Piсаrd’s Enterprise Hаs A Biɡ Differenсe From Kirk’s, And Stаr Trek: TNG Finаlly Mаde It Mаtter

The Enterprise-D had families on board, but it took Star Trek: The Next Generation several episodes to feature them in any significant way.



  • Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced families on board the Enterprise-D, offering a glimpse into civilian life on a starship.
  • The episode “When the Bough Breaks” showcased the importance of families on board when the children were kidnapped.
  • However, as threats to the Federation escalated, the presence of families on starships became increasingly impractical and dangerous.

With Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the USS Enterprise-D, Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a new kind of starship that was very different from Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his USS Enterprise in one particular way. Not only was the Enterprise-D significantly larger than Kirk’s Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series, but it also housed the families of many of the officers on board. Picard’s Enterprise was meant for exploration and potentially long missions in deep space, and the United Federation of Planets at the time was experiencing a period of peace. During Kirk’s time as Captain of the Enterprise, the Federation had a conflict-filled relationship with the Klingons and threats like the Romulans asserted themselves.

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, episode 17, “When the Bough Breaks,” brings the children of the Enterprise-D to the forefront of the story for the first time. When the Enterprise visits the mythological planet of Aldea, the Aldeans kidnap several children from the Enterprise because they cannot have children of their own. As Captain Picard tries to negotiate with the Aldeans, Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) takes on a leadership role among the group of kids. The Enterprise crew eventually figures out a way to beam the children safely back to the Enterprise, and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) discovers that the Aldeans’ inability to have children can be cured.

Three of the children are played by relatives of people involved in TNG. Wil Wheaton’s younger siblings, Jeremy and Amy, play Mason and Tara, and the daughter of make-up supervisor Michael Westmore plays Rose.

Picard’s Enterprise-D Having Families Aboard Finally Mattered When Children Are Kidnapped

Star Trek TNG When the Bough Breaks Wesley Crusher kids

Although the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation emphasized that the Enterprise-D would have civilians and families on board, it took seventeen episodes for the show to prominently feature any of the families. TNG season 1, episode 17, offers a glimpse into life on the Enterprise for civilians, as the children are shown attending lessons, practicing instruments, and playing in their quarters. Most episodes focus on the senior officers and their missions, so it’s nice to see another element of life on a starship and another side of Picard. Captain Picard’s discomfort interacting with the children is charming and well-played by Patrick Stewart.

The Enterprise-D had the ability to separate its saucer section from the main drive section, and, according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, “When the Bough Breaks” was originally meant to include a scene with this feature. However, the scene was cut for budgetary reasons, time, and to keep the focus on the main story.

“When the Bough Breaks” is not the only episode to feature the children of the Enterprise. In TNG season 6, episode 7, “Rascals,” Captain Picard and a handful of other officers are turned into 12-year-olds in a transporter accident. When Ferengi pirates board the Enterprise, Picard and the others are herded into a classroom with the other children. “Rascals” is another episode that visits the classrooms on the Enterprise and shows what it would be like for a kid to live on a starship. Beyond these couple of episodes, TNG rarely featured the children on the Enterprise-D, and later starships would have fewer civilians on board.

Why TNG’s Enterprise-D Had Families But Picard’s Next Enterprise Didn’t

Having families on board makes the Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation unique compared to Kirk’s Enterprise, but it’s not exactly practical. The Aldeans kidnap the children fairly easily and their parents become understandably frantic. As more and more threats to the Federation appear throughout TNG, life aboard the Enterprise becomes increasingly dangerous. By the time Picard takes over the command of the USS Enterprise-E in Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise no longer has many civilians on board. The Borg became an even more significant threat to the Federation, and the Enterprise-E engaged them in the Battle of Sector 001.

Plus, the Dominion War began in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which was an existential threat to the Alpha Quadrant. The Federation faces conflict from multiple sides, and the main mission of the Enterprise is no longer exploration. Life on a starship has simply become too dangerous for families by this point if it was ever safe to begin with. Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a new kind of starship with the Enterprise-D, but Starfleet ships were never exactly the ideal place to raise a family.

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