This is some primetime old school gatekeeping-ish ish here.
TNG is definitely the show that actually pushes the essence of Star Trek the furthest. The challenges of humanity in space, the moral conundrums brought forth by the future. You seem to define Star Trek as a campy, formulaic show defined by the star power of its three co-leads.
- If you gotta call yourself a “true” fan, you ain’t a true fan. Seriously. I’ve never seen anybody starting an argument dividing the fanbase into true and untrue fans win that argument.
- Your suggestion that the TNG characters are derivative from the TOS characters tells me you never really watched the show. Riker is the clear Kirk stand-in, yeah, but Picard has very little if anything in relation to him. In fact, he’s a polar opposite of Kirk’s character. Beverly (and Doctor Pulaski, don’t forget!) has nothing to do with Bones on any level, and Data once again, presents a completely different viewpoint than Spock, Spock tried to get rid of his humanity, Data wants to find it.
While yes, this means that some of the character traits might be influenced or inspired by TOS, these characters are still wildly different (and far more developed) to their old school counterparts.
The Next Generation actually brought in more people to the world of Star Trek than TOS ever did. It told more beautiful and nuanced stories in the world TOS created, while still keeping the spirit of the story Gene told alive, albeit in a different manner.
My dad grew up watching TOS. He loved TNG as well. I grew up with him showing me both shows. I loved both. TOS was great fun, but TNG made me who I am. Taught me empathy, made me curious about the world and asked some important questions that I still ponder on today.
Meanwhile, you sound like the bunch of snobs who said Metallica ended after Kill’em All. Congratulations. You can join them on the “I’m more fan than you” yearly tour whenever Master of Puppets or Best of Both Worlds are mentioned.
The only thing I know to be true about your Star Trek fandom is that you totally missed the point.