A guide to Star Trek: Picard's Next Generation characters

star trek: picard
(Image credit: Trae Patton/CBS)

We're now four episodes deep in Star Trek: Picard, and the story is starting to hit its stride. While Picard isn't just a direct sequel to Star Trek: The Next Generation, a lot of TNG cast members have started to show up, from the titular captain, all the way down to guest stars from a single episode.

If you find yourself plumbing the depths of your memory to remember what happened on 20-year-old episodes of TNG, Tom's Guide is here to help. I've compiled a list of TNG characters who have shown up in Picard, or whom we've seen in trailers, complete with a short bio and some of their best episodes. This way, you can get ready for the rest of Picard without rewatching TNG's full 178-episode run.

(This piece has minor spoilers for the first three episodes of Star Trek: Picard. If you consider material from trailers to be spoilers as well, you may want to avoid the "Upcoming characters" section.)

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

(Image credit: Trae Patton/CBS)

This one's sort of a gimme, but for the sake of thoroughness: Jean-Luc Picard was the captain of the USS Enterprise-D during TNG and the USS Enterprise-E during the later TNG films. He's had a long and storied career, saving the galaxy from the Borg, bargaining for humanity's future with the omnipotent Q Continuum and making a tenuous alliance with the Romulans to fight off an even greater threat. We've already made a list of our favorite Capt. Picard episodes, so check those out if you need a refresher.

Lt. Cmdr. Data

(Image credit: CBS)

Data, an android who longed to feel human, was one of the most beloved characters in TNG. He served as a bridge officer aboard both of Picard's Enterprises and became one of Picard's closest friends in the process. There's a lot to know about Lt. Cmdr. Data and his relatives, from his oddball creator Dr. Noonien Soong, to his evil brother Lore, to his primitive precursor B-4. But Data casts a long shadow over Star Trek: Picard, as he sacrificed himself to save the captain in Star Trek: Nemesis. Another important episode to watch is The Offspring (TNG S3, E16), which tells the story of Data's ill-fated daughter, Lal.

Dr. Bruce Maddox

(Image credit: Paramount)

While Dr. Maddox hasn't shown up in Picard yet, he's arguably done more to drive the story forward than any other character. He appeared in only one episode of TNG: Measure of a Man (S2, E9). In this groundbreaking episode, Maddox wanted to deconstruct Data to learn the secrets of the android's construction. When Data refused, it sparked a civil rights trial. Afterward, Maddox and Data made a tenuous peace, and it's clear that Maddox's admiration for Data lasted for decades. It's a safe bet that Maddox will appear, in some way, shape or form, later in this season of Picard.

Hugh (Third of Five)

(Image credit: Trae Patton/CBS)

In the third episode of Picard, we learned the Romulan Reclamation site (aka the inactive Borg Cube) has a complicated command structure. One of the project's directors is Hugh, a former Borg drone who reclaimed his individuality with the help of the Enterprise-D crew. Hugh has a unique insight into what it's like to be a Borg and just how difficult de-assimilation can be. He'll almost certainly crop up again as the season progresses. If you'd like to learn his backstory, watch I, Borg (TNG S5, E23), in which Geordi La Forge helps Hugh develop a sense of identity, and Descent (TNG S6, E26 and S7, E1), in which Hugh fights back against the Borg and tries to share what he's learned.

That's everyone we've seen in the show so far, but here are some characters we know are coming, thanks to the trailers:

Cmdr. William Riker

(Image credit: Trae Patton/CBS)

Cmdr. William RikerPicard's loyal second-in-command, Will Riker, is one of the most fun characters in TNG — and also one of the most serious. The main point of contact between Picard and the rest of his crew, Riker is a naturally charismatic friend, a bold leader and a damn good trombonist. Based on the trailers, we know that Riker eventually settled down to a quiet life with his wife, Deanna Troi, and their children. As one of the main characters in TNG, there are plenty of great Riker episodes, but some of my personal favorites are Future Imperfect (TNG S4, E8), Frame of Mind (TNG S6, E21) and The Pegasus (TNG S7, E12).

Cmdr. Deanna Troi

(Image credit: CBS)

The Enterprise-D's counselor, Riker's wife and Picard's conscience, Deanna Troi is a woman of many talents. She can sense emotions, thanks to her half-Betazoid heritage; she can take command of a starship, thanks to her officer training; and she can help any member of the crew master their own fears, thanks to her psychological skills. Having seen the trailers, we know that she'll show up at least briefly to help Picard along in his latest mission. To relive some of Cmdr. Troi's greatest moments, check out Ménage à Troi (TNG S3, E24), Face of the Enemy (TNG S6, E14) and Thine Own Self (TNG S7, E16).

Bonus: Seven of Nine

(Image credit: CBS)

Technically speaking, this article is just about Next Generation characters in Picard, but we know that Seven of Nine, one of the main characters from Star Trek: Voyager, will be making a cameo as well. Without rehashing an entire show's plot, Seven of Nine is a former Borg drone who joined the crew of the USS Voyager while it was evading the Borg in the Delta Quadrant. During Voyager's mission, Capt. Kathryn Janeway helped Seven of Nine regain her human identity, and now it seems like she's ready to lend her expertise to Picard and his motley new crew. Some of the best Seven of Nine episodes include The Gift (VOY S4, E2), Dark Frontier (VOY S5, E16 and E17) and Survival Instinct (VOY S6, E2).

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.