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What Is Your Favorite Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode?

September 28, four weeks tomorrow, will mark the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show that reminded the world that, actually, they actually kind of love Star Trek. While my own personal loyalties in Trek are to Deep Space Nine, I know from firsthand experience that TNG has a lot of fans out there, and gave a lot to the franchise as a whole. So, here’s a simple question: What one episode would you hold up as the best of the series?

Despite my TNG cynicism, I do have a fondness for a lot of the show, especially between the third and sixth seasons, for some inexplicable reason (Well, maybe not entirely inexplicable; the writing took a dramatic leap in quality in the show’s third season, and the seventh season starts to show signs of exhaustion in terms of possible story ideas, although it does have the wonderful “All Good Things”). For me, there’s a run of good stuff between the third and fourth seasons especially, centering around the “Best of Both Worlds” two-parter that remains the series’ high-water mark as far as I’m concerned.

But what about you, dear readers? Are you suckers for any episode where Q appears? What about the Lwaxana Troi stories, or anything that involves a peek within the Klingon Empire? There were all manner of tropes that TNG ended up introducing to Trek, and other familiar ideas (“What does it mean to be… human?”) that it took as far as it could go, and with 178 episodes, that’s not really a surprise; that’s a lot of time to fill, and even with a whole universe of possibilities, you’re going to keep coming back to some things over and over.

(That said, I feel as if TNG kept itself from falling down any rabbit holes the way that Deep Space Nine or Voyager did. Both of those latter shows had favorite concepts that they returned to a little too much for my tastes – Especially Voyager and the Borg – whereas TNG had so many options available that it pretty much kept itself from burning out on any single one of them. Your Mileage, as they say, May Vary, however.)

178 episodes, however, means that there’s a lot to choose from in terms of favorites, and I’m curious to see which stories have your heart. “Yesterday’s Enterprise”? “The Measure of A Man”? “The Inner Light”? “The Game” (No joke, one of my favorites and I couldn’t even begin to explain why; it’s just so goofy that I love it)? Or, God forbid, even something like “Encounter At Farpoint” or “The Naked Now”?

Use the comments, tell all. (And I’m curious: How many of you out there discovered Star Trek through this show?)

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Comments

  • Xaos

    “Best of Both Worlds” seems too obvious, so to go off the the beaten path a little, I’ll say “Parallels” (such a What If? episode, Marvel or DC could practically have sued). There were also a couple of pretty good creepy episodes. The resolution of “Night Terrors” was pretty flat, but the eerie hallucinations up to then were pretty good. More effective was “Schisms”, which used some pretty disturbing body horror; “Oh, your arm has been severed and reattached” “Remember Me” was another fun one I thought.

    Crap, I was supposed to pick *a* favorite, wasn’t I :/

  • Zenjamin

    For me it’s a toss up between “The Inner Light” which is a beautiful Twilight Zone episode and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” which introduced the Enterprise-C: Best. Starship. Ever.

  • Alfredo Wilson

    I definitely discovered star trek  through TNG. Picard is the best captain by far! I couldn’t give you a favorite episode though because I don’t remember many of the names and there were so many.

  • http://billso.com/ Bill Sodeman

    “Yesterday’s Enterprise” gave us Picard as a pissed off battle commander, a do-over for Tasha Yar and the glory of the Enterprise-C. 

  • Aborn82

    I always loved “Disaster” from Season 5, where Troi got to finally sit in the Captain’s Chair and Worf delivered Keiko’s baby.

  • Paul Moses

    “Who watches the watchers?”, not exactly sure why.   Second favorite is the one where Alexander, Deanna, Worf, and Lwaxana end up in the mud bath at the end.

  • Adam

    Probably “Yesterday’s Enterprise” for wrapping up the show so well.

    I discovered Trek through watching the Original Series with my dad as a kid, but when TNG debuted (I must have been 10)…man, what a show.  It did an incredible amount of world-building beyond TOS, and never really felt the need to make any blatant connections to TOS (other than some growing pains in the first season–McCoy’s walk-on and an overt rehash of “The Naked Time) until much later in the show’s lifetime.

