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Top 5 Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes

July 16, 2010

Yes, female Trekkies exist.   For the Star Wars fans that consider us mortal enemies, you guys and gals have to admit that phaser rifles and Bat’leths are some badass alternatives to lightsabers.

I’m personally more of a fan of The Next Generation over the Original series.  It’s less corny (especially after the first season) and can get exceptionally deep and philosophical.  I’m a huge TNG nerd.  Convention-caliber nerd, if I had the money for cons.

Here’s my top 5 Star Trek: TNG episodes.

5.   Chain of Command, Parts I and II

Reports of a massive biological weapon in Cardassian hands sends Captain Picard and a few members of his crew on a top-secret mission.

As the mission to infiltrate Cardassian territory and destroy the weapon goes horribly awry and Picard is taken prisoner, Captain Jellico, the new temporary captain, begins his mission on The Enterprise to do preventative war negotiations between the Federation and the Cardassian Union.

Tension among the crew mounts as Jellico rules The Enterprise with an iron first.   A sadistic Cardassian leader tortures and tries to psychologically break the captive Picard.  CoC is definitely one of the darker and more intense episodes in the entire series and touches on a lot of themes relevant to our own military in this day and age.

4.  The Measure of a Man

Android Lieutenant Commander Data’s sentience and standing as a person with self-determination goes up on trial.   If he loses, he could lose bodily integrity and the right to refuse to be experimented on.

Picard gives one of the best damn monologues during the defense hearings.

PICARD: What is he?

MADDOX: A machine.

PICARD: Are you sure?


PICARD: You see he has met two of your three criteria for sentience. What if he meets the third, consciousness, in even the slightest degree?  What is he then?  I don’t know! [turns to Riker] Do you? [turns to Judge] Do YOU? Well that’s the question you have to answer.

3. Time’s Arrow, part I and II

With the time travel throwback to the Orginal Series, Data finds himself trapped in the 19th century, after falling into a time portal in a cave on a seemingly routine mission.

Lit geeks rejoice as the clever and curious Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens plays a major role in the plot.

2. The Inner Light

A mysterious probe gets inside Picard’s mind, and he wakes to find himself living as another man on a relatively primitive planet with no space flight.   It’s a character-building episode for the Captain and one of the series’ most emotional episodes.   In 1993, “The Inner Light” won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

It also has one of the most relaxing and catchy folk flute songs ever.

1. The Best of Both Worlds, Parts I and II

This is the episode that makes The Borg one of the top villains in the last century of science fiction.  Part I begins with the attack of the Enterprise and abduction of Picard.  The strategy of the hive-minded cyborgs is to assimilate the Captain into their collective and use his knowledge and tactical experience to outmaneuver the Federation.

As The Borg get dangerously close to Earth, The Federation prepares for war.  Now promoted to Captain, Riker desperately tries to figure out how Picard would think, so he can outsmart The Borg.  The Battle of Wolf 359 will go down in Star Trek history as the Borg’s Spartan Victory as the defense is obliterated with ease and thousands of Federation lives lost.  As the monstrous Borg Cube heads towards Earth, The Enterprise appears to be humanity’s only hope.


On that note, First Contact was the best TNG movie, fo sho.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 10:36 am

    All really good episodes. I especially loved Measure of a Man. TNG is also my favorite, with Voyager and TOS tied for second. (I know, Voyager shouldn’t be as good as TOS, but it’s less campy and still has good characters.)

  2. July 16, 2010 12:55 pm

    I was never one who was able to get into Star Trek, but whenever I catch it I enjoy it.

  3. scandalousmuffin permalink
    July 17, 2010 11:42 am

    Have you heard “The Sexy Data Tango” by Voltaire? It’s hilarious.

  4. November 2, 2010 10:22 pm

    There are FOUR lights!

    One of the best episodes EVER. I really love your list. Honestly, Time’s Arrow is not one of my favorites… it gets a little cheesy, and the “explanation” for that “more than friends” connection between Picard and Guinan was really pretty lame.

    But I can’t argue with the rest of list. Absolutely awesome episodes, all of them.

  5. November 19, 2010 4:52 pm

    You know, I like “Time’s Arrow,” but I think something like “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” or even “Cause And Effect,” trump it in terms of quality. I wonder what the gender divide is on favorite TNG episodes? For instance, I know a lot of women that respond to episodes like “Inner Light” more than shows like “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

    Anyway, I’m commenting here to invite everyone here to check out a blog that my friends and I run, We’re in the midst of reviewing TNG right now, and I’d love to get intelligent comments like these on our posts!

  6. Eric permalink
    January 8, 2011 2:11 am

    What about “Darmok”? Most people include it on their list
    of top TNG shows. Very intense!

    • January 12, 2011 3:46 pm

      Ooh! “Darmok”! Fantastic episode! I love the idea of a language based entirely on allusion and metaphor. It’s so unique and I would love to try to write something like that in one of my stories. Though, I’m not sure I could pull it off.

  7. February 9, 2011 7:04 am

    I love Time’s Arrow. Especially Captain Picard’s line at the end: “I wish time would have allowed me to know you better”

  8. June 16, 2011 3:35 pm

    The list is great — except for “Time’s Arrow.” I don’t think you’ll find it on many ardent fans’ best-of lists, and it certainly isn’t on mine. I’d nominate “Sarek” for Stewart’s jaw-dropping performance, or “The Offspring,” the one episode that has brought tears to my eyes every single time I’ve watched it from its original airing. I think it has only grown more poignant to me since I’ve become a father myself. “I will feel it for both of us” never fails to get to me.

    • scandalousmuffin permalink
      June 19, 2011 3:48 pm

      Ooh. Good call on “Sarek.” That one slipped my mind. That was the canon-clinger that made JJ Abrams’ reboot of Vulcan history make me cringe.

      “The Offspring” is good too, but I feel it could have been better played had Lal spanned a couple episodes before her transient existence came to an end. I threw in “Time’s Arrow” because it’s not on many best-of lists but was one that was nonetheless memorable for me.

      You know what episode I’ve seen on other lists that’s overrated?

  9. May 12, 2013 2:30 pm

    Very good stuff, I agree with these, my favorites tend to be data centric myself. Or with Q for that matter. Being new to your site, sorry if you have already done a simialr post, but I would like to know what you think about star trek: into darkness. If you don’t want to post you could always comment on my spoiler filled review (I basically say my favorite/hated scenes) I think you would appreciated it.

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