Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Tale of Darmok
"You knew there was a dangerous creature on this planet and you knew from the tale of Darmok that a danger shared might sometimes bring two people together. Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. You and me, here, at El-Adrel." - Captain Jean-Luc Picard to the Tamarian Captain Dathon in "Darmok"
"Darmok", written by Joe Menosky, has to be the purest distillation of what STAR TREK has always been about. In it the Enterprise meets the totally alien "Children of Tama”—and despite all of the technology at their disposal, our crew finds themselves totally incapable of understanding the Tamarian's unique language. Realizing that, the noble Captain Dathon goes to extraordinary lengths to communicate with Captain Picard. In this one episode the ethos of Starfleet and STAR TREK itself is on display. It’s hard for anyone that loves The Next Generation as much as I do to pick a "favorite" episode, but this is mine.
I don't know how many people can say that they remember the first time they watched an individual episode of their favorite series, but I remember this one. At my parents’ house, after the cold open & credits, during the first commercial break, my best friend called and simultaneously we said, "DID YOU SEE PICARD'S NEW UNIFORM?!"
We loved it instantly, and called it the PNNU-- an acronym that stands for "Picard's Nifty New Uniform." Of course, our favorite component of the new ensemble was his jacket, the PNNUJ. Not only had we been given an amazing new episode, but also a fantastic new uniform for our captain.
That uniform was an instant fan favorite and something of an icon itself. So much so that the next year, when the new line of "Next Generation" toys was launched, the first figure released was Captain Picard in his new uniform jacket (my original figure lives right here on my desk).