1) The Best of Both Worlds: Part 1 (1990)
The first and best of the Next Gen cliffhangers finds an assimilated Captain Picard telling the crew of the Enterprise that they must accept their fate at the hands of the Borg. Commander Riker orders Worf to fire upon their commanding officer, leading to an almighty To be Continued as season three comes to a shock end.
2) Chain of Command: Part 2 (1992)
Cardassian interrogator Gul Madred attempts to break Picard’s will by shining four bright lights in his face and demanding that his captive answer that there are five. Picard’s defiance in the face of Madred’s torture displays some powerhouse acting from both Patrick Stewart and guest performer David Warner.
3) The Inner Light (1992)
Picard is zapped by a mysterious probe and lives out a new existence as metal weaver and struggling flautist Kamin. But as years pass for Picard, less than an hour goes by for the Enterprise crew, who are trying to revive their comatose Captain. When Picard awakens on the ship, the only reminder of the family life he could have had is Kamin’s flute, which he plays in his quarters at the close of the episode.
4) The Measure of a Man (1989)
With Data arguing for his right of self-determination in order not to be declared the property of Starfleet and deconstructed, Picard backs his friend and colleague in a courtroom. Can he convince the Starfleet’s judge of the android’s self-awareness?
5) Yesterday’s Enterprise (1990)
A fabulous alternative-timeline episode in which the Enterprise-D has become a battleship rather than a starship in order to fight a war with the Klingon Empire. This sequence, which features one of the best shoot-outs in the series’ history, also raises that classic moral conundrum: is it ever justifiable to take innocent lives in the here and now in order to save billions in the future?
6) Relics (1992)
Cameos from cast members of the original Star Trek series were scattered throughout the run of Next Gen (think McCoy, Spock and Sarek), but none was more poignant than this appearance from James Doohan as former Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott. Here, he ponders his lack of usefulness in the 24th century on a holodeck recreation of the constitution-class Enterprise.
7) Qpid (1991)
The mischievous and omnipotent Q transports Picard and crew to medieval England where the captain takes on the role of Robin Hood while his key staff become merry men. Worf, however, is not best pleased at being taken for a fool and takes out his anger on Geordi La Forge’s lute before apologizing for his rash actions.
8) The Drumhead (1991)
There’s a traitor onboard the Enterprise, but events soon spiral out of control thanks to a witch hunt and the convening of a kangaroo court. Luckily, hard-headed zealot Rear Admiral Norah Satie (guest actress Jean Simmons) gets a lesson in civil liberties from the almighty Picard.
9) Conspiracy (1988)
Season one threw up its fair share of clunkers, but this sinister tale of alien conspiracy was a definite high point. This is the moment when the duplicity at the heart of Starfleet is exposed – a scene that was heavily cut for its violence when originally aired on BBC2 in a timetime slot.
10) All Good Things (1994)
As the series bows out after seven seasons, Picard decides to join his closest crew members for their regular poker game and expresses regret that he’s never done so before. His comment of “the sky’s the limit” hints at more adventures to come, the first being the big-screen Star Trek: Generations that would follow that same year.