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Star Trek’s worst episode was due to Writers Strike, and it’s so awful

The worst Star Trek episode of all time was due to a Writers Strike. Here, we get into how it happened and the impact it had on this awful episode of TV.

Patrick Stewart as Picard in Star trek The Next Generation

Look, we all love Star Trek The Next Generation; it’s one of the best TV series of all time. But even the most ardent Star Trek fan would admit that TNG had its rough patches.

The absolute lowest of the low for the Star Trek The Next Generation cast is the season 2 episode Shades of Grey. Shades of Grey focusses on the Star Trek character Commander Riker as he suffers from an alien infection and remembers moments from his recent past while being treated by Dr Pulaski. The episode almost entirely consists of clips from previous episodes, strung together in a barely coherent order before he’s cured.

It’s absolutely awful, and there’s a reason why. Shades of Grey is as bad as it is because of the 1988 Writers Strike.

Just as with today’s ongoing 2023 Writers Strike, industry writers were withdrawing their services as part of their fight for better pay agreements and improvements to other related working conditions.

The 1988 strike remains the longest Writers Strike in history, and one of the impacts was that it cut season 2 of TNG short, reducing it to 22 episodes rather than the usual 26.

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Shades of Grey was the season 2 finale (only emphasising its awfulness) and TNG’s biggest casualty. Without the writers working on the episode it was consigned to history as the worst Star Trek episode of all time.

It all goes to show just how important writers are in the industry, and hopefully the 2023 Writers Strike is resolved more quickly than in 1988. Otherwise, we’ll be bound to get plenty more awful episodes of TV before too long.

For more on Star Trek, check out why Jonathan Frakes regrets this finale and learn more about the upcoming Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 release date. Or, swap to Star Trek movies and learn about Star Trek 4 and Section 31 before reading our ranking of the Star Trek captains.