30 Intergalactic Facts About Star Trek: The Next Generation
Brew up your Earl Grey tea (making sure it’s hot), readjust your uniform, and settle down into your Captain’s chair, because it’s time to ‘make it so’. Star Trek: The Next Generation first hit our TV screens all the way back in September 1987, and we don’t know about you, but it’s one of our favourite TV shows of all time.
All fans of the show will have their favourite episodes. Perhaps it’s The Inner Light, in which Picard awakes to find himself living in a small village; The Best of Both Worlds two-parter, which saw Picard captured by The Borg; or maybe Yesterday’s Enterprise, in which the Enterprise C enters the Enterprise D’s time and space continuum.
Below are 30 fascinating facts about this classic show, so be sure to post a comment letting us know your memories of watching it.
30. George R. R. Martin almost wrote for the show
There’s no denying that George R. R. Martin is a titan in the world of fantasy, but what you might not have known is that he also has some serious science fiction credentials.
Before he got around to creating one of the most successful high-fantasy book series’ of all time, and set about overseeing a hugely popular television adaptation for it, Martin actually won several Hugo Awards for his work in the sci-fi genre.
These credentials, along with the fact that he had contributed to several other projects while working as a television writer in Los Angeles, led him to apply for a position in the writing room for an early season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Martin should have been the perfect candidate to help write the sci-fi / action-adventure series, so it was baffling to all involved when he was knocked back after one interview. However, it turns out the issue had nothing to do with his qualifications.
Instead, Martin had been rejected by a producer who had completely the wrong idea about what the show was about. The producer pitched the new Star Trek series as a “people story”, which had very little to do with its sci-fi dressing, despite that being an incorrect interpretation.
Obviously, when the show was released it was a balance of humanist philosophy and campy science fiction, so Martin would have been a great fit to help write the show all along. With that said, it’s quite obvious that he is happy with where his career ended up.
29. Deanna Troi’s character design initially included four boobs
When you first watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, the only unusual thing you might notice about Deanna Troi is that she seems to be wearing a totally non-regulation uniform.
However, her costuming and character design were initially going to be far more unorthodox than just having her go about her duties while showing a significant amount of cleavage, as early designs for her character included two sets of boobs.
The idea was down to Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek and chief writer on the show. Roddenberry was steadfast about the fact that, as a Betazoid, Troi should have four breasts rather than two.
This idea would have made it to the production stage if it wasn’t for writer D.C Fontana, who brought up the impracticality of such a choice both for the character of Troi and the actress who played her.
Fontana pointed out that not only would having a four-breasted alien cater to the lowest common denominator of Star Trek fans, but it would also be very uncomfortable and difficult to orchestrate from a costuming and story perspective.
Fontana outright confronted Roddenberry about the choice, saying: “Four in a row? They had better be small. Two banks of two? Do you know how much trouble women have with the normal number—keeping them out of the way of things…?”
28. Patrick Stewart did all his torture scenes in the nude
Star Trek: The Next Generation might be mostly remembered as a light-hearted romp, but that doesn’t mean it did not often deal with dark or serious themes.
The show often explored philosophical questions and concepts about the nature of man and how to treat other people, with the most harrowing example being season six’s two-part episode Chain of Command.
In Chain of Command, Captain Picard is captured by the Cardassians and held and tortured by Gul Madred, a sophisticated but brutal military officer intent on questioning him.
Though Picard goes through many ordeals designed to strip him of his dignity, the most important is that he is repeatedly asked to admit that there are five lights in the ceiling, despite the fact that there are clearly four. This psychological torment is what gives the episode its sombre tone.
Patrick Stewart, who played Picard, is an actor who first gained a reputation in British theatre, and so it is no surprise that he took the episode as seriously as he would any Shakespeare monologue he was asked to deliver.
To ensure that his torture scenes had the right amount of gravitas, Stewart insisted on a closed and private set, and actually filmed all of his scenes entirely nude. That’s a commitment to a role.
27. Teleportation was invented as a quick budget fix
If you ask any non-Trekkie to reference Star Trek, chances are they will shout out “beam me up Scotty!”, or make some other reference to teleportation. That’s because, right from the show’s inception, the transport room as been an iconic part of Star Trek.
With that said, even though having crew members teleport down to alien planets feels quintessentially Star Trek, the feature was actually invented by the writers with one reason in mind: keeping costs down.
