Star Trek: Picard Ruined One Of TNG’s Greatest Characters

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

The general fandom consensus about Star Trek: Picard is that it didn’t really get good until the show began heavily bringing in our favorite characters from The Next Generation in its third season. However, those cameos began in season one, including a cameo that was an excuse to ruin one of our favorite characters from the earlier show. Specifically, Picard brings back the ex-Borg Hugh, one of the most complex characters in all of Star Trek, and ruins him for no real reason.


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If you’re already saying “Hugh who?”, then you need a refresher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. This character originally appeared in the fittingly-named fifth season episode “I, Borg,” in which Captain Picard faces the moral dilemma of whether to use Hugh, a recovered Borg drone, to give the Collective a disease that could theoretically wipe them from existence altogether. Amid Hugh’s development of an individual personality as well as concerns that he would be facilitating genocide, Picard ultimately decided against using the virus.

Hugh, however, ended up returning to the Collective of his own volition at the end of this Star Trek episode because formally requesting asylum could put the entire Enterprise in danger. Still, the crew hoped that Hugh’s individual personality could infect the Borg in a different way, ultimately helping the drones‘ individuality emerge. The downside was the risk that the Borg might simply return Hugh to his former status as just another drone.

Hugh Returns

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The plan didn’t exactly work as they had hoped: Hugh infected only a small subsection of the Collective with individuality, rendering the group helpless and isolated (something we find out about in the excellent Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter “Descent”). This allows Data’s evil brother Lore to take control of them, but Hugh and a group of determined rebel drones are able to help Picard’s crew defeat this new Borg menace.

That was the last we saw of Hugh for a long time, and back then, Star Trek fans wondered if this character really had given individual personalities to the entire Borg Collective. Those fears were unfounded as First Contact returned everything to its former status quo.We didn’t see Hugh again until nearly three decades after his last appearance when he popped up in the Picard episode “The End Is the Beginning.”

Hugh Comes Back To Die

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Hugh, in the new Star Trek show, becomes a Federation citizen who works with the Romulans to mine information and technology from a derelict Borg Cube. He helps Picard track down the runaway android Soji, assisting the two in their escape to the safety of Riker’s woodfired pizza while Hugh remains behind.

The former Borg is interrogated and ultimately murdered by a Romulan member of the secret agency, the Zhat Vash.. Like so much of Picard’s first season, the return of Hugh ended up being a complete waste that ruined this fan-favorite character.

What Picard Wasted

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Hugh was ruined by his later Star Trek appearance because he doesn’t really have much of his own story–instead, he is just a plot point, an excuse for the producers to bring in the scary spectacle of a Borg Cube and then provide Picard with a quick escape. From the time he is re-introduced to the moment he dies, we don’t know much about Hugh except that he’s sad about the state of the ex-Borg and that he liked being a “hopeful fool” helping Picard and his new crew.

Done right, Hugh could have been just as captivating as fellow Star Trek character Seven of Nine— like her and Picard, he knows what it was like to be part of the evil Borg Collective and how much that experience can haunt someone for a lifetime. We could have had an entire series using Hugh as the lens to understand Star Trek’s most fearsome foes, but he was brought back and killed seemingly just to showcase the villainy of the Romulans.

Picard’s Hugh Isn’t Too Bright

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Speaking of which, Hugh was always portrayed as young and naive, but it’s tough to watch a guy who decided to do business with the Romulans act surprised that these dirty-dealing aliens would betray him. Someone who trusted the Romulans not to betray him as soon as his back was turned is frankly someone much, much dumber than the Hugh we know and love.

A Reunion We’ll Never Get To See

Additionally, Hugh developed a close relationship with Geordi La Forge in his first Star Trek appearance, and the later episode “Descent” built on that relationship nicely. By comparison, Picard only emphasized his relationship with the title character, someone who once strongly considered turning Hugh into a walking genocide bomb. Had the series not needlessly killed him, we might have eventually gotten a reunion between Hugh and La Forge.

Hugh Is Ruined For Good

Ruining Hugh is just one of the mistakes that Star Trek: Picard’s first season made, but it’s also a mistake that can never be unmade. One of the franchise’s most fascinating characters was snuffed out simply to give a body count to a Romulan baddie whose name you’ve already forgotten. At this point, I can’t help but wonder if we should modify Picard’s original plan and send a good writer to Paramount, hoping to somehow infect the entire network with the ability to tell great stories once again.

Nobody try to stop me. If I can make this work before season two of that awful Frasier reboot, Paramount might once again know what to do with its tossed salads and scrambled Borgs such as Hugh.

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