The Strange Connection Between Two Star Trek Legends Who Never Met

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek wrath of khan

While Star Trek has had plenty of crossovers and cameos over the years, there was never much of anything connecting Jean-Luc Picard and Pavel Chekov. They starred in different Trek series, after all, but Chekov never made a cameo in The Next Generation, and when he appeared in Generations, he never interacted with Picard. However, these two Star Trek icons have something weirdly similar in common: they each served on one ship named Reliant and two ships named Enterprise.

Chekov’s Doomed Tour On The Reliant

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Well before Captain Picard had his own show, Chekov was a featured character in Star Trek: The Original Series, beginning with the second season. As such, he served aboard the original USS Enterprise and was still serving on the refitted ship in The Motion Picture. In The Wrath of Khan, however, Chekov now served aboard the USS Reliant, the vessel that Khan commandeered before engaging in epic space battles with Captain Kirk.

Picard’s Pre-TNG Starfleet Service

As for Captain Picard, his own service aboard a different USS Reliant was much more hidden than Chekov’s adventures in The Wrath of Khan. That’s because when Star Trek: The Next Generation was first airing, there was never any mention of Picard serving aboard a ship named Reliant. But when previously-omitted scenes were added back to episodes for the show’s remastered Blu-ray release, the famous episode “The Measure of a Man” now contained a reference to Picard serving on that vessel; years later, the Picard episode “Remembrance” gives us a brief glimpse of his Service Award from his time on this ship.

Chekov’s First Enterprise Was Destroyed

While nothing major happened to Picard’s Reliant before it was decommissioned (that we know of, at least), Chekov’s ended up exploding after Khan detonated the Genesis Device inside the Mutara Nebula. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Chekov helped hijack the Enterprise as part of an insane plan to reunite Spock’s mind (hidden inside Dr. McCoy) with his body. Maybe Chekov’s bad luck, though; Kirk is forced to self-destruct that vessel to keep it out of the hands of Klingons, but he and Chekov serve together once again after a new ship (the Enterprise-A) is built.

Picard’s Enterprise Also Was Destroyed

Though the circumstances were a bit different, Picard’s Enterprise eventually met an untimely end, just like Chekov’s. In Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-D sustains enough damage from two renegade Klingons (Lursa and B’etor) that its drive section explodes. The crew successfully evacuates to the saucer section, but with Deanna Troi driving for the first and last time, the saucer crash lands on the planet Veridian III, and Picard is later reunited with his crew on the new Enterprise-E that we first see in First Contact.

Picard And Chekov Never Crossed Paths

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What does this Star Trek history lesson add up to? Simply put, Jean-Luc Picard and Pavel Chekov are the only characters in Starfleet history who have each served aboard a USS Reliant and two different ships named Enterprise. While these two never meet, Chekov’s son Anton (voiced by Pavel Chekov actor Walter Koenig) appears in a voice-only cameo in the Picard ep “The Last Generation” as the President of the United Federation of Planets.

Infinite Discovery In Infinite Combinations

For longtime Star Trek fans, it’s always fun to see how completely unrelated characters can still intersect. This serves as a reminder that the Trek philosophy IDIC (Infinite Discovery in Infinite Combinations) is just as true of our favorite characters as it is of the new life and new civilizations they encounter. With over 900 episodes and counting, this franchise has more diversity and originality than anything else on television.