Star Trek: The Next Generation - The 11 Most Bizarre Moments In The Series
The final frontier was filled with weirdness.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, like all Star Trek television shows, is sanctified by the passage of time. There aren 178 TNG episodes; the sheer volume and relative consistency means that the great episodes rise to the forefront of our memories, and the remaining ones blur together as solid Trek.
It also helps that Star Trek: The Next Generation was a character-driven show rather than a plot-driven one. People may have tuned in for the science fiction, but they stayed for the characters--the senior crew that included iconic, sympathetic characters like Data, Worf, and of course, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The characters redeem even the worst episodes; we may not remember the details of yet another hostile alien race that attempted to take over the ship, but we always felt reassured that Picard would fight them off, most likely by using his words instead of a photon torpedo.
The show's most jarring moments are when the main players behave wildly out of character. Many of these moments are from the first season, when the show was finding its footing. Others were the result of failed comedy or left-field premises.
As we get ready for Star Trek: Picard, which debuts on CBS All Access on January 23, 2020, we're looking back at the good Captain's illustrious career. Here are the 10 most bizarre moments from Star Trek: The Next Generation. And if you liked this gallery, check out our galleries on the greatest TNG Picard episodes, the most badass Picard moments, and everything you need to know about the Borg.
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1. The Senior Crew Gets Horny
Episode: "The Naked Now" - Season 1 Episode 3
This is one of many episodes where the entire crew becomes infected by an alien disease and has to deal with the consequences. In this case, however, the infected polywater renders the entire crew hot, drunk, and horny, which means we are treated to multiple scenes of characters trying to hook up with each other. Tasha Yar and Data actually manage to follow through; she invites him to her quarters. After asking him if he's "fully functional," Data has this to say:
"In every way, of course. I am programmed in multiple techniques. A broad variety of pleasuring."
As George Takei might say, "Ohhh my!" What made this even more bizarre was that this was only the third episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's generally ill-advised to have characters act out-of-character, when the audience doesn't know what they're normally like to begin with.
2. Starfleet's Greatest Enemy?
Episode: "The Last Outpost" - Season 1 Episode 5
The show's writers wanted to create a brand new villain for their show, and they devised the Ferengi to serve as those antagonists. But in their debut appearance in "The Last Outpost," they come across as comical, irritating, and non-threatening, which put the kibosh on that plan. Armin Shimerman, who played one of those initial Ferengi, had this to say in an interview with Gamespot:
"What we were told about the Ferengi and what we ended up with were like night and day. The Ferengi were going to be the new Klingons. They were never meant to be a comical race; they were meant to be ferocious and menacing. And unfortunately, they hired me to play one of the lead Ferengi, and I failed miserably .. 'The Last Outpost' was a disaster. And no one one bears the brunt of that mistake more than I do."
3. Shut Up, Wesley!
Episode: "Datalore" - Season 1 Episode 13
This is perhaps the most infamous moment on this list. In "Datalore," Data finds his lost android brother Lore. But unbeknownst to the crew, Lore is evil, and at one point, deactivates Data and impersonates him. The only person on the bridge who figures out what's up is Wesley Crusher, but when he brings it up to Captain Picard, Picard cuts him off by yelling, "Shut up, Wesley!"
It was a shocking retort, especially coming from Picard. To this day, Wesley's performer, Wil Wheaton, still has to put up with people saying the line it to him. When he addressed his dislike for the line again when Star Trek: Picard was announced, and trolls started saying it to him on Twitter.
4. The Most Gory Scene In The Show
Episode: "Conspiracy" - Season 1, Episode 25
By and large, Star Trek: The Next Generation is safe for family viewing. But that cannot be said for "Conspiracy," a straight-up horror episode featuring a race of parasitic alien bugs. The most graphic moment comes near the end, when Riker and Picard shoot Lieutenant Commander Remmick. His head graphically melts and explodes, and then an alien crawls out of what remains of his charred body.
5. Do Your Toes Curl Up?
Episode: "The Price" - Season 3 Episode 8
Star Trek has never been above fan service. Kirk was constantly surrounded by beautiful women, and Seven of Nine joined Voyager to add some form-fitting sex appeal to the flagging show.
"The Price" had one of the most random sexy moments in Star Trek: The Next Generation history. Troi and Crusher stretch and bend over in skin-tight leotards while discussing Troi's new hookup, Devinoni Ral:
Crusher: You're unusually limber this morning.
Troi: I'll say. Devinoni Ral. It's ridiculous, and wonderful. I feel completely out of control. Happy. Terrified. But there's nothing rational about this.
Crusher: Who needs rational when your toes curl up?
Whoa. There's a lot of sexual innuendo on Star Trek, but in this particular instance, the writers laid it on uncharacteristically thick.
6. Waxing Shakespeare
Episode: Ménage à Troi - Season 3 Episode 24
This is a Lwaxana Troi episode, which means we get treated to hilarious scenes of Counselor Troi's insatiable mother flirting with Picard. But in this particular episode, the writers had Picard return the favor.
To get a Ferengi kidnapper to return Lwaxana to the Enterprise, Picard pretends to be madly in love with her. This involves him reciting Shakespearean sonnets and threatening to blow up the Ferengi's ship while the senior crew tries not to laugh. Humiliatingly funny, this episode rides a fine line between endearing and ridiculous.
7. Everyone Gets Addicted To Video Games
Episode: "The Game" - Season 5 Episode 6
Featuring Ashley Judd as a love interest for Wesley Crusher, the episode is about an augmented reality video game that Commander Riker brings back from Risa (Risa is basically a sex planet where everyone in Starfleet goes on shore leave; think the Hedonism II resort, but the size of a planet). Everyone--even Picard--becomes addicted to the game except for Wesley Crusher and Data. And eventually, we're treated to an "I can't believe we're seeing this" scene, where the senior crew pins Wesley down and forces him to play the game.
8. Madame Data
Episode: "A Fistful of Datas" - Season 6 Episode 8
A comedic "holodeck goes crazy" episode, "A Fistful of Datas" traps Worf, his son Alexander, and Counselor Troi in a wild west scenario, where the safety functions deactivate and all the holographic characters begin to look like Data. The premise eventually arrives at its logical conclusion, as Data, dressed in a fetching, low-cut dress as the saloon's madame, falls into Worf's arms--a perfect Hollywood ending.
9. Smiley Face
Episode: "Timescape" - Season 6 Episode 25
Data, Picard, Geordi, and Troi return from a conference to find the Enterprise and a Romulan Warbird frozen in time, like department store mannequins. They beam aboard to investigate. When they reach engineering, they see that a warp core breach is frozen in progress. Then, Picard suffers from something called "temporal narcosis" (which is technobabble for "plot device"). He draws a smiley face in the warp core breach before giggling uncontrollably at his handiwork. It's a funny, yet unsettling moment for a character who is usually cool under the worst of circumstances.
10. Yum, Mint Frosting
Episode: "Phantasms" - Season 7 Episode 6
Data's new dream program conjures up all types of bizarre imagery: Riker with a straw in his head, Geordi with a mouth on his neck, and an old-fashioned telephone ringing in Data's chest cavity. But the image that really takes the cake (pun intended) is Troi as a sentient sheet cake, which Worf has already begun digging into. "Cellular peptide cake with mint frosting!" exclaims the hungry Klingon.
11. Do the Evolution
Episode: "Genesis" - Season 7 Episode 19
The entire crew begins de-evolving, which gives the makeup and costuming department free rein to create animal/human hybrids. Lieutenant Barclay turns into a spider. Troi turns into an amphibious creature. Worf turns into a proto-Klingon; early in the episode, he spits venom at Dr. Crusher from newly formed venom sacs, disfiguring her. But the best, most impressive transformation belongs to Riker, who de-evolves into an aggressive proto-human with a pronounced forehead and brow. He attacks Picard, which forces Data to phase stun him into unconsciousness.