Star Trek: The Next Generation is a pivotal series for Star Trek fans.
SlashFilms put out their “11 Reasons Why The Next Generation Is The Best Star Trek Show” list and frankly, most of it isn’t a list of reasons why it’s the best, just a list of reasons why it’s preferred by that one writer.
Let’s get this out of the way now. Star Trek: The Next Generation isn’t the best Star Trek series ever. What is? Who knows, being the “best” in a medium like entertainment is wholly and exclusively a subjective opinion.
There is no such thing as “the best” in that regard. Just what you prefer. Some will prefer Deep Space Nine, others, like myself, will lean more towards Voyager or Enterprise. Some will worship at the altar of Lower Decks, and that’s fine.
It may not be for you, but it’s for someone. Apparently.
So no, The Next Generation isn’t the best show in Star Trek’s canon, because there is no such thing. That said, The Next Generation is in fact the most important. Yes, even more so than the original series, but why?
The Next Generation was the most important Star Trek series ever
Here’s the truth about Star Trek, the first two times it was made into a show it failed; for lack of a better word. The original pilot, The Cage, flopped. Then the second pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, was picked up and turned into a series.
Yet, that series only lasted three seasons. This was during a time in television where five, 10 or even 20 seasons for a popular show wasn’t unheard of. Some didn’t last for that long, like The Munsters and Addams Family, but many did. So Star Trek getting only three seasons compared to its contemporary’s wasn’t a good sign.
In fact, it’d be nearly 20 years before another live-action Star Trek show was made, despite attempts to get one going in the 1970s.
The Animated Series that came around in the early 1970s also didn’t find an audience and was quickly canceled. The franchise pivoted to the films and was able to create a few good ones that rejuvenated the franchise.
The success of the films inspired the crew to try again with the Next Generation.
It was the success of that show that spawned everything you’re seeing today to some degree. Next Generation saw Deep Space Nine spin out of it and the sister franchise of Voyager begin airing not long after Next Generation’s finale. Then the prequel series Enterprise, along with four films.
While the last Next Generation film came out in 2002, it was only a seven-year wait between films and only a four-year wait between properties (Enterprise ended in 2005) until Star Trek 2009 would come out. The demand for Star Trek has never really let up since The Next Generation debuted.
To be clear, TNG didn’t create all of those shows and movies leading up to now. No, think of TNG more as the soil from which every new piece of Trek has sprung from.
These shows and movies still need proper light, water, fertilizer, and care, but they’re all possible because of the groundwork TNG laid down before.
So no, The Next Generation isn’t the best Trek show, but without it, there’s no way one could see Star Trek still going strong nearly 60 years after the first series ended and 30 years after the films ended. It proved that Star Trek could sell in a modern setting. It was a successful proof of concept.
That’s The Next Generation’s legacy.