For its first few seasons, Star Trek: The Next Generation was the lowest of Paramount’s priorities, and so it had a shockingly low budget. This resulted in low-quality costumes and sets, as well as a tiny budget for special effects, which is a problem for a science fiction show.
This of course meant that there was no money to show the crew members climbing into smaller spaceships to fly down to a planet whenever they were on a mission. By contrast, showing the crew vanish from the ship and instantly appear on a planet’s surface was a much more budget-friendly idea.
Everything about the transport room was done as cheaply as possible. For example, the ceiling of the transporter chamber in Star Trek: The New Generation, is actually just the floor of the transporter chamber from the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series.
Not only that, but the transport special effect was actually done by stirring glitter in water, which was then filmed and added in over shots of the actors standing in place. That’s a far cry from the high-budget special effects in the latest Star Trek movies.
26. The cast stole food while working on set
We’ve already discussed the fact that Star Trek: The Next Generation had a shoestring budget for its first few seasons, as a result of a syndicated sci-fi show being right at the bottom of Paramount’s list of priorities.
This affected far more than just the show’s production value though, as it also affected the day-to-day working conditions of the actors and crew while they were on set.
For a start, no-one in the cast had a trailer, not even acclaimed British actor Patrick Stewart. Instead, they were given small pods to hang out in when they weren’t shooting, that weren’t particularly comfortable or at all air-conditioned.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cast also reported that craft services (that’s the food, for those not in showbusiness) were absolutely unacceptable, with the actors going hungry at several points throughout a shooting day.
Thankfully, there was an easy fix available for their plight. When they weren’t filming, the actors would simply slip out and raid the craft services of other shows shooting in the Paramount lot, which had much higher budgets and much more high-quality snacks.
Specifically, Denise Crosby later admitted to repeatedly sneaking onto the set of Cheers, as the hit sitcom was a darling of Paramount at the time. No-one was ever caught, which means they must have changed out of their Starfleet uniforms before attempting to show-hop.
25. Levar Burton’s costume caused him constant pain
The character of Geordi La Forge was born blind but was able to see with the use of a VISOR, a 24th-century piece of technology that connected to his temples, allowing him to view everything from heat and light to infrared and radio waves.
Unfortunately, this miraculous accessory that brought sight to the character of Geordi had the exact opposite effect for Levar Burton, the actor who portrayed him.
Despite seeming relatively pedestrian compared to some of the intricate prosthetics other alien characters were required to wear, the VISOR’s wrap-around design meant that it put pressure on Burton’s temples, making it uncomfortable to wear.
This problem only got worse as the VISOR was upgraded to bulkier and more advanced models throughout the show’s numerous seasons, with some versions requiring actual screws to keep the headgear from slipping down on Burton’s face.
Not only did the upgraded design cause Burton to suffer migraines and tension headaches, but it also prevented him from seeing almost completely, meaning he was constantly bumping into things on set. Not convenient for a character who is supposed to be able to navigate around perfectly.
When asked about the costume in an interview, Burton admitted that wearing the VISOR was “pretty much a living Hell”, and said that he pushed to include more scenes in the show where he didn’t have to wear it.
24. Wil Wheaton was offered an in-character promotion instead of a raise
Everyone working on Star Trek: The Next Generation was pretty passionate about the show, and the cast worked hard to create a product that would be just as loved as the original series.
It was said that they all made an effort to develop friendships and have fun on set, which helped their chemistry when the cameras were rolling. This closeness also involved advocating for each other when the cast felt that they deserved better treatment.
After Star Trek: The Next Generation had been running for numerous seasons and had proved itself successful, the cast decided to lobby for a pay rise, in response to the low budget that Paramount had given the show in its first seasons.
Paramount were not keen on the idea of paying their actors more, and they had some interesting techniques for placating the actors who asked for a pay rise. Specifically, Paramount had an ingenious strategy for avoiding giving actor Wil Wheaton a raise.
Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a recurring character that Star Trek fans were not overly fond of. When Wheaton approached Paramount about a pay rise, their first strategy was to offer his character a promotion instead, saying that they would raise Crusher’s rank to Lieutenant in the show.
Wheaton was incredulous at the offer, and allegedly replied: “So what should I tell my landlord when I can’t pay my rent? ‘Don’t worry, I just made Lieutenant’?” Wheaton got the pay rise sometime later.
23. Patrick Stewart had a toupée shipped to his audition
In retrospect, it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Patrick Stewart in the role of the philosophical and introspective Captain Picard. That’s why it’s so surprising that, far from a shoo-in for the role, Stewart was very nearly rejected outright.
