Brent Spiner Coined The Best Line In Star Trek: TNG

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Star Trek: The Next Generation remains one of the greatest science fiction shows ever made, right down to the final line of dialogue. In the series finale “All Good Things,” Patrick Stewart fittingly gets the last word in, dealing out poker cards to the crew and explaining what they’re going to play: “So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.” It’s a line that you might expect to come from months of writers’ room brainstorming, but in reality, Brent Spiner (who plays the android officer Data) coined this awesome phrase.

Patrick Stewart Revealed This Fact In His Memoir

Brent Spiner may never have gotten proper credit for this line if not for Captain Picard actor Patrick Stewart. In 2023, Stewart released a memoir of his storied life, and he named the book (tongue-in-cheek, I can only imagine) Making It So. That title references Picard’s frequent line to his crew, and throughout the book, the veteran Trek actor drops interesting tidbits of otherwise unknown franchise knowledge, including the fact that Brent Spiner coined the final line of the series.

All Good Things

If you haven’t watched “All Good Things” in a while (what, have you been dealing with an anomaly that transcends time and space or something?), you may need a refresher on what makes this line of dialogue so significant. In the episode, Q sends Picard hopping between different time periods as the Starfleet officer tries to unravel a mystery that could potentially wipe all of humanity out. In reality, this was all part of Q’s ongoing trial of mankind, and Picard passed the test by figuring out the paradox of the mysterious anomaly’s existence and proving to Q that humanity can still evolve. 

One Of The Greatest Final Scenes Ever

star trek best finale

Picard seemingly grows from this experience, and in the final scene of the show, he joins his crew’s regular poker game for the first time. In deference to the captain, the crew has him deal the cards, causing Picard to utter the line coined by Brent Spiner: “So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.” The line has resonated with audiences for decades because it embodies both the premise and the promise of The Next Generation: that this crew would face countless more adventures and always rise to the challenge, all while showcasing the best that humanity has to offer.

So Good, They Did It Twice

That poker scene was so nice that the franchise effectively did it twice: in the series finale of Picard, “The Last Generation,” Picard sits down to play poker with his beloved crew, now more friends than colleagues. Once more, Picard gets the last line (“I’ve come to believe that the stars have always been in my favor”), though it was coined by writer-producer Cindy Appel rather than Brent Spiner. What really brings this scene to life is that the camera captures genuine moments of the actors having fun and catching up with one another, effectively blurring the line between our favorite actors and their beloved characters. 

Next Generation Was A True Ensemble

While Picard gave us a fitting send-off for these characters, I still can’t get over how perfect it is that Brent Spiner coined what might be the best line in all of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fans always credit this show for having a great ensemble cast compared to later Trek like Discovery, which mostly revolves around a handful of characters. The story of Spiner effortlessly coining this amazing line, though, proves how effective this ensemble cast could be behind the camera as well as in front of it.

Brent Spiner Can Do It All

I shouldn’t have really been surprised that Brent Spiner is a great writer, though…this is a man who previously released a great musical album (amusingly titled Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back), and in 2021, he released the hilarious book Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events. As an actor, writer, and musician, Spiner is a triple threat and one of the most talented Trek stars of all time. Be sure to check out his other work if you can stop rewatching TNG and escape the ultimate time-sucking anomaly of them all: nostalgia.

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