When Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in 1987, it pulled the Trek universe back from the movies and made a bigger splash than most anticipated on the small screen. In 1994, it was even nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, becoming the first show in syndication to do so. Over its full run, it would be nominated for 54 Emmy awards in costume design, sound mixing, makeup and more, winning 17 times over its seven-season run.
Most longtime fans will remember that TNG was announced as part of the original series' 20-year anniversary, and now we've come so far that TNG celebrates its 30-year anniversary.
To give TNG its due, we went back through the series to see how many tiny details we could find that we may have initially overlooked. Now you can join us in remembering every little thing we loved about The Next Generation. Boldly go, below.
The logo changed just for the 5th season
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series, they added a warp effect to the logo for the title sequences for season five of The Next Generation only. This was never specifically mentioned, so attentive fans likely wondered why the effect came and went. Now we know!
The credits sequence stopped opening with Earth
For the first two seasons of TNG, the opening credits start with a beautiful shot of Earth before exploring the rest of space. This Earth-centric approach to the universe gets lost in season three, when the first thing we see in the opening credits is a simple shot of space.
The uniforms changed from one piece to two
It seems that series creator Gene Roddenberry didn't exactly prioritize the actors' comfort when designing the original Starfleet uniforms — they were made to fit as a one-piece and intentionally manufactured one size smaller to be skin-tight — and that became an issue. So, in season three, the uniform shifted to two pieces, which means, occasionally, you see characters adjusting their shirts to keep them from riding up. At least we know everyone was a lot more comfortable!
Remember the skants?
Speaking of uniforms, in the earliest episodes of TNG, you can spy characters sporting the "skant," which come in different variations, including the unusual uniform Picard is wearing here. In other episodes, men and women can be seen in shorter versions showing a little more leg, as seen here.
"The edge of the universe" was made in part from a beer can
One of the most striking episodes in TNG is "Where No One Has Gone Before," which finds the Enterprise all the way at the edge of the universe. It diminishes the magic only a little to know that the speckles of light you see bouncing against the enchanting blue atmosphere was created by deflecting a laser beam off a beer can.
Captain Picard changed the script up in the opening sequence
Since we're talking about the episode "Where No One Has Gone Before," its title is a riff off the original series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Attentive fans will note that this also refers to the line delivered in the opening sequence of each series, which shifted for TNG so audiences heard Picard proclaim that they would boldly go "where no one has gone before."
The transporter borrowed parts from 'TOS'
Next time you're watching a transporter scene in any TNG episode, check out the ceiling above the show's stars. You'll notice this is actually the floor from the Original Series, which was flipped to borrow from the old series while still updating the transporter for modern viewers.
The killer probe was made from L'eggs eggs
In the TNG episode "The Arsenal of Freedom," there was more crafting required for the effects needed, but this time it was a prop: the killer probe Riker and Yar encounter on Minos. It was super-menacing in the episode, but it's actually constructed out of pantyhose containers like those L'eggs eggs and shampoo bottles. Think of that next time you catch this episode, which claims that this particular weaponry is way beyond Federation technologies.
Parts from rejected ship models can be seen in episodes
In "The Best of Both World" and "Unification," you can get a glimpse of some of the parts of ships that could've been the driving force of Star Trek films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but were ultimately rejected for the models actually used. These discarded models that didn't make the cut were later chopped up for parts used for TNG scenes like the one shown here.
'TNG' had a habit of ignoring those no smoking signs from 'TOS'
In the very first episode of TNG, Q appears holding a cigarette and from there, we see cigars, pipes and cigarettes that seem to go against the regulations firmly established by the no smoking signs you sometimes see flashed throughout the ship, especially in the original series episodes.
Finding the bathrooms on the Enterprise is harder than you think
It's a common joke among Trekkie that in the Star Trek universe, nobody ever seems to need to use the restroom. However, in TNG, one door off the bridge was labeled "Head," near where Deanna Troi is seen in the photo here.
Stephen Hawking is the only person to play himself in Star Trek
Science fans should note the TNG episode "Descent" for a couple awesome reasons. It was theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's acting debut as well as the only time in Star Trek history that anybody appeared on the show playing themselves.
The real astronaut Mae C. Jemison appeared on 'TNG'
In 1992, the NASA astronaut Mae C. Jemison made history by becoming the first African-American woman in space. The next year, she made Star Trek history by becoming the first astronaut to appear in an episode, "Second Chances."
Musician Mick Fleetwood had a fishy role
There are many TNG guest stars from its long run, but one you may have overlooked for an obvious reason: He was wearing a fish-like mask the whole time he was on. Musician Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac appeared in the TNG episode "Manhunt" as an Antedian, a humanoid species seen only in this series.
The ending credits scrolled up for the first episode only
At the end of each episode, the credits typically roll in a slideshow format, but for "Encounter at Far Point," they whizzed by much faster in an up-scroll. This is the only episode of TNG where the ending credits were styled this way. See the standard style illustrated below: