Star Trek has a well-earned reputation as a progressive show. It took place in a utopian future in which all races came together on equal footing, and even featured TV’s first interracial kiss. That’s almost enough positive karma to make up for what The Next Generation did with “Code Of Honor.”
“Code Of Honor” was the fourth episode in the first season of TNG, and began with the crew of the Enterprise visiting the planet Ligon II, where they needed to pick up a vaccine from the native Ligonians. So far so good, but the Ligonians were not an exotic alien race, but a backwards, cartoonish depiction of African culture so offensive that Jonathan Frakes (Commander William Riker) referred to the episode as “a racist piece of shit.”
The Ligonians are entirely black, unlike most other multicultural civilizations seen in Star Trek. They dress in a mishmash of African attire like turbans, flowing vests, and, uh, MC Hammer pants. They also attack the Enterprise crew with poison-tipped weapons and live in a society dominated by ritual fights to the death and forced marriages. Captain Jean-Luc Picard describes them as “a few centuries behind” and something that modern man has “evolved” beyond. The first draft of the script almost certainly had a scene where the away team had to escape from a giant pot of water and vegetables.