With 137 episodes there are bound to be some duds, even in a show as beloved as Star Trek: The Next Generation. This delightful science-fiction adventure romp through space was the late '80s addition to the canon that originally began with Star Trek in the '60s. While only 20 years later for us, it was set 100 years after the events of Star Trek: The Original Series. The follow-up deals with more social issues and can do more with its plots in the more permissible environment of the '80s.
But, while ratings stayed generally high for all seven seasons, some episodes really didn’t meet the same standard, and TNG fans have been saying so ever since. Here are the 10 episodes that IMDb fans complain about the most.
10 Masks (6.1/10)
The Enterprise studies a comet millions of years old and finds a capsule inside that contains what looks like an ancient culture's archive. The aliens inside infect Data’s network, giving him their personalities - including their queen Musaka. They get into the Enterprise systems to try to turn the ship into a city they can live with in, while the team scrambles to stop their invasion.
Reviewers found Picard uncharacteristically slow on the uptake. Others point out that Picard can’t pick up on a sensible solution if the writers never provide one. Basically, the episode doesn’t make sense.
9 Aquiel (6.1/10)
Writer Ronald D. Moore said he regrets writing this episode, and most IMDb fans sympathize. Geordi comes off as pathetic at best and a sexual predator at worst. The plot is confusing, the Klingon red herring is out of character, and the conclusion simply doesn’t seem plausible.
8 The Loss (6/10)
A mysterious two-dimensional entity stowed away on the Enterprise. Counselor Deanna Troi finds herself void of her telepathic powers, a loss she finds more terrifying than the creature onboard. So afraid, in fact, she chooses to resign. Meanwhile, every attempt to fight the alien fails.
Many fans acknowledge that the TNG writers were trying to talk about disability in an empathetic way. However, the result is a whiny Troi who doesn’t seem to care that everyone aboard the Enterprise is in trouble. The most redeeming moment of the episode is when Riker confronts her.
7 Justice (6/10)
Fans see this as one of the first times that a mockery can be made of the Prime Directive. Additionally, they criticize how the episode didn’t have the guts to fully develop what could've been an intriguing moral dilemma.
6 Man of the People (5.8/10)
This was an ambitious attempt to retell the story of Dorian Grey in the 24th century. However, it’s not executed well. Nevertheless, fans agree that Alkar is one of the vilest characters in TNG and his death was satisfying.
5 The Child (5.8/10)
The opening of season two did not go smoothly. When the Enterprise embarks on an emergency mission to collect plague samples, Counselor Troi unexpectedly finds herself impregnated by an unknown alien species. She cycles through pregnancy quickly—in 48 hours—then the child grows at a rapid rate, progressing through childhood in a matter of hours.
As reviewers pointed out, Star Trek writers opened this season with a story about a woman who was raped and forced into motherhood by an alien creature that emotionally manipulated everyone and almost destroyed The Enterprise. Viewers were supposed to find that interesting, apparently.
4 Angel One (5.7/10)
People who dislike Angel One's over-simplified storytelling and the preachy tone it took. The B-plot about everyone onboard the Enterprise getting the flu seemed boring to many, not to mention it had already been done that season.
3 Code of Honor (5.2/10)
When the federation planet Cyrus IV is threatened by a horrible disease, the Enterprise travels to Ligon II to collect a vaccine. The planet’s leader, Lutan, is happy to provide the disease, but when he meets Lieutenant Tasha Yar, he decides that he will take her as his next—and primary—wife, whether she’s interested or not.
This is the third episode from season one to make this list. Clearly, it took The Next Generation a little while to find its footing. But with its contrived plots straight out of racist and misogynistic fairytales, can anyone really be surprised?
2 Sub Rosa (4.9/10)
This episode takes us to Caldos IV, a recreation of a Scottish town where Dr. Crusher’s grandmother is buried. Someone warns Beverly not to light a candle or touch an heirloom, but of course she does. She begins seeing a handsome young man and realizes that he is Ronin, her grandmother’s mysterious lover. Soon, Beverly is being seduced herself.
Fans clearly denounced this one: It sounds like soap opera, not a science-fiction TV episode. Throw in the fact that Ronin’s actually a ghost and the whole thing is really over the top for the more pragmatic TNG fans.
1 Shades of Gray (3.4/10)
At least TNG got its worst-ever episode out of the way early. If you’re watching this show for the first time, just know that things get better moving forward. Critics on IMDb largely dismiss Shades of Grey as collateral damage in the 1988 Writer’s Guild of America strike.
Here, Riker returns to the Enterprise wounded and suffering from an infection of dangerous microbes from the planet below. He quickly falls into a coma, and in the course of treatment Dr. Pulaski realizes that the only way to defeat the body’s invaders are to bring up Riker’s most negative emotions.