A Christmas Carol Taught Star Trek’s Data What It Means To Be Human – News Today

A Christmas Carol Taught Star Trek’s Data What It Means To Be Human

Picard and Data discussed A Christmas Carol’s Ebenezer Scrooge in Star Trek: TNG, highlighting the link between Charles Dickens and Gene Roddenberry.

TNG's Data and Patrick Stewart as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol


  • Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation learns a valuable lesson about humanity from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
  • Data seeks feedback from Captain Jean-Luc Picard on his performance as Scrooge, which teaches him about what it means to be human.
  • Patrick Stewart, who played Picard, also portrayed Scrooge and had a personal connection to the story, emphasizing the themes of kindness and compassion.

Charles Dickens’ enduring novella A Christmas Carol taught Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) a valuable lesson about humanity. TNG‘s beloved android finally became human in Star Trek: Picard season 3, but Data was always one of the most human of souls aboard the USS Enterprise-D. Data’s quest to understand more about humanity took in the great literary works of human history from Shakespeare to Dickens. Data was also keen to understand humanity through acting, and would regularly seek feedback from Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) on his performances in Henry V and The Tempest.

This was something of a Star Trek: The Next Generation cast in-joke, as Patrick Stewart was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company before being cast as Picard. Data also sought feedback about his performance as Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This was another in-joke, as the role of Scrooge was another one close to the heart of Patrick Stewart. However, the advice that Picard gives Data about playing Scrooge was yet another vital lesson to TNG‘s beloved android about what it means to be human.

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A Christmas Carol’s Scrooge Taught Data How To Be Human


Star Trek: The Next Generation season 4, episode 13, “Devil’s Due”, opens with Data in full costume as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The scene Data is performing is the one in which Scrooge is first visited by Marley’s ghost. Data notes the power of fear to compel Scrooge to change his ways, which effectively sets up the main plot of the episode, in which Picard is tasked with disproving the existence of the devil on the planet Ventax II. However, Scrooge plays an important role in Data’s ongoing story, too, thanks to Picard’s astute assessment of Data’s performance.

To play Scrooge effectively, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Data was trying to trigger emotions of his own by re-enacting Ebenezer’s haunting. Picard approves of this more method approach, after he had previously replicated historical performances of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Data, the moment you decided to stop imitating other actors and create your own interpretation, you were already one step closer to understanding humanity.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is still being performed nearly 200 years after it was first published, proving that it’s one of humanity’s enduring myths. So there could have been no better way for Data to learn about the complexities of the human experience than embodying the character of Ebenezer Scrooge.

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