Top 10 Data Moments in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’

Happy birthday to Brent Spiner, best known for playing the android Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the TNG films. To celebrate, here are 10 of my favorite moments featuring the son of Soong.

Explore more of Star Trek fandom with three documentaries, streaming free on Tubi:

Trekkies: Denise Crosby of Star Trek: The Next Generation hosts this often hilarious documentary about the Star Trek fan-nomenon.

Trekkies 2: In the sequel to Trekkies, the filmmakers will visit Star Trek fans abroad, among them a man who is the self-avowed Spock of Germany and a Londoner who transformed his flat into a starship and put it up for auction on eBay for $2 million. The film will also check in on some of those who were originally profiled seven years earlier to see what they are doing now.

Trek Nation: This tribute follows Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, as he explores the deep impact of his father’s singular vision for the future. Through interviews with fans, including George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Seth MacFarlane, and many notable Star Trek alums, Trek Nation chronicles a son’s journey to discover his father’s work that helped define science fiction.

1. Riker’s Card Trick in “Legacy”

The literal throwaway moment makes this scene great–as do Marina Sirtis’s reactions. Underestimate Data at your own peril, Commander Riker.

2. Everything in “The Measure of a Man”

I get verklempt just thinking about this hour of television, which is a bright spot in the early years of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a fine showcase for Patrick Stewart, but it also has some great work from Spiner.

3. Things You Couldn’t Say on Television in “Star Trek: Generations”

Even in the midst of this intense, sad moment (pour one out for the Enterprise-D), I remember my theater erupting into laughter and cheers. The “I hate this. It is revolting” moment from earlier in the film is a close runner-up.

4. “Ode to Spot” in “Schisms”

How many takes do you think the notoriously playful cast had to go through before nailing this one? Spiner’s recitation of poetry is perfect, as is Jonathan Frakes’ snoring and clapping.

5. Data’s Death in Star Trek: Nemesis

Sob. Data’s sacrifice for Captain Picard and the Enterprise just slays me. It’s an incredibly human moment for the android–and the audience.

6. Fully Functional in “Naked Now”

The earlier moment between Data and Tasha Yar is a favorite, but this follow-up is an early highlight for the character and actor. The pauses are what get me.

7. Dance Lesson in “Data’s Day”

As evidenced by its name, the whole episode is a showcase for Spiner and his character, but I’m particularly partial to this dance scene. Spiner is a great physical comedian, and he and Gates McFadden play particularly well off each other here.

8. Data and Spock Meet in “Unification, Part II”

The meeting of two logical beings is such a moment of pure glee for viewers. Data’s role in TNG fills the Spock void in the series, and seeing them interact is fan service that works exactly as well as we all want it to, especially since they’re talking about being human.

9. Lal’s Death in “The Offspring”

Most of Spiner’s best moments are comedic, but this is an incredibly moving scene. Don’t mind me, I’m just crying, watching this at my desk in the middle of the day.

10. Q’s Going-Away Present in “Deja Q”

Let’s go out on a happy note. My favorite moment in one of my favorite episodes. I should keep this bookmarked for days where I’m feeling sad because it’s impossible not to guffaw right along with Data here.

What are your favorite moments featuring Data? Explore more of the Star Trek universe with Trekkies, Trekkies 2, and Trek Nation, all streaming free on Tubi.

Updated to add new Tubi films.