When producers brought up the idea of Stewart auditioning for the part to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, he rejected Stewart on the spot, saying that he envisioned a younger actor with a full head of hair in the role.
Not to be deterred, Stewart asked if he could audition anyway, since he already had a toupee that he wore when parts required him to have hair. The only trouble was, Stewart was in the US teaching an acting class at UCLA, and his toupee was back in the UK.
Determined not to miss out on the job, Stewart had his wig express shipped to his hotel in America, and went on to hugely impress Gene Roddenberry at the audition.
That should have been the story’s happy ending, but there was another ironic twist: Star Trek’s other producers said that they would only be happy with Stewart playing the role if he ditched the dreadful wig and simply went bald!
That series of events is how Star Trek: The Next Generation went on to be led by an actor much different from the strapping leading man that Roddenberry initially imagined. Thankfully, this different characterisation is what made many fans of TNG so enamoured by the show.
22. Data’s name caused Americans to change how they pronounce the word
Every actor takes the script into their own hands when they begin working on a role: adding their own inflexions, interpreting their lines the way they believe their character would deliver them, and even occasionally improvising if they feel that something is missing.
However, Patrick Stewart managed to make a huge change to Star Trek: The Next Generation just by reading the script, and without realising that he was making any kind of conscious choice at all.
When Stewart sat down for his first table read, he addressed Brent Spiner’s character Data. When he did so, he pronounced it in the British way, saying the name as “Day-tah”. The table read carried on as normal, but Stwart had actually just made a choice that would affect more than just the show.
Unbeknownst to Stwart, Roddenberry had actually meant for Data’s name to reflect the American pronunciation of the word. It should have been read as “Dat-uh”, but as it wasn’t written anywhere in the script, Stewart simply did what was natural for him.
In order to keep things cohesive, all the other actors also switched to Stewart’s pronunciation of the name, regardless of their own accent or nationality. That already seems like a pretty big impact for one dialogue choice to have, but it actually made even more of a difference.
As Star Trek: The Next Generation became more popular, more and more watching fans also adopted Stewart’s pronunciation. Nowadays, the English pronunciation of the word is common even in American English, and it’s mostly down to Stewart… at least according to Brent Spiner, anyway.
21. Patrick Stewart hated the American actors’ behaviour on set
When filming Star Trek: The Original Series, creator Gene Roddenberry constantly had to chastise the main cast, in order to keep William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley in line on their long shoot days. In contrast, on the set of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the lead actor was not the problem.
There was still plenty of antics and mischief on set, but Patrick Stewart was nowhere near as prone to distraction and japes as William Shatner. In fact, Stewart actually found the jovial working environment pretty frustrating to deal with.
As a British film and theatre actor who hadn’t really worked on television before, Stewart wasn’t used to people wasting time or laughing on set. Stewart often found himself trying to get his castmates to focus, just like the captain of a ship.
Thankfully, Stewart did eventually relax and introduce his own sense of humour onto the set, it just took him a few months to adjust to the very different kind of working environment.
Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William T., said: “Sir Patrick took the work very seriously. If we fooled around on set, which we were want to do — we meaning the Americans in the cast, and if he was not in the mood, he’d let us have it.”
Stewart’s serious and stoic presence on-set helped to sell his no-nonsense and studiously calm character onscreen. So really, his castmates should have put up with him telling them to calm down on set, as it was improving the dynamics of the show.
20. The Picard Manoeuvre was a result of wardrobe malfunction
The outfits that Starfleet officers wore in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation are no doubt iconic but, as anyone who has ever worn them for a fan convention or fancy dress party will know, they’re not the most comfortable.
The one-piece jumpsuits were so impractical to wear that after the first season of the show, the cast asked if the uniforms could be replaced with something more manoeuvrable and comfy. Thankfully, they got their wish.
When shooting on a new season began, the jumpsuits were replaced with two-piece uniforms, which were far easier to move around in and take on and off.
Unfortunately though, these new outfits came with their own set of problems, such as the fact that the jackets would constantly shift and ride up whenever the actors moved around, sat down, or stood up.
Patrick Stewart came up with a genius way to combat this, and even integrated it into his character. Whenever Picard stood up from his chair, he would give his jacket a sharp tug downwards, in order to stop it from riding up.
