Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart
Species Human
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Position Commanding Officer
Rank Captain
Father Maurice Picard
Mother Yvette Gessard
Portrayed by Patrick Stewart
First appearance "Encounter at Farpoint" (TNG)

Jean-Luc Picard (/ʒɑːnˌlk pˌkɑːrd/) is a fictional character in the Star Trek franchise. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and the feature films Star Trek: Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). He also made a guest appearance in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which began its seven-year run during the sixth season of TNG. He is most notably portrayed by actor Patrick Stewart.

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 Felix 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] Stewart himself was uncertain why the producers would cast "a middle-aged bald English Shakespearean actor" as captain of the Enterprise.[8] 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,[9] but Stewart was already familiar with the character, having read the books as a teenager.[10]

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",[9] 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.[10]

Stewart stated, however, that he is not nearly as serious or brooding as his alter ego.[11]

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."[11] Stewart has also 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.'"[12]


Television series and films

Jean-Luc Picard was born to Maurice and Yvette Picard in La Barre, France, on July 13, 2305, and dreamed of joining Starfleet.[13] 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". Suspiciously (from the point of view of the viewer), Picard also has a number of British habits, including the regular consumption of Earl Grey tea, a fondness for Shakespeare, which he performs - authentically enough given the origins of The Bard - in a West Midlands accent , 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 (coached by groundskeeper Boothby) went on to flourish, developing a lifelong passion for archaeology, and he became the first freshman to win the Academy marathon.[13] 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.[13] Picard eventually served as first officer aboard the USS Stargazer, which he later commanded.[13] During that time, he invented a warp-speed starship tactic (employing a faster-than-light optical illusion) that would become known as the Picard Maneuver.[13]

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).[14] The pilot episode shows the ship's mission to investigate a problem at Farpoint Station, which becomes sidetracked when Q makes Picard "representative" in a trial charging humanity with being a "dangerously savage child-race".[14] Picard persuades Q to test humanity, and Q chooses as the test's first stage the crew's performance at Farpoint.[14] 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".[14]

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.[14][15] 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, who is Picard's nephew. 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 will make him the last of the Picard family (unless he can produce an heir).

Picard joins forces with legendary 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 fights a species's forced relocation in Star Trek: Insurrection, and encounters Shinzon, a Romulan-made clone of himself, in Star Trek Nemesis.

Spin-off works

In recent 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 comic miniseries Star Trek: Countdown, a prequel to the 2009 Star Trek movie, 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.


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[16]

The character has near-universal critical acclaim among fans of The Next Generation, and he is usually considered one of the top two captains in the entire 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."[17] 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.[18] 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".[19] Kirk and Picard are considered to be attentive to the needs of their respective crews.[20] 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."[21]

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".[22]

Other actors

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


  1. Carmoody, John (October 13, 1986). "THE TV COLUMN". The Washington Post. p. B8 (Style section).
  2. University of California, Berkeley et al. [and informal sources on Jean Piccard talk page] (2003). "Living With A Star: 3: Balloon/Rocket Mission: Scientific Ballooning". The Regents of the University of California.
  3. Piccard, Elizabeth (January 23, 2004). "Talk of the Nation: Science on Stage". National Public Radio. Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  4. Brochbank, Phillip (Editor) (1995). Players of Shakespeare. Cambridge, England: Cambride University Press.
  5. 1 2 Hatfiled, James & Burt, George (1996). Patrick Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography. New York: Kensington Publishing.
  6. 1 2 3 "Robert Justman – Co-Producer Co-Creator of Star Trek". BBC. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  7. Schrager, Adam (1997). "Patrick Stewart: Thespian on the Bridge". The Finest Crew in the Fleet: The Next Generation's Cast On Screen and Off. New York: Wolf Valley Books. p. 23. This book gives the actor's name as "Steven Mocked".
  8. Finke, Nikki (August 12, 2010). "EMMYS: Q&A With Supporting TV Movie/Miniseries Actor Nominee Patrick Stewart". Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  9. 1 2 "VIDEO: Patrick Stewart On Expecting TNG To Fail, Roddenberry v Berman, Star Trek 'Albatross' + more". June 22, 2010.
  10. 1 2 "Patrick Stewart – Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise". BBC. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  11. 1 2 Spiner, Brent. "The Journal Arts: Patrick Stewart".
  12. "BBC - London - Entertainment - Patrick Stewart interview".
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 Okuda, Mike and Denise Okuda, with Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Nemeck, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-5798-6.
  15. Erdmann, Terry J.; Paula M. Block (2000). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0671-5010-68.
  16. "Dan Cray – LA Times journalist and Star Trek pundit". BBC. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  17. Brady, James (April 5, 1992). "In Step With: Patrick Stewart". Parade. p. 21. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  18. "Watch Star Blecch The Animated Parody". Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  19. Paul Kimmerly & David R. Webb, "Leadership, The Final Frontier: Lessons From the Captains of Star Trek" CrossTalk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering Oct. 2006
  20. John D. W. Beck & Neil M. Yeager, The Leader's Window: Mastering the Four Styles of Leadership to Build High-Performing Teams New York: Wiley (1994): 38
  21. Teitelbaum, Sheldon (May 5, 1991). "How Gene Roddenberry and his Brain Trust Have Boldly Taken 'Star Trek' Where No TV Series Has Gone Before : Trekking to the Top". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. p. 16. Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  22. "Best Heroes of All Time". UGO Networks. January 21, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2011.

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