Though Star Trek: The Next Generation is known for its more serious content, there was also a time when it ruled the internet with its hilarious memes. When taken out of context, funny stills and moments from the show have had internet users laughing hysterically for years.
While fans of the show might remember the moments, casual internet denizens probably don't know the origin episodes of some of their favorite TNG memes. The exploits of Captain Picard's Enterprise crew are extremely meme-able, but only the best have stood the test of time and continue to be funny today.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
10 Ensign Haskell's Death - "Where Silence Has Lease" (S2 E2)
Though most great TNG memes were static in nature, a classic moment from "Where Silence Has Lease" resulted in some great GIF and video memes. After encountering a strange omnipotent being in the far reaches of space, the crew soon learns of its deadly power when it attacks unsuspecting Ensign Haskell.
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The early seasons of the show were somewhat cheesy in nature, and the actor's over-the-top performance only added to the goofy atmosphere. Since fans on the internet discovered the moment, the clip has been used as a perfect reaction GIF for almost any situation.
9 Data's Android Phone - "Phantasms" (S7 E6)
The episode "Phantasms" had a host of strange moments that were quite silly when taken out of context, but one stood above the rest as perfect meme fodder. Not long after gaining the ability to dream, Data begins to suffer terrible nightmares that might be warning him about a potential danger to the ship.
While the episode leads to one of Data's smartest decisions on the show, the hilarious still of Picard answering a phone from Data's chest is usually the only part fans remember. There have been a variety of different jokes surrounding the meme format, but most rely on puns regarding Data's android nature.
8 Picard's Smiley Face - "Timescape" (S6 E25)
Picard is known as a stentorian leader, and that's why fans have never missed an opportunity to meme his more lighthearted moments. In the episode "Timescape" the ship is caught in a vortex that allows the Captain to traverse the ship that is nearly frozen in time. Delirious from exposure, Picard acts out of character and draws a smiley face on a breached warp core.
Not only is the moment a truly memorable one, but the memes that have spawned from it have been quite funny. While the episode itself is filler that can be skipped to save time, the sheer amount of memes that it produced is what sets it apart.
7 Data's Belly Laugh - "Deja Q" (S3 E13)
Being an android, Data is incapable of feeling emotions, and it is actually his greatest desire to be like other living beings. "Deja Q" sees the titular omnipotent being bestowed upon the beloved android the temporary gift of laughter, and he explodes in a barrage of guffaws.
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Expressing such a generic emotion as laughter, the scene is the perfect moment to be turned into a meme, and fans have stepped up. Brent Spiner's exaggerated performance has helped to make it all the funnier, and the meme has grown far beyond the Trek community.
6 Four Lights - "Chain Of Command" (S6 E10-11)
Coming as one of the best two-part episodes of TNG, "Chain of Command" was also one of Picard's most harrowing experiences as captain. Captured by the ruthless Cardassians, the captain is subjected to a series of mental tortures that attempt to break his mind and make him a more malleable subject.
The climactic sequence where Picard exclaims that he sees four lights is triumphant in the show but hilarious when taken out of context. The moment has become a meme on its own and has been popularly inserted into various existing meme formats and even cut into funny songs and GIFs as well.
5 Deanna Troi Winking - "Timescape" (S6 E25)
"Timescape" produced more memes than any other episode of the show by far, and Counselor Troi got in on the action in the opening scene. While recounting her experience at a boring conference to the captain and Geordi, Troi does an exaggerated and hilarious impression of a man that hit on her.
In the moment, the impression isn't all that funny, but keen-eyed fans were able to pause the scene at just the right moment to capture a hilarious meme. The silliness of her face has led to a host of great jokes, and it is one of the rare Star Trek memes that doesn't involve Captain Picard.
4 Annoyed Picard - "Ménage À Troi" (S3 E24)
Captain Picard is a busy man with a lot of responsibilities and doesn't usually make a lot of time for the petty squabbles of the people aboard his ship. However, the episode "Ménage à Troi" brought him into the conflict, whether he liked it or not.
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While trying to appease a dignitary, Picard is called on to act his way through a situation, and it resulted in some hilarious stills. The combination of gesture and facial expression was used to create untold amounts of memes, and the best aspect of the format is that it can be applied to almost any situation with hilarious results.
3 Surprised Picard - "Timescape" (S6 E25)
Coming in the same scene as Troi's notorious wink, Picard also delivered a hilarious impression that resulted in a memorable meme. To one-up Troi's silly story, Picard recounts his own tale and even acts out the parts with appropriate gusto while they return to the Enterprise in a shuttlecraft.
The versatility of the meme format is what makes it so great, and there is always something hilarious about seeing Captain Picard go above and beyond his normally reserved self. Though Picard's surprised face is usually overshadowed by other memes featuring the captain, it is still one of his funniest moments.
2 Geordi LaForge This Or That - "Quality Of Life" (S6 E9)
Star Trek: The Next Generation often tackled deep issues, and "Quality of Life" touched on concepts like sentience and what makes something alive. The episode saw Geordi in heavy debate with a colleague about the rights of a robotic organism, and he made several hand gestures that mimicked a famous meme.
Usually used to replace the meme with the same concept featuring the rapper Drake, the Geordi version is just as hilarious as the original but with a Star Trek twist. Proving that the simplest memes are usually the funniest, Geordi LaForge's personal meme format is still largely used today.
1 The Facepalm - "Deja Q" (S3 E13)
Of all the meme contributions that TNG has made over the years, Captain Picard's infamous facepalm will never be topped. When Picard's omnipotent nemesis Q returns to torture the ship once again in "Deja Q," the beleaguered captain can't help but facepalm.
The early days of internet memes are quite different from what they are now, and it is difficult to overstate the popularity of that single frame from TNG. The concept of the facepalm was mostly born from that moment and had a life of its own as a separate meme concept. While the episode itself is worth checking out for its great story, many fans return to see the origin point of one of the best memes of all time.
NEXT: 10 Star Trek Memes That Perfectly Sum Up Spock