This practical movement turned into a recognisable character tick, and soon garnered the name “The Picard Manoeuvre”. Other Star Trek actors had done this previously, such as Leonard Nimoy in The Wrath of Khan, but it was popularised by Stewart.
19. One episode was banned
Over the years, many television shows have produced controversial episodes that have been banned from airing in certain countries, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Simpsons, and even Sesame Street.
With that said, it’s difficult to imagine what episode of a light-hearted science-fiction romp like Star Trek: The Next Generation would cause enough controversy to be pulled from the broadcasting schedule.
Nevertheless, when it was time for the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation to air in the UK, episode 13 was skipped over and treated as though it was never filmed.
In episode 13, The High Ground, a crewmember on Enterprise-D is kidnapped by activists, who hope to negotiate with the Federation and gain concessions for their cause.
It was not the theme of terrorism itself that caused the episode to be banned, but rather something Data says when talking about times that direct action tactics have been used to bring about the end of a conflict.
Data says that Ireland was reunited in 2024 thanks to the use of violent tactics and direct action, and this prediction was considered controversial enough to stop the episode from airing in the UK. The High Ground was eventually shown in the UK in 2007, but it has yet to air in Ireland itself.
18. The final episode had record-breaking viewing figures
Star Trek: The Next Generation began airing on September 28th 1987, and ran until May 23rd 1994. It ran for seven seasons, over seven years, and 178 episodes were made.
Though many fans of Star Trek: The Original Series disavowed the show from its conception, and even hosted letter-writing campaigns to get it pulled from the air, Star Trek: The Next Generation did eventually become beloved in its own right.
As the show progressed through the seasons, it went from a low-budget series that wasn’t promoted or prioritised by Paramount, to a property with a new and bustling fanbase.
As its fanbase grew, its viewing figures gradually increased, until it was regularly watched by more people than Wheel of Fortune, Cheers and L.A. Law.
By series five, each episode was regularly tuned into by 12 million people, and it had an average of 20 million viewers overall. Unsurprisingly though, it was the final episode that saw record-breaking viewing figures.
The final episode, the ‘All Good Things…’ two-parter, saw Picard jumping through time to wrap up the show’s loose ends. It was watched by over 30 million viewers.
17. Levar Burton used to fall asleep on set
Star Trek: The Next Generation is hardly a show without action, as the characters often get into perilous situations on alien planets, and have to deal with all manner of intergalactic threats.
However, for every negotiation with a hostile alien race, or tense fight scene in which the outcome was unclear, there was also a lot of sitting around on the ship, talking.
The philosophical dialogue and need to solve problems with words rather than violence was a central tenant of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is one of the things that set it apart from the original series.
With that said, for the characters who were rarely involved in these ethical musings, this meant a lot of scenes sitting in a chair and waiting for something else to do.
Actor Levar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge, said that throughout the first season of the show, he often found himself sitting quietly, with no lines or any real acting to do.
As a result, he had a tendency to fall asleep on set, which nobody noticed since his eyes were already covered by his VISOR. Talk about sleeping on the job!
16. Gene Roddenberry was infamously difficult to work with
Creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry is considered by many to be a genius, who made an invaluable contribution to both the world of TV and the genre of science fiction as a whole.
There’s no denying that he created one of the most famous properties in film and television history, which has spawned a whole universe of other content, from reboots and cartoons to fan conventions and novelisations.
However, just because Roddenberry conceived of tech developments like the iPad before they were even on the horizon, does not mean that he was particularly easy to work with.
Even his deep interest in and passion for Humanist philosophy while making Star Trek: The Next Generation did not make him more amicable, and his writers room famously knew how to tiptoe around him.
Gene Roddenberry was most well-known for being fickle and changing his opinion from one day to the next for seemingly no reason. In one infamous incident, he hired a huge fan of Star Trek to be a scriptwriter and made sure to compliment him on his work.
The very next day, the new writer returned to the office to find his furniture and belongings out in the hall, and was fired by Roddenberry without even a message from the man himself. Ouch.
15. Picard’s flute was sold at auction for $40,000
Picard’s flute from the episode ‘The Inner Light’, considered by many to be the show’s greatest moment, was sold at auction and originally only valued at $1,000.
It went on to sell for $40,000, with Denise Okuda, co-writer of the auction catalogue, being quoted as saying “that’s the item people say they really have to have, because it’s so iconic to a much-beloved episode.”
Picard’s flute playing is a reoccurring motif throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Patrick Stewart never actually learned how to play the flute.
