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The original draft for Star Trek: Insurrection had Captain Picard kill his android friend Data, which would have made for a very different film.

Star Trek Insurrection Captain Picard Data


  • The original concept for Star Trek: Insurrection was much darker, with Captain Picard and Data being bitter enemies.
  • Patrick Stewart played a crucial role in changing the tone of the film, pushing for a more fun and exciting approach.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection failed to live up to the critical acclaim and box office success of its predecessor, Star Trek: First Contact.

The original concept for Star Trek: Insurrection was very different from the final version of the film, and included Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) killing the beloved android Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). After the action-heavy Star Trek: First Contact, the third Star Trek: The Next Generation movie took a softer approach, focusing on a smaller story with more moments of humor and romance. After Data apparently malfunctions while on an undercover mission, Captain Picard and the USS Enterprise-E head to the planet Ba’ku to investigate. While there, they discover a plot to forcibly relocate the Ba’ku people for access to the regenerative properties of the Briar Patch.

While Insurrection mostly plays as a light-hearted Star Trek romp in the vein of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the original pitch for the film was much darker. In the Star Trek oral history, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, Insurrection writers Michael Piller and Rick Berman discuss the earliest drafts of the movie and the battle that saw Picard kill his friend Data. Read Piller and Berman’s discussion below:

Michael Piller: “In the first draft, Picard and Data are brutal, bitter enemies. In the film there’s a wonderful moment where they battle in a dogfight while Picard sings Gilbert and Sullivan. That used to take seventy pages, and in that battle Picard was ultimately forced to kill Data. That was all very interesting, but by the time you had Picard go down to the next planet, you basically had a miniseries worth of plot. Neither side of it was good enough to support the elements. It was Patrick, frankly, who said, “This is dark and dreary and it’s not fun,” and he was the one who put us back on the fountain of youth course that ultimately really leads the story to its current state. So we stripped away the Heart of Darkness aspect and went with the other plot, using the Heart of Darkness elements as a tease to the other plot.”

Rick Berman: “It was really not Patrick who put the kibosh on the story, it was the studio. And I think to a great degree they were right. They thought a Star Trek movie should be up and fun and exciting. And those were not words that really fit into Mike Piller’s vocabulary. Exciting maybe, but not fun. But that was like the biggest note that we really ever got.”

Star trek nemesis star trek insurrection
Insurrection Doomed The Star Trek TNG Movies, Not Nemesis

Star Trek: Insurrection undid First Contact’s gains for the TNG film franchise. The following movie, Star Trek Nemesis, never really had a chance.

Star Trek: Insurrection didn’t match First Contact’s critical acclaim or box office.

Generally considered to be the best of the TNG films, Star Trek: First Contact was a hard act to follow and Insurrection failed to live up to its predecessor. First Contact built on stories that had begun in TNG, including Picard’s history with the Borg and Data’s desire to be human. The second TNG film also depicted a defining moment in the Star Trek franchise in Zephram Cochran’s (James Cromwell) warp flight and first contact with the Vulcans.

Jonathan Frakes directed both Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Star Trek: First Contact not only connected several elements of Star Trek lore but also contained big action setpieces and intense character moments. With its unfocused story and sometimes awkward humor (see Data’s flotation device moment), Star Trek: Insurrection simply didn’t pack the same punch as First ContactStar Trek: Insurrection had its moments, but it felt like a clear step down after the action-packed First Contact.

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