Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard is a character in the Star Trek franchise, most-often seen as the captain of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). Played by Patrick Stewart, Picard has appeared in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as the feature films Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). Picard is to feature as the central character in the forthcoming show Star Trek: Picard.

Jean-Luc Picard
Star Trek character
Stewart as Picard in 1996's First Contact
First appearance
Created byGene Roddenberry
Portrayed by
OriginLa Barre, France

Casting and design

After the success of the contemporary Star Trek feature films, a new Star Trek television series featuring a new cast was announced on October 10, 1986.[1] Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry named Picard for one or both of the twin brothers Auguste Piccard and Jean Piccard, 20th-century Swiss scientists.[2][3]

Patrick Stewart, who has a background of theatre at the Royal Shakespeare Company,[4] was initially considered for the role of Data.[5] Roddenberry did not want to cast Stewart as Picard, since he had envisioned an actor who was "masculine, virile, and had a lot of hair".[6] Roddenberry's first choice was Stephen Macht, and it took "weeks of discussion" with Robert H. Justman, Rick Berman, and the casting director to convince him that "Stewart was the one they had been looking for to sit in the captain's chair"; Roddenberry agreed after auditioning every other candidate for the role.[6][7] The other actors considered included Yaphet Kotto, Patrick Bauchau, Roy Thinnes and Mitchell Ryan.[8]

Stewart was uncertain why the producers would cast 'a middle-aged bald English Shakespearean actor' as captain of the Enterprise.[9] He had his toupee delivered from London to meet with Paramount executives, but Roddenberry ordered Stewart to remove the "awful looking" hairpiece. Stewart's stentorian voice impressed the executives, who immediately approved the casting.[6] Roddenberry sent Stewart C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, saying the Picard character was based on Hornblower,[10] but Stewart was already familiar with the character, having read the books as a teenager.[11]

As the series progressed, Stewart exercised more control over the character's development. By the time production began on the first Next Generation film, "it was impossible to tell where Jean-Luc started and Patrick Stewart ended",[10] and by the fourth film, Stewart stated:

I find myself talking a lot about Picard and one of the things that I've come to understand is that as I talk a lot about Picard what I find is I’m talking about myself.

There was a sort of double action that occurred. In one sense Picard was expanding like this and at the same time he was also growing closer and closer to me as well and in some respect I suppose even had some influence on me. I became a better listener than I ever had been as a result of playing Jean Luc Picard because it was one of the things that he does terrifically well.[11]

However, Stewart stated that he is not nearly as serious or brooding as his alter ego.[12]

Stewart also stated, "One of the delights of having done this series and played this role is that people are so attracted to the whole idea of Star Trek... several years after the series has ended... I enjoy hearing how much people enjoyed the work we did... It's always gratifying to me that this bald, middle-aged Englishman seems to connect with them".[12] Stewart has commented that his role has helped open up Shakespeare to science fiction fans. He has noted the "regular presence of Trekkies in the audience" whenever he plays theater, and added: "I meet these people afterwards, I get letters from them and see them at the stage door... And they say, 'I've never seen Shakespeare before, I didn't think I'd understand it, but it was wonderful and I can't wait to come back.'"[13]

Announcement of new series

A new Star Trek series was announced by CBS All Access, Alex Kurtzman and Patrick Stewart in July 2018. Stewart has been cast to reprise his role as Picard.[14] The series is set to release on January 23, 2020 under the title Star Trek: Picard.[15]


Jean-Luc Picard was introduced on television in 1987, in the debut episode "Encounter at Farpoint" of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In this science fiction television show, he is the captain of a manned spacecraft of the fictional organization Starfleet as it visits various exoplanets and aliens. It is set in the late 24th century, and Jean-Luc must balance the challenges of people and technology. As a character in the Star Trek franchise, Picard appears in various books, comics, computer games, and films throughout the 1990s and a variety of merchandise. He is portrayed as being deeply moved by a desire to explore the universe and with a strong sense of duty, however he has misgivings about not having a family. The close-knit crew of the Enterprise provides his main friendships as they take on the Galaxy. Some of his interests, as presented by show include space exploration, Shakespeare, archeology, and Earl Grey tea.

