Patrick Stewart Killed Picard Because He Wanted To Be An Action Hero

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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Sometimes, being a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation means feeling like you’re stuck in that weird time loop from “Cause and Effect.” For example, many fans’ reactions to Picard boiled down to questions about why the titular character seemed so different from the man we saw embrace the role decades ago.

This discourse has been repeating over the years for one sad, simple reason: fans don’t want to acknowledge that it was Patrick Stewart himself who killed the Captain Picard we know and love. And it all started with Star Trek: First Contact.

Star Trek: First Contact

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For the most part, the Next Generation sequel film is well-regarded by fans, but since First Contact came out in 1996, fans have been wondering why Patrick Stewart’s portrayal of Picard was so different.

This was a character famous for his unflappable calm and his ability to diplomatically talk his way out of almost any situation.

In this film, however, he’s a gung-ho action hero who brutally guns down assimilated crewmen while screaming, breaks his beloved ship models (also while screaming), and spends the climax of the film flexing his muscled arms (he wasn’t screaming at this point, but many excited fans were).

Commander Riker Was The Fighter

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For all intents and purposes, Patrick Stewart kicked off these Picard changes after he read an early draft of First Contact and was unsatisfied.

Originally, the script had the younger Commander Riker aboard the Enterprise battling the Borg, and Picard would have been on the ground.

While down there, he would have to personally replace an injured Zefram Cochrane by rallying the town into fixing the warp core of the inventor’s ship, all while falling in love with a local photographer.

On The Ship Fighting The Borg

The version of the First Contact script Patrick Stewart read would have some later changes at the request of the studio (for example, the Borg Queen was added to differentiate the Borg from zombies), but the actor personally made one big request: he wanted Riker to be leading the efforts on the ground and Picard to be on the ship, taking the fight to the Borg.

This ultimately led to Picard’s seemingly out-of-character macho anger, who felt less like a guy who enjoys Dixon Hill holo programs and more like somebody who re-enacts Rambo II whenever he gets the chance.

Influencing Star Trek: Insurrection

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Even though Patrick Stewart’s Picard isn’t as out of character in Star Trek: Insurrection, the star’s desire to be an onscreen action hero greatly influences the story of the follow-up film.

Screenwriter Michael Piller wanted a movie where Picard had to track down an old Starfleet Academy pal who was waging a one-man war on the Romulans, but Stewart said that “Picard’s involvement in the action line of Fire Contact had been very successful, and I wanted to continue that.”

He wanted “the captain…in the thick of things,” and he also wanted “a romantic storyline that went a little further” than what he had in First Contact.

Even Star Trek: Nemesis Not Safe

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Patrick Stewart had a less direct influence on the script for Star Trek: Nemesis, but the Picard actor is still inadvertently responsible for the stupidest part of that film.

The writer and producer of that film were aware that Stewart liked to drive fast for fun (he later drove in the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Race in 2012), which is why we had that insanely stupid sequence with Picard driving a dune buggy instead of using, say, a shuttlecraft (which would have been superior in every way).

Once again, everyone acquiesced to Stewart’s desire to look like a cool action hero onscreen despite how little sense it made, and an awful film was made that much poorer because of it.

Star Trek: Picard

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Now, let’s fast-forward to Patrick Stewart’s return to the character in Star Trek: Picard, a show with a rocky first season and a downright awful second one.

Season three was a hit, largely because it brought back The Next Generation crew and the Enterprise. The season was so good that fans everywhere asked an obvious question: why hadn’t the earlier seasons done this?

The answer is that Patrick Stewart put his foot down and said he didn’t want Star Trek: Picard to heavily feature Starfleet uniforms, vintage character cameos, the starship Enterprise, or anything else that felt too much like The Next Generation.

Admittedly, the elderly actor no longer wanted to be the action hero of days gone by, but he certainly didn’t want anything to distract audiences from his own character. In wanting to once again be the primary focus in a franchise known for its great ensemble cast, Stewart nearly destroyed the show bearing his character’s name.

Patrick Stewart Did Picard No Favors

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Before anyone hits me with a phaser set to kill, I’d like to clarify that I love Patrick Stewart as an actor and as a man, and I think Captain Picard is one of the most compelling characters in television history.

However, I can’t ignore that Stewart himself has helped to personally dismantle much of what makes Picard such an awesome character in the first place so he can be seen as a tough guy who kicks butt, drives fast, and always gets the ladies. 

Forget that whole robot body thing in the first season of Star Trek: Picard…in reality, the character died decades ago, and it was Patrick Stewart who pulled the trigger (it was a Tommy gun, naturally) that killed him.

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