Most of the time, Stewart was simply moving his hands around to emulate the correct finger position while making no noise at all, and the music was dubbed in later by professional musicians.
However, in some rare cases, Patrick Stewart wasn’t even doing the hand gestures. Instead, there was a professional musician doing the flute fingering for him, and simply lifting his hands up into the shot.
So for some of the scenes, where Picard is playing beautiful music, Stewart is actually only responsible for the facial expressions he is making, and everything else is taken care of by somebody else.
14. Mick Fleetwood had a totally unrecognisable celebrity cameo
Throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation’s run, several celebrities have appeared on and around the Enterprise, acting as various alien figures, diplomats, or even just themselves.
Only one person has ever been asked to appear on Star Trek as themselves rather than a character, and that is Stephen Hawking. The theoretical physicist appeared on the 1993 series finale Descent, where he sat at a table playing poker with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
Aside from that very memorable cameo, Star Trek: The Next Generation has also played host to one of the world’s biggest rockstars, although you probably wouldn’t be able to pick his character out of a line-up.
Mick Fleetwood, drummer and co-founder of the band Fleetwood Mac, appeared in the 19th episode of season two of the show, and even shaved off his iconic beard in order to take a guest spot on the show.
As if shaving off his beard didn’t make him unrecognisable enough, Mick Fleetwood was eventually cast as an Antedean, a fish-like species of alien that involves wearing a full face prosthetic.
Fleetwood was credited for his work on the show, as it was neither his first or last foray into acting, but it is impossible to recognise the famous drummer just by watching the episode.
13. The show’s creator never would have greenlit The Best of Both Worlds
The Best of Both Worlds is a two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that acted as both the finale of season three and the premiere of season four.
The episode is considered one of the most famous and beloved episodes of all of Star Trek, thanks to its bold decision to have Captain Picard assimilated by the Borg.
Despite being received well by both Star Trek fans and critics, the two-part episode was worlds away from Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the show.
One of Roddenberry’s most steadfast tenants when writing Star Trek: The Next Generation was that there should be no interpersonal conflict between members of the crew. Instead, he believed that the show should show every main character as their best selves, and that the focus should be on solving ethical problems in the world.
The Best of Both Worlds shows Picard as a dangerous and vulnerable figure, which goes completely against Roddenberry’s vision for the show. Sadly, by the time the episode was written, Roddenberry was too sick to keep a close eye on the scripts that were being approved.
The episode did not feel out of place among other episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as it dealt with themes of humanity and assimilation, and had a thoroughly philosophical spin. So care was still taken to ensure that it abided by Roddenberry’s principals.
12. Picard recently returned to our screens in his own series
Star Trek: The Next Generation finished in 1994, and that seemed to mark the end of Patrick Stewart’s involvement in the franchise.
Though Star Trek went on to exist in many other forms, from comedy cartoons to blockbuster movies to novelisations and video games, the story of Picard seemed to have been put to rest.
That is, until 2018, when Patrick Stewart announced that he was working on a new instalment in the world of Star Trek, called Star Trek: Picard.
The series follows the retired Admiral Picard as he attempts to reconcile some of the wrongs he committed towards the end of his Starfleet career, and works to unearth a huge conspiracy that spans everyone from the Romulans to the Borg.
Prior to making the show, Patrick Stewart said: “I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course.”
Stewart went on to say: “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”
11. Whoopi Goldberg was never credited for her work on the show
Throughout Star Trek: The Original Series, Whoopi Goldberg often appeared in episodes, playing the wise and enigmatic bartender Guinan, who managed the lounge on the Enterprise-D, Ten Forward.
Guinan was best known for her clever, rational and witty advice, which never steered the officers of Starfleet wrong, and she quickly became a fan-favourite in Star Trek circles.
Whoopi Goldberg was one of many actors who expressed a desire to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, out of her admiration and love for Star Trek: The Original Series.
Other actors, such as Robin Williams and Billy Campbell, also asked if they could have guest spots on the show, since they had watched and loved Star Trek: The Original Series at a formative point in their life and career.
However, despite being a well-known and recurring character played by an actress who was already relatively well-known, Whoopi Goldberg was not credited for her work on the show at the time.
Goldberg also had to wait an entire year to hear back about her request to appear on the show, since casting producers had received her message but assumed she must have been kidding about actually wanting to act in Star Trek.
