The Five Worst Times to Be a Child on the Enterprise-D
As a kid, there was nothing cooler to me than the Enterprise. All I wanted was to get beamed aboard and wander the ship. I’m sure most fans who got into the series as children feel that way too. For me, that feeling has honestly never gone away.
Yet, as much as childhood me wanted to be there, I’m not sure the actual children in the show felt that way. In fact, I’m positive a lot of them hated it, and that some of them were even traumatized.
Although the Enterprise is a great place for adults who want to explore the universe, it’s not so great for kids. I’ve been in a TNG mood for the last few months, and it has children on the ship by choice. It’s because of all this that I’m going to rank the five worst times to be a child on the Enterprise-D.
Number Five: The Time a Kid Almost Died Because Data Took Over the Ship
Season four’s “Brothers” is not the most memorable episode ever, but it’s fascinating to see how easily Data can take over the ship. If I was at Starfleet HQ and saw Picard’s log, I’d have some serious concerns about ship security.
“Brothers”, in case you haven’t seen it in a while, is the one where Data takes over the Enterprise because Dr. Soong’s homing signal called him to a nearby planet. Normally, this wouldn’t be too concerning, but young Willie Potts has been infected and will die, without immediate treatment at Starbase 416. Potts ate a deadly fruit while on sci-fi-sounding planet Ogus II, after his brother Jake played a practical joke on him. (I thought he ate this on the Enterprise, but Memory Alpha corrected me. Thanks, MA!)
This situation has to be super scary for Willie, Jake, their parents, Picard, Crusher, and all the other kids on the ship. I can only imagine that word spread about Willie’s condition, so other kids are no doubt aware that Willie almost died. Therefore, this means that not only do the kids on the ship know they could die at any moment, but they also know that someone could take over the ship while they’re on their way for medical treatment. That’s got to be horrifying knowledge as a kid… but still not the worst thing to ever happen on the Enterprise.
Number Four: The Time They Hit a Quantum Filament
While ”Brothers” is not the most amazing episode, season five’s “Disaster” is undeniably one of the best, and one that I would consider essential viewing. The episode, as the name suggests, is all about a ship-wide disaster.
After hitting a quantum filament, the ship experiences severe damage, power loss, and other exciting things while our heroes try to save the day. Picard is trapped in a turbolift with three children who won at the ship’s primary school science fair. The children are terrified, and Picard is terrified of being trapped with children.
The episode (which also features Keiko O’Brien giving birth to her daughter, Molly) does a fantastic job of showing us how children might experience TNG, and what life is like for them on the Enterprise. Not only is the situation incredibly scary, but I’m sure the kids know that this kind of thing can happen again, at any time, with no warning. Obviously, their parents told them it won’t, but kids are pretty smart. Still, as with “Brothers”, this isn’t the most terrifying thing to happen to them.
Number Three: That Time No-One Could Dream and Everyone Went Crazy
This next one on the list is what I would consider to be TNG’s first pure horror episode: season four’s “Night Terrors”. It’s the one where the crew can’t dream and they start hallucinating. It’s also the episode where Troi experiences some horrifying nightmares and some shoddy special effects.
The episode doesn’t mention the children, but one can imagine they started hallucinating as well and were no doubt traumatized by what they were seeing. It also doesn’t help that they didn’t have any idea why that was happening. But fear not, kids; this isn’t the worst thing you’re going to experience.
Number Two: The Time the Crew Turned Into Monsters
In the number two spot is a season seven episode: “Genesis”. In this episode, Dr. Crusher inadvertently activates some wild DNA which causes everyone to de-evolve into horrifying creatures. It also features my all-time favourite Worf line: “Do not approach me unannounced, especially when I am eating.” Luckily, Picard and Data are able to find a solution, and everyone is saved.
Again, I ask, “What about the children?” While everyone’s in Sickbay chitchatting about the events, no-one mentions the kids and what they went through.
It doesn’t seem like people remembered their time as monsters, but I imagine the kids must have some memory of being changed and certainly must be scarred for life. Sadly, this isn’t even the worst experience for them, but thankfully it’s the last… well, at least until the Enterprise crashes on a planet.
Number One: The Time the Children Were Kidnapped
Finally, in the number one spot is no-one’s favourite season one episode, “When the Bough Breaks”. In this episode, all the kids on the ship are kidnapped by a mysterious alien race that can’t have kids of their own. The parents are horrified, and the kids seem kind of upset… but not really. There’s also this one really young kid who ran away from calculus, which seemed odd, given his age. But hey, maybe all kids are super smart on Trek?! Anyway, Wesley and the crew save the day. Everyone’s happy, and Troi even remarks that the aliens will make great parents.
Though I’m not a parent, I think kidnapping a kid makes you a bad parent… but that isn’t the point. The point is that as many as seven children were kidnapped from the ship, only sixteen episodes into the show. That’s a problem!
Since this is a top five listing, some things didn’t make the list even though they were also traumatic. For example, special mention goes to the kids who met their doom aboard exploding Enterprises in episodes such as “Cause and Effect” and “All Good Things…”; neither of them made the list because they were in alternate timelines that the characters didn’t retain any memory of, aside from Picard in “All Good Things…”.
When I was writing this article, I had a hard time deciding between “Genesis” and “When the Bough Breaks”. If you have to decide if being kidnapped is worse for children than being turned into a monster, you know you have a serious problem. On this lovely note, hug your kids, tell them you love them, and never take them on the Enterprise!