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8 WTF Moments In Star Trek: The Next Generation That Keep Me Up At Night

Star Trek: The Next Generation is regarded as one of the best shows in the sci-fi genre, but as a science fiction show, things can get a little weird. There’s been many a night I’ve used my Paramount+ subscription to check in on Jean-Luc and the gang to see what hijinx they’re getting into, only to end the night lying awake in bed and unable to sleep. 

Sometimes I’m awake because I’m stuck on some moral quandary, other times it’s because I’m just too weirded or freaked out by the episode. These are some of the episodes I’ve felt some sort of way after viewing, and the questions that ultimately leave me staring at the ceiling unable to sleep. 

Dexter Remmick in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Gross Body Explosion (Season 1, Episode 25 “Conspiracy”) 

Star Trek is not a franchise often cited for its gore, so it’s shocking that “Conspiracy” leans so heavily on body horror when parasites take over Starfleet personnel. By far the most over-the-top scene is when one gets in Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick and makes his neck look like he’s imitating a bullfrog. Shortly after, the parasite explodes from his chest, and the phaser fire from Picard and Riker makes Remmick’s head explode. It’s horrifying, and something I think about often when thinking of the grim ways to die when working for Starfleet. 

Marina Sirtis on Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Deanna Troi Cake (Season 7, Episode 6 “Phantasms”)

Patrick Stewart directed a handful of episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including one of its more disturbing entries, “Phantasms”. Data’s dreams end up being the stuff of nightmares and those nightmares include an instance in which he cut into Deanna Troi, who had a human head and a cake body. It’s a small moment in an episode that ultimately spurred real-life nightmares for me, perhaps because it’s just so bizarre. It’s terrifying to envision being food, and even more terrifying to imagine hurting a friend who turned into food (to this day I haven’t watched the wildly inappropriate but hilarious Sausage Party). I get chills just thinking about it!

Caveman in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Riker Becomes A Caveman (Season 7 Episode 19 “Genesis”) 

“Genesis” is a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that often appears on Star Trek lists, for various reasons. It’s completely valid because this is about the wildest episode of the series in which members of the crew undergo some strange changes thanks to a mutated synthetic T-Cell. Worf becomes a ravenous predator, Troi becomes an amphibian, and for some strange reason, Riker transforms into a caveman (unfortunately we don’t see him perform the iconic maneuver in costume). We see Jonathan Frakes in this episode looking like the Geico caveman, and that image has stuck with me for years. Like, why? Out of all the horrifying transformations in this episode, why did the writing team settle on a caveman for him? 

Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Data Implies He Has A Penis (Season 1 Episode 3 “The Naked Now”) 

There are some parts of Star Trek that are best left unexplored. As an example, Data is one of the franchise’s most wholesome and innocent characters thanks to his insistence on attempting to understand and experience the human condition (he even wanted to die). The Next Generation nearly through all that innocence out the door in Season 1 after “The Naked Now,” which was meant to be a nod to the TOS episode “The Naked Time.” The most notable thing I’ll remember about the episode is that it confirmed Data, a Synth, had a fully functioning penis. Data put it to work in a romantic encounter with Tasha Yar, all of which was the result of an illness with weird side effects. Thanks to it, I’ll go to my grave with the knowledge of Data’s dong, and I’ll never forget that. 

Wil Wheaton on Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramout+)

The Crew Gets Addicted To Video Games (Season 5 Episode 6 “The Game”) 

Video games are even more prevalent today than they were in 1991 when “The Game” aired on television, which kind of makes the premise of the episode more daunting. Almost the entire Enterprise is taken hostage due to a simple game they’re hopelessly addicted to and a device that nearly allows the Ktarian creators to seize control of the ship, and possibly the entire Federation. It’s one of my favorite TNG episodes, partly because Trek seemingly giving a thumbs down to video games is ironic in its futurist society. That said, a game that the world is hopelessly hypnotized by is a frightening concept, and in an age of smartphones, feels even more possible. 

Thomas Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

All That Thomas Riker Business (Season 6 Episode 24 “Second Chances” )

William Riker gets the surprise of his life when the Enterprise comes in contact with a man also claiming to be William Riker. Eventually, the crew deduced that two identical versions of Riker were created thanks to a transporter mishap and a distortion field after a mission he went on eight years ago. Ultimately, both Will and “Thomas” (the newly discovered Riker) both create futures for themselves in Starfleet, and Thomas even came back into the Star Trek story during Deep Space Nine (which could get a modern live-action revival at some point). The premise always did a number on me because I don’t know how I’d cope with knowing an identical version of myself is out there. The fact that I’m not ok with it would make me even more on edge because I’d know the other me wasn’t cool with it either! As such, it’s become one of the more disturbing premises of Star Trek: The Next Generation for me, and keeps me up at night. 

Bev and her ghost beau in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Beverly Is Harassed By Her Grandmother’s Ghost Ex-Boyfriend (Season 7 Episode 14 “Sub Rosa”)  

Star Trek: The Next Generation really took a big swing with “Sub Rosa,” and I’m not sure many fans would pat the writers on the back for it. Beverly Crusher attends her grandmother’s funeral, and through browsing through her diary, realizes she had a thing with a 34-year-old man. That man ends up being a “ghost,” which then controls Bev’s mind and they fall in love. Things only get weirder from there, as “Ronin” is revealed to be an anaphasic alien the crew realizes is manipulating Bev. Ronin at one point possesses the body of Bev’s recently buried grandmother and attacks the crew, which is the stuff of nightmares alone.  Beverly shook it off well enough, and to this day I’m not exactly sure how she did.

Riker, Worf, and Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Image credit: Discovery+)

The Crew Almost Kills Each Other Because They Can’t Dream (Season 4 Episode 17 “Night Terrors”) 

Lack of sleep can be a dangerous thing, but what about a lack of restful sleep? That is also really dangerous as Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Night Terrors” shows the crew nearly tear each other a part as a result of an illness that prevents REM. I’m not sure about anyone else, but sometimes even the fear of not falling asleep keeps me from falling asleep. If you pile this on top of that, insomnia feels a lot more dangerous. Hopefully, no one is reading this before bed, because it might keep them up as well. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation is available to stream on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Stream these episodes or others there, and of course, hang onto that subscription for some of the other new Trek projects coming up in the future

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.