Twenty-eight years ago, Star Trek: The Next Generation aired its first episode and brought a breath of fresh air to the Star Trek mythology, being the first series to follow the original – not including the animated series. With a new crew aboard a new USS Enterprise, Trekkies – or Trekkers, depending on your preference – were able to tune in weekly for new adventures into the final frontier.
The adventures in The Next Generation, which many consider to be the best Star Trek series, take place roughly 100 years after those of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew. Now, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is sitting in the big chair with Commander William Riker serving at his side as first officer. Similar to its predecessor, TNG provided actors from various backgrounds a place to come together for the greater good, “going where no one has gone before.”
While some of the actors’ are most known for their Star Trek work, others went on to become icons in their own right later on. Here’s a look back at what’s become of The Next Generation crew since the final episode aired in 1994.
The role that Patrick Stewart is most known for depends entirely on a person’s interests. To some, he’s known as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series. Many remember him as the guy who declared all toilets to be known as “johns.” But even as he keeps getting new roles, he’ll always be Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise. He’s currently got his own show on Starz called Blunt Talk, where he plays a British news personality trying to claim his piece of the American television pie, except he has a problem with drinking, drugs, and painting naked dudes. Stewart also has the distinct honor of being knighted in 2010.
Unlike his half-human/half-Vulcan predecessor, Spock, Commander Riker was born in the good ole’ U.S. of A(laska..?) before becoming first officer of the USS Enterprise. As far as Jonathan Frakes’ post-TNG work goes, he’s voiced David Xanatos in Gargoyles, because every cartoon needs en evil rich guy, as well as an Adult Finn in Adventure Time. He also sold his 10,000 square-foot Beverly Hills home for just under $12 million, according to the L.A. Times. He’s also put in a lot of directing work in current shows, such as Hit the Floor, Falling Skies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But, most notably, he’s directed the last two movies in The Librarians series, as well as a couple episodes from the show.
LeVar Burton has three main claims to fame from three very different areas. He was the host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow, which is now a popular educational app, he played a young Kunta Kinte in Roots, and he was Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the guy who essentially drove the ship, which is saying a lot, because he was technically blind. Burton has put in some serious directing work, as he sat in the chair for more than a dozen Star Trek episodes and is currently planning a reboot of the Roots miniseries for a younger audience, according to the New York Post.
Brent Spiner may have a thing for soaring the skies and interacting with aliens. After playing Data, an android that yearns to be more human, in TNG, he went on to most notably play Dr. Brackish Okun in Independence Day (1996) and later played Robert E. Gross in The Aviator (2004). Spiner just got just completed his work on Independence Day 2 where he is reprising his role as Dr. Okun. If you’re scratching your head, that’s okay. If my memory is correct, Dr. Okun was on the wrong end of a pretty gruesome death involving tentacles and a plate of glass. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of movie magic is responsible for this revival.
Worf, a Klingon officer that was rescued from his home after a Romulan attack, was portrayed by Michael Dorn in both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. While he filled the role of the in-between character trying to navigate a conflicting identity, he became a fan favorite for many. Dorn has lent his voice to a number of series and video games such as Family Guy, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and Infinite Crisis. He’s currently campaigning to get a series focused on Worf off the ground, according to Blastr. He also had a role in Ted 2.
Gates McFadden’s involvement with Star Trek: The Next Generation comes with an asterisk most people can’t ignore. Due to alleged contract disputes, McFadden’s character, Beverly Crusher, appeared in the first season and was written out of the entire second, only to return for the third through seventh. Outside of her Star Trek work, McFadden has made contributions to the arts in an area that just may matter most of all, production. She recently spent five years as the artistic director of the Ensemble Studio Theatre of Los Angeles, where she put on 12 productions, such as The Fisherman’s Wife, and played a large role in opening the Atwater Village Theatre Collective.
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. There are some pretty mixed feelings on Wil Wheaton’s involvement with Star Trek as Wesley, the young underdog that was always there when it counted most. However, Wheaton’s put a lot of work between himself and Wesley since then. Wheaton’s really gotten behind his passion for video games by lending his voice to some and talking about them at length with William Shatner. He’s also appeared in a long list of television shows and movies, with his most popular being The Big Bang Theory. TNG was’t his only foray into the Star Trek universe, either. He voiced some of the Romulans in J.J. Abram’s first Star Trek film.
Marina Sirtis’ portrayal of Deanna Troi was popular among fans for a couple reasons, such as her always handy ability to sense emotions as a psychologist and her relationship with Riker. Years later, she’s still waving the flag for Star Trek, but admits that her time with the series is probably done. In other news, she started an Indiegogo campaign for a pilot for a show tentatively called Internity, which will tell the story of a 50-year-old woman who becomes an intern at a hospital to get her life started again after a nasty divorce. The goal is $100,000 and has 38 days left.
John de Lancie
While he was only a recurring character, John de Lancie’s Q is a memorable one. His condescending charisma as a result of his omnipotence made him such a withstanding character. Since leaving Star Trek after appearing in both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, de Lancie has shown up in some popular roles. He played Jane’s father, Donald Margolis, in Breaking Bad and plays Discord in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. His contribution to the latter is so popular that he was the executive producer of a documentary entitled Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
We all know Whoopi. She’s the comedian, actor and producer partially responsible for bringing us The Color Purple (1985), Ghost (1990) Sister Act (1992), Hollywood Squares and many more things that made us laugh in the ’80s and ’90s. Lately, she’s been making consistent headlines as a host of The View since she joined in 2007. Apparently a life-long Star Trek fan, Goldberg was cast as Guinan, a bartender who is also reported to be the closest thing Captain Picard has to family.
Colm Meaney is one of those actors with a familiar face. That’s a result of a long career that’s made pit stops all across the map of the acting world. Meaney played Miles O’Brien, who started off as a very minor character in the first season of The Next Generation, but went on to become so popular, he’s second in the list of total appearances, only to Worf. Outside of his Star Trek business, Meaney has shown up in multiple Law & Orders, Law Abiding Citizen (2009), Con Air (1997), had a regular role in Hell on Wheels, and is reportedly in “deep talks” to portray Irish Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in a film, according to BBC.