Jean-Luc Picard

Jean-Luc Picard
Jean-Luc Picard
Jean-Luc Picard.jpg
Jean-Luc Picard played by Patrick Stewart
Species Human
Home planet Earth (La Barre, France)
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Rank Captain

Captain Jean-Luc Picard (pronounced /ˌʒɔːn ˌluːk piˈkɑrd/) is a Star Trek character portrayed by Patrick Stewart. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis. He also made an appearance in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Depicted as deeply moral, highly logical and intelligent, Picard is a master of diplomacy and debate who resolves seemingly intractable issues between multiple 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 an order by saying "Make it so."


Casting and design

After the success of the contemporary Star Trek feature films, a new 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] he has said that he would not have been interested in taking a supporting role "to sit around".[6] Roddenberry did not want to cast Stewart as Picard, however; he envisioned an actor who was "masculine, virile, and had a lot of hair".[7] 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.[7][8] Stewart himself 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. His stentorian voice impressed the executives, who immediately approved the casting.[7] Roddenberry sent Stewart C. S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novels, saying the Picard character was based on Hornblower,[10] but Stewart was already familiar with Hornblower, having read the books as a child.[6]

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, he stated that

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.[6]

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 theatre, 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]


Jean-Luc Picard was born to Maurice and Yvette Picard[13] in La Barre, France, on July 13, 2305, and dreamed of joining Starfleet.[14] He failed his first Starfleet Academy entrance exam, but was subsequently admitted and became the first freshman to win the Academy marathon.[14] His academic training in archaeology is mentioned in numerous TNG episodes and he continues to pursue archaeology as a hobby; he also remarks at one point that he failed a semester of organic chemistry. 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.[14] Picard eventually served as first officer aboard the USS Stargazer, which he later commanded.[14] During that time, he invented a starship evade and attack tactic that would become known as the Picard Maneuver.

Star Trek: The Next Generation depicts Picard's command of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D).[15] 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".[15] Picard persuades Q to test humanity, and Q chooses as the test's first stage the crew's performance at Farpoint.[15] 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".[15]

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; 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.[15][16] 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 of assimilation (which becomes 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. During the film Star Trek Generations, Picard learns that Robert and René have both died in a fire. The fate of Robert's wife, Marie, is not revealed.

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' forced relocation in Star Trek: Insurrection, and encounters Shinzon, a Romulan-made clone of himself, in Star Trek Nemesis.


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[17]

The character's acclaim among fans of the Next Generation version of the show is near universal, and he is usually considered one of the top two characters to have been Captain on a Starfleet vessel in the series. There are often lengthy and serious debates over who was the "best" Starfleet captain - Picard, or James Tiberius Kirk. A 1991 TV Guide cover story was titled "It's Kirk vs. Picard: Experts and fans debate who's best."[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, however, Shatner stated that Kirk would "have told him to drop dead" while Stewart joked that Picard "would still be talking."[21]

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]


  1. ^ The Washington Post. October 13, 1986, Monday, Final Edition. BYLINE: John Carmody, Washington Post Staff Writer. SECTION: STYLE; PAGE B8; THE TV COLUMN
  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 (2004-01-23). "Talk of the Nation: Science on Stage". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-01-29. 
  4. ^ Phillip Brochbank, ed., Players of Shakespeare Cambridge: Cambride University Press (1995)
  5. ^ a b James Hatfield, George Burt, Patrick Stewart: The Unauthorized Biography New York: Kensington Publishing (1996)
  6. ^ a b c "Patrick Stewart - Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise". BBC. Retrieved May 07, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "Robert Justman - Co-Producer Co-Creator of Star Trek". BBC. Retrieved May 07, 2011. 
  8. ^ Adam Schrager, "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 (1997): 23. This book gives the actor's name as "Steven Mocked".
  9. ^ Finke, Nikki (2010-08-12). "EMMYS: Q&A With Supporting TV Movie/Miniseries Actor Nominee Patrick Stewart". Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  10. ^ a b "VIDEO: Patrick Stewart On Expecting TNG To Fail, Roddenberry v Berman, Star Trek ‘Albatross’ + more". 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2010-97-25. 
  11. ^ a b The Journal Arts: Patrick Stewart
  12. ^ Patrick Stewart interview (BBC)
  13. ^ Mentioned in the episode chain of command part 1
  14. ^ a b c d Okuda, Mike and Denise Okuda, with Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Nemeck, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-5798-6. 
  16. ^ Erdmann, Terry J.; Paula M. Block (2000). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 1-0671-5010-62. 
  17. ^ "Dan Cray - LA Times journalist and Star Trek pundit". BBC. Retrieved May 07, 2011. 
  18. ^ Brady, James (1992-04-05). "In Step With: Patrick Stewart". Parade: pp. 21. Retrieved April 28, 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 (1991-05-05). "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): pp. 16. Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Best Heroes of All Time". UGO Networks. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011. 

External links

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