Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG and ST:TNG) is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. It originally aired from September 28, 1987 to May 23, 1994 on syndication, spanning 178 episodes over the course of seven seasons. The third series in the Star Trek franchise, it is the second sequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. Set in the 24th century, when Earth is part of a United Federation of Planets, it follows the adventures of a Starfleet starship, the USS Enterprise-D, in its exploration of the Milky Way galaxy.
After the cancellation of The Original Series in 1969, the Star Trek franchise had continued with Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–74) and a series of films, all featuring the original cast. In the 1980s, franchise creator Roddenberry decided to create a new series, featuring a new crew embarking on their mission a century after that of The Original Series. TNG featured a new crew that starred (for the majority of its seven-year broadcast run) Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker, Brent Spiner as Lt Commander Data, Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf, LeVar Burton as Lt Commander Geordi La Forge, Marina Sirtis as counselor Deanna Troi, Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, and a new Enterprise. An introductory statement featured at the beginning of each episode's title sequence stated the ship's purpose in language similar to the opening statement of the original Star Trek series, but was updated to reflect an ongoing mission and to be gender-neutral:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Roddenberry, Maurice Hurley, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor served as executive producers at various times throughout its production. The show was very popular, reaching almost 12 million viewers in its 5th season, with the series finale in 1994 being watched by over 30 million viewers.
TNG premiered the week of September 28, 1987, drawing 27 million viewers, with the two-hour pilot "Encounter at Farpoint". In total, 176 episodes were made (including several two-parters), ending with the two-hour finale "All Good Things..." the week of May 23, 1994. The series was broadcast in first-run syndication with dates and times varying among individual television stations. Several Star Trek series followed The Next Generation: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001), Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005), and Star Trek: Discovery (2017–present). The series formed the basis for the seventh through the tenth of the Star Trek films, and is also the setting of numerous novels, comic books, and video games. In its seventh season, Star Trek: The Next Generation became the first and only syndicated television series to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. The series received a number of accolades, including 19 Emmy Awards, two Hugo Awards, five Saturn Awards, and "The Big Goodbye" (S1E12) won a Peabody Award. Some of the highest rated episodes (by Nielsen ratings) were the pilot ("Encounter at Farpoint"), the finale ("All Good Things..."), the two-part "Unification", "Aquiel", "A Matter of Time", and "Relics". Four episodes ("Encounter at Farpoint", "Sarek", "Unification", and "Relics") featured actors Leonard Nimoy, Mark Lenard, James Doohan, and DeForest Kelley from the original Star Trek reprising their original roles.