Star Trek: Picard Season 3 is bringing back The Next Generation cast members – and it's not just for glorified cameos. Star Trek franchise head Alex Kurtzman let fans know that Star Trek: TNG icons Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker), LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) Brent Spiner (Data), Michael Dorn (Worf) Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), and Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher) will all be a substantial part of the Picard Season 3 storyline.
In a new interview with Alex Kurtzman (see below), the Star Trek Universe executive producer said the following to address fan fears that The Next Generation cast is just popping in for cameos: "They're not cameos. I assure everybody they can just take that right off their plate. Yeah."
The stakes of Star Trek: Picard have been very high. Season 1 saw Picard unraveling a mystery that stopped a Romulan sect from causing havoc and a machine apocalypse from annihilating the universe as we know it. Season 2 has seen Q force Picard and co. to play chess with time itself by traveling to 2024 and fighting preserve the proper sequence of history – even while the Borg Queen attempts to build a new and different collective in the past. It's easy to imagine that the storyline of Season 3 would have stakes that demand the combined efforts of the TNG characters over subtantial time. Kurtzman isn't dropping any plot details, but he does stake a confident claim that the reasoning behind bringing back The Next Generation characters is solid:
"When you take on Picard, the first thing you think is I want to bring everybody back, right? Of course," Kurtzman said. "But Patrick Stewart – and he really deserves the credit for it – equally wanted to bring everybody back. But what I think was insistent from the beginning and saying if we're going to do that, we have to earn it. We can't just drop that all at once. It won't land in the right way, because there won't have been enough time to set up what had changed about Picard; about all the other characters in the intervening years.
So I think that we felt that by the time we get around to Season 3, now you're like, 'Okay, we've established the world, we've established the characters, and it makes a lot of sense to bring them back – and we have a really good reason to bring them back. I mean again, any story it's always 'Why?' What's the 'why?' And we finally found our 'Why?'"
Star Trek: Picard Seasons 1 – 3 are streaming on Paramount+.