Star Trek: Picard Showrunner Explains Why the Show Doesn't Use Stardates

Star Trek: Picard sees Patrick Stewart returning to action as Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series breaks with some long-held Star Trek traditions. Picard is no longer a part of Starfleet and neither is his crew. He's not exploring the galaxy but on a personal quest. And, as some fans have noticed, the series dispenses with the tradition of using stardates to denote when each episode is taking place. Stardates were most often mentioned at the start of captains' logs, which were often used to introduce the premise of an episode. Along with those other breaks in tradition, Picard is a more serialized show than its predecessors. That means there's less of a need to set up each individual episode, leaving few opportunities for the mention of stardates. But Picard Showrunner Michael Chabon says he's never been a fan of the convention anyway.

"Stardates, in my view, and I know this is going to make some people mad, are a uniquely perverse form of uninformative information," Chabon writes on Instagram in response to a fan's question about Stardates. "Using a Stardate tells you precisely nothing. Even people who know how to interpret and convert them have to go off and interpret and convert them to have them mean something. Giving an audience the stardate is like if I wanted to know if I needed to put on a sweater or not, and you told me the temperature outside in Kelvin. 'It's 207 out.'"

Stardates have long been a problematic piece part of the Star Trek universe. Different writers and producers have used different methods to come up with stardates. This was especially true on Star Trek: The Original Series, which created stardates to avoid having to give each episode a real date. This active effort to avoid establishing continuity made sense when Star Trek was a single, scrappy television show. Star Trek is now a franchise spanning more than 50 years of continuity. The inconsistent creation of stardates makes it impossible to create consistent conversions.

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More and more, the franchise relies on Gregorian calendar years. Star Trek: Enterprise takes place in the 22nd century from 2151 through 2155. Star Trek: The Original Series and the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery takes place in the 23rd century. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine take place in the 24th century. Star Trek: Picard takes place in the year 2399, on the eve of the dawn of the 25th century. In its third season, Discovery travels forward in time to the year 3187 in the 32nd century.

New episodes of Star Trek: Picard stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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