Star Trek: The Next Generation

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Star Trek: The Next Generation TV Poster Image
Still going boldly, updated series is fun for all.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 16 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series highlights the importance of empathy and respecting other (alien) races and cultural traditions while co-existing peacefully. Storylines sometimes act as metaphors for contemporary social issues, like discrimination and ethical practices in scientific research. Additional themes include communication, courage, and teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Starfleet places a premium on conformity and obedience. Characters, usually guided by Captain Jean Luc Picard, often debate right and wrong and how their actions will affect others. Picard is a thoughtful, sincere leader who strives to be the best example he can be, while also being a good friend and captain. Several other characters embody strong positive traits, as well.

Violence & Scariness

Plenty of spaceship battles, phaser shootouts, and even the occasional fistfight -- but the conflicts are generally pretty bloodless.

Sexy Stuff

Mild flirting and occasional romance, but no onscreen nudity. Characters are sometimes seen in bed together and sex is implied. Occasional episodes revolve around concepts of sexuality both alien and familiar, including a species of aliens who are all homosexual, and a traditional Betazoid nude wedding (no body parts shown).

Language

Infrequent use of verbal put-downs and swear words like "damn" and "ass."

Consumerism

Though no product references, Star Trek is a major franchise associated with many products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking, but nobody ever seems drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Trek: The Next Generation is pretty different from the original series. While the first series broke ground for addressing important social issues, The Next Generation is more focused on pure entertainment than social commentary. It's plenty of fun; the special effects are a vast improvement over the original; and many episodes do try to make a larger point, but in general the goal is simply storytelling. And that's just fine. The show contains frequent sci-fi violence, but for the most part it's bloodless. Swearing is infrequent, as is romance. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 year old Written byCBeth May 23, 2010

The Best TV Show Ever!

This is the best TV series ever made. Adventure, good role models, good morals, interesting characters, a vision of the future as a better place with loftier go... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byKimberly B September 25, 2009
Our family (kids ages 8 and 9) has watched the entire series and are now watching Voyager. This is a wonderful show for opening family discussion: prejudice,... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bystartrekker7849244 October 24, 2011

Forget this....

I've seen 28 episodes and say that the language on it is outrageous. I have a Curse Free TV and I keep hearing *BLEEEP* every 8-10 minutes. Sexual referenc... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byferraris_rock April 9, 2008

Awesomeness! Amazing saga

This is pretty much my favorite TV series ever (not that I have watched too many). It is an awesome series. Every episode was creative and reflected real world... Continue reading

What's the story?

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION stars Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) as the unflappable captain of the new Enterprise. He is a calm and organized leader -- a sharp contrast to the original Star Trek's James T. Kirk (William Shatner). While TNG is about mankind's ongoing quest to promote peace and tranquility, it's also about having adventures in space. These adventures take the lively crew to far-flung planets and into the past and future. All the while, Picard wrestles with the Prime Directive -– his oath to help people and fix problems without imposing his own will on others.

Is it any good?

The real accomplishment of this series is that it managed to create an entire future universe that seems plausible, is nearly religious about maintaining internal consistency, and is loads of fun to watch. Star Trek: The Next Generation is much bigger than the original series -- the bridge, where much of the action takes place, is bigger, the crew is bigger, and even the Federation seems to cover more of the galaxy. Each episode seems to introduce a new race of people (or creature -– or even entity), so viewers might need a guidebook to keep track of which ones are allies and which are hostile. (Fortunately, the series was so popular in its seven seasons on the air that several of those books are available.)

TNG gradually created an elaborate canon of Star Trek lore, which has been replicated in three additional spin-off shows. This complex, finely nuanced interior literature gave the series a strong foundation for storytelling, and many of the episodes have complex, intriguing plots and profound social undercurrents. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Prime Directive in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is never interfere in the natural pace of another race's development, because it's almost certain to permanently alter their evolutionary path, and not always for the better. Do you agree with this approach? Does it have any parallels in real life? Are there times when doing what seems like the humane thing can have negative consequences?

  • What is the appeal of the Star Trek shows? How are some of the other Star Trek shows and movies different from and similar to each other? Which one is your favorite?

  • This series, like the original series, has a lot of diversity in its cast. Why does having diverse media role models matter?

  • How do the characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation demonstrate communication and empathy? What about teamwork and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

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