12. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Network: First-run syndication
Air Dates: September 28, 1987 – May 23, 1994
Stars: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton
There's a reason that Star Trek: The Next Generation is the longest running of the Star Trek series: It's the best. Set 100 years after Gene Roddenberry's groundbreaking original, TNG picked up on a USS Enterprise captained by Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard, one of the most intelligent and compassionate characters to ever grace the small screen. The supporting characters, including LeVar Burton's Geordi La Forge, Brent Spiner's Data, Michael Dorn's Worf, and Marina Sirtis's Deanna Troi, deserve plenty of the credit for the show's excellence, too.
The Star Trek franchise is about the desire for knowledge and connection; TNG just did it better, with more memorable characters and more memorable storylines. TNG introduced the Borg, complicated the tale of the Klingon people, and in general, the show just embodied the profound humanism of Roddenberry's project. For younger generations, this is the definitive Star Trek. And with good reason. —RS