10. The Ferengi were supposed to be the main villains but it was decided they were too funny-looking to be scary
Given Star Trek’s monster of the week format, the crew of the Enterprise run into more than a few villainous alien species over the course of a season, even if the plotlines are often designed to have no clear villains.
With that said, some Star Trek foes have become more infamous than others, with Klingons being by far the greatest foes in Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Borg turning out to be the most terrifying threat faced by the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It may seem impossible now to imagine a Star Trek: The Next Generation that didn’t view the Borg as the greatest threat to the galaxy, especially given that even in modern spin-offs and continuations like Picard, the shadow of the Borg menace still lingers.
However, the Borg were not initially supposed to be the arch-nemesis of Picard and crew, as that honour was originally supposed to go to the Ferengi. An alien race that… definitely doesn’t seem to be the most bone-chilling out there.
As surprising as it may sound, the comical Ferengi were initially supposed to pose a legitimate threat to the crew of the Enterprise, and they would have gone on to become the most commonly recurring enemies on the show. That all fell apart when audiences met the aliens, and decided they were too hilarious looking to be scary.
Not to be totally deterred, the writers and producers decided not to scrap the race entirely. Instead, the Ferenghi were slowly adapted to be more deliberately funny, until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine debuted the character of Quark, a fully comedic Ferengi character.
9. Patrick Stewart had never seen Star Trek before he starred in Next Gen
When Patrick Stewart was initially chosen to helm The Next Generation, people were shocked. Picard went on to become the only non-American Enterprise captain in Star Trek TV history, and at the time Stewart’s British theatre roots made him seem like an unlikely pick to lead the show.
Newspapers reporting on the casting choice even constantly referred to Stewart as “an unknown British Shakespearean actor”, which led to fellow cast member Brent Spiner sticking a sign reading ‘Beware: Unknown British Shakespearean actor!’ to Stewart’s dressing room door.
There was an immense amount of pressure associated with the role, as the press speculated on whether the series would be plagued with the same production issues and cancellation threats as the original Star Trek had been before being sold into syndication.
There was also intense pressure from fans of The Original Series, some of whom thought that Next Generation could not possibly live up to the legacy of the first iteration of Star Trek, and some of whom thought that even the idea of making another series was a betrayal.
Despite everything that was riding on Stewart’s performance, he appeared amazingly calm and collected on set, and the reason why was simple: Stewart went into the audition having never seen an episode of Star Trek, and he kept it that way even as he was shooting Next Generation.
As a result, Stewart knew nothing about how famously dedicated Star Trek fans were, and didn’t know anything about the power they wielded via fan conventions and letter-writing campaigns. He had no idea whatsoever about how popular or beloved the original Star Trek had been, and so he wasn’t at all intimidated to work on Next Generation.
8. Everybody hated working with producer Maurice Hurley
Creator of Star Trek and executive producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation Gene Roddenberry was not an easy person to work with. However, by the time that later seasons of The Next Generation were being written and shot, he was also a fairly hands-off presence, compared to how he had been during The Original Series show and movies.
This meant that, while Roddenberry was occasionally temperamental and difficult to predict, other producers on Star Trek: The Next Generation gained an even bigger reputation for posing problems. Specifically, Maurice Hurley allegedly made the lives of certain cast members difficult.
Over the course of Star Trek: The Next Generation, many people quit the writers’ room and went on to contribute to other shows instead. This was for a variety of reasons, sometimes thanks to nothing more than the fact that the writers were not allowed to put interpersonal conflict between Enterprise crew members into the scripts.
With that said, writers on Star Trek did occasionally walk out thanks to conflicts with other people working on the show, and Herbert J. Wright confessed to leaving the show specifically because of Maurice Hurley, who he said was there “basically playing drinking buddies with Gene Roddenberry.”
Wright was not the only who had a problem with Hurley. According to writer Tracy Tormé, it was Hurley’s treatment of Gates McFadden that caused McFadde to leave the show after the first season.
Tracy Tormé had such an issue with Maurice Hurley that when he went on to helm his own project, the sci-fi show Sliders, he wrote in a character called Michael Hurley, who was referred to by the other characters as “a putz on every parallel world”. Ouch.
7. Data’s job was changed because the android makeup clashed horribly with his original uniform colour
If you were to make a list of all the factors that affected story decisions in Star Trek: The Next Generation, fashion would probably not be anywhere near the top. After all, this is a show where costumes in the first season were deliberately designed to be one size too small, so that they might look like a “second skin”.
