Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 22

Shades Of Gray

Aired Unknown Jul 17, 1989 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
268 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 42976.1 Riker is infected with an alien organism that takes over his mind. Dr. Pulaski must force Riker's mind back to a state where it can access primitive survival skills.

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Who was the Episode MVP ?

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    I can't find anything redeeming about this show. In view of the strike, they should have left off with the 21st episode. I sincerely feel bad for anyone in the 1989 whose first exposure to the series was this episode. Sometimes, clipshows summarize highlights of their respective series nicely. The clips here, however, were disjointed; not dealing with key moments that would inform a new viewer of what had already come.moreless
  • One good thing...

    There is ONE good thing - actually, excellent thing - about this episode: it marks the final appearance of Dr. Katharine Pulaski. I never cared for her character, and was so glad that she was short-lived. It's too bad they couldn't have had her fall down the turbolift shaft.
  • In the words of the Comic Book Guy, "WORST EPISODE EVER!!"

    In my mind, this was the worst episode of Star Trek: TNG.

    Riker gets attacked by a plant. While in a coma, good/bad emotions make him better/worse (not sure which was which, and I really don't Clips from previous episodes are shown. I have recently become aware that there was a writer's strike, which prematurely cut the season to 22 episodes. I find it difficult to believe that this episode was written prior to the strike. Clip shows are not up to Star Trek's standards. It is more probable that they wanted to get one more episode released, so they threw together this clip show which required minimal effort on everybody's part. So, I rated this show a 2.0: Horrible when compared to other episodes, but better than having nothing.moreless
  • really bad

    and to the guy that gave this a perfect 10 because its so bad, you are a complete idiot. I hope you don't have a leadership position anywhere. You would reward people that do horrible at their work. You make it more difficult to have the good shows stand out when you give the bad ones a score like that.
  • All things considered, this should be worse....

    .... The idea behind TNG season two finale "Shades of Gray" is that Riker contracts some kind of alien infection that must be combated with survival memories - but it's really just a clip show, featuring various different scenes from TNG's worst two seasons standing in for Riker's "memories." "Shades of Gray" has a reputation for being a terrible episode and rightfully so - but it is also widely considered the worst TNG episode of all-time. I do not go quite this far. "Shades of Gray" is undoubtedly a terrible episode; a lazy, corner-cutting effort born out of the writer's strike made simply to finish off the season. However, while certainly dull and pointless, "Shades of Gray" is not quite as irritating or insulting as such true TNG bottom-dwelling episodes as "Code of Honor," "Haven" or "The Outrageous Okona." Since "Shades of Gray" is simply dull rather than unbearable, I'll put it ahead of a few others in the TNG series.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Diana Muldaur

Diana Muldaur

Dr. Katherine Pulaski

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • If you watch carefully Riker opens his eyes in the end scene when he's supposed to unconscious.

    • Three quarters of the way through the episode, Dr Kathrine Pulaski makes a Medical Log (Supplemental) entry. As she does so, although the Enterprise is supposed to be in the vicinity of a distant uncharted planet, the shot of the Enterprise in orbit clearly shows North America on the planet surface.

    • Geordi wears absolutely no protective gear when he and Data go back down to the planet to get a sample of the plant that attacked Riker.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Riker: Captain, one of the things I've learned on these voyages and so on this ship and from that most lifeforms act out of an instinct for survival--not out of malice.

    • Pulaski: I just want to be certain you still know who you are.
      Riker: Of course I know who I am - I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise.
      Picard: (joking) I'm delighted that you are feeling better, Captain. The Admiral and I were worried about you.
      Data: Captain, I do not believe you have the authority to promote me to the rank of Admiral.

    • (while Riker is scanned by a medical assistant)
      Riker: This bug is persistent, I'll admit that. But I'm not worried. We Rikers are ornery, too. As a matter of fact, my great grandfather once got bit by a rattlesnake. After three days of intense pain...snake died.

  • NOTES (5)

    • This is the only episode in the series to contain both Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) and Diana Mulder (Dr. Pulaski), although McFadden only appears in stock footage.

    • The writer's strike affected the number of episodes shot in the second season. There were only 22 episodes made while all other seasons had 26 episodes.

    • Worf (Michael Dorn) does not appear in this episode.

    • This episode marks the final appearance of Dr. Katharine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) on the series.

    • This episode developed as a means to save time and money due to the ongoing writer's strike at the time. It is (to date) the only "clip show" - an episode that showcases clips from previous stories - within any of the Trek series. Due to its strained nature, it ranks on many fans' "least favorite episodes" lists.