The continued popularity of the "Star Trek" TV series, even decades after it debuted on network television in 1966, prompted Paramount Pictures and show creator Gene Roddenberry to develop "Star Trek: The Next Generation " (TNG), a series in 178 episodes that aired from 1987 to 1994. TNG replicated the setting of the starship "Enterprise" and its mission to explore the heavens, seek out new forms of life, and "to boldly go (of course) where no man has gone before." The sequel, however, featured a new set of characters aboard the "Enterprise," and the action of TNG took place about 100 years after that of the original series. TNG was successful, so successful four more series in the franchise followed, and four feature-length TGN-based movies were released in theaters. Trekkies, the faithful fans of all things Star Trek, inspired manufacturers to offer action figures, toys, and a variety of consumer products featuring the popular characters of TNG.