  • Jeremyslavings

    Any episode with Lore in it. The holodeck gone wrong episodes were always fun as well.  TNG was by far my favorite run.

  • Wildstorm

    Best of Both Worlds.  This is when TNG finally got its identity.

  • sandwich eater

    This is hard for me to pick, but I guess I’d say “The Best of Both Worlds.”

  • Kwsupes

    This is a tough one Graeme. I didn’t discover Trek through this show, but I was seven when it started its run so the Enterprise D became the crew I grew up with. There were so many great episodes mixed throughout its run, but one of my favorites has always been Deja Q. Pretty much all of the Q episodes are great, but a mortal Q trying to cope with being human was awesome. Especially when Q is trying hard to convince Picard that he isn’t playing just another one of his cruel pranks on the crew. He asks, “What must I do to prove to you that I am human.” To which Worf responds, “Die.” This is classic and you are right the third season is where the show really improved and became great. 

  • EwokSlayer

    Don’t know the name of the episode – but the one where Picard and 2
    others are returning in a shuttle craft, and they come across the
    Enterprise and a Romulan warbird locked in battle – yet frozen in time

    Also, the one where Picard is hit with a scanning beam, and then lives a
    lifetime within a few minutes to learn the history of a lost culture

  • Mou101

    I have to go with “The Inner Light.” Just beautifully done.

  • SteveMcSheffrey

    I forget the title but mine is teh one where Troi and two others are possessed by alien criminals.  There’s a scene where Troi lays Picard out flat.   I’ve always pictured Sirtis’ glee upon reading the script where she gets to physically assault someone, especially the captain!

  • Dr. Internet

    Yes, “Remember Me” really stuck with me. Very creepy and Twilight Zone-y. I also like “The Mind’s Eye” where Geordi is all Manchurian Candidate-d. 

  • APD026

    Besides “Best of Both Worlds,” I am definitely a big fan of Q, so his episodes were always fun.  Other than that, I’d have to say that the two-parters “Redemption” and “Unification” are my favorite episodes.

    As an aside, I’m fairly new to Star Trek, I mainly got interested after viewing the 2009 J.J. Abrams film.  Since then, I have basically used my Netflix account as a Trekflix account, since every series is up on there.  TNG is easily my favorite of them all.

  • Kevinmadison Law

    Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra…or whatever that episode with Paul Winfield was called. 

  • Drumanespic

    “Chain of Command” Pts. 1 & 2 has lots going for it. At it’s core, an examination of torture during interrogation that has surprising depth & brilliant performances from David Warner & Patrick Stewart.
    “THERE ARE . . .FOUR LIGHTS!”

    Honourable mentions go to “Conspiracy”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise” & “Best of Both Worlds”.

  • http://fredrik.tumblr.com/ Fredrik

    I discovered Trek through the early movies but fell in love thanks to TNG, and The Inner Light is my favorite episode. Actually, it’s one of my all time favorite episodes of any TV show.

  • JohnB10

    Yesterday’s Enterprise

  • dayfan

     The higher, the fewer!

  • dayfan

    Darmok is a favorite of mine (as is The Inner Light). My wife cried at the end of The Offspring ’cause she loves Data so much. And since everyone said Yesterday’s Enterprise, I’ll go with another time travel (kinda) episode – Cause and Effect.

  • Christian

    Best of Both Worlds- when the show became its own
    Yesterdays Enterprise- solid, well acted and a perfect send off for Tasha
    All good Things- this is how all other final episodes are measured
    Parallels- Fun seeing all the alternate paths
    Q-Pid- I must protest, iam NOT a Merry Man

  • old man 56

    Well, as an old timer who saw TOS first run, I’m partial to the return of Scotty. However, the Best of Both Worlds 2 parter was the defining moment for TNG and the point where I decided to continue watching. The first two seasons were a strain, similar to the last season of TOS.
    And Enterprise deserves recognition, even though it took five years and a cancellation to get the best episodes. 

  • Albarfie

    The Defector.  “I expected more from you than idle boasts, Captain.”  “Then you shall have it.  Mr. Worf?”  Then the Klingon Birds of Prey de-cloak and surround the Romulans.  So awesome.

