Jean-Luc Picard is one of Star Trek's most legendary captains, but the man has a long,
complicated history with the USS Enterprise and its crew. If you want the lowdown on his
story, then here’s Picard’s entire timeline explained.
A lot of what we know about Jean-Luc Picard's childhood comes from "Family," an episode
early in the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Jean-Luc, traumatized
from his time assimilated into the Borg Collective, returns to his childhood home in France.
Jean-Luc and his older brother Robert helped their father take care of the family's vineyards,
but it didn't take long for Jean-Luc to figure out that his path led to the stars. He soon
gained a reputation as an overachiever, becoming a sports champion as well as valedictorian
of his high school.
"Never sought president of the school, valedictorian, athletic hero with your arms raised in victory?"
Against his father's wishes, Jean-Luc left for Starfleet Academy as soon as the opportunity
arose, though it took him two attempts before his application was accepted.
In the sixth season's "Tapestry," we learn the event at Starfleet Academy that left the
deepest mark on him. After getting into a brawl with a group of Nausicaans over a game
of dom-jot, Picard was stabbed through the heart. He survived the injury, but he was
left with an artificial organ in his heart's place.
We don't have many details about Picard's Picard's post-Academy life before he got command
of his own ship. We learn in the second season episode "The Measure of a Man" that he once
served aboard the USS Reliant, but more is known about his time aboard the USS Stargazer.
There, Picard started as a bridge officer, but he made his way up the ranks the old-fashioned
way, being the highest ranked officer left alive in the middle of a battle.
Jean-Luc commanded the Stargazer for two decades, until he and the surviving crew were forced
to abandon the vessel after a battle with a Ferengi ship.
"Who are they? Identify them."
"They're turning for a third pass at us, sir! We can't take another hit, Captain!"
That final battle led to the "Picard Maneuver" being coined for the unorthodox move Jean-Luc
made to destroy the enemy vessel.
More personally relevant to Picard was his friendship with Jack Crusher aboard the Stargazer.
Jack was the late husband of Beverly Crusher and father to Wesley, both of whom wind up
serving aboard the Enterprise. It's Picard who, while commanding the Stargazer, sent
Jack Crusher on an away mission that led to his death.
When we meet Picard in the Next Generation series premiere, he's already taken command
of his famous ship. His orders send him to Deneb IV:
"Beyond which lies the great, unexplored mass of the galaxy."
On the way there, the Enterprise has its first fateful meeting with the trickster, god-like
With a few short breaks here and there, Picard remains in command of the Enterprise-D until
its destruction in 1994's Star Trek: Generations.
He and his stalwart crew get to explore quite a bit of that "great, unexplored mass," and
along the way, they encounter aliens both benevolent and hostile, including the fan-favorite
In the season two episode "Q-Who?," the deceitful Q uses his powers to send the Enterprise deep
into unexplored parts of the galaxy where they encounter the Borg for the first time.
The Borg act as a single collective mind and rebuff all attempts at communication in favor
of seeking to overpower the Enterprise. Although they're eventually returned to Federation
space, it's clear the crew hasn't seen the last of the Borg.
"Since they're aware of your existence…"
"They will be coming."
The Borg re-emerge in the two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds," when they kidnap Picard
and assimilate him into their collective. Picard is eventually rescued, and it proves
the Borg's Achilles' heel as his connection to the collective allows Data to command the
invaders to sleep. But it's clear Picard is severely traumatized by the experience.
This wouldn't be Picard's last encounter with the Borg, however. In "I, Borg," the Enterprise
crew rescue a Borg who's somehow capable of independent thought. They meet him again in
the two-part "Descent" as the leader of a group of liberated Borg resisting the control
of Data's twin brother, Lore.
And finally, Picard would be forced to confront the Borg and his overwhelming need for vengeance
against them in 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, when the aliens attempt to assimilate the
Federation by going back in time before the Federation's founding.
