Robert Picardo Wants To Reprise His Star Trek Role As The Doctor

Robert Picardo says he wants to come back to Star Trek as The Doctor, though he sees some potential hurdles including the fact that he has aged while his character shouldn't.

By Michileen Martin | Published

Robert Picardo back as The Doctor in Star Trek? Yes, please! The former Star Trek: Voyager star admits he wants back in the franchise, though he sees some potential narrative barriers to the prospect.

Robert Picardo spoke on The Companion’s “To Boldly Ask…” interview series about a potential return to Star Trek, including expressing gratitude for his former co-star Kate Mulgrew being vocal about her own openness to return.

“I’m really happy that Kate [Mulgrew] is now talking openly about it now,” Robert Picardo said. “That they’ve established the precedent with Star Trek: Picard, there’s a passion in the audience out there to see the legacy actors again in new stories mixed with wonderful, younger, new actors. So, it’s certainly something I’m open to and the character lives on inside me.”

One potential hurdle Robert Picardo sees in returning to Star Trek is what he calls, “the Data issue.” In other words, like Brent Spiner‘s Data, The Doctor isn’t supposed to age and yet, of course, Picardo has. But while the actor sees this as a challenge, he also has identified an intriguing opportunity.

robert picardo star trek
Robert Picardo and Marina Sirtis in Star Trek: Voyager – Season 6, Episode 24 “Life Line”

Along with playing The Doctor, Robert Picardo has also played Dr. Lewis Zimmerman–the man who creates the Emergency Medical Holographic program–on both Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Like Picardo, Zimmerman would have aged, and the actor sees a lot of potential in a de-aged Doctor and Zimmerman sharing scenes.

“Let’s say you’re a 40-year-old person, imagine your 18-year-old self working side by side with you,” Robert Picardo pitched. “Wouldn’t that annoy the hell out of you? I think there are a lot of comic possibilities if you can age down The Doctor to do a scene, now that there’s a giant age gap between The Doctor who’s 41 or 42 and his late 60s creator.”

Robert Picardo is clearly not wrong in the comedic potential of such a Star Trek scene, but at the same time you wouldn’t think the age issue had to necessarily be such a challenge. A hologram’s appearance could be altered and since The Doctor sees himself as just as real as any non-holographic person, he might choose to alter his image to make himself look older for some reason.

In fact, there’s something of a precedent for this. In the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Data of a future timeline has artificially greyed his hair to make himself look more distinguished.

What would seem like a much bigger challenge in terms of bringing Robert Picardo back to Star Trek is answering the question of exactly what The Doctor has been doing for the past couple of decades. In Picard Season 1, we learn artificial intelligence–which The Doctor certainly qualifies as–is banned throughout the Federation because of a horrible event on Mars.

The ban is lifted by the end of Season 1, but it’s in effect for years beforehand: so did The Doctor survive the ban and, if so, how?