7 Best Data Episodes Of Star Trek 

Here are our picks for the seven best Data episodes of Star Trek.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek data

Even if you’re the most casual fan of Star Trek, you’ve probably noticed that Data is one of the most compelling characters. This is likely why Paramount kept bringing Data actor Brent Spiner back for so many different roles (including different versions of Data) in Star Trek: Picard. However, the character was never better than on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and if you’re ready to get positively positronic, we’ve rounded up the seven best Data episodes of TNG for you to stream on Paramount+.

7. “Hero Worship”

star trek data

A big part of why Star Trek prominently featured Data’s character is that, as a synthetic form of “strange new life,” he’s a constant reminder of the need to “boldly go” and find life forms that we can learn from. However, nothing was more important to Data than his quest to become human, and that quest was thrust into sharp relief in the episode “Hero Worship,” in which a young boy Data rescues tries to model his personality after the android. Data’s bonding time with the young child leads to some joyful moments, but all of it is tinged with melancholy as Data slowly explains to the boy all of the human joys that androids can never truly appreciate

6. “Birthright, Part I”

star trek data

Most fans rightfully remember the Star Trek: The Next Generation “Birthright” two-parter as a Worf-centric story, but they shouldn’t sleep (so to speak) on the “B” story of Part 1 in which Data tries to uncover the meaning of the recent dreams he has been inexplicably having. With the help of visiting Deep Space Nine cameo character Dr. Bashir, Data learns a bit more about hidden programming that will ultimately make him more human. It’s a fun and thought-provoking side story and one that was so important to the development of Data’s character that it got specifically referenced in the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard.

5. “Data’s Day”

star trek data

Star Trek is a franchise that has often given us very convoluted titles, so we were pleasantly surprised when the episode “Data’s Day” completely delivered on its premise. Rather than telling the conventional ensemble cast kind of story, this episode shows us a day in the life of Data, complete with him giving the bride away at Chief O’Brien’s wedding, learning how to dance, and even foiling an overly-elaborate Romulan plan. Honestly, the execution of this episode is simply perfect, and it’s always worth rewatching because this episode introduced Data’s pet cat Spot (who is, and always shall be, a pretty kitty and a good cat).

4. “Descent”

“Descent” is another Star Trek two-parter, and unlike “Birthright,” it very heavily features Data in both episodes. And the plot is bonkers in the best possible way, with Data getting seduced to the dark side by his evil android brother Lore, who is more dangerous than ever now that he has an army of Borg drones who have been cut off from the Collective. While these episodes often descended (no pun intended) into camp thanks to the presence of Lore, we particularly love the heavier scenes in which Data must choose between finally having emotions or the torture and murder of his closest friends.

3. “The Measure of A Man”

star trek data

“The Measure of a Man” isn’t just a good Star Trek episode featuring Data…it’s also a reminder that The Next Generation could occasionally produce good episodes in those rocky first two seasons. In this episode, a cocky Starfleet engineer wants to conduct dangerous experiments on Data, and when the android goes so far as to resign his commission, it brings up the ugly question of whether Data is legally Starfleet property or not. This leads to the first of many “lawyer Picard” moments we would get throughout the series, and the characters and concepts introduced in this ep would be explored in great detail in season one of Star Trek: Picard.

2. “The Offspring”

star trek data

Star Trek isn’t known for being a series that often makes viewers cry, but as the Data episode “The Offspring” proves, they know how to deliver those emotional blows when they really want to. This is an episode where Data decides to have a child in the only way he knows how: by building and programming one himself. Along the way, we get a return to the crunchy questions like which rights sentient androids have and what it means to be human, but the real gut punch comes from seeing a character who ostensibly can’t feel anything experience the most profound grief and loss of his synthetic life.

1. “The Most Toys”

star trek data

There are many reasons why Star Trek fans love Data, and they are all on full display in the episode “The Most Toys.” In this episode, a quirky collector fakes Data’s death so he can imprison the android among his menagerie of rare and exotic possessions, and Data must find a way to escape and get back to the Enterprise. On paper, this is a very straightforward plot, but it’s great fun watching Data exhibit civil disobedience towards his captor, and when that captor proves he is willing to kill others to protect his collection, we discover how far Data will go against his ethical subroutines to preserve life.

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