We've been watching every episode of every Star Trek series in reverse order (episodes in order, but series starting with Enterprise and ending with Kirk and his crew on the original Enterprise), and recently finished Star Trek: The Next Generation ("TNG"). TNG has some terrific episodes, and is difficult to narrow down to 5. Our rough list--which already excluded a bunch of good ones--had 12 (counting two-parters as a single episode). We narrowed it to the 5 below, but you can certainly disagree in the comments!
Data to signal himself and avoid the actions that lead to the time loop. There are probably better stories and better episodes that didn't make this list, but this one has stuck with me since I first saw it decades ago--something about the idea of being stuck in a temporal loop makes my mind reel.
Captain Picard is unconscious and lives a whole lifetime on another planet as a member of a dead civilization. He also learns to play the flute. This is a trippy episode, since Picard retains the memories of a full lifetime after coming back to his "present" reality. DS9 did an episode like this with O'Brien called Hard Time, in which he has memories implanted (or some such thing) about serving a decades-long sentence for a crime he didn't commit. He is stuck with these horrendous memories, including memories of awful things he did behind bars. But that's a different series, so The Inner Light represents here.
Doctor Who fame) as being an inspiration to him, though he's never seen the episode.
Q, time travel, Guinan, and multiple Enterprises. Retired Picard of the future is seeing visions (courtesy of Q), but everyone he tells thinks he's crazy (except Data). They indulge the old man's fantasies, talking derogatorily about him behind his back--until he turns out to be right. The best moment of the series is the end of this episode--the bridge officers are sitting around a card table for their regular game of poker. Picard walks in, accepts an invitation to play for the first time in the series, looks at each of them and says, "I should have done this years ago." He takes the cards to deal (after someone else was handling them and about to deal a game with a bunch of wild cards and crazy rules) and says, "So, five card stud, nothing's wild, and the sky's the limit." Which is the perfect line to close the series. A lot of the best episodes involved time travel, including two that didn't make the list but easily could have (Time's Arrow 1 and 2, and Yesterday's Enterprise), but this episode was perfect, so it's here, natch.
Lost in the shuffle is Lower Decks, and episode that follows some relatively unknown junior officers bucking for promotion. It's really a fantastically emotionally-driven episode, but looking back, I don't have the same attachment to it as I do to the other episodes, probably because I didn't come to know and love the characters in the same way. Anyway, that's the list--as usual, comments below and like us on Facebook!