- “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (“TNG”) premiered on September 29, 1987.
- It was the first live-action “Star Trek” show since the original series ended in 1969.
- It told the story of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew aboard the USS Enterprise a century later.
Arguably, “TNG” would never have been as successful as it was without the grounding presence of Stewart and his Shakespearean sensibilities. Some of the best episodes and arcs in “Trek” history come down to Stewart’s performance, such as the iconic Locutus storyline and its aftermath in “Family,” or classic episodes like “The Measure of a Man” and “The Inner Light.”
In 2000, he starred as the iconic Professor Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, in “X-Men.” He reprised the role in 2003’s “X2,” 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” 2013’s “The Wolverine,” 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and 2017’s “Logan” — the latter of which got him some Oscar buzz.
Stewart was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010 for services to drama.
He’s played various other roles throughout his decades-long career, returned to the stage many times, and secured a Tony nomination in 2008 for his performance in “Macbeth.” But Picard wasn’t done with him yet.
In 2018, it was announced that Stewart would be returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard for a series on CBS All Access — now Paramount+ — following the former captain 20 years after the events of “Nemesis.” “Star Trek: Picard” premiered in 2020, will return for season two in 2022, and has already been renewed for a season three.
Before “TNG,” Frakes had appeared in various episodes of ’70s and ’80s shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Hill Street Blues,” and more. But he quickly became best known for “Trek.”
Like Shatner and Leonard Nimoy before him, Frakes also became interested in directing, and he was behind the camera for eight episodes of “TNG,” as well as episodes of spin-offs “Deep Space Nine,” and “Voyager.” He also directed films “First Contact” and “Insurrection.”
Frakes reprised his role as Riker in episodes of “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” in the ’90s, the series finale of “Star Trek: Enterprise” in 2005, two episodes of “Star Trek: Picard” in 2020, and three episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks” in 2020 and 2021.
Over the last two decades, he’s directed over 70 episodes of television, including shows like “Roswell,” “Castle,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Librarians,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Seth MacFarlane’s loving “Trek” homage “The Orville,” and, of course, the new “Trek” shows like “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Picard.” Frakes will direct at least one more episode of “Picard” in season two.
Notably, Troi and Riker were in a relationship before the events of the show, and they eventually get married during the movie “Nemesis,” before moving to the USS Titan, where Riker would finally become captain.
Her mother, Lwaxana Troi, was a beloved “Trek” side character played by Majel Barrett — aka “Trek” creator Gene Rodenberry’s wife and “Original Series” cast member. Barrett also played Christine Chapel.
Before “TNG,” Sirtis had appeared in bit parts in films and was mainly doing theater in her native UK.
She’s steadily worked in TV over the last two decades, appearing in shows like “Without a Trace,” “Make It or Break It,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” and “Scandal.”
Sirtis has also had a steady voice acting career, lending her voice to “Gargoyles,” “Adventure Time,” and perhaps most famously, as Queen Bee in “Young Justice.”
When he was cast as La Forge, the chief engineering officer who happened to be blind — a big step forward in disability representation at the time — Burton had already been hosting “Reading Rainbow” on PBS since 1983. “Reading Rainbow,” which Burton produced, won a Peabody Award and 12 Daytime Emmys.
From 1990 to 1996, Burton also voiced Kwame on “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” for over 100 episodes. In 1999, he directed the Disney Channel Original Movie classic “Smart House.”
Burton has had a successful career in Hollywood since, appearing as Martin Luther King Jr. in 2001’s “Ali,” playing himself in iconic appearances on both “Community” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and hosting “Reading Rainbow” until its end in 2006.
Like Frakes, Burton is also a successful TV director. He’s directed numerous episodes of “Star Trek” and its spin-offs, as well as episodes of “Charmed,” “JAG,” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” He made his movie directorial debut in 2008 with “Reach for Me,” starring Seymour Cassel.
After the death of Alex Trebek in 2020, fans began campaigning for Burton to take over as the new host of “Jeopardy!” Almost 300,000 fans have signed a petition to that effect. However, after a brief stint as guest host, Burton said he wouldn’t be interested in taking over as the permanent host.
In October 2021, he was named next year’s grand marshal of the Rose Bowl Parade.
After the first season, McFadden was written out of the show due to issues with head writer Maurice Hurley and replaced with Diana Muldaur, who played Dr. Katherine Pulaski. Muldaur’s character did not gel with the rest of the cast, and McFadden was subsequently brought back for season three (and Hurley was ultimately replaced with Michael Piller).
Before “TNG,” McFadden was a choreography and a puppeteer involved with the Jim Henson Company, in addition to her career as an actress. She appeared in and choreographed 1984’s “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and choreographed “Labyrinth” in 1986. McFadden directed an episode of “TNG” in 1994.
Since the end of the films in 2002, McFadden has mainly appeared on TV. She was in four episodes of “Franklin & Bash,” an episode of “NCIS,” and a TV movie called “A Neighbor’s Deception.” She was also in a 2009 holiday rom-com called “Make the Yuletide Gay.”
By the events of “TNG,” Dorn’s character Worf had enlisted in Star Fleet and slowly became one of the series’ best and most beloved characters, as well as the chief security officer. He went on to star on “Deep Space Nine” for four seasons, from 1995 to 1999.
