When Star Trek: The Next Generation was first announced, it was predicted to be a flop. The critics and fans alike believed that no one could ever take the place of Captain Kirk and his crew.
How wrong they were. Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D took the TV world by storm and helped elevate the Star Trek franchise to new levels of popularity, and a large measure of this success belongs to Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Captain Picard. Stewart had previously been known for his stage work before Star Trek, and his crafting of the character of the Captain was clearly inspired by the works of Shakespeare. He brought a new kind of intelligence, wisdom, and class to the Captain’s chair, which helped differentiate him from Kirk’s more cavalier attitude towards the universe.
We are here today to look into the life of one of the greatest Starfleet captains of all time, and the beloved actor who played him. From his secret swearing that sleuthed past the censors to his connection to the Pokémon franchise.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Captain Picard!
15. Captain Picard Loved To Swear
Patrick Stewart is a great actor, but foreign accents are not his strong suit. Captain Picard hails from La Barre, France, yet Patrick Stewart chose to use an English accent for his portrayal of the character. He also used an English accent for Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies (who is American) and Seti in The Prince of Egypt (who is Egyptian). You cannot argue with results, however, and the Star Trek expanded universe has offered a few handwave solutions to why Picard speaks with an English accent. These range from everyone in France adopting the accent when English became a universal language, to him actually speaking in a French accent the whole time, but we hear it as English due to his universal translator.
There were a few instances of Picard’s Frenchness that Patrick Stewart snuck into the dialogue. Captain Picard would occasionally say “merde” when facing a nasty situation. This is the French equivalent to saying “shit” when it is being said in exasperation.
14. He Was Named After A Family Of Scientists
There have been several Star Trek characters who were named after real people. Geordi La Forge was named after a fan of The Original Series, who died before Next Generation was created, and Guinan was named after Texas Guinan, who was a famous actress in the ’20s. This has spread to the real world, with many scientific discoveries being named after Star Trek characters.
Captain Picard is named after a set of twins, who come from a well-respected family of scientists and explorers. Gene Roddenberry named Jean-Luc Picard after Auguste and Jean Felix Piccard. These were twin brothers from Sweden, who contributed a great deal to the world of science. Auguste was known for his innovations in the field of creating pressurized containers, which allowed people to explore at high altitudes and at the bottom of the ocean. Jean Felix was an avid balloonist, whose inventions were used in the development of airplanes and spaceships.
13. He Retired From Starfleet
When it was revealed that J. J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie was a reboot, it raised questions about the continuing existence of the TV show universe. When Spock & Nero went back in time, they completely changed the events of history, which led many fans to believe that everything except Star Trek: Enterprise had been wiped from continuity.
This was not the case. The universe of the Star Trek TV shows was continued in Star Trek Online. This was an MMO, which was set after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. After Romulus was destroyed, the Klingon Empire made an attempt to take over the galaxy. This means that the Federation and the Klingons are at war once again.
In Star Trek Online, it is revealed that Captain Picard eventually retired from active duty and returned to his family’s vineyard in France. It is possible for the player to acquire a bottle of Picard family wine.
12. He Met The Most Captains
When Star Trek: The Next Generation was first being developed, the creators originally weren’t going to use any characters or species that appeared in The Original Series. This was quickly abandoned, as a Klingon was added to the crew of the Enterprise and Dr. McCoy made a brief appearance in the first episode. As time went on and more Star Trek TV shows were created, they all started to form a shared universe.
Captain Picard had the most interactions with the Captains of the other Star Trek TV shows. He teamed up with Captain Kirk in Star Trek Generations, where they both got their asses kicked by Malcolm McDowell.
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, Captain Picard visited the titular station. It was there he met Commander Benjamin Sisko, who would later become the Captain of the Defiant. The meeting between the two captains was tense, as Picard was responsible for the death of Sisko’s wife, during the period of time when he was assimilated by the Borg.
Captain Picard would later have a brief encounter with Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Nemesis. Janeway and her crew had returned to the Alpha Quadrant and she had achieved the rank of vice admiral. She provided Picard with information concerning Shinzon.
11. The Lost French Accent
When the character of Captain Picard was first being developed, the creators of Star Trek: The Next Generation were determined to make him as different from Captain Kirk as possible. The original documentation for the show described Captain Picard as a man in his fifties, who spoke with a French accent. It was clear from the start that they wanted the show to go in a different direction from its predecessor, which seemingly started with the new captain of the Enterprise.