Nevertheless, aesthetics was a concern when it came to one character specifically. Originally, Data was supposed to be the Chief Science Officer on the Enterprise, but his job was changed for purely visual reasons.
Gene Roddenberry originally wanted Data to be the Chief Science Officer in order to mimic Spock in The Original Series, in which his relationship with Captain Kirk was the centre of the show.
Data’s dynamic with Picard was supposed to echo that relationship, and so it only made sense to make him the Chief Science Officer too. (This is especially true given that the character of Data started as a blend of two previous ideas of Roddenberry’s: an android studying humanity, and a Vulcan curious about emotions.)
Unfortunately, in the end it transpired that Data just couldn’t have the position of Chief Science Operator, simply because the blue uniform clashed horribly with his android make-up. Gold looked much better, and so Data became the Chief Operations Officer instead.
Data does occasionally get to wear different colours in the show: in both season four and season six, Data gets to acts as the First Officer of the Enterprise, and so he wears a red uniform. Never blue though.
6. Patrick Stewart objected to having pets on the Enterprise because of the show’s philosophy of liberty for all species
Unlike in a lot of other science fiction properties, in Star Trek you are unlikely to find much in the way of alien animals, whether they are cute and cuddly or terrifying and monstrous. In fact, most episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are void of any animals at all… except for pets.
Aboard the Enterprise in Next Generation, there are a couple of animals seen running, or swimming, about: a ginger cat named Spot, and a fish named Livingstone. The cat belongs to Data, while the fish belongs to Captain Picard.
The animals put some relatable humanity back into the Enterprise. Spot especially provides some cute moments, as nothing is sweeter than seeing an android grow to love and care for a cat, despite not really understanding why humans keep pets at all.
Livingstone has less to do, which you think would make having a fish on set a complete non-issue for the cast. That was not the case, however, as both Brent Spiner and Patrick Stewart hated the idea of having a cat and a fish in space with the crew.
Stewart’s objections were purely philosophical. He argued throughout the show’s production that the themes of the programme championed liberty and freedom for all humans and alien races. He also believed that humans would, in the distant future, probably leave the idea of pets behind as unfair.
Spiner’s objection was a little more concrete: he just didn’t like cats, and frequently said that for the most part “the feeling was mutual”. Spiner resented having to act all buddy-buddy with an animal he disliked, even if it made for some adorable TV and a fan-favourite cat. Predictably, the cat stuck around.
5. Gene Roddenberry didn’t want Worf in the show
Worf, a Klingon warrior who begins as a Lieutenant junior grade on the Enterprise, is a hugely important part of both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. As the first Klingon to ever join Starfleet, his plotlines are fascinating, and his character is completely unique.
However, if Gene Roddenberry had his way originally, there would have been no Worf on the show. Roddenberry was steadfastly against including alien races from Star Trek: The Original Series in The Next Generation, especially ones as well-known and iconic as the Klingon.
Even once it was agreed that a Klingon character named Worf could be part of the show, Roddenberry insisted that he only be an occasionally reoccurring character, and not a member of the core cast. He only relented upon realising how many unique story opportunities having a Klingon aboard the Enterprise would allow for.
Michael Dorn loved playing Worf, even though playing the part meant a lot of time spent in the make-up chair. Dorn said that playing such a fearsome character allowed him to break away from the typecast of only being allowed to play nice guy roles, of which Worf certainly wasn’t one.
After the first season, the unique forehead prosthetic Dorn had to wear was stolen, and so Worf’s head and nose looked entirely different for the remainder of the show. Not only that, but Worf’s way of speaking was much lower than Dorn’s natural vocal register.
Luckily for Dorn, while playing Worf the actor noticed that his voice was gradually getting deeper, even when he wasn’t trying to do Worf’s voice. This natural lowering of his voice allowed him to get parts he never would have gotten otherwise, which helped to fix his typecasting problem.
4. The Enterprise schematics originally didn’t include bathrooms
Star Trek is set in a distant, post-scarcity utopian future, where those born blind can be made to see, humans can have robotic limbs, and intergalactic space travel is a breeze. Even food can be replicated into existence at a moment’s notice.
However, despite all the advances made in the future that Star Trek: The Next Generation promises, it is clear that not all human inconveniences have been eliminated, as people still need to go to the bathroom. Despite this, bathrooms are very rarely seen, whether the cast are on the Enterprise or somewhere else entirely.
