Star Trek: The Next Generation (often abbreviated to TNG) is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production. The show was created 21 years after the original Star Trek show and set in the 24th century, about 100 years after the original series. The program features a new crew and a new starship Enterprise. Patrick Stewart’s voice-over introduction during each episode’s opening credits stated the starship’s purpose, updated from the original to represent an open-ended “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.
It premiered the week of September 28, 1987, to 27 million viewers with the two-hour pilot “Encounter at Farpoint”. With 178 episodes spread over seven seasons, it ran longer than any other Star Trek series, ending with the two-hour finale “All Good Things…” the week of May 23, 1994.
The series was broadcast in first-run syndication with dates and times varying among individual television stations. The show gained a considerable following during its run and, like the original series, remains popular in syndicated reruns. Three additional Star Trek spin-offs followed The Next Generation: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001), and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005). The series formed the basis of the seventh to tenth Star Trek films, and is also the setting of numerous novels, comic books, and games.
In its seventh season, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first and only syndicated television show to be nominated for the Emmy Award for Best Dramatic Series. The show received numerous recognitions, including Emmy Awards, Hugo Awards, and a Peabody Award. The Next Generation made several publications’ lists of the best television shows of all time.
The show follows the adventures of a space-faring crew on board the 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 time line takes place roughly 80 years after the final missions of the original Enterprise crew under the command of James T. Kirk. The Federation has undergone massive 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 like the Romulans and the Borg take precedence on the show.
The Enterprise is commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and is staffed by first officer Commander William Riker, the android Lieutenant Commander Data, security chief Lieutenant Tasha Yar, ship’s counselor Deanna Troi, Klingon tactical officer Lieutenant Worf, Doctor Beverly Crusher, and conn officer Lieutenant Geordi La Forge. The death of Lieutenant Yar in the show’s first season prompts an internal shuffle of personnel, making Worf official chief of security. Geordi La Forge is promoted to chief engineer at the beginning of season 2.
The show begins with the crew of the Enterprise-D put on trial by a nefarious, omnipotent being known as Q. The godlike entity threatens the extinction of mankind for being a race of savages, forcing them to solve a mystery at nearby Farpoint Station in order to prove their worthiness of being 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 difficult choices and live with the consequences of those choices.
The show ended in its seventh season with a two-part episode “All Good Things…”, which brought the events of the series full circle back to the original confrontation with Q. An interstellar anomaly that threatens all life in the universe forces Captain Picard to leap from his present, past and future to combat the threat. Picard was successfully able to demonstrate 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 show 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.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: