There are two different kinds of mistakes that serious Star Trek: Next Generation fans obsess over. The first are plot holes, which are mistakes in storytelling or in the fabric of the established universe. Examples of such plot holes would be the inconsistencies around the warp speed limit and Data using contractions when he shouldn't know how to do this. Many of these can be explained by different teams of writers that work from episode to episode or established details that the creators choose to abandon.
The second kind is production and continuity mistakes. These are the kinds of errors that should never have been caught on camera and never should have made it out of the editing room -- from boom microphones in shots, reflections of crew members in scenes, visible scaffolding supporting special effects, and so on. It takes eagle-eyed fans paying close attention to spot every single detail, as many of these mistakes are of the "blink and you'll miss it" variety.
We've taken a look at TNG's seven seasons and 187 episodes and have found countless production and continuity mistakes. While there are hundreds of mistakes recorded, we've curated some of our favorites. Of course in our minds we will always remember the gigantic Galaxy-Class starship constantly exploring the known and unknown universe, but we can't forget that the show was filmed on a set, with a cast and crew that are fallible just like anyone else.
With that said, here are the 20 Mistakes Fans Completely Missed In Star Trek: The Next Generation.
20 The Film Crew's Reflection While Picard, Data, and Spock Escape
Star Trek fans were thrilled to have Leonard Nimoy visit the show and reprise his role as Spock in season 5's "Unification". Vulcans have longer lifespans, so it makes sense that Spock might still be around 95 years after the events of the Original Series.
In this scene, Picard, Data, and Spock manage to escape after they are held as prisoners by Sela, the half Romulan daughter of Tasha Yar from an alternate timeline. As Picard, Data, and Spock exit the room, they pass by a large green ornament sitting on a glass table. In the ornament, viewers can see the reflection of a member of the wearing glasses. In the remastered version of the series, this error has been fixed with CGI.
19 The Hidden Camera Man Who Watches Dr. Crusher's Struggle
In season 4's episode 5, "Remember Me", Dr. Beverly Crusher gets a chance to shine. In it, Crusher is trapped in a rapidly shrinking pocket universe where everyone she knows begins to vanish one by one. Retreating to the bridge, Crusher is relieved to see Captain Picard still at the helm and tries to enlist his help to solve the problem. However, just as she is about to share an intimate memory with him, he vanishes.
At this point, a light vortex opens in front of the screen on the bridge and Crusher has to struggle not to get pulled into it. As she grips for her life on one of the command chairs, viewers can see a cameraman near the turbolift behind her. The action is in the foreground, so it's a mistake that's easily overlooked.
18 Geordi's Alternate Uniform
Season 3's episode 15 "Yesterday's Enterprise" is an all-time favorite among fans. When The Enterprise-D encounters a time-traveling Enterprise-C through an anomaly in space, suddenly everything on the Enterprise-D changes. Worf is no longer on the ship, and Tasha Yar is now alive and in his place.
It turns out that the Enterprise-C was supposed to have been destroyed defending a Klingon ship, which eventually led to the peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. This changes the entire timeline. The captain of the Enterprise-C realizes she has to go back to the past and accept her fate in order to save the future. When everything is finally restored back to normal, Guinan has a conversation with Geordi. However, Geordi is wearing the uniform from the alternate timeline, which no longer exists.
17 Wesley Blinks When His Eyes Are Supposed To Be Forced Open
The special effects in season 5's "The Game" don't hold up well today. In it, an addicting headset video game begins brainwashing and controlling everybody aboard the Enterprise. The game consists of mentally moving a disc into a tuba-like tube, after which sensors deliver a blast of pleasure to the brain. The quality of the video game's graphics are akin to the flying toaster screensavers in the '90s.
In the episode, Wesley Crusher figures out something is wrong because... of course he does. He teams up with a young girl, played by the very young Ashley Judd. Together, they attempt to stop the spread of the addicting game without being found out. However, the bridge crew discovers what Wes is up to and pins open his eyelids in order to force him to stare into the headset. However, while his eyes are supposedly pinned open, Wesley blinks.
16 Q's Hydraulic Lift
The pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation is actually pretty good compared to most of the show's episodes. The writers had the daunting task of introducing a brand new cast of characters while also hurling them into a situation that had to immediately test their limits. The two-part "Encounter at Farpoint" is definitely still watchable.
Part of what makes the plot so intriguing is the introduction of Q, a being from a higher dimension with seemingly omnipotent powers. Q maintains that humanity is not ready to explore the galaxy, and transports the Captain and some of the crew to a post-apocalyptic courtroom of the past to put humanity on trial for its crimes. Q acts as judge, and enters on a hovering throne. However, the hydraulic arm to lift the throne is clearly visible in the shot, even though it is painted black.
15 The Borg's Terrible Sense of Direction
One of the biggest cliffhangers in the TNG's history was the season finale at the end of season 3, part 1 of "Best of Both Worlds". In the episode, Picard is abduced by the Borg and assimilated into their collective, taking on the persona of Locutus of Borg. Because of this, Picard becomes the enemy.
The story concludes at the beginning of season 4 when the crew of the Enterprise executes a clever heist to get Picard back and deprogrammed. Meanwhile, the Borg pass Mars on their way to Earth, destroying three Federation defense ships effortlessly. However, there is a major problem with this scene: the Borg are approaching Mars from the sunlit side, which means they would be headed away from Earth. Whoops.
14 The Wrong Enterprise Is Depicted
In season 1's "The Naked Now", the Enterprise crew find lifeless bodies after they answer a strange call coming from a research vessel. However, these bodies are found in strange circumstances, with many of them not wearing clothes or found in the shower with their clothes on. The crew quickly surmises that they must have been infected with some kind of intoxicant.
Data goes searching for answers, and in the records, he finds a similar incident encountered by Captain James T. Kirk of the original Enterprise. When Data calls up the record, the computer displays a vector line graphic of the original Enterprise. However, the problem here is that the movie version of the ship is shown, with squared off nacelles -- the original ship from the series had rounded nacelles. Thankfully this error was fixed in the remastered version.
13 Stationary Stars
Star Trek: The Next Generation changed its opening credit sequence during its third season. The original sequence displayed many of the planets of our own solar system, including Saturn and Jupiter, before panning over to the Enterprise.
The revised sequence starts with a comet, then shows a proto-planetary disc being formed, followed by a crude planet with rings, before finally showing the Enterprise flying through space. This represents the various stages of how a planet is formed, and how life eventually evolves. However, a vertigo-inducing error can be seen if you look closely when the camera pans away from the ringed planet. The stars inside the ring take a hard right, while the stars outside the ring remain stationary. This is most likely the result of cutting two effect shots together. Once discovered, it's hard to unsee this mistake.
12 12. The Moving Walls
The Enterprise-D is a Galaxy Class starship, which means it is one of the largest ships in the fleet. Theoretically, there are miles of corridors and passages inside the ship. However, for the purposes of shooting a television show, directors most likely used the same two are three scenes for every corridor shot.
In season 1's "The Big Goodbye", two of the "bad guy" gangster characters inside of a holodeck program become much more dangerous than they were designed to be. The two villains don't know they're holograms, and when they leave the holodeck, they disintegrate. Nearby, there is a corridor directly across from the holodeck entrance. However, when the crew reaches the same spot moments later, there is no longer a corridor directly across the entrance. Instead, it's now replaced with a wall.
11 The Miraculous Placebo Effect That Saves Jason
In season 7's "Bloodlines", Captain Picard finds out that he is a father and that the Ferengi plan on enforcing retribution on him by destroying his son. The Enterprise rushes to find his reported son, Jason, whom they wish to protect. Shortly after boarding, though, Jason collapses due to a seizure.
Dr. Crusher rushes to stabilize him and gives him a shot of hypospray to stop the seizure. However, the seizure stops and Jason goes limp before the hypospray can be used. This could have been an error either with the timing of the acting or the sound effects that were put in post-production during the editing. One possible in-universe explanation was that Jason was so sure the hypospray would work that his body stopped the seizure before it was delivered because of the placebo effect.
10 Wesley is Everywhere
Editing is tedious yet crucial work. When editors cut footage together, they take on a huge part of the storytelling process, with some arguing that they are on equal footing with the director. However, even top-of-the-line editors make mistakes.
In season 3's "The Enemy", the crew takes on a tricky mission to rescue Geordi LaForge, who is injured and stuck on a planet with an electrical storm. The electrical storm makes it difficult to track or beam LaForge up. Wesley has an idea, so Picard instructs him to leave the bridge so that he can put his plan in motion. However, after the next commercial break, the show opens with a shot of Wesley at the controls on the bridge. This may not seem like an issue, but in the very next shot, he enters the bridge from the turbolift.
9 Futuristic Plug-in Flashlights
At the very beginning of season 3's "The Enemy", the Enterprise responds to a distress signal and sends an away team down to a stormy planet in order to investigate. When the team arrives on the planet, Riker and his team explore the area using what are supposed to be high-tech flashlights.
However, as you can see in the image above, Riker's flashlight has a cord attached to it that runs from the device, down his hand, and up his sleeve. The design of these lights hardly looks futuristic, as it's hard to image a futuristic flashlight needing a cord. The crew should have taken an existing wireless flashlight instead and given it a futuristic casing in order to make it look a bit better.
8 The Ilarian's Romulan Empire insignia
From time to time, Captain Picard and crew participate in purely diplomatic missions. In season 7's "Liaisons", the crew of the Enterprise is tasked with opening up diplomatic relations with the Ilarians. Two of the Ilarian diplomats are stationed on the Enterprise, while Captain Picard teams up with another Ilarian to visit their home planet.
On the Ilarian shuttle, some fans noticed that the backs of the seats had the Romulan Empire insignia on them. Was this a shuttle stolen by the Ilarians from the Romulans? Could either the Ilarian or Captain Picard a secret Romulan spy? Most likely, it seems like the set designers re-used some chairs from another episode and did not realize the significance of the symbols on the back.
7 The Obvious Stunt Double Fight
Season 1's episode 24 "Conspiracy" is one of the most talked about episodes in the entire series. In it, the crew of the Enterprise discovers that many of the higher-ups in command at Starfleet have been secretly controlled by an alien parasite species that live within their bodies.
When Riker discovers that an officer is obviously "possessed" with the parasite, he engages in hand-to-hand combat in order to take the officer down. However, the camera work is flawed in this scene. In the wider shots, we can see that both actors have been replaced by stunt doubles. In the image above, the actor who is in the midst of throwing a punch is supposed to be Jonathan Frakes. However, it's obvious that it isn't Frakes.
6 The Holodeck's Horse Problem
Captain Picard is highly educated in the classics and has many high-brow hobbies, including pretending that he is a private eye in 1930's San Francisco, reading Shakespeare, and riding horses.
Near the beginning of season 2's "Pen Pals", Picard takes some time off to do some old-fashioned horse-riding. Picard makes it clear to the holodeck computer that he wants to ride an Arabian horse with English tack. In a wide shot, as Picard and Troi are entering the holodeck, we can see the horse with the saddle outfitted on his back already. However, in another shot, the saddle is still sitting on the post.
5 The Hallway Is Just A Painting
Matte paintings and scene paintings were actually common in television shows and movies before CGI was readily available. Although Star Trek: The Next Generation used CGI, it was mainly used in exterior space shots. When done correctly with the right lighting and set up, a good scene painting can look like the real thing, with the illusion of depth solidly intact. However, if it is done incorrectly, it looks like a cheap set.
In season 1's episode 18 "Coming of Age", Wesley and other young cadets start a long training test. As Wesley speaks with a fellow alien cadet about their mission, we can see what is supposed to be a long hallway behind them. However, the threshold of the room's ceiling casts a shadow on the hallway, completely ruining the illusion.
4 Riker's Awful Wig
Season 6's "True Q" marks another episode where Q pays the Enterprise a visit, much to the crew's chagrin. Young intern Amanda Rogers joins the Enterprise crew and, much to everyone's surprise, begins to demonstrate god-like powers similar to Q. This draws Q's attention and he visits the ship to try and train her.
In one early scene in the cargo bay, Rogers sees a cargo container about to fall on Riker, and she uses her powers to make it fly away at the last second. This is fine... except the man standing underneath the boxes is not Commander Riker. Instead, it's a body double with a bad wig. Riker may have a healthy head of hair, but he doesn't wear it in a pompadour.
3 New Zealand Is Missing
Star Trek: First Contact is regarded as one of TNG's best movies, and for good reason. Despite all of the time that has passed, Picard is still traumatized by the violation of his mind and body when he was possessed by the Borg. When the Borg return to threaten all of mankind by traveling into Earth's past, Picard takes the crew of the Enterprise-E to follow and stop them.
At one point, Picard gazes down at planet Earth and sees the coast of Australia. However, this is a problem with this: New Zealand is missing. How artists could have misplaced or forgotten an entire giant island country is beyond us. Maybe they just thought the planet looked better without it? Or maybe something happens to New Zealand in Star Trek's universe. More likely, somebody just forgot about New Zealand.
2 The Breathing Computer
The computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation is voiced by Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel Barrett. Barrett played Nurse Chapel on the Original Series, and also Lwaxana Troi, Counselor Troi's mother. Barrett's voice is used for most of the computers in all of the spin-off series, including Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
However, when TNG was running, the sound engineers did not edit out some of Barrett's more human characteristics, such as the breaths she takes between phrases. Computers obviously don't have lungs, so the breath doesn't make much sense. Some clever fans argue that this does add up, however, as the Starfleet Engineers would want a computer to sound as realistically human as possible.
1 The Crystalline Entity's Shakes
In season 5's episode 4 "Silicon Avatar", the Enterprise has a second encounter with what they call the Crystalline Entity. This silicon-based life form is perceived as hostile and has destroyed life on several different planets. However, Picard still want to make an attempt to communicate with it to determine its motives. The crew bring an expert on board who has studied the Crystalline Entity and thinks that she can send a signal to communicate with it. However, she secretly wants to destroy the Entity.
Near the end of the episode, the Enterprise sends the signal and the Crystalline Entity begins to vibrate and shake. However, if viewers look at the stars behind the Entity, they can see that those are shaking, too. This means that the effect was not accomplished through CGI, but simply by shaking the camera.
Are there any other mistakes fans missed in Star Trek: TNG? Let us know in the comments!