, exciting and glued fans to the TV sets.