Before the show, Dorn had appeared in shows such as “CHiPS,” “Knots Landing,” and “Days of Our Lives.”
Besides acting “Star Trek,” Dorn also directed three episodes of “Deep Space Nine,” as well as an episode of “Enterprise.”
Like many of his co-stars, Dorn has had a successful voice-acting career. He used his voice in “Dinosaurs,” “Superman: The Animated Series,” “I Am Weasel,” “Kim Possible: A Stitch in Time,” “Regular Show,” and “Arrow,” among others. Most recently, he voiced Battle Beast in “Invincible.”
Dorn appeared in two of the “Santa Clause” movies as the Sandman, and he was also in “Ted 2.” In real life, he’s also an accomplished pilot.
The year before Wheaton began appearing in “TNG,” he starred in the classic ’80s film “Stand by Me” alongside River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, and John Cusack — all future stars in the making.
But Wheaton hasn’t let the haters stop him from having a successful career. He’s appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies, and he hilariously played himself across 17 episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” He also had a recurring role on “Eureka,” another recurring role on “Leverage,” and a talk show on SyFy called “The Wil Wheaton Project.”
Wheaton has also acted in many web series, including “Welcome to Night Vale.” He’s also had great success in voice acting, most recently voicing the Flash in “Teen Titans Go to the Movies.”
He also hosted the web series “TableTop,” in which he and guests play a game (like Settlers of Catan or Pandemic) each episode, which aired from 2012 to 2017. Currently, he hosts “The Ready Room,” the official “Star Trek” aftershow that features interviews with the cast and crew.
However, as the show went on, Data solidified himself as his own character with his own fascinating back story (Lore and Dr. Soong, anyone?) and a heartwarming desire to become human.
Before the series, Spiner enjoyed a successful career in theater, originating the role of Franz/Dennis in “Sunday in the Park with George” and starring as Aramis in “The Three Musketeers.” He also appeared in six episodes of “Night Court.”
In 1996, he appeared in the huge sci-fi blockbuster “Independence Day.”
In 2016, Spiner reprised his role as Dr. Brackish Okun in the sequel “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Over the years he’s appeared in dozens of TV shows, including “Friends,” “Star Wars Rebels,” “Ray Donovan,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Warehouse 13.”
Spiner has also voiced two iconic Batman villains. He played the Joker in an episode of “Young Justice,” and he voiced the Riddler in “Justice League Action.”
In 2020, Spiner reprised his role as Data in “Picard,” appearing as the character in dream sequences and as a virtual consciousness throughout the first season. He also appeared as a descendant of his creator Dr. Altan Inigo Soong, and as a similar android named B-4 who was originally introduced in “Nemesis.” Spiner, most likely as a member of the Soong family, will return in season two.
In actuality, Crosby asked to be written off the show, as she “was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get off that show. I was dying.” And so, her character was killed in the season one episode “Skin of Evil” by a malevolent tar-like creature. Yar would reappear two more times, in a season three episode called “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (an all-timer), and the series finale.
Crosby also appeared in three episodes as a character called Sela, a future half-Romulan daughter of Yar’s from an alternate timeline.
Before the show, Crosby, the granddaughter of Bing Crosby, had appeared in films like “48 Hrs.,” “Pet Sematary,” two “Pink Panther” films, and multiple episodes of “Days of Our Lives.”
She’s also appeared in multiple direct-to-video movies, in addition to her roles in “Southland,” “Ray Donovan,” “The Walking Dead,” “Suits,” and most recently an episode of “Creepshow” on Shudder.
During his run on “TNG,” Meaney also appeared in a 1993 film called “The Snapper.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.
Meaney was also nominated for a Saturn Award in 2013 for his role in “Hell on Wheels,” appeared in 10 episodes of “Will” in 2017, and most recently appeared in “Gangs of London” and “The Singapore Grip,” both British series.
He’s had success on the big screen, as well. He was nominated for the Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actor in 2007 for “Kings,” and he has been in other films like “Law Abiding Citizen,” “Get Him to the Greek,” “Tolkien,” “Seberg,” and “Pixie.”
Meaney’s currently filming a new miniseries called “The Serpent Queen.”
She actually asked to be on the show due to her “Trek” fandom, which stemmed from seeing Uhura, a Black woman, in a position of power in the first “Star Trek” series. Goldberg appeared in 28 episodes across seven seasons.
At the same time, Goldberg was becoming a true A-lister. In 1990, she starred in “Ghost,” which eventually won her an Oscar. In 1992, she starred in the classic “Sister Act” and its sequel the following year.
In 2002, Goldberg secured her Tony Award win for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” That same year, she completed her EGOT by winning an Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Series. She’s also hosted multiple award shows, including the Tonys and the Oscars.
Goldberg has consistently acted in both TV and movies in the 2000s, appearing in “Glee,” “The Middle,” “Toy Story 3,” “Nobody’s Fool,” and more.
Since 2007, Goldberg has hosted “The View,” which won her her second Emmy — she won Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host at the 2009 Daytime Emmys.
During an appearance on “The View,” none other than Patrick Stewart extended an invitation to Goldberg to reprise her role as Guinan during season two of “Picard,” which she emotionally accepted.