All 5 Stаr Trek: TNG Episodes Direсted By Pаtriсk Stewаrt

Best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Patrick Stewart has also stepped behind the camera and directed some fine Star Trek: TNG episodes.



  • Patrick Stewart directed five episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with a focus on Lt. Commander Data, showcasing both his proficiency behind the camera and Brent Spiner’s talent in front of it.
  • Stewart sought advice from Jonathan Frakes, another beloved Star Trek director, for his directorial debut.
  • “A Fistful of Datas” was a comedic episode that leaned into the ridiculous aspects of TNG, utilizing Western tropes and containing genuinely funny moments.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard himself, Patrick Stewart, directed five episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since playing Commander William Riker on TNG, Jonathan Frakes has largely stepped back from acting (though he did return as Riker for Star Trek: Picard), to become a prolific director and perhaps the most beloved of the Star Trek helmers. Frakes has continued to direct not only Star Trek projects but many other episodes of television. Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, has few directing credits but continues to perform on stage and screen, as well as in voice-acting roles. While Stewart may not have taken to directing with the same zeal as Frakes, he directed five solid and enjoyable episodes of TNG.

At the recent Vulture Festival, Patrick Stewart reminded fans about his directing credits on TNG. He went on to point out how invaluable Jonathan Frakes was when it was Stewart’s turn to sit in the director’s chair. Interestingly, four of the five episodes directed by Patrick Stewart focused on Brent Spiner’s Lt. Commander Data. In his autobiography, Making It So: A Memoir, Stewart praised Spiner’s acting in particular, saying it is a “major injustice” that Spiner never won an Emmy for portraying Data. It’s fitting, then, that the episodes Stewart directed often featured Data, showing off not only Stewart’s proficiency behind the camera but also Spiner’s obvious talent in front of it.

5 In Theory

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 4, Episode 25

In Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek: The Next Generation directorial debut, Data tries his hand at romance after Lt. Jenna D’Sora (Michele Scarabelli) shows an interest in him. After Jenna kisses Data while they are working together, he seeks advice from various crew members on the ship. While Stewart’s directing is solid, as are the performances, the relationship between Data and Jenna relies too much on outdated tropes and feels like a step backward for Data’s character.

The secondary plot follows the USS Enterprise-D crew as they investigate a nebula that begins causing spatial distortions. The distortions turn out to be the result of dark matter and cause the death of Lt. Van Mayter (Georgina Shore) in what is a particularly disturbing shot. “In Theory” is a fun, if flawed, episode with some cool shots courtesy of director Patrick Stewart.

As “In Theory” was Stewart’s first time in the director’s chair, he sought advice from Jonathan Frakes, who had already directed three episodes of TNG.

4 Hero Worship

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 5, Episode 11

Star Trek TNG Hero Worship Data

Patrick Stewart’s second turn as a director is another Data-centric Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. In “Hero Worship,” a recently orphaned boy named Timothy (Joshua Harris) latches onto Data and begins acting just like him as a way to mask his feelings of grief. Data’s interactions with Timothy provide some sweet and occasionally funny moments, such as when he remarks on Timothy’s imitation of his head tilts. Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) gets to be an actual starship’s counselor in this episode, doing her best to help Timothy work through his grief. While there is nothing overly remarkable about Stewart’s directing here, “Hero Worship” is a pleasant episode that tackles some tough topics well.

3 A Fistful of Datas

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6, Episode 8

Data in Star Trek: TNG

Patrick Stewart takes on a fully comedic Star Trek episode for his third foray into the world of directing. “A Fistful of Datas” leans into the more ridiculous aspects of TNG and of holodeck stories in particular, and everyone involved seems to be having fun. As Data and Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) work to integrate Data’s systems with the Enterprise’s computer, a power surge wreaks havoc on the holodeck. As Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Counselor Tori accompany Worf’s son Alexander (Brian Bonsall) on a Western adventure in the holodeck, all of the holodeck characters suddenly look like Data and become equipped with his enhanced abilities. “A Fistful of Datas” makes use of several Western tropes to great effect and contains many genuinely funny moments.

Throughout “A Fistful of Datas,” Captain Picard tries to find a moment of peace to play the Ressikan flute he acquired in the classic TNG episode, “The Inner Light.”

2 Phantasms

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7, Episode 6

In one of TNG’s strangest episodes, Data begins experiencing bizarre dreams that start to affect him when he’s awake. In order to determine the possible meaning behind his dreams, Data speaks with Counselor Troi and even meets with a recreation of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Bernard Kates) on the holodeck. In the end, Data’s dreams have an alien cause, as it’s discovered that interphasic creatures have infested the Enterprise. Data’s dreams have apparently been trying to tell him that he can emit an interphasic pulse that can kill the creatures. “Phantasms” is another fun episode, with some truly unsettling imagery and several scenes that have become iconic in their own right.

1 Preemptive Strike

Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 7, Episode 24

Star Trek TNG Preemptive Strike Ro Laren Riker

The final Star Trek: The Next Generation episode directed by Patrick Stewart is also the only one that does not prominently feature Data. Instead, “Preemptive Strike” shifts the focus to the memorable secondary character of Lieutenant Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes). When Ro infiltrates the rebel group known as the Maquis, she begins to sympathize with their cause, eventually leaving Starfleet to join them. Michelle Forbes perfectly captures Ro’s struggles and her clear regret at disappointing Captain Picard.

The Maquis had been officially introduced on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in the season 2 two-parter “The Maquis,” and the group would go on to play a large role in the premiere of Star Trek: Voyager.

Picard would not get to confront Ro about the betrayal he felt until Ro returns in Star Trek: Picard season 3. Now a commander working with Starfleet Intelligence, Ro reaches out to Picard in an attempt to warn him that Changelings have infiltrated Starfleet Command. Ro was apparently killed in a shuttle explosion in Picard season 3, episode 5, “Imposters,” and Picard was greatly affected by the loss of his friend. Ro was one of the most interesting secondary characters on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and, considering she saw Picard as a mentor, it’s fitting that Patrick Stewart got to direct the character’s TNG send-off.

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