It sees Patrick Stewart return as Jean Luc Picard, one of the most beloved captains in Star Trek. The new series focuses on a retired Picard, who now owns a winery and is enjoying his break from Starfleet, but it’s not long before adventure calls, and he must return to the stars.
Stewart last played Picard in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. But, 15 years before that, he had been the captain of the Enterprise for 178 episodes in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as in four feature films that he helmed. So, if you want to catch up on all-things Picard before diving into the new CBS All Access series, we think you might have trouble finding the time.
There are hundreds of hours of Picard-centric content you can binge - and that’s without getting into the other characters and plotlines that are likely to surface in Star Trek: Picard. To help you get ready as quickly as possible, we've rounded up a list of episodes from The Next Generation and Voyager, plus a few films, which should cover everything you need to see.
What to watch before Star Trek: Picard
NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS.
We recommend watching the episodes and movies below, in this order. To avoid any spoilers, jump to the bottom for our bulleted list version.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Battle
- Season 1 Episode 9
This TNG episode sees the Enterprise pay for a decision made by Captain Picard nine years earlier - when he was in command of the Federation ship Stargazer. They were attacked by an unknown ship. Picard survived the encounter, however, thanks to the first use of what became the Picard Maneuver. This episode hints at Picard’s past and focuses on what makes him unique as a captain.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Measure of a Man
- Season 2 Episode 9
Picard and his old friend Data (Brent Spiner) might reunite soon - if the trailers for Star Trek: Picard are any indication - making this TNG episode a must-watch. In it, we meet a cyberneticist who wishes to deconstruct Lt Commander Data to see how his positronic brain functions. When Data doesn’t want to undergo the procedure, which could wipe his entire memory, the cyberneticist attempts to have the Federation compel Data, arguing he is the Federation’s property. The ensuing conflict sees a sci-fi courtroom drama take place, with Captain Picard representing Data for the right to have control over his own body.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds
- Season 3 Episode 26
- Season 4 Episode 1
The Borg is one of the most terrifying villains in Star Trek, and they return in some form for the new Picard series, which is why we’re including this two-parter, which ranks up there with the greatest episodes in any Star Trek series.
The Enterprise responds to a distress signal from a Federation colony only to find everyone in the colony has disappeared. It’s discovered that the Borg, a hive mind that forces all life it meets to assimilate under its control, is responsible for their disappearance. When another Starfleet vessel is attacked by a Borg Cube, the Enterprise heads off to face them, beginning an encounter that will have a lasting impact on Picard.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Family
- Season 4 Episode 2
Following the battle with the Borg, the Enterprise is docked near Earth to undergo repairs, allowing Picard to return to his family home to see his brother, Robert, who’s running the family’s vineyard. This episode gives us an early glimpse at what we think Picard will be doing at the opening of the new CBS All Access series - running a vineyard - but this episode is important because we see Picard struggling with the horrible things he was forced to do while he was assimilated. He even reveals that he’s considering leaving Starfleet for a position that will keep him on Earth.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - I, Borg
- Season 5 Episode 23
This TNG episode sees the Enterprise discover a wrecked Borg ship with only one survivor, a Borg Drone initially called Three of Five (Jonathan Del Arco). There’s two main reasons to watch this episode. For one, we see Picard still struggling with his hatred for what the Borg did to him while he was assimilated. The normally cool and moralistic Captain spends the episode considering using the recovered Borg as a weapon that could destroy the entire Borg Collective. The second reason for watching this episode is that the recovered Borg drone - which ends up showing signs of its own individualism returning by taking the name Hugh - is slated to appear in Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Gambit Part I and II
- Season 7 Episode 4
- Season 7 Episode 5
This two-parter from the final season of TNG shows the relationship between Captain Picard and one of his most trusted friends - who’s also confirmed to appear in Star Trek: Picard - William Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes). While searching for a missing Picard, Riker is abducted by a group of mercenaries. When among them, he finds that Picard is actually another captive, and together, the two of them must formulate a plan to escape from their captors with an ancient Vulcan weapon.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things
- Season 7 Episodes 25
- Season 7 Episodes 26
The series finale to TNG is particularly interesting because we get a glimpse at the future leading up to Star Trek: Picard. In the finale, Picard finds himself jumping between the present and two different points in time: Seven years in the past, right before the events of the series' first episode, and 25 years into the future when he’s retired to a vineyard, or when Star Trek: Picard is expected to begin.