Famous episodes featuring the Jean-Luc Picard character include "Best of Both Worlds" (Parts I & Part II), "Yesterday's Enterprise", "Family", "All Good Things...", and "Inner Light".[16] Actor Patrick Stewart noted of the character "During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how ‘The Next Generation’ brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership..."[14]

Television series and films

Jean-Luc Picard was born to Maurice and Yvette Picard in La Barre, France, on 13 July 2305. As a child, he dreamed of joining Starfleet.[17] He and the rest of his family speak English, with English accents—the French language having become obscure by the 24th century, as mentioned in the Next Generation episode "Code of Honor". Picard also has a number of British habits, including the regular consumption of Earl Grey tea, a fondness for Shakespeare, which he performs in holodeck simulations, riding horses with English tack and a knowledge of such British songs with Royal Navy associations as "A British Tar" (Gilbert and Sullivan) and "Heart of Oak". The young Picard failed his first Starfleet Academy entrance exam, and, upon admission, met with numerous ethical/scholastic difficulties during his cadet career, but went on to flourish, developing a lifelong passion for archaeology, and he became the first freshman to win the Academy marathon.[17] Shortly after graduation, Picard was stabbed in the heart by a Nausicaan, leaving the organ irreparable and requiring replacement with a parthenogenetic implant; this would prove near-fatal later.[17] Picard eventually served as first officer aboard the USS Stargazer, which he later commanded.[17] During that time, he performed a warp-speed battle tactic that would become known as the Picard Maneuver.[17]

Depicted as deeply moral, highly logical, and intelligent, Picard is a master of diplomacy and debate who resolves seemingly intractable issues between multiple, sometimes implacable parties with a Solomon-like wisdom. Though such resolutions are usually peaceful, Picard is also shown using his remarkable tactical cunning in situations when it is required. Picard has a fondness for detective stories, Shakespearean drama, and archeology. He is frequently shown drinking Earl Grey tea and issuing the order, "Make it so", or, "Engage".

Star Trek: The Next Generation depicts Picard's command of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D).[18] The pilot episode shows the ship's mission to investigate a problem at Farpoint Station, which becomes sidetracked when an entity known as Q makes Picard "representative" in a trial charging humanity with being a "dangerously savage child-race".[18] Picard persuades Q to test humanity, and Q chooses as the test's first stage the crew's performance at Farpoint.[18] The trial "ends" seven years later (when Q reminds Picard that it never does), in the series finale, when humanity is absolved by Picard's demonstration that the species has the capacity to explore the "possibilities of existence".[18]

The third-season finale, "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I", depicts Picard being assimilated by the Borg to serve as a bridge between humanity and the Borg (renamed Locutus of Borg); Picard's assimilation and recovery are a critical point in the character's development, and provided backstory for the film Star Trek: First Contact and the development of Benjamin Sisko, the protagonist of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[18][19] Stewart asked Roddenberry to keep Picard a Borg for a few more episodes beyond the third-season finale, as he thought that would be more interesting than simply restoring Picard in Part II.[5] It is later revealed in First Contact that parts of Borg machinery were removed from inside Picard, but that he retains traumatic memories and lingering neurological aftereffects of assimilation (which become a pivotal plot twist in Star Trek: First Contact).

The fourth-season episode "Family" reveals that Picard has a brother, Robert, who took charge of the family vineyards in La Barre after Picard joined Starfleet. Robert and his wife have a young son, René. In the film Star Trek Generations, Picard is devastated to learn that Robert and René have both died in a fire, and worse, the loss makes him the last of the Picard family.

Picard joins forces with the 23rd-century Enterprise captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek Generations to fight the film's villain Dr. Tolian Soran. Commanding the new USS Enterprise-E (after the Enterprise-D is destroyed in Generations), Picard again confronts the Borg in First Contact. Later, he defends the Prime Directive and fights the forced relocation of the Ba'ku in Star Trek: Insurrection, and encounters Shinzon, a Romulan-made clone of himself, in Star Trek: Nemesis.

In a trailer for Star Trek: Picard, a voice narrates that a once Admiral Picard, commanded "the greatest rescue armada in history.", some 15 years prior and has since left Starfleet. [20]

Development in non-canon works

In novels by Pocket Books, Picard has married Beverly Crusher, and they have a son named René Jacques Robert François Picard. Jean-Luc also corresponds regularly with Marie, his sister-in-law, who still maintains the family vineyards. As of 2385 in the novel miniseries Star Trek: The Fall, Picard remains as commanding officer of the Enterprise-E.

In the comics miniseries Star Trek: Countdown, a prequel to the Star Trek reboot (2009), Picard is depicted as having retired from Starfleet and becoming Federation Ambassador to Vulcan. In 2387, he works with Data, the new commanding officer of the Enterprise-E, Ambassador Spock, and the Romulan miner Nero to save the Romulan Star Empire from a cataclysmic supernova. He is present aboard the Enterprise as it confronts Nero, who has gone mad and begun killing non-Romulans after they fail to save Romulus. The Enterprise arrives too late to aid Ambassador Spock against Nero, believing both Spock and Nero to have been consumed by the artificial black hole that Spock created.

