Star Trek Picard Originally Planned to Reveal Even More About the Enterprise-E’s Fate

Star Trek: Picard showrunner Terry Matalas had an explanation for the fate of the Enterprise-E, but then came up with a better way to handle this part of Next Generation canon.

Michael Dorn as Worf in Star Trek: Picard
Photo: Sarah Coulter/Paramount+

The third season of Star Trek: Picard did not want for nostalgia, as the final season saw the former Enterprise captain finally reunite with most of his original bridge crew. The high point of the nostalgic final season occurred in the penultimate episode “Vox,” when La Forge revealed a reconstructed and restored Enterprise-D. Amidst explanations about how he rebuilt the ship over 20 years (after its destruction on Veridian III in Star Trek Generations) Geordi drops this bit of information, “And obviously, we can’t use the Enterprise-E.”

The emotional reveries pause for a moment as everyone grows quiet and looks at Worf. “That was not my fault,” the former Enterprise-E captain declares and everyone moves on. It’s a fantastic gag, a reminder of Michael Dorn’s ability to sell a humorous one-liner by playing a humorless character. Yet, in initial drafts, Picard season 3 showrunner Terry Matalas had more grandiose ideas that would have explained in more detail the fate of the Enterprise-E, but eventually nixed them.

The reason is simple: he didn’t want to distract from the bigger moment on the bridge of the Enterprise-D.

“[I]n the moment where they’re asking, ‘What about the Enterprise-E?’ it would not have been good for someone to be like, ‘Well, the Battle of duh, duh, duh.’ You are looking at the Enterprise-D!” Matalas told Trek Movie.

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Fans are left to wonder what might have been had the show taken a deep dive into the largely unexplored lore of that particular version of the Enterprise. While the Enterprise-E was the last ship under the Next Generation crew’s command, most fans only know it from three different voyages, its debut in Star Trek: First Contact, and then in the (underrated) Insurrection, and the (properly despised) Nemesis. In contrast, the Enterprise-D appeared in all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. So while the -E may have had a sleeker design and modern upgrades, such as less beige and uncarpeted floors, it was the -D that Star Trek know more intimately and love.

That said, the -E did live on after Nemesis in non-canonical works, in which Worf took command of the ship after Picard took a promotion to Admiral. The 2020 Star Trek: Picard prequel novel The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack followed the rise of Worf to the captaincy, something mentioned in other works. But even though The Last Best Hope presented itself as the continuing story of the Klingon Starfleet officer, early discussion around Worf in season three described him as being on “a different path” that took him away from the Federation. This led many to believe that in official canon he was never the Enterprise-E captain.

This bit of backstory makes Matalas’ solution to the EnterpriseE question even better. Not only does it let everyone focus on the -D, but it confirms that Worf was indeed the captain of the previous ship. Even better, it reminds everyone of the camaraderie these characters shared on the Enterprise-D.

“You could say [Enterprise-E] is in storage or we are repainting it,” explained Matalas. “You could, but I thought it was way funnier if they all turned to Worf and he’s like, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’ So everyone is going, ‘What the hell happened?’ That’s way more fun.” Indeed, the gag addresses the big question, but then lets the audience and the crew enjoy being together as they get another look at the -D, their favorite ship.

Even better, the gag doesn’t rule out the possibility of someone eventually telling the story of Worf’s final adventures. “Is it lost in an interdimensional rift and it’s still out there somewhere? Was it an accidental self destruct? Who knows?” Matalas mused.

Paramount+ did give some hints toward an answer in social media posts they shared via Instagram. Dubbed “The Picard Files,” these posts contained background information about key figures and ships, such as Dianna Troi and the USS Titan. According to the entry about the USS Enterprise, the -E’s final mission is “classified.”

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But the entry for Worf provides even more compelling stuff, declaring that the Klingon captain’s “time aboard the Enterprise-E was brief, having stepped down after the incident above Kriilar Prime.”

What happened on Kriilar Prime, a planet heretofore only mentioned by a duplicitous Vorta on Deep Space Nine, at the outset of the Dominion War? No one knows yet. But Matalas has perhaps the best attitude to take in such situations: “The question is almost better than the answer.”

Star Trek: Picard is streaming now on Paramount+.