  • Ben

    “Yesterday’s Enterprise”

  • http://twitter.com/hysanadu hysanadu

    I am going to go out on the proverbial limb and say I’m probably the only person alive who actually enjoyed “Rascals.”  I thought Tristan Birkin did a remarkable job as young Jean-Luc.  Yes, the story was stupid.  But the ENT-D was disabled and at a disadvantage.  How many times did some lame alien threat take them out when they should have easily wiped the floor with them?  At least it made sense here.  It also made me crush on Ensign Ro even more than I already did.  She seemed ever so more vulnerable.  It made her (SPOILER) defection to the Maquis in the final season all the more heartbreaking.  My other favorite episode is “Brothers” (a tour-de-force from Brent Spiner).  But my all-time favorite has to be “Reunion,” even though poor K’Ehylar (sp?) bites it. Because it set the stage for so many great Klingon episodes on TNG *and* DS9.

  • In Jupiter’s Shadow

    I’m of course agreeing with a lot of the faves that are already mentioned (BoBW, Yesterday’s Ent, Inner Light). I’d like to add one that, while the overall story is not the ultimate, there’s a moment that really touched me. ‘The Quality of Life’, where Data is defending the Exocomps right to life. He goes to talk to Beverly. ‘What is the meaning of life?’ he innocently asks her, like he can get a quick answer from the ship’s physician. They talk and she finally tells him that there is no one single answer to the question — but that the struggle to answer the question is the really the important part of life, not the answer itself. Wow!

    PS, my favorite Q line:
    Data: The Captain is merely concerned with your ability to successfully interact with his ‘little, trained minions.’
    Q: I’m not good in groups.

  • Steventinnion

    I think the episode brothers where Brent spiner played data and
    Lore was fantastic he played both parts superbly that’s why he
    Has been one of the most interesting and popular crew members.

  • http://twitter.com/hysanadu hysanadu

    Not only both brothers, but also Dr. Soong, their father.  :)  He was just amazing in that episode.  The conversation between Dr. Soong and Data about why he created him, where he essentially tells Data he’s his son was both touching and wryly humorous.

  • Armchairprogrammer13

    The best episode was “I, Borg,” in which the crew discovers and befriends a Borg that has become disconnected from the Hive.  There were strong and valid opinions from different crew members. The story contained a difficult moral question for them (should we protect this being’s rights or should we turn him over and protect ourselves?).  “I, Borg” also demonstrated that Captain Picard, despite his wisdom and nobility, could be blinded by his experience and prejudice.

    The worst episode was “The Naked Now,” a plagarism of the superior Original Series script “The Naked Time.”  There is little good that can be said about it, other than that the young series survived it and that it is generally recognized as an inferior episode. 

  • stealthwise

    THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!

    I also love the episode where the Federation, Cardassians, Klingons and Romulans?  I think that was the four races, were brought together and revealed they had a common ancestry.

  • Neary228

    Aquiel was the worstest episode EVER. What a waste of time

  • Lastnamecumbie

    I never remember the name but it is from the first season when these aliens take over members of starfleet and riker and picard have to stop it. I also really love the 2 part episodes where picard gets taken from the borg. Or any episode where data is the main character.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.schmitt#!/ David R. Schmitt

    I discovered Trek through the syndicated re-runs of the classic show then was there from the beginning for TNG.

    My fave TNG is probably from the first season, “Conspiracy.” It was a pretty shocking finale and showed that this Trek wasn’t afraid to get dark.

    TNG were masters of the done-in-one episodes but I’m a bigger fan of serial stories, so DS9 after season 3 ranks slightly higher on my fave scale.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZXOFUZ4I64F5CISQ7OTQ44YALA Douglas

    I’ll go with Best of Both Worlds because that was when TNG hit it’s stride and because most of the crew played an important, or at least character appropriate role.  That didn’t even happen in the movies which became the Picard and Data show.  That being said the Klingon home world episodes and individual character episodes (“Remember Me”) were fun too.

  • Peter
  • Bob

    So many good ones, but Inner Light is my number 1

  • Bob

    Mine too!