When it comes to science fiction show, there’s no bigger name than Star Trek. Star Trek: The Next Generation aired from 1987 to 1994 and still has a captive and loyal fanbase. If you want to catch up and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation online, the good news is that it’s streaming, meaning you can catch up and figure out why the series is such a fan favorite.
This series, which ran for 7 seasons and 178 episodes, was the first to gain a nomination at the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series while in syndication. Owned by Paramount, the show — which starred talents like Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, and Wil Wheaton — gained a bunch of awards while on air, including 19 Emmys.
Here’s how to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation streaming online:
How to Watch Star Trek: The Next Generation Online & Stream the Complete Series
In the United States, all seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation are available on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Here’s how to watch via either service:
If you have Prime, or if you want to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime, you can watch every season of Star Trek: The Next Generation on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
When signing up for Hulu, there are a couple of different options, both of which will get you access to every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Hulu: If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
Once signed up for either option, you can watch The Next Generation episodes on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Star Trek: The Next Generation Seasons Are There?
There are 7 seasons of the show, with each season containing between 22 and 26 episodes. Here’s a breakdown of what happened in each season.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 1
26 Episodes | September 1987 – May 1988
Season one started out with a two-hour special, which was later turned into two stand-alone episodes — and the series finale took on a similar format. The main focus at first was the maiden voyage of the starship Enterprise. Things take a brief turn when the crew has to face a powerful yet extra-dimensional being named Q, who’d go on to become a popular recurring character, taking on the role of antagonist. Other episodes focus on an arranged marriage, and a criminal case after a character named Wesley Crusher, played by Wheaton, accidentally steps on a flower.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2
22 Episodes | November 1988 – July 1989
Season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation faced a quick character swap after Gates McFadden — who played Dr. Beverly Crusher — was replaced by another doctor named Dr. Katherine Pulaski, after McFadden didn’t have the chemistry that the crew was looking for. Pulaski was introduced in the first episode of the season. But, it wasn’t the end of McFadden, who returned to play her character in future seasons. Another cast addition was Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan. Prior to playing Lois Lane, Teri Hatcher had a cameo appearance in this season during an episode called “The Outrageous Okona.”
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 3
26 Episodes | September 1989 – June 1990
At the end of the show’s second season, it became the third most viewed series in its timeslot, meaning that fans were paying attention. Early on in the season, the crew needs to deal with an annihilated world. Other plots this season include an episode in which the Enterprise is booby-trapped, the kidnapping of Dr. Beverly Crusher, the kidnapping of Captain Picard, and the kidnapping of Deanna Troi, Lwaxana Troi, and Commander William Riker — all within three different episodes.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4
26 Episodes | September 1990 – June 1991
Season four was known as the first season of the series to play around with the idea of serialized storylines, and two were introduced first — one including Worf, the son of Mogh, trying to claim his family’s honor. In general, the season focuses strongly on family and family bonds, especially in an episode where Worf finds some of his family members. Another storyline focuses on Picard coming into contact with a human boy who was raised by aliens.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5
26 Episodes | September 1991 – June 1992
Picard has a few strong, emotional episodes this season — including one where he tries hard to communicate with an alien who speaks a completely different language, and an episode where he’s stuck with three children, who he’s not a natural with. In an episode called “The Game,” which features a cameo by Ashley Judd, everyone on the crew is addicted to a video game, which is a relatable plot. Parenting is another theme this season, with Data looking after an orphaned boy, and Worf trying to figure out fatherhood.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6
26 Episodes | September 1992 – June 1993
While the season starts with the successful rescue of Data from the nineteenth century, Picard, who explores a relationship with Nella Daren, gets into a bit of trouble. He’s on a mission away from the Enterprise but is apprehended and abused until he’s free. The fifth episode of the season focuses around sleep — namely, the lack of it after a few crew members become sleep deprived after an abduction.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7
26 Episodes | September 1993 – May 1994
In the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the crew defeats Lore, and Picard realizes he has a son he never knew about. Data also has a few memorable moments, from strange dreams to memory loss to the discovery of his mother. During the two-part finale, Q helps transport Picard between three alternate time periods — the present, the future, and years past during the starship USS Enterprise-D’s very first mission — in an effort to save humanity.
What Are the Best Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes?
The show pretty much covered everything — from abductions, to family struggles, to time travel where Mark Twain is introduced. The show had plenty of strong episodes, but if you’re going to stream Star Trek: The Next Generation in full, it’s important to know which ones to focus on.
Here’s a list of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes:
Season 2, Episode 9: “The Measure of a Man”
This episode makes the list, since it really made fans think. Centering around the character of Data, played by Brent Spiner, it questions whether or not Data — a Soong-type android — was the property of the ship, or should be given the rights as a human after he openly refuses to be disassembled. It covered the issues of rights of artificial intelligence and really rounded out Data’s character. It was known as being one of the first groundbreaking episodes of the series.
