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There have been many, many good questions regarding viewing order in Star Trek, largely involving the whole series, but sometimes involving a single series.

In this case I'm looking at TNG episodes. Recently I've started watching the series anew, and have been greatly enjoying some of the old classics.

I've been skipping some of Season 1, due to several suggestions from other viewing-order questions, but I'm also aware that some of the elements I most want to see are in those seasons, and I do not want to miss them.

I would still like to see:

  • Any episode that gets referenced later, in this series or in ones to come after, I do not want to miss any ongoing plot.
  • Anything involving an ongoing plot, like the Borg invasion, I want to make sure I see.
  • Any Ferengi episode I do not want to miss, because I'm especially curious about their 'evolution' in Star Trek.
  • Q episodes (Yes even Q-Pid)
  • Major series-impacting episodes (characters leaving/coming on)

What episodes do I need to see to avoid missing all of the above desired elements?

  • 4
    Just an FYI - If you are really interested in the Ferengi you may wish to consider watching Deep Space nine at some point because there are some very good Ferengi-centric episodes in that series. – Mykewlname Dec 28 '15 at 18:29
  • Just watch them all. They're good. – Ben Miller Dec 29 '15 at 14:23
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It depends on whether you care about missing even minor references, or only really important plot elements. Here are all the ones from Season 1 that may meet your criteria:

  • Encounter at Farpoint: Definitely don’t want to miss this, introduces all the characters and also features Q.
  • The Naked Now: I think there is a later reference to something that happens between Data and Tasha Yar in this episode, but it's pretty minor.
  • The Last Outpost: Introduction of the Ferengi.
  • Where No One Has Gone Before: Introduces a character called “The Traveler” who will appear in a much later episode, and gives you a better sense of what is meant to be special about Wesley Crusher.
  • The Battle: Ferengi episode.
  • Hide and Q: Another Q episode.
  • Haven: Introduces Troi’s mother, but I don’t think you learn anything too important about her that you couldn’t learn from later episodes where she appears.
  • The Big Goodbye: Introduces the “Dixon Hill” holodeck program, a pulp detective story, which appears again later… but again, you don’t really learn anything important you can’t learn from later episodes where it appears.
  • Datalore: Definitely should see this one, you learn a lot about where Data came from.
  • 11001001: Introduces an unusually intelligent holodeck character that will recur in one later episode, but you again you can probably figure out anything you need to know from that episode.
  • Home Soil: Introduction of “The Crystalline Entity” that is connected to Data’s past, and will reappear in a later episode.
  • Heart of Glory: Has some of Worf’s backstory, and the first appearance of other Klingons.
  • Skin of Evil: Every important plot development that I don't want to even hint at, but definitely don't miss this one.
  • The Neutral Zone: First appearance of Romulans on The Next Generation.

Are you interested in a similar list for season 2, or will you be watching that one through?

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    The Naked Now is casually referenced during The Measure of a Man as Data is asked specifically about his friendship with Tasha Yar. While the reference is casual, it is important enough to include it or the viewer will not understand why Tasha was important to Data. – Ellesedil Oct 28 '14 at 20:16
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    I argue that the reference in Measure of a Man to The Naked Now is more than casual, and in fact key to the outcome. – Tritium21 Nov 6 '14 at 15:32
  • I think this list will do, since a full-series list would be way too long. Thank you. – Zibbobz Nov 6 '14 at 16:44
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+50

IMDB ratings for all Next Generation episodes

This answer addresses your previous query about the quality of episodes as perceived by viewers.

I feel the data is sort of objective, now that it has been collected from a large number of fans.

It hope it can aid your decision for episodes where you aren't quite sure.

The colour thresholds are at 6.5 for yellow and 7.5 for green.

Season 1 ratings

Season 2 ratings

Season 3 ratings

Season 4 ratings

Season 5 ratings

Season 6 ratings

Season 7 ratings

The data was collected using a modified version of this userscript.

I used the following Javascript to manipulate the page into a compact format (hide each episode's thumbnail and description):

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$('.list_item > * > *').hide(); null
$('.list_item > * > strong').show(); null
$('.list_item .hover-over-image > img').hide(); null
$('.list_item .hover-over-image > div').show(); null
$('.list_item > .image > a').show(); null
/* Actually these two don't work; I had to edit the CSS rules using DevTools */
$('.listo .detail .list_item').css('padding', '6px'); null
$('.listo .detail div.list_item').css('padding-bottom', '0px'); null
$('.list_item .info').css('transform', 'translate(0,-22px)'); null

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