Patrick Stewart almost didn’t get the role of Captain Picard, as Gene Roddenberry was convinced that Stewart wasn’t right for the role. At one point, he even stipulated that Stewart should perform the later auditions whilst wearing a wig. It took the influence of Robert Justman (one of the main producers of the show) to get Stewart the role.
According to Patrick Stewart, there exists video footage of him auditioning for the show in a French accent. He performed several scenes from the pilot episode, whilst being filmed. This footage is presumably locked away in the vaults of Paramount and won’t be seen until a century after Stewart’s death.
10. Captain Picard & The Dominion War
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Federation are dragged into a war against an evil interstellar empire, known as the Dominion. This conflict eventually involved all of the major factions in the Alpha Quadrant, which led to an alliance between the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire. The story of Deep Space Nine was overtaken by the Dominion War, as the freedom and security of the entire Alpha Quadrant were in danger.
We saw many battles during the Dominion War, but none of them featured Captain Picard and the Enterprise. The question of what they were up to during this period has mainly been covered in the Star Trek novels and comic books. According to various texts; Captain Picard was forced to remain on the Gorn homeworld as a diplomat during the Dominion War, in order to prevent a civil war. He later helped to free the planet Betazed, when it was occupied by the Jem’Hadar.
The Dominion War would later reach Earth when the Breen Confederacy allied with the Dominion and attacked Starfleet headquarters. Captain Picard led a group of Starfleet graduates against the Breen, as they launched an assault on San Francisco.
9. He Almost Had A Bionic Arm
One of the most epic season finales in TV history happened at the end of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1” featured the inevitable return of the Borg, who had finally discovered the location of the Federation. The Enterprise engages a Borg Cube in battle, which leads to the abduction of Captain Picard. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Picard has been assimilated by the Borg and is now known as Locutus.
This change lasts for a single episode, as Captain Picard is returned to normal in the second part of the story. At one point, it was planned for Picard to have been permanently changed by his experience. He was originally going to return with a bionic arm, as the Borg totally removed the original limb. This idea was ultimately scrapped.
8. The Family Guy Crossovers
Seth MacFarlane is a huge Star Trek fan. He appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and contributed to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray editions. MacFarlane’s love for Star Trek can be seen in his show, Family Guy, which has featured numerous references to the series. The entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation were reunited in an episode where they were kidnapped by Stewie Griffin, and forced to live with him.
Patrick Stewart is good friends with Seth MacFarlane in real life and has appeared in many of his projects, such as American Dad, Ted, and A Million Ways to Die in the West. He has appeared as Captain Picard in several episodes of Family Guy, alongside other cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Captain Picard was recently an unlockable character in Family Guy: The Quest For Stuff, which is a mobile game.
7. Patrick Stewart Wanted Picard To Get Laid More
Star Trek has always been created with the idea that it must be able to be shown to as wide an audience as possible. This is the main reason that there was very little sexual content on the show (at least in terms of actually showing it). The Federation has always come across as a very sterile and unexciting place because of this. If HBO had made Star Trek, then there would have been constant orgies on the holodeck.
Patrick Stewart noticed this lack of female companionship for Captain Picard and asked the writers of the show to change that. He specifically asked for Captain Picard to get laid more, which would have had the unfortunate side effect of making poor Patrick Stewart kiss a lot of gorgeous women on camera. It was, for this reason, that “Captain’s Holiday” was written. This episode showed the crew on vacation on the planet Risa. Captain Picard had a love interest, named Vash, with whom he flirted throughout the episode.
6. Edward James Olmos Almost Played Captain Picard
There were many actors who were considered for the role of Captain Picard, such as Yaphet Kotto and James Earl Jones. The main contender for the role was Stephen Macht, who was the favorite choice of D. C. Fontana. Gene Roddenberry also took a shine to Macht and wanted him for the role. Macht refused to audition, however, as he wanted the role offered to him, which didn’t work out in his favor. He would later appear as General Krim in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Edward James Olmos was another candidate for the role of Captain Picard. In fact, the role was offered to him… and he refused. His reason for not taking the role is due to how busy he was with film and theater work during the late ’80s. Edward James Olmos would eventually get his chance to play the captain of a spaceship when he took the role of Commander Adama in Battlestar Galactica.
