'Star Trek': All the News and Highlights From the Supersized Comic-Con Panel

Patrick Stewart unveils 'Next Generation' stars that are back for 'Picard,' while 'Discovery' added a season three regular at Comic-Con.
Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty

Patrick Stewart assumed command of Comic-Con Saturday, making his return as his Star Trek: The Next Generation captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Stewart unveiled a new trailer for Star Trek: Picard and revealed Next Generation actor Brent Spiner will appear as Data. The Borg will be a part of the series as well; Voyager actor Jeri Ryan is back as Seven of Nine and Jonathan Del Arco, who played the young Borg Hugh in Next Generation, appeared onstage opposite Stewart.

Not onstage, but also appearing in the show will be Next Generation's Marina Sirtis (Troi) and Jonathan Frakes (Riker).

Stewart returns with CBS All Access' Star Trek: Picard 17 years after last appearing in 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis. Ahead of Comic-Con, little was known about the plot aside from the fact that Picard has left Starfleet at the rank of admiral for unknown reasons. The trailer suggests the series, which debuts in 2020, will center on Picard assembling a crew to help a mysterious young woman (Isa Briones) who may have a connection to Data, the Borg or both. 

Stewart received a warm welcome, and opened the Picard presentation by sharing a line of dialogue he was learning this morning that demonstrated a theme for the afternoon — that Jean-Luc may be older, he may not be as powerful, but he still fights for what he believes in.

"We never know do we, when our last moment will be,' " the actor recited. "For me I can twist that a little and say, 'we never know do we, when our best moment will be.' And that is, now."

Writer Akiva Goldsman noted Picard is not a sequel to Next Generation, describing it as "slower, more gentle, more lyrical. It is certainly more character-based."   

Earlier in the Trek panel, the Star Trek: Discovery team took the stage, with David Ajala unveiled as playing a character named Book.

"Book is going to be a character who breaks the rules a little bit," said Ajala.

Season two of the series, from co-showrunners Michelle Paradise and Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman, ended with a cliffhanger that saw the Discovery hurdling unknown centuries into the future via a wormhole.

"We are going almost 1,000 years into the future in season three," said Kurtzman, who hastened to add he would not be going dark, despite the season two finale. "Every conversation about how we create Star Trek is filtered through [creator Gene] Roddenberry's essential vision of optimism, which can never really change."

There will also be more Star Treks: Short Treks, which launched with season two of Discovery and highlighted stories that take place outside of Discovery's plot but also offered insight as to where the titular ship’s voyage could be headed in. Kurtzman revealed they will be doing six new Short Treks, including one that connects to Star Trek: Picard. He revealed a teaser — which included an episode focused on the tribbles, the classic, adorable and prolific creatures from the original series. (The teaser showed a young girl apparently about to eat one.)

Following the Discovery presentation, actor Jerry O'Connell pulled back the curtain on the upcoming animated series Lower Decks, a ten-episode series debuting in 2020 that will focus on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet's least important ships.

Trek producer Heather Kadin noted that her office was a fan of Adult Swim's Rick and Morty, and learned executive producer Mike McMahan was a big Trek fan. (He went as far as creating a Twitter account tweeting loglines to a fictional season eight of Next Generation.) They started a dialogue with McMahan, who conceived of the Lower Decks series.

McMahan revealed the show takes place in 2380, right after the final Next Generation movie Nemesis and after Voyager returned from the delta quadrant.

"It focuses on four ensigns who are serving on a not-important ship in Starfleet," said McMahan. "There are social, emotional stories, mixed in with sci-fi stories … there's a lot of familiar Star Trek in it. … the comedy does not come from punching down on Trek or making fun of tropes. It feels like every episode is a real Star Trek episode."

As CBS All Access builds out its Trek franchise, it is also launching an official Trek podcast, to be hosted by Lower Decks star Tawny Newsome.

A theme of the morning was that the future of Trek was strong. Stewart choked up recalling how emotional he got while shooting one of his final Next Generation scenes with Frakes, in which Riker told Picard it'd been an honor, and Picard was supposed to say "the honor was mine." Stewart almost was unable to get through shooting that day, and noted it was emotional to shoot Picard with Frakes and his other returning stars, all these years later.

Kurtzman said that Picard is the same man he was, but his circumstances have changed. He no longer has access to the resources or power he once had, but he still fights for the same things.

"Picard has to soul search, and to soul search you need a dark night of the soul to come out lighter and brighter," said Kurtzman.