No One Should Watch Star Trek: TNG Season 1

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1

Star Trek fans often treat their favorite franchise as something of a religion, and they spend plenty of time trying to convert friends and family. It’s very difficult to get newcomers on board with Star Trek: The Next Generation, however, for the simple reason that the first season is the worst for the show and possibly the worst season of the entire franchise.

We often skip season one entirely on rewatches, and if you don’t understand why, here’s our definitive breakdown of why nobody (from the most seasoned fans to first-time viewers) should bother watching Star Trek: The Next Generation’s awful first season.

Weird Characterizations And A Scowling Riker

Ferengi problems

One basic reason to skip watching Star Trek: The Next Generation season one is that so many of our favorite characters are completely different. Commander Riker, for instance, is someone the fans love because he’s a swaggering ladies’ man, but he spends most of the first season scowling. That’s quite literal: series creator Gene Roddenberry didn’t want him to smile at all, so Riker spends his time scowling through his scenes.

If you watch this season of Star Trek after watching later ones, you’ll notice how weird everyone feels: Picard is too stiff and serious, Data is obnoxiously chatty, and Wesley Crusher… well, he’s the most cringe self-insert character ever made. Even aliens like the Ferengi are completely different later on compared to season one of TNG, so it’s worth skipping this season so you can enjoy better characterization and stories.

Throwback Stories Meant For Another Show

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1

Star Trek fans love to argue whether or not something is really Star Trek, especially when it comes to whether NuTrek is nearly as good as the old stuff. However, when it comes to Star Trek: The Next Generation, we’d argue that it’s worth skipping the first season simply because it’s not really The Next Generation.

In most of the ways that matter, this early season is merely a continuation of The Original Series, right down to the fact that many writers and producers of classic Trek were brought on board for these new voyages.

Because of that, most of the first season episodes felt like something Captain Kirk and crew would deal with, sometimes literally: for example, the awful episode “The Naked Now” deals with the same kind of “make everyone drunk” plot we saw in The Original Series episode “The Naked Time.”

Additionally, even some “new” characters were recycled, with Commander Riker and Counselor Troi having the same relationship as Commander Decker and Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In fact, these new characters were based on the Decker and Ilia originally written for Star Trek: Phase II, which would have been the original sequel show to The Original Series.

Over time, both the stories and the characters became more distinct and more unique to Star Trek: The Next Generation. By skipping season one, you can get to the good stuff that much quicker.

These Are The Worst Voyages Of The Starship Enterprise

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1

You could say we saved the worst for last, and here we go: without a doubt, Star Trek: The Next Generation had some of its very worst episodes in the first season.

This is the season featuring “Justice,” where Wesley Crusher gets sentenced to death because he sucks at playing football with the natives of an orgy planet. The season also gives us “Angel One,” an episode that celebrates feminism by having Riker tell a matriarch what to do (which works only because she thinks Riker is the hottest guy in the universe).

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1
Wesley Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1 episode “Angel One”

The first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation also brought us “Code of Honor,” which is rightfully known as the most racist episode of the entire franchise for its portrayal of evil Black aliens. Riker actor Jonathan Frakes later dubbed the episode “racist piece of s***,” and he even unsuccessfully tried to keep it from getting aired ever again. If Riker himself thought this episode was too painful to watch, then why subject yourself to the pain?

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1
Tasha Yar battles a racist stereotype in the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1 episode “Code of Honor”

Just skip straight to season two, which features “Measure of a Man,” an episode that Patrick Stewart considers the first “truly great” episode of the entire show.