Star Trek: The Next Generation’s beloved android Lieutenant Commander Data features prominently in some of Star Trek’s most enduring episodes.
By Dusty Stowe, Published May 15, 2023
Star Trek: The Next Generation’s beloved android Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) features prominently in some of Star Trek’s most enduring episodes. Introduced in TNG’s first episode, “Encounter At Farpoint,” Data was an advanced artificial intelligence who longed to become more human.
Data was incredibly intelligent and physically powerful, but he struggled to comprehend human concepts like humor and was limited in his ability to process and express emotion. Spiner’s understated performance could somehow evoke laughs and tears in equal measures, easily one of the most impressive acting jobs in Star Trek history.
By Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, the show’s successful format had been established, with each episode generally focusing on one member of the ensemble cast. With the exception of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data tended to get the most spotlight episodes, as the show’s writers and producers honed in on Spiner’s magnetic performance early in the show’s run.
Data episodes ran the gamut, from two-part Borg epics to simpler stories where he tries to learn how to dance. Data is one of Star Trek’s most enduring icons, with his empathy and drive to better himself evoking the best aspects of the science fiction institution.