How Star Trek: The Next Generation Secretly Honors The Animated Series

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

For the most part, Star Trek: The Next Generation had very little to do with The Animated Series, the cartoon spinoff that continued the adventures of Captain Kirk and crew. However, TNG secretly honored that original spinoff in a way that would reverberate throughout multiple series, one movie, and even a completely different franchise.

In the TNG episode “Conspiracy,” we see a star chart that features most of the planets visited in Star Trek: The Original Series as well as Star Trek: The Animated Series.

The Known Universe

The star chart in question is one that you can clearly see on the wall behind the chair of Dexter Remmick’s chair in “Conspiracy.” Remmick, of course, was the primary host of a group of alien parasites that tried to covertly take over Starfleet. You’d be forgiven for not noticing this chart and its homages to Star Trek: The Animated series because the chart appears in the infamous scene where Picard and Riker use their phasers to turn their fellow officer into a steaming, headless corpse.

Honoring The Animated Series

star trek villain

As with most of the best details in The Next Generation sets, this star chart was designed by Mike Okuda, and it’s a testament to his love of the franchise that he filled a prop that most people will never really notice with so many great details. It was very difficult to make many of those details out when the TNG was first airing on cable…all audiences could make out was a series of three-dimensional squares and dots.

Thanks to the remastering of these episodes, we can better understand the names of planets visited in Star Trek: The Original Series and The Animated Series.

Conspiracy’s Dark Ending Was Never Followed Up

Okuda’s star chart also makes the end of the episode that much more ominous. The franchise sadly never followed up on this, but “Conspiracy” ends with Data theorizing that the infected Remmick was sending a message to the rest of the parasites to come attack Earth. The fact that Remmick was in a room with a giant map of the known galaxy highly implies that these parasites were planning future invasions of other civilizations.

While this chart was originally created for Star Trek: The Next Generation, it appeared in several other places, spreading Okuda’s love for The Animated Series far and wide.

The Chart Has Made Multiple Appearances

In addition to appearing in four more episodes of TNG, this chart also appeared in two episodes of Deep Space Nine (complete with the new title of “The Explored Galaxy”) and appeared in Kirk’s quarters in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. This chart even appeared in the Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures in the title character’s attic.

The Animated Series Was Ignored For Decades

For a very long time, Star Trek seemed to ignore The Animated Series, and fans debated whether that show was meant to be canonical until NuTrek series like Discovery and Lower Decks began to reference it. This star chart may not be as explicit as the later references, but it’s fun to know that The Next Generation was honoring Trek’s first spinoff from the very first season.

Honestly, this is a far better way of honoring that cartoon than the “Walk, Don’t Run” episode of Very Short Treks, an awful online series we can only hope some alien parasites eventually wipe from the face of the planet.