The character was devised by Gene Roddenberry and named after Dr. Jean Piccard, a Swiss scientist and high-altitude balloonist. While there is no official source of the name Picard, the character makes occasional allusions to his "famous ancestors" — presumably Jean, Auguste, and Jacques Piccard.
Life before command of the Enterprise-D
Jean-Luc Picard was born in Labarre, France, Earth on July 13, 2305 to Maurice and Yvette Gessard Picard. As a child, he dreamed of adventure and exploration and caused "quite a stir" by leaving his family's generational vineyard and applying to Starfleet Academy. As of 2366, both of his parents are deceased. His brother, Robert, and nephew, René, were his only remaining family and were killed in a fire in 2371. (This issue was addressed in the Star Trek movie Generations) He failed his first entrance exam into Starfleet Academy, but was subsequently successful in being admitted. He graduated from Starfleet Academy in 2327 at or near the top of his class, and was the first freshman to win the Academy marathon at Delulin II. Picard's Starfleet serial number was SP-937-215 (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part 1").
Shortly after his graduation, Picard briefly stayed at Starbase Earhart in 2328 waiting for his assigned ship to arrive. While there, he was stabbed in the heart by one of three Nausicaans during a fight at the Bonestell Recreation Center. The damage was irreparable, and his natural heart was replaced with an artificial heart. This event became a turning point for the young Picard in which he learned that his arrogance was the main reason he was nearly killed.
Picard served as first officer aboard the USS Stargazer (NCC-2893) in 2333 and became captain upon the death of the captain in battle. For the next 22 years, Picard commanded the Stargazer on a mission of exploration.
During his command of the Stargazer, Captain Picard won the Battle of Maxia in the Maxia Zeta system in 2355, versus an unknown combatant later found to be a Ferengi D'Kora-class starship, by inventing and using a tactic known as the "Picard maneuver", which resulted in the loss of the Ferengi vessel with all hands. After the loss of the Stargazer, Captain Picard was court-martialed in 2356 but cleared of wrongdoing. (This is standard Starfleet practice whenever a ship is lost, following long naval tradition.)
What Picard did during the next nine years until he took command of the Enterprise-D has mostly remained unrevealed. During this period, he was undoubtedly further molded into the familiar, accomplished diplomat and tactician of Star Trek, but with an illustrious career still ahead of him. In one episode, he makes reference to an event that occurred between his Stargazer and Enterprise-D years where his ship had responded to a distress call.
Personal life and interests
When enjoying the comforts of home on Enterprises-D and -E, Picard often ordered (from replicators) the beverage "Tea, Earl Grey, hot". Picard is a sort of "Renaissance man" with diverse interests such as classic literature, archaeology, physics, fencing, horseback riding, and his scale models of various Starfleet vessels. A fan of Berlioz, among other composers, Picard's interest in music is evident through his playing a Ressikan flute, which he learned to play when interfaced with a space probe carrying the memories of a man and his civilization long after it was destroyed (TNG: "The Inner Light"); on occasion, he practiced his flute with the ship's computer. His love of music and theatre, particularly Shakespeare, is shown throughout the series by his tutelage and sharing with the android Data, instructing Data how to "feel" through works and to evoke the right human response. Picard is also a highly private man, as evidenced through his (intended) discreet romantic liaisons and when he underwent surgery at Starbase 212 in 2365 to replace his artificial heart ("Samaritan Snare").
As a senior officer, Picard is a mentor, or father-figure, for numerous characters, particularly Data. Picard also shepherded child prodigy Wesley Crusher (and field promoted him to Ensign) – the son of colleague Dr. Beverly Crusher (the chief medical officer on the Enterprise-D) and his best friend, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Crusher – who was born before Jack was killed in 2354 while serving with Picard aboard the Stargazer.
Picard and Beverly Crusher
After Jack Crusher's death, Picard and Dr. Crusher grew to become very good friends. Simultaneously, there was always a hint of romantic attraction between Picard and Dr. Crusher. Their affection, however, was not revealed until it was forced into the open by a device implanted in the two by an alien species that allowed them to read each other's thoughts in the episode "Attached". In one of Q's timelines in the final episode "All Good Things...", Picard had married and divorced Crusher, who had been promoted to Captain of a medical ship. She retained his name, which led to an amusing moment of confusion when "Captain Picard" was addressed on the bridge of Beverly Picard's starship.
One of Picard's favourite holodeck programs is a fictionally fictional (fictional within this fictional world) detective Dixon Hill, who seems to be an homage to Sam Spade.
Dixon Hill's adventures take place in 1940s San Francisco on Earth, a welcome diversion from a life of interstellar travel. Picard first played the program alone, but later, Data, Beverly Crusher and others were interested in the program too, so they joined in as friends of Dixon Hill.
The world of Dixon Hill contains many regular characters that only exist within the holodeck scenario, including the criminal bosses Cyrus Redblock and Nicky the Nose.
The Star Trek novel A Hard Rain takes place almost completely in Dixon Hill's world, with only brief interludes taking place in the "real" world of Star Trek. If not for certain oddities (such as dead people coming back to life), the novel reads pretty much like a normal detective novel.
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