Star Trek Guide

Star Trek The Original Series vs TNG: Which One Is Better?

For most Star Trek fans, the battle of which series is the best of the franchise comes down to The Original Series and The Next Generation. The former brought Gene Roddenberry's idyllic vision of the future into the collective consciousness in the '60s, while the latter improved upon its premisein the '90s to a degree even Gene himself wouldn't have dreamed of (or maybe even approved of). Both are very different in terms of the methods of their captains, the distribution of their crews, and even their overall tone, but each has garnered a great deal of loyalty and respect.

TOS gave us the heroic Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew of explorers on a five year mission, while the other gave us the diplomatic Captain Picard in the Federation flagship charged with maintaining the Prime Directive and seeking out new civilizations. Whether or not you like one series for its holodecks and androids, or one for its morality plays and sense of adventure, here are 5 reasons why The Original Series is better and 5 why Next Gen is.


For some, Captain James Tiberius Kirk will always be the only captain of the USS Enterprise worth mentioning. The combination of serious dramatic intent and campy self deprecation in William Shatner's performance made the character larger than life and beloved by Star Trek fans for generations.

And of course, we can't forget Mr. Spock with Leonard Nemoy's thoughtful and mesmerizing performance of the half-Vulcan, or Scotty as the cantankerous and charismatic engineer, Doc McCoy as the earnest and perpetually flustered doctor, Lieutenant Uhura, Lieutenant Sulu, and Chekov. Their chemistry set he gold standard for Starfleet crews to follow.


While there will always be die-hard Captain Kirk fans, for some Trekkies Captain Picard will always be there leader. Sir Patrick Stewart was not well known to American audiences when he signed on to play the Starfleet captain, and even doubted his own abilities as a man pushing 40 without the vim and vigor of his predecessor.

Fans soon took a liking to his sensible and diplomatic style of captaincy, and admired the integrity of his command. Besides, there was his First Officer Commander William Riker to take Kirk's place as the rogue. Other fan favorites included Worf (Starfleet's first Klingon), Commander Data the android searching for his humanity, Beverly Crusher the ship's doctor, Geordi La Forge down in engineering, and Deanna Troi, the compassionate ship's counselor.


Part of the fun of boldly going where no one has gone before is the incredible sense of adventure. Since nothing like The Original Series had ever been made, there was a sense of limitless possibilities. Captain Kirk's method of leadership even reflected that, often adopting a "space cowboy" persona that shot his phaser first and asked questions later.

Kirk and the gang were members of Starfleet, but viewers often got the sense that they were renegades. Kirk was less a stickler for the rules if they hurt people, and tended to make up his own rulebook for him and his crew based on the situations they found themselves in. The fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants storytelling led to changing the genre of science fiction entirely.


The Original Series would have been able to appear technologically advanced with a higher budget, but being from the '60s the writers still couldn't have conceived of all the advancements that Next Gen could by being created in the '90s. Next Gen was able to finally capture the franchise the way Star Trek fans wished TOS did, from its streamlined aesthetic to its replicators.

The presence of a holodeck changed the sorts of stories the series could tell, because immersive environments meant the crew could have amazing adventures without leaving the ship (which might have made Season 3 of TOS more interesting).


The Original Series had some notoriously risque plotlines for the time it was made, especially every single one involving Captain Kirk and an alien woman. That being said, the '60s saw a rise in mature content, from Starfleet captains macking extraterrestrial babes to more graphic violence,

The risque storylines also involved anti-establishment planetary colonies, women taking prominent positions of authority, Russians working side by side with Americans, and the first interracial kiss. The stakes were higher when TOS took its risks. It swung for the stars and hit a home run.


Given that it was created in an era almost 30 years after The Original Series aired, Next Generation tackled problems and situations pertaining to its day.While some fans would say some of the storylines were preachy or hokey, at its best TNG shed some of the stuffiness of The Original Series and exercised candor on topics wherever prudent.

While it lacked big moments like "the first interracial kiss", it also didn't have to make fanfare about having people of color serve aboard the Enterprise.It could also have episodes that focused specifically on depression, personal identity, and mental health, which have become bigger talking points today.


The Star Trek franchise has always used the sci-fi genre to tell morality plays, managing to slip the quandaries of humankind into storylines involving cloning, stolen technology, and time travel. Nowhere was this better captured than in TOS.

It presented scenarios that made audiences ponder morally ambiguous questions, such as if Kirk fell in love with a woman from the past, who would one day lead a political resistance that would cause the deaths of thousands, would he save her life because it served his own needs, or release her to her destiny of dying in a motor accident?


From updating the LCARS system to be touch screen across every console and terminal, to delivering new concepts like the holodeck, the Borg cubes, and a shiny new Enterprise, the special effects for Next Gen blow The Original Series out of the stars.

Even with its own budget constraints, TNG blended miniatures and early CGI to make some truly astounding set pieces and space sequences, This is in addition to the great prop and makeup department that greatly improved the look of the various alien species that the crew of the Enterprise encountered.


It's difficult for anyone that grew up on Next Generation to understand the inspirational effect The Original Series had on television audiences. It galvanized not just science-fiction fans, but people around the world to come together and build a better tomorrow.

By making interracial couples and crews common place, it showed that humanity could accomplish great things if it got past its focus on skin color. It posited that humanity could do away with famine and war by focusing its energies on the exploration of space. TNG would never be able to capture that sense of wonder because by the time it arrived, TOS had already boldly gone where no one had gone before.


TNG had 7 seasons while TOS only had 3, but TNG arguably did more character development in its single season than almost all of TOS combined. Its characters were more flawed, more fallible, and less "iconic" to the point of little deviation from their central characterization.

Like a precursor to shows like Game of Thrones, TNG took Star Trek's episodic, self-contained stories and broadened its scope, allowing for serial style formatting that let its characters feel the ramifications of certain storylines throughout several seasons, such as when Picard was abducted by the Borg.