Of all the Star Trek spin-offs, Star Trek: Next Generation holds a special place in the hearts of Star Trek fans for being not only the first spin-off of the original Star Trek series, but for having a cast of characters as memorable as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Though fans were at first skeptical that a new crop of Starfleet's finest could ever measure up, they grew to cherish the adventures of Captain Picard, Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf, Data, and the rest.
TNG 's creative team was careful to place certain callbacks and references to the original Star Trek series in every season, while also letting the cast of main characters use their own artistic license when embodying their roles. These hidden details from cast and crew make TNG a series fans can watch again and again. Here are 10 hidden details about the main characters everyone missed.
10 WORF'S BALDRIC
During Star Trek The Original Series, Klingons were depicted as having bronze skin, extra hair, and most noticeably, no cranial ridges. This was mostly due to budgetary constraints, a facet which was removed for the Star Trek films. By the time TNG rolled around, Klingons could look more like how Gene Roddenberry wanted them to look; more fearsome and aggressive in appearance.
The distinct piece of Klingon regalia that Worf wears, the metallic cloth baldric he wears across his Starfleet uniform, is a reference to the Klingons of the original series. He received special permission from Starfleet to wear it, and it was later replaced by a metal one.
9 RIKER HAS APPEARED IN ALMOST EVERY STAR TREK SERIES
It would appear that Trekkies can't get enough of William T. Riker, Captain Picard's charming First Officer with the beard that has been single-handedly attributed to helping TNG go from being an "ok" Star Trek series to one of the best of the franchise. Though Michael Dorn's Worf has been in the most episodes of Star Trek, you may have missed that Riker has been in every series post Next Gen.
From crossing over to Voyager, appearing briefly in Deep Space Nine, and even winding up in the series finale of Enterprise, he's the character that gets around the most. The actor Jonathan Frakes has even directed episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, and is rumored to appear in CBS's Picard series.
8 DEANNA TROI'S ACCENT
Fans that have been following Counselor Deanna Troi's progression on TNG will probably remark on two things; it took six years for her cleavage to be covered up with a proper Starfleet uniform, and almost as long for her accent to virtually disappear. Why exactly did it change, and why was it there in the first place?
Originally, Marina Sirtis auditioned for the role of Tasha Yar, and felt that the character should have a strong Eastern European accent. When she was cast as Troi instead, she slowly morphed her accent into something softer, vaguely Israeli, before finally sticking with a Mid-Atlantic American, especially given that her mother Lwaxana had a flagrantly American accent.
7 DATA'S CAT, SPOT
On a seafaring ship in the 18th and 19 century Earth, cats were essential members of the crew, keeping food stores and rations safe from rodents and other vermin. On a starship, a cat might not be chasing rats down the decks, but they have other uses, such as providing companionship and entertainment.
Data is one of the crew members known to have a cat aboard - Spot, an orange Somali cat. Spot is clearly a male cat when Data first refers to him, but in the later seasons, Spot becomes a female tabby cat who mysteriously breeds on board and has a litter of kittens. No one seemed to mind this change and it was never remarked upon.
6 THE BORG HAD A LEG UP WHEN ASSIMILATING PICARD
A nefarious species that assimilate the lifeforms they come in contact with rather than destroy them, the Borg were a menace that plagued TNG off and on for several seasons. During the finale of Season 3, Picard was assimilated into the Borg Collective and given the designation Locutus of Borg. He inadvertently gave them a leg up in the process, though he may not have known it.
The Borg are considered cyborgs of sorts, often exchanging organic material for cyber-mechanical fittings in their quest for efficiency and perfection. As a young officer, Picard got stabbed in the heart in a bar fight and had to have an artificial heart implanted, making him one small step closer to machine than man.
5 GEORDI'S VISOR
Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge wore a visor to assist in his sight, though the constant sensory stimuli caused him a great deal of pain in Season 1. The producers thought it was best to have him undergo a miraculous surgery for the season finale, allowing La Forge to leave the visor behind once and for all, but actor Levar Burton disagreed.
Viewers may not have noticed that Geordi stopped talking about the pain from his visor after Season 1, even during episodes when his eyesight was violated by Romulans or Data's evil twin Lore. This is because actor Levar Burton decided he would be a positive role model for people with disabilities, and act as though Geordi could push through anything.
4 THE STARGAZER
Captain Jean-Luc Picard received his rank after the Captain of his first ship, the USS Stargazer, was killed in battle. Picard compared the Stargazer to a bucket of bolts during his conversation with Scotty in "Relics", but it was clear he had great affection for the old ship.
If you look closely at some of the artifacts in Picard's ready room, you will see that a model of the USS Stargazer can be seen along the back wall. The only time the real ship was seen was in the first season of Next Generation, in the episode "The Battle".
3 GEORDI'S PROMOTIONS
In order to get promoted aboard the Enterprise-D, your service recorded needed to be exemplary, and there needed to be enough positions available. Often a crew member might receive an "acting" rank, but it was only temporary, and given at the Commanding Officer's discretion.
For those Trekkies keeping score at home, Geordi La Forge was promoted faster than any other Star Trek character. In Season 1 of TNG he held the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, in Season 2 of Lieutenant, and in Season 3 of Lieutenant Commander. In certain episodes of Voyager that take place in the future, it's known he has the rank of Captain.
2 THE BRIDGE CREW ALL CHEAT AT POKER
One of the ways the main bridge crew (incidentally the main characters) bond is by meeting for a weekly game of poker. The usual cadre of players is Data, Worf, Riker, and a revolving membership of Geordi, Dr. Crusher, or Deanna. The way they play is considered illegal in real-life casinos.
The characters all do "string betting", an illegal maneuver because it involves putting your chips forward to call a bet and then putting their raise forward in a separate action, rather than having the full raise amount be declared first. This is done to not mislead other players, and make the player's intentions clear right away. Riker is the biggest culprit of this method.
1 WORF'S PARADOXICAL CHARACTER
When Michael Dorn took on the character of Worf, the first Klingon in Starfleet, he was simply a name on a sheet of paper. Worf had no backstory, and nothing was known about him other than he was the only Klingon in Starfleet and that might make him uneasy with the rest of the crew or them with him. Dorn approached series creator Gene Roddenberry and asked how best to portray the irascible Klingon. Roddenberry's response was to let Dorn make it up as he saw fit.
You'll notice over time on TNG that Worf has a very contrary nature with humans. When a dying Romulan's only chance of survival is to swap blood with a Klingon and the Klingon refuses, it's because he deliberately has a different sensibility than humans, and that was Dorn's guiding force for the character; whatever humans do, do the opposite.