The suspicious lack of bathrooms is actually part of a decades-long Star Trek running joke, as in The Original Series, schematics of the Enterprise were released that did not have any bathrooms at all. In 1973, actor James Doohan, who played Scotty in The Original Series, said there aren’t any bathrooms on the Enterprise because “that’s what phasers are for”.
The joke is even referenced in 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact, when Zefram Cochran asks Geordi, “…don’t you people from the 24th century ever pee?”
Things have changed a lot since then, and more recent blueprints of the Enterprise show ‘heads’, or bathrooms, on every deck of the ship. It’s also shown that the Captain’s quarters include their own private bathroom and shower, in case anyone was ultra curious about what being Captain of the Enterprise would offer in terms of amenities.
Still, Star Trek has continued to be cagey about showing its bathrooms, especially when compared to other science fiction franchises like Alien.
3. Gates McFadden really disliked her character
Gates McFadden was a member of the core cast in the first season of Next Generation, and she had made it clear that she had signed onto the project for the long haul.
Her character Dr Crusher should have stuck around for multiple seasons but, by the time the premiere of season two rolled around, she was mysteriously absent. Instead, the character of Dr Kate Pulaski was in her place.
The change of heart might have been confusing for viewers of The Next Generation, but it was clear-cut for McFadden. When signing her contract, McFadden was promised that her character would evolve into a love interest and foil for Captain Picard.
As the first season progressed, and no story beats emerged that seemed to point in that direction for either of their characters, McFadden grew increasingly frustrated and declared that she would be leaving Star Trek.
Unbeknownst to her, McFadden’s permanent break from the Enterprise turned out to be temporary hiatus as her replacement, Diana Muldaur, decided that television wasn’t the direction she wanted to take her career in after all.
Producer Rick Berman reached out to McFadden to ask her to return for season three of the show, which she initially refused to do, but an impassioned phone call from Patrick Stewart resulted in her changing her mind – and so Dr Crusher returned.
2. LeVar Burton hosted a Reading Rainbow and Star Trek crossover
When Star Trek: The Next Generation was released in 1987, it was a big deal. For much of the cast, getting to add to the Star Trek canon represented one of the most important projects they had ever been involved with, and they all resolved to give the show their all.
This was definitely true for LeVar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge, beginning with the first season of the show. However, Burton also had another television commitment, which predated him boarding the Enterprise.
From 1983, Burton had presented Reading Rainbow, an educational show for children in which celebrities would read books out loud. Burton was an instrumental part of the show from its inception: he introduced the celebrity readers and toured locations relating to the theme of each book every episode.
From 1987 onwards, Burton worked on Reading Rainbow and Next Generation in tandem, which once resulted in a unique and cherished crossover that even featured some Star Trek material that was not available anywhere else.
In 1988, the most popular episode of Reading Rainbow ever was released. The episode was called Reading Rainbow: The Bionic Bunny Show, and it featured a behind the scenes look at the creation of Star Trek, presented by Burton.
The episode should have just been a fun crossover, and an opportunity for kids to see how a popular science fiction television program was made. However, the episode of Reading Rainbow also featured bloopers from Star Trek: The Next Generation which hadn’t been released anywhere else. As a result, a huge number of adult Star Trek fans also tuned in.
1. It was once the longest-running American live-action sci-fi show ever
Star Trek: The Next Generation ran from 1987 to 1994, and had seven seasons under its belt by the time it ended. In terms of general television, that doesn’t exactly count as a record-breaking, long-running show, but science fiction programmes tended to have much less longevity.
That’s why The Next Generation was the longest-running live-action American science-fiction TV series… at least very briefly. It was soon tied by both of its successors, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began airing in 1993, and followed a crew on a space station orbiting the planet Bajor. It finished in 1999 after seven seasons, although the first series only had 20 episodes rather than 26 and began airing halfway through the typical broadcast season.
Star Trek: Voyager aired from January 1995 to May 2001, giving it a similar six-year run and seven seasons. Voyager followed the crew of the USS Voyager, as they attempt to return home after being stranded in the Delta Quadrant on the far side of the Milky Way.
However, Star Trek: The Next Generation would not have its record broken by other spin-offs of Star Trek forever. In 2003, the record was taken away from the extended Star Trek canon and brought back down to Earth with The X-Files, which ran for 11 seasons.
Even The X-Files couldn’t stick around at the top of the pile forever though as, following challenges from Stargate SG-1 and Smallville, the record is currently held by Supernatural. Given that Supernatural closed out with 15 seasons, it might be a while before another show claims the record.