Star Trek: Picard is bringing back characters not only from the Picard-centric Star Trek: The Next Generation, but also from Star Trek: Voyager. Star Trek proved to be one of the big winners of San Diego Comic-Con with its upcoming series. Sir Patrick Stewart and the show's cast appeared and debuted a new trailer that received near-universal acclaim from fans old and new. Much of what caused that excitement was the surprising reappearance of some old favorites. Those two characters - as well as one other unseen in the trailer but confirmed on the panel as returning - suggests that Picard will see the good captain be brought back into the orbit of his old foes, the dreaded Borg.
Stewart made it clear on the panel that he is incredibly proud of the show's new cast, and that they have developed a chemistry just as potent as The Next Generation cast enjoyed. He reiterated that he does not want to remake TNG, so while Picard may see some faces from his past, they won't be part of the regular cast, at least at the start of the series. The show has to lay the groundwork to develop its new cast and premise before having an Enterprise-D reunion party with some of Worf's favorite cellular peptide cake (with mint frosting, of course).
That said, we know a handful of Star Trek veterans are coming back for the show, and others are likely to be announced. When asked recently about the prospect of his own guest appearance, LeVar Burton all but said it will eventually happen, leaving very few members of the original TNG cast who aren't confirmed to return. While it seems highly likely the entire TNG cast - and perhaps some Deep Space Nine and Voyager friends - will be returning, here's who's confirmed to still be hanging out with Jean-Luc for sure in the highly anticipated show's first season.
Simultaneously shocking and sort of sweetly predictable, Brent Spiner's appearance as Data at the end of the Picard trailer caused something of a sonic boom among Star Trek fans. The 70-year-old Spiner had long ago sworn off portraying the ostensibly ageless android again after his "death" in Star Trek: Nemesis. However, advancements in makeup and effects work - coupled with the fact that Spiner looks about 20 years younger than he is - made Data's return possible, and he looks alarmingly similar to how he did all those years ago on TNG.
Data, of course, was blown to pieces during the climax of Star Trek: Nemesis, saving captain Picard from the villainous Shinzon, memorably played by a pre-fame Tom Hardy. But earlier in the movie, the crew discovered a Soong type android prototype - whimsically called B4. This android was far less sophisticated than Data, and did not aspire to better himself in any way, even after Data transferred all of his memories to B4's positronic brain. There was a hint at the end of Nemesis that Data could re-emerge within B4, but that does not seem to have happened, as Spiner has confirmed the disassembled android in cold storage from the trailer is in fact B4. Spiner also clarified that he is playing Data, not B4, which just makes his return all the more intriguing.
This one was a no-brainer from the very start. Jonathan Frakes played Commander William Riker - Picard's trusted "Number One" - for seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also directed many of the show's best episodes, like "The Offspring" and "The Drumhead," as well as the second (and best) TNG movie, Star Trek: First Contact. Frakes has stayed a part of the Star Trek world, recently directing episodes of CBS All Access' prequel series, Star Trek: Discovery. He doesn't appear in the new trailer, but when it was announced Frakes would be directing two episodes of Picard, the writing was clearly on the wall - Will Riker is back.
When last we left Will Riker, he had just married his longtime love interest, ship's counselor Deanna Troi. He also got the one thing that seemed even more drawn out than his 15-year courtship of Troi - a promotion. After battling the Reman Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis, Captain Riker departed the Enterprise to take command of his own ship, the USS Titan. His first mission was to explore diplomatic relations with the Romulans, which could prominently figure into his role in Picard; the show's story hinges at least partially on Romulus' destruction over a decade earlier.
It's possible Riker got bumped up to the admiral's desk at some point, like in the possible future glimpsed in the TNG series finale, "All Good Things." But after 15 years as Picard's right-hand man, it seems likely he's still the captain of the Titan, bouncing around the galaxy with his easy charm and bizarre chair sitting habits.
Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis are a bit of a package deal. Their characters are married, and both Frakes and Sirtis have said on multiple occasions they would still happily be making Star Trek: The Next Generation today if it was never cancelled. Sirtis - whose candor and sense of humor have made her a favorite at Star Trek conventions over the years - has admitted that she's been lying for months about not being in the show, and is elated to be able to revel in her return.
Deanna Troi transferred to the Titan with Riker following the events of Nemesis, becoming that ship's new counselor. While we never got to see it, this likely had a profound effect on Picard, who referred to Troi at her wedding as his conscience. Perhaps the slow erosion of the family he built over his years on the Enterprise was one of the reasons for his abrupt retirement. If so, Troi's absence from his life probably left a bigger hole than most people realize.
The second biggest surprise of the Star Trek: Picard panel was the news that Jonathan Del Arco would be reprising his role as Hugh, a Borg who the Enterprise crew helped to free from the collective and reclaim his individuality in the classic The Next Generation episode "I, Borg." Hugh showed up once more in the two-part "Descent," which saw him leading an underground group of Borg who were also turned into individuals when the Enterprise crew returned him to the collective; Hugh essentially infected the other Borg drones with a disease that made them sentient, which not all of the drones were happy about.
Hugh is one of TNG's biggest hanging plot threads. "I, Borg" and "Descent" felt like two-thirds of a trilogy. TNG producer Rick Berman even confirmed there were further plans for the character and his band of freed Borg drones, but for whatever reason he was never seen again, and the Borg were portrayed as the usual space zombies (with one big exception, which we'll get to) in all proceeding Star Trek films and shows. Perhaps Hugh's return in Picard can finally correct one of TNG's most glaring oversights.
Seven of Nine
Data may have gotten the most thunderous applause, but the biggest shocker the Star Trek: Picard trailer had in store for fans was the reveal of a fan-favorite character who has previously had no connection to Picard - Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine. Jeri Ryan joined Voyager during its fourth season; the statuesque Ryan was brought onto the show for some pretty cynical, sexist reasons, but the character turned out to be a winner, for many the missing piece that held Voyager back in its early days - though that is far from a consensus opinion.
As her name suggests, Seven of Nine was a Borg drone. Seven was neutralized when she failed to assimilate the crew of the Voyager, and the ship's EMH Doctor found that as her connection to the collective was severed, her Borg implants and drone programming began to disconnect from her. Seven would join the ship's crew as something akin to Voyager's Spock or Data character, a woman attempting to rediscover the basic humanity that had been stolen from her. The Borg - and more specifically, experimentation on the Borg - seems to play a major role in Star Trek: Picard, and there could be no better adventure companion for the former captain than the former Borg.