Star Trek: Picard Proves Paramount Doesn’t Know Its Fans

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

star trek picard season 2
  • Star Trek: Picard showrunner Terry Matalas had to fight Paramount to get a character to return.
  • Paramount thought fans wouldn’t remember Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Star Trek fans are famously attentive to the smallest details.
  • The studio’s reasoning is suspect, as characters with even fewer appearances came back in Star Trek: Picard.

Part of what made the third season of Star Trek: Picard such a success was that it brought back so many of our favorite characters, ranging from the Next Generation bridge crew to one-off characters like Commander Shelby from “The Best of Both Worlds.” The most surprising returning character was Ro Laren, and her cameo allowed her to effectively complete a story arc with Picard that began decades ago. Showrunner Terry Matalas had to fight Paramount to bring this fan-favorite character back, and that leaves us with one undeniable conclusion: for all their focus on all things Star Trek, Paramount still doesn’t really know its fans.

The Argument To Leave Ro Laren Off Picard Made No Sense

star trek ro laren

We reached this conclusion because the network didn’t fret about bringing Ro to Picard for any reasons related to her character or the overall story of the third season. Instead, they bizarrely worried that fans of the franchise somehow wouldn’t recognize a beloved character that made no less than eight episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Let’s face it: this is a fandom that specializes in memorizing and celebrating the most minuscule of trivia, so the idea that fans wouldn’t recognize someone as iconic as Ro is downright insane.

More Obscure Characters Appeared With No Pushback

Compounding matters is the fact that Paramount had no worries about fans recognizing other, arguably more obscure characters that appeared in earlier seasons of Picard. For example, the first season infamously gave us the brutal death of Icheb, a supporting character on Voyager. He appeared in more episodes of that show than Ro did on TNG, but we think her status as a recurring bridge officer on the most-watched Star Trek series certainly makes her more recognizable than him.

Hugh’s Cameo Was A Standout Despite Only One Previous Appearance

Another surprising Picard cameo in Season 1 was Hugh, a former member of the Borg who had been freed from the Collective. Star Trek fans were happy to see the character, of course, who previously appeared in two episodes of The Next Generation. If Paramount was worried about casual viewers not knowing who Ro was, the blunt truth is that someone flipping the channels and catching the occasional TNG episode would have been much likelier (eight times likelier, in fact) to see an episode with her than the two episodes with Hugh. 

Michelle Forbes Is Sci-Fi Royalty

star trek picard

In addition to how easily recognizable Ro Laren herself is, it’s downright bizarre that Paramount thought Star Trek fans wouldn’t recognize her actor, Michelle Forbes. In addition to portraying Ro, Forbes memorably appeared alongside Kurt Russell in Escape From Las Vegas as Lieutenant Brazen and absolutely dazzled in Battlestar Galactica as the evil Admiral Cain. The simple fact is that she is science fiction royalty, and since Star Trek fans are the ultimate sci-fi geeks (sorry, Star Wars nerds), there was no chance whatsoever Ro wouldn’t be recognized.

Terry Matalas Won The War

Fortunately, all’s well that ends well: Terry Matalas convinced Paramount to bring Ro back, and we got an epic (and very tragic) conclusion to her character’s story. However, we’ll likely never get a similarly fulfilling answer to the question of why Paramount thought fans wouldn’t recognize her in the first place. Sadly, the likeliest answer is that Paramount—a network that can’t figure out if Star Trek is a drama, comedy, adventure, or even a musical—has completely lost touch with what its fans really want