The original series lasted a scant 3 years on TV during the 60s. Who, at the time it was cancelled, could have realistically believed that that cancelled show would take on a life of its own in syndication during the 70s, would inspire the Star Trek convention business and would persuade Paramount Pictures a decade after it's cancelling to fund 'Star Trek - The Motion Picture'. Well it did. And after the (relative) success of TMP Paramount decided to fund a slew of sequels and finally in 1987 to bring the brand back to the small screen with Star Trek The Next Generation.

Maybe the worst title in the history of bad titles had a lot of people in the fan base on edge wondering whether Paramount had a any idea what it was doing. If the series was going to be as dull and unimaginative as its name suggested, why bother? Just let TOS rest in peace and continue to pump out movies. Paramount would have been happy to do so except that the original cast was ten days older than water and if they were going to keep the brand alive they needed an infusion of fresh blood.

And so, with many people predicting bomb Star Trek The Next Generation premiered on Sept 28th 1987 with a two hour episode called "Encounter At Farpoint". Most episodes during the first season-plus had issues while the producers and cast were finding their way but the show was a success mostly (I believe) due to it's sky high production values and the brilliance of casting a first rate yet largely unknown actor (Patrick Stewart) to be the captain/central figure. The show was also broadcast in first-run syndication, meaning it was shown at different times on different stations and often on different days in different parts of the country. The strategy was risky but Paramount believed that enough independent stations existed and were in need of quality content by the late 80s to warrant the gamble. It paid off to say the least. Star Trek TNG won 18 Emmy Awards and routinely posted better numbers than many big network hits.

Paramount cancelled TNG after 7 seasons and 178 episodes for greedy, bottom line reasons. The show was still an enormous hit but was becoming less profitable to produce as the actors salaries increased. Not unprofitable mind you, not marginally profitable, just less profitable and Paramount had cheaper Star Trek product lined up that they hoped viewers would switch to once TNG was off air. They also thought they'd get bigger bang for their buck by using the TNG crew to make new movies. The success of the TV show, however, never translated to the big screen. In the end the details of its demise do nothing to detract from the fact that the show had a remarkable run and is still a massive syndicated hit some 17 years after it faded to black.

Front to back: Captain Picard, intergalactic floozies, various mutants