There’s no denying that Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of the greatest science fiction series ever made. Through seven seasons, some may even argue that it surpassed the Original Series in quality. Sure there are some real duds in those seven years (basically anything written by Brannon Braga), but the good episodes are among the best scifi ever aired on television. Below are what we feel are the ten best from the series’ run.
1. The Inner Light
The Season Five episode The Inner Light is widely considered to be the finest hour of TNG ever by both fans and critics alike. When Picard is zapped by an alien probe, he lives out an entire lifetime in the period of just twenty minutes. Along with the Bog incident in Seasons 3 and 4, this is one of the biggest bits of character development for Picard and is still an amazing episode.
2. The Best of Both Worlds
The first real “oh crap” cliffhanger in the series, the two-hour Best of Both Worlds remains one of the most memorable Star Trek episodes ever. And when you later learn that they didn’t initially know how to resolve the cliffhanger, it makes the conclusion even more awesome. “Mr. Worf. Fire!” is the coolest cliffhanger ever.
3. Yesterday’s Enterprise
We got to meet the Enterprise C. Tasha returned. And we learned that Worf loves the warrior’s drink of Prune Juice. It’s hard for a single episode to be as awesome as Yesterday’s Enterprise and it ranks as one of the best Star Trek stories ever told.
4. Chain of Command
The great David Warner makes a TNG appearance as a Cardassian who keeps Picard hostage, and we learn that THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS.
Picard is stranded on an alien world with a Captain from a race that speaks in metaphor. Picard uses one of Earth’s legends to bridge the communication gap with the alien Captain and fights off an invisible monster.
Where Unification was a relatively flimsy excuse to slap Spock in TNG and a almost blantant two-hour advertisement for Star Trek VI (Spock refers to the events in Star Trek VI in the episode), Relics is a much better crossover episode. Mostly because it’s just so much fun to see Scotty in the 24th Century, but also because he serves more of a purpose than Spock did in Unification.
7. All Good Things…
The Series Finale ranks along with “What You Leave Behind” as one of the two best Star Trek finales in the five TV series. It works as a great bookend with the series, but we can’t help but wonder how cool it would’ve been if the producers had the money to include the Best of Both Worlds timeline as originally intended.
8. I, Borg
You could argue that I, Borg began the downfall of Star Trek’s best villains, but you could also look at the episode as the last great appearance of the Borg. They would reappear at the end of Season Six as individuals lead by Lore, but this story about a single Borg learning to be an individual is again an excellent Trek story and that’s what you look for in Star Trek.
9. Time’s Arrow
Time’s Arrow, the Season 5/Season 6 cliffhanger almost matches Best of Both Worlds for shock value. The first part ends with Data being zapped back to 19th Century San Francisco to face a fate of decapitation. The second part takes place in the past with a great supporting character of Mark Twain.
After Best of Both Worlds, it was tricky for them to come up with a two-parter to match that. Season Four ended with Worf resigning from Starfleet to fight in the Klingon Civil War. Ron Moore’s Klingon Saga may have become a bit burned out by the end of the series, but Redemption remains among the best.