5. Captain Picard Is Bad At Maths
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Royale”, Captain Picard tells Riker about an unsolved mathematical equation, known as Fermat’s last theorem. This is a real life equation that was found in the notes of Pierre De Fermat, who was a famous French mathematician. He had written it on a copy of one of his own books and claimed that he had proof of its answer, but he couldn’t fit it within the margin. According to Picard, the equation had remained unsolved for over eight hundred years. He tells Riker that he tries to work it out himself when he has some leisure time.
Captain Picard’s speech about Fermat’s last theorem soon became dated, when it was solved in real life. A man named Andrew Wiles worked out the equation in 1995, which was six years after “The Royale” was produced. It seems that Wiles’ solution may have been lost in the eight hundred years between the ’90s and the days of Starfleet.
4. Captain Picard Day
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus,” the children aboard the Enterprise are said to hold a yearly celebration in honor of Captain Picard. This involved an art contest, where the children would create an image of Captain Picard’s likeness. The winner of the contest was chosen by Captain Picard himself. In “The Pegasus”, this winner was Paul Menegay, who created a sculpture of Captain Picard’s head.
The date on which Captain Picard Day is held is June 16th. Star Trek fans hold real life celebrations during this period, in honor of the beloved Starfleet captain. For most fans, this usually involves posting a slew of Captain Picard memes on social media, of which there are many. The UK TV channel Virgin 1 (who owned the broadcast rights for most of the Star Trek TV shows) once ran a series of Captain Picard themed episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Captain Picard Day in 2010.
3. The Picard/Professor Xavier Crossover
Throughout the ’90s, the X-Men comic books were Marvel’s biggest sellers. This led to the creation of the X-Men animated series, which was also a huge success. The popularity of the team eventually led to the production of an X-Men movie, as special effects technology had finally reached the point where a movie based on the comics was feasible. For years, Patrick Stewart was considered to be the number one choice to play Charles Xavier. The wish of the X-Men fanbase finally came true, and he was cast as Professor X in the first X-Men movie. He would go on to play the role for another seventeen years.
In 1998, a Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men crossover novel, called Planet X, was released. It seems that this book had predicted Patrick Stewart’s casting as Charles Xavier. At one point during the novel, Captain Picard encounters Charles Xavier on the holodeck and the two remark on how much they look alike.
2. Doctor Who & The Alliance With The Borg
The two longest running science fiction TV shows are Doctor Who and Star Trek. Doctor Who was first broadcast on the BBC in 1963, whilst Star Trek debuted in 1966. Star Trek would become a global phenomenon that spawned numerous spinoffs and movies, whilst Doctor Who remained a cult property outside of the UK (where it was huge). Doctor Who has only found worldwide recognition in the past decade, after the series was revived in 2005.
In all of that time, Doctor Who and Star Trek have only had one official crossover. In 2012, IDW Publishing released a comic series, called Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2. The 11th incarnation of the Doctor (who was played by Matt Smith) finds himself aboard the Enterprise-D. He has to team up with Captain Picard, in order to prevent an alliance between the Borg and the Cybermen.
The Cybermen betray the Borg, which causes them to ask for an alliance with the Enterprise. Captain Picard initially refuses, due to his history with the Borg. The Doctor has to use the TARDIS to take Picard to the future, where he sees the Federation being destroyed by the Cybermen, in order to persuade him to change his mind and team up with the Borg.
1. The Picard Pokémon
There have been many comic book adaptations of the Pokémon video game franchise. One of the most infamous is The Electric Tale of Pikachu, which was intended to be a loose adaptation of the popular Pokémon anime series. This comic had to be heavily censored for its release outside of Japan, as it needed to have the proportions of the female characters toned down and for more clothes to be added during risque scenes.
In the second issue of The Electric Tale of Pikachu, Ash Ketchum reveals the name of his iconic Pikachu. According to Ash, he named it Jean-Luc Pikachu. When he announces this, Pikachu can be seen wearing a Starfleet communicator badge. This wasn’t a joke added in by the translators. The original creator of The Electric Tale of Pikachu made a Star Trek: The Next Generation joke in a Pokémon manga.
If you ever needed proof for how much Captain Picard is loved around the globe, then all you have to do is look at the badge on Pikachu’s chest.