Season 4, Episode 13: “Devil’s Due”
“Devil’s Due” stars Marta DuBois as the character of Ardra, a Ventaxian version of the devil who was known for making sketchy choices. While it also takes place in a courtroom, it’s thrilling to watch Picard arguing against such a negative force.
Season 5, Episode 2: “Darmok”
As you know, this episode featured Ashley Judd — but it was also her official acting debut. The crew of the Enterprise finds a civilization that uses metaphors to communicate, leaving a lot of people puzzled. Picard is trapped with the captain — at first, he assumes the captain wants to battle but later realizes that he cares about his well-being despite not being able to understand each other. The two of them have to figure it out soon, as a deadly creature is about to approach and they need to work together.
Who Are the Actors in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Cast?
The show had a lot of key people on board. While Patrick Stewart played the lead, others like Wil Wheaton were given exposure that helped their careers tremendously. Here are the main cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard
Patrick Stewart starred as the captain of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard. Obviously, his career has included several other notable roles. He’s done voices for 88 episodes of American Dad!, and starred in the X-Men franchise— including the acclaimed movie Logan as Charles Xavier.
Jonathan Frakes as William Riker
If you think the voice of J’Son from the Guardians of the Galaxy television sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s the voice of Jonathan Frakes. He’s also made appearances in Angie Tribeca, Castle, and Roswell.
LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge
Geordi La Forge, unfortunately, didn’t have eyesight without his visor glasses, but the accessory made him one of the most identifiable members of the Enterprise. LeVar Burton’s other huge credit is Reading Rainbow, which promotes literacy.
Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi
Marina Sirtis has a few Star Trek credits on her resume. Aside from The Next Generation, she’s featured in the Star Trek: Voyager series and also voiced a computer in Star Trek Continues between 2013 and 2017.
Brent Spiner as Data
Brent Spiner played the android named Data, but he’s also known for the television series Outcast. He also did a voice of Hall Trayvis in Star Wars Rebels, proving he’s a science fiction icon.
Michael Dorn as Worf
The role of Worf was a big one — and truly one that required a lot of makeup. Michael Dorn has needed much less for many of his other roles, as he’s done mostly vocal work in the last few years. He plays Bupu in The Lion Guard and voiced Prometheus in the series Arrow.
Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
Dr. Beverly Crusher was one of the biggest roles for Gates McFadden, who’s also been in a few episodes of Mad About You and Franklin & Bash. She’s also continued playing Dr. Beverly Crusher in other parts of the series, like Star Trek: Nemesis.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Star Trek: The Next Generation?
The show welcomed many guest stars while on air. Here are some of the most notable that you won’t want to miss.
Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan
Even though Whoopi Goldberg technically became a recurring character, Brent Spiner listed her as one of his favorite guest stars in an interview on StarTrek.com.
Stephen Hawking as himself
Stephen Hawking appeared in an episode called “Descent,” where he played himself and out of all the cameos and guest stars to be featured on Star Trek” The Next Generation, Hawking was the only one to play himself.
Jean Simmons as Rear Admiral Norah Satie
Jean Simmons was a Star Trek fan offscreen, so she must have been elated to get a cameo role. She was featured in an episode called “The Drumhead,” where she challenged Picard’s loyalty to the Federation.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind [Show X]?
Gene Roddenberry is largely created as being the voice behind Star Trek: The Next Generation but he and his team have worked on so much more within the Star Trek universe. Here are the key players who made the show so successful.
Gene Roddenberry: Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer and Creator
The show was largely credited to Gene Roddenberry, who also penned the original Star Trek series. He was involved in every Star Trek venture in some way. Roddenberry unfortunately passed away during the filming of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but his characters have lived on forever.
Cliff Bole: Star Trek: The Next Generation Director
Cliff Bole is credited for directing 25 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s also worked on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. He also directed four episodes of The X-Files before his passing in 2014 at the age of 76.
Ronald D. Moore: Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer and Producer
Science fiction is a key interest of Ronald D. Moore. He worked on a few Star Trek series and then went to work on shows like Roswell and Battlestar Galactica. He’s recently been credited as an executive producer on series like Outlander and Electric Dreams.
Where Star Trek: The Next Generation Ranks in the Television Pantheon
One of the most important things about Star Trek: The Next Generation is that it wasn’t afraid to cover both controversial, and sometimes goofy, topics. The crew members, while much different than the rest of us, still faced a lot of issues we all do. So many episodes focus around family, how hard it is to stay connected, and personal relationships. They even managed to cover interesting topics that their viewers might not have thought of before, such as the episode which questioned whether or not Data, an android, should have the same rights as humans.
“Star Trek: The Next Generation presented a captivating, seductively optimistic vision of a human future where disease, poverty, and national borders were things of the past,” wrote The Guardian. “Unlike Kirk’s crew, the problems Picard and his cohorts faced were ones they couldn’t just punch, phaser or kiss their way out of. This was a less violent, more cerebral show, with a cast of rare chemistry and ability – all were theatrically trained.” The talent definitely helped set this series aside from other Star Trek titles. Simply put, it had heart — and manages to still be a solid series decades after it originally aired.