Star Trek: Voyager - The Scorpion
- Season 3 Episode 26
- Season 4 Episode 1
This isn’t an episode from The Next Generation, and there’s no Picard, but it's still worth watching during your catch-up because it shows the debut of another important character who is featured prominently in the trailers for the new Picard series: Seven of Nine (played by Jeri Ryan).
In this episode, while journeying home, The Voyager is forced to travel through a section of space controlled by the Borg, but in the process, it ends up in a middle of an ongoing war between the Borg and an alien species the Borg calls Species 8472. In order to make it through the area, Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) decides to ally with the Borg, accepting Seven onto the ship in the process.
Star Trek: Voyager - Endgame
- Season 7 Episodes 25
- Season 7 Episodes 26
The original Endgame! This two-part series finale of Star Trek: Voyager sets off events that will surely affect the world of Star Trek: Picard.
An older Captain Kathryn Janeway is seen celebrating the 10th anniversary of Voyager finally coming back to Earth when she devises a plan to return to the past and help the Voyager make it home 16 years faster. But she sets off an encounter with the Borg Collective that should’ve left the hive mind devastated. We should get our first look at what the Borg look like, following the events of this episode, in Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Short Treks - Children of Mars
CBS All Access has a 12-episode anthology series of short Star Trek stories, and the most recent episode appears to show a key event that happens just before the events of Star Trek: Picard. The 10-minute episode shows an attack by a group of rogue synths on Mars through the eyes of two teen girls on Earth whose parents both work on Mars. At the end, we can see a picture of Picard on the news.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
First Contact is considered one of the best Star Trek films, which makes it worth a rewatch ahead of Star Trek: Picard. But the real reason it’s worth firing up this film is that it shows Picard still struggling with the time he spent assimilated to the Borg six years earlier. He’s forced to confront these feelings head-on when he must travel back in time to prevent the Borg from changing the past and assimilating all of Earth.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
The final Star Trek film featuring Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard sees him face off with a clone of himself, played by an extremely young Tom Hardy. While the film wasn’t exactly an Oscar contender, it does have important details that will have an impact on the events of Star Trek: Picard, such as Lt Commander Data’s death near the end and the reveal that he transferred some of himself into B-4, an android similar to Data himself. There’s also the fact that the Romulans create the clone Picard must stop, which could also factor into the events of the new series.
Star Trek (2009)
The latest Star Trek films from JJ Abrams operate on a completely different timeline from Star Trek: Picard and The Next Generation series. However, there’s one key event that triggers the split timelines and might be the reason Picard leaves Starfleet, and that is the destruction of Romulan by a star going supernova. While Star Trek only shows the effects of that - in terms of a Romulan who survived and heads back in time to seek vengeance on Spock - Star Trek: Picard should give us our first glimpse at the universe following the dissolution of the Romulan Empire.
What to watch before Star Trek: Picard (spoiler-free)
Here's the same list as above, in an at-a-glance, bulleted list free of spoilers.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Battle (Season 1 Episode 9)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Measure of a Man (Season 2 Episode 9)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds (Season 3 Episode 26)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Best of Both Worlds (Season 4 Episode 1)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - Family (Season 4, Episode 2)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - I, Borg (Season 5 Episode 23)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - Gambit (Season 7 Episode 4)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - Gambit (Season 7 Episode 5)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things (Season 7 Episodes 25)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation - All Good Things (Season 7 Episodes 26)
- Star Trek: Voyager - Scorpion (Season 3 Episode 26)
- Star Trek: Voyager - Scorpion (Season 4 Episode 1)
- Star Trek: Voyager - Endgame (Season 7 Episode 25)
- Star Trek: Voyager - Endgame (Season 7 Episode 26)
- Star Trek: Short Treks - Children of Mars
- Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
- Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
- Star Trek (2009)
Check out our Star Trek guide for the ultimate best-viewing order on all the Star Trek movies and shows.