One of the most interesting relationships on Star Trek: The Next Generation is the kinship
that develops between Picard and the android Data. By the end of the series and the subsequent
films, it's clear Picard holds the android close to his heart. He sees Data as, at the
very least, a close friend. However, at times their connection doesn't seem all that different
than that between a father and a son.
Picard reveals part of his fascination with, and admiration for, Data in the second season
episode "The Measure of a Man." Data attempts to resign his commission so that an insistent
Starfleet scientist can't run experiments on him which will wipe out his memory. The
scientist argues Data, as a machine, doesn't have the right to resign his commission, and
Picard assumes the difficult task of proving that Data is a sentient being with the right
to make his own choices and not be subjected to anyone else's ownership. Picard famously
tells the presiding judge:
"Your Honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life. Well, there it sits."
Data is tragically forced to sacrifice himself at the end of the final Next Generation film,
2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, though it's hinted he could return in a new form.
When Picard is appointed as "arbiter of succession" by the dying Klingon chancellor K'mpec, he
helps alter the course of the Klingon Empire. As arbiter, Picard's job is to weigh the worth
of the two challengers, Gowron and Duras. By the end of season four's "Reunion," K'mpec
is dead, and no new chancellor has been officially announced.
Things get even more complicated when Worf, claiming vengeance for the death of his mate
K'Ehleyr at Duras' hands, transports over to Duras' ship and kills him.
Picard finally announces Gowron as the rightful chancellor. But two Klingon sisters from the
House of Duras appear with a boy named Toral, who they claim is the son of Duras and should
therefore be considered a challenger in the rite. Picard later confirms Toral is the son
of Duras, but that he is too young and inexperienced to be considered chancellor.
The decision pushes the Klingon Empire into open civil war. Eventually, the House of Duras'
conspiracy with the Romulans is exposed, and Gowron presides over a reunited empire. As
an added benefit, Worf and his house are redeemed in the eyes of his people.
In spite of their respective series being separated by two decades, Jean-Luc Picard
proves to be an important figure in the life of Spock.
The first time Picard significantly touches Spock's life is in the third season's "Sarek."
Spock himself doesn't appear, but his father Sarek boards the Enterprise to negotiate a
trade deal with the Legarans. Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Sarek suffers from
a rare degenerative disorder that causes his emotions to run wild. Picard agrees to a mind
meld, so that Sarek can maintain enough control to continue with the negotiations.
"My mind to your mind."
In the two-part "Unification," Picard comes face-to-face with Spock himself. He's sent
to Romulus to find Spock because Starfleet fears the Vulcan may have defected to their
rivals. Instead, Picard learns Spock is involved in secret negotiations with the hopes of bringing
the Vulcan and Romulan people back together.
By the end of the two-parter, Sarek finally succumbs to his illness, and "Unification"
ends with a compassionate and tender gesture on Picard's part. He allows Spock to mind
meld with him, so that Spock may connect with the parts of his father that Picard had experienced.
Of all the Star Trek series of the past six decades, none can boast as inventive or satisfying
a finale as "All Good Things…," the final episode of The Next Generation. Q causes Picard
to jump both backwards and forwards in time, so that the story takes place in the present,
past, and decades in the future, where Picard is an older man suffering from a degenerative
Picard's trips to the future are particularly difficult. With future versions of Beverly
Crusher, Data, and Geordi La Forge all aware of his condition, it makes it that much more
challenging to convince anyone in that time that he is actually experiencing what he says
"I know what you're thinking. It's the Irumodic Syndrome. 'He's beginning to lose his mind,
the old man.' Well, it's not that. And I'm not daydreaming either."
None of the TNG movies hinted towards the illness beginning to emerge, and the future
of the episode was only one possible timeline. But with a much older Jean-Luc appearing in
Star Trek: Picard, it's possible the syndrome may finally rear its ugly head.
When the Next Generation crew gets on the big screen for the first time in 1994's Star
Trek: Generations, it sadly comes with the death of William Shatner's Captain Kirk. And
unfortunately, Jean-Luc Picard suffers some much more personal losses, both in the beginning
and at the end of the game-changing film.