The PC video game Star Trek: Hidden Evil (1999) included voice acting by Brent Spiner as Data and Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard,[21] with the plot a follow-up from the ninth Star Trek film Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) which also starred both actor-character combinations.[21] Patrick Stewart also voiced Picard and Locutus for the year 2000 computer game Star Trek: Armada.[22]


Captain Kirk was the man of action right down to the very end. They had him off punching out the bad guy... and meantime they had Captain Picard as the intellectual trying to dismantle the missile by doing it through the computer screen... That was Kirk versus Picard, right there in a nutshell.

Dan Cray, Los Angeles Times, on Star Trek: Generations[23]

The character received critical acclaim among fans of The Next Generation, and he is usually considered one of the top two captains in the Star Trek franchise – there are often lengthy and serious debates over whether Picard or James T. Kirk is the "best" Starfleet captain. A 1991 TV Guide cover story was titled "It's Kirk vs. Picard: Experts and fans debate who's best".[24] In a more lighthearted take on the debate, the cover of a 1994 Mad magazine Star Trek special features both Kirk and Picard wrestling childishly to fit into the Enterprise's captain's chair, while Scotty and Worf watch their respective commanders with looks of astonishment.[25] Picard is deemed the ultimate delegator of authority, knowing "how to gather and use data better than any other Star Trek captain". His leadership style "is best suited to a large, process-centric, either geographically identical or diverse team".[26] Kirk and Picard are considered to be attentive to the needs of their respective crews.[27] When Stewart and William Shatner were asked in 1991 how their characters would have dealt with Saddam Hussein, Shatner stated that Kirk would "have told him to drop dead" while Stewart joked that Picard "would still be talking".[28]

In 2015, Stewart addressed a long-asked conundrum among Star Trek fans, "If Kirk and Picard fought each other, who would win?" in Smithsonian magazine, by saying Picard would prefer to negotiate in the hope of avoiding a fight altogether.

UGO Networks listed Picard as one of their best heroes in entertainment, saying, "He doesn't have Kirk's sense of panache, but he did have a tendency to take everything really, really seriously for years".[29] He also became a sex symbol.[30][31]

Jean-Luc Picard finished up as Captain of the Enterprise on television with "All Good Things...", which was watched by over 30 million viewers.[32] TNG was the most-watched Star Trek show to date, with a peak audience of 11.5 million during its fifth season prior to the launch of DS9. Between 1988 and 1992 it picked up half a million to a million additional viewers per year.[33] However, starting in the 6th season there was a slow decline in Star Trek viewership that continued almost unabated until both the film and television empires ground to a halt.[33] Neither Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or the film series were quite able to recapture that the rise of Picard's tenure on the Enterprise 1701-D which proved ephemeral.[33] One factor was it began to face an extraordinary amount of competition from other space science fiction shows, as well as the loss or departure of many of the show's guiding inspirations including Roddenberry who had died in 1991.[34]

In 2012, IGN ranked the character Captain Picard, as depicted in the next generation series and films, as the 3rd top character of the Star Trek universe, behind Spock and Kirk in first and second place respectively.[35] In 2017, IndieWire ranked Picard as the number one best character on Star Trek:The Next Generation.[36] In 2017, Screen Rant ranked Picard the number one most attractive person in the Star Trek universe, ahead of Nyota Uhura (#2), Benjamin Sisko (#3), and Seven of Nine (#4).[37]

In 2018, Screen Rant ranked Picard as one of the top 8 most powerful characters of Star Trek, remarking that Picard is "Played with trademark charm and gravitas by Patrick Stewart."[38]

In 2018, CBR ranked Picard the second best Starfleet character of Star Trek.[39]

In 2019, Jean-Luc Picard was ranked the 8th sexiest Star Trek character by SyFy.[40] In July 2019, Screen Rant ranked Picard the 6th smartest character of Star Trek.[41]

Other actors

The character of Jean-Luc Picard has also been portrayed by:


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    25:30 Ira Flatow: Elizabeth on the Jersey Turnpike; hi Elizabeth. Are you there?
    25:34 Elizabeth: Oh hi, thank you for having me…

    25:59 EP: My name is Elizabeth Picard, and I just wanted to say, I come from a line of physicists and scientists, my grandfather Jean-Felix Piccard was, um, went into space in the stratosphere with my grandmother piloting him, and he knew Einstein well…

    27:15 Arthur Giron: How did it happen that your mother went into space with your father?
    27:18 EP: My grandfather, actually…
    27:20 AG: Your grandfather,…
    27:20 EP: [overtalk] My grandmother…
    27:21 AG: [overtalk] tell us about that…
    27:20 EP: [inaudible]…
    27:20 IF: Was that Jean-Luc Picard?
    27:24 EP: Well, actually, there's a connection, um, Roddenberry was a fan of my grandfather's, as a child, and, he named the character Jean-Luc instead of Jean Piccard; he told my sister [that it was] because he didn't want to pay the family money because his name was Jean-Felix, so, um, so I guess there was a connection.
    27:41 …
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