In the entirety of Star Trek canon, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “The Inner Light” remains one of the franchise's most memorable stories and it turns out the episode almost had a sequel.
“The Inner Light” was written by Morgan Gendel. The episode saw Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Steward) transported into a simulated reality after being struck by an energy beam from an alien probe. Picard lived for decades in that reality, falling in love with a woman named Eline and marrying her while working to try to try to prevent the destruction of their planet,
Considering how life-altering these events would be, Gendel was somewhat disappointed that the episode is rarely referenced again beyond Picard occasionally playing the Ressikan flute, a skill and an instrument that were acquired during his time on Kataan. However, it turns out Gendel did pitch a sequel to “The Inner Light.”
“In my pitch, the Enterprise comes across a ship that’s in the same shape as the probe, so they know it’s something familiar,” Gendel tells Nerdist. “And
Gendel continues, “to an extent, this was like an interactive video game, but they had to be played by real people. So at the last
While the pitch for the sequel was never turned into an episode, Gendel did have the idea turned into an online graphic novel titled “The Outer Light.”
The plot of "The Inner Light" was also nearly very different, as Gendel's original idea involved several more crew members.
“So my original concept was ‘what if the Enterprise comes across something very strange, like a probe, and next thing you know, Picard, Riker and Ro Laren would find themselves on another planet. And my concept was an ancient, yet futuristic, version of the Fuji Blimp, that could essentially advertise TV commercials right into your brain that would make you feel like you’re living an experience,” says Gendel. “A lot of people thought that the impetus of this episode was Picard’s whole ‘the life not taken’ emotional journey, but in this instance, the ‘tech’ part of the story came first, before the emotional arc of Picard. Since then we’ve had a lot of theater of the mind movies, like The Matrix, but at the time there wasn’t a whole lot of that.”
"The Inner Light" remains a standout episode in the vast Star Trek franchise.