Early in Generations, the Enterprise's empathic counselor Deanna Troi senses something is
terribly wrong, and when she finds Captain Picard flipping through a photo album, Jean-Luc
reveals he's just received news that his brother Robert and his family have been killed in
a fire. Without a wife or children of his own, the loss has Picard lamenting on the
likelihood that he'll be the last one in his family line.
"I've come to feel that Rene was as close as I would get to having a child of my own."
By the end of the movie, Picard loses the Enterprise itself. The ship barely survives
a battle with a Klingon Bird of Prey run by the villainous sisters Lursa and B'Etor. The
crew evacuates to the ship's saucer section, which crashes on the surface of Veridian III.
Thankfully, as Picard predicts, the Enterprise-D won't be the last ship to carry the name Enterprise.
The final big screen appearance of Jean-Luc Picard comes with 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis.
The Enterprise is sent to Romulus to meet the Romulan Empire's new leader, who we soon
learn has an unexpected connection to Picard. As it turns out, Praetor Shinzon is a clone
of Jean-Luc. The Romulans cloned the captain in hopes of one day replacing him with their
own identical agent, but when one of the empire's many power shifts took place, the clone was
sent to a labor colony with the enslaved people of Remus.
Shinzon lures Picard to Romulus because the cloning process that created him is now killing
him, and his only potential cure is a complete blood transfusion with Picard. Ultimately,
Shinzon's plans to kill Picard and destroy the Federation are foiled, and the clone villain
dies fighting his older counterpart.
On top of all that, Nemesis includes huge shifts in Picard's life, including the loss
of Riker as his "number one." We learn early in the film that Riker is finally taking the
captain's chair on the USS Titan, and his new wife, Deanna Troi, is coming with him.
Picard means for Data to replace Riker as his first officer, but the android sacrifices
himself to save his friends in the final battle.
In anticipation of Star Trek: Picard, IDW released the prequel mini-series Star Trek:
Picard, Countdown. The story takes place six years after the events of Nemesis and 14 years
Picard is an admiral commanding the USS Verity. Romulus' star is close to going supernova,
and the Romulan Empire abandons some of its usual paranoia and secrecy for Starfleet's
help. Unfortunately, complications arise when Picard travels to the Romulan city of Yuyat
Beta. The Romulans there have enslaved the native population and neglected to tell Starfleet
because, in the words of one of the colony's Romulan leaders:
"Evacuating them would be as ridiculous as evacuating the rocks and trees."
When Picard refuses to relocate the Romulans without the natives, the colony's leaders
take him and his first officer prisoner.
Countdown gives us a chance to see Raffi Musiker, the irreverent first officer who insists on
referring to Picard as "JL", in action as Picard's second-in-command during the Romulan
evacuation. We also meet the Romulans Zhaban and Laris while they're still Tal Shiar agents,
and it's revealed exactly how they eventually come to work for and live with Picard.
Years before the events of Star Trek: Picard, the titular hero convinces the Federation
to help the Romulans evacuate their home star system because of an impending supernova.
The Federation pulls out of the evacuation after a band of rogue synthetics attacks Mars,
and Picard resigns from Starfleet in protest. Fourteen years later, we find Picard still
mourning the loss of Data and utterly disillusioned with Starfleet and the Federation.
"The galaxy was mourning, burying its dead, and Starfleet slunk from its duties!"
After a young woman named Dahj approaches Picard for help, the former captain of the
Enterprise finds himself back in the thick of things. He's embroiled in a conspiracy
involving an ancient secret Romulan cabal and scientist Bruce Maddox, who tried and
failed to get permission to use Data as a lab rat.
While he no longer has the Enterprise at his command, Picard blasts off into the void with
a new band of friends who redefine the word "ragtag." And while they're not in his crew
anymore, we get the chance to see old friends like Data, Riker, Troi, and even Star Trek:
Voyager's Seven of Nine.
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