While Captain James T Kirk rarely hesitated to set phasers for romance, his successor on the USS Enterprise bridge preferred to keep his relationships professional. Even so, the possibility of a love story between Jean-Luc Picard and the ship's doctor, Beverly Crusher, was hinted at from the earliest episodes of The Next Generation, and it continued to sizzle (very, very slowly) in the background throughout the show's seven-year run.
Now Star Trek: Picard season 3 has reunited the TNG cast, and Beverly Crusher is at the center of the action. Critically wounded on the edge of Federation space, she puts out a call to the only person who can help, prompting her former commanding officer to break ranks on a strictly off-the-books rescue mission. Now, having had no contact with his old flame for over 20 years, Jean-Luc has learned that Beverly not only has a second son (a half-brother to Wesley, named Jack), but that he's the father.
So, as Star Trek: Picard season 3 deals with some of the biggest bombshells in the TNG crew's history, it feels like a good time to look back on Jean-Luc and Beverly's decades-old romance…
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR STAR TREK: PICARD SEASON 3
When did Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher first meet?
The pair had known each other for well over a decade by the time they were both assigned to the USS Enterprise-D – though the circumstances weren't exactly conducive to romance. Beverly was married to Starfleet officer Jack Crusher, Jean-Luc's best friend and father of precocious child genius Wesley. When Jack died under Picard's command on the USS Stargazer, Picard brought his friend's body home.
The captain was reunited with Dr Crusher when she requested a position as the Enterprise's chief medical officer, and – thanks to the ship's "village in space" ethos – she was able to bring Wesley along, too.
Is that when the sparks started flying between them?
Not really. In the professional environment of the Enterprise, their romance tended to exist somewhere on a scale between slow-burn and non-existent. So, while they called each other by their first names and Beverly enjoyed the fact she was the only crew member permitted to give Jean-Luc an order, their relationship rarely ventured further than a lingering glance.
A rare exception came in season one episode 'The Naked Now', when a ship-wide contagion stripped the crew of their inhibitions, allowing things to get unusually flirty between Beverly and Jean-Luc. The infatuation was short-lived, however, and as soon as a cure was found for the intoxication, their relationship returned to normal operating parameters. In fact, thoughts of romance were well-and-truly consigned to the backburner when Crusher was reassigned to Starfleet Medical for the duration of season 2.
Did they ever get together in the original run of The Next Generation?
After Beverly returned to the Enterprise in season 3, the pair spent the majority of The Next Generation's run exploring platonic space – there was barely a hint their relationship might go further, aside from Picard reluctantly taking on the role of Wesley's surrogate dad.
When the show entered its seventh and final season, however, the writers' room suddenly remembered there was unfinished business between the captain and the doctor. 'Attached' saw the pair marooned on an alien planet where they were fitted with a device that allowed them to hear each other's thoughts. Beverly learned that Jean-Luc had been in love with her while she was married, and that, as a mark of respect, Picard had vowed to keep his feelings under wraps after Jack's death. They shared a moment at the end of the episode, but it looked like coordinates were once again set for the friend zone.
Then, series finale 'All Good Things' upped the ante with both a kiss and a visit to a future where the couple had been married and divorced – though seeing as these events took place in a timeline that subsequently ceased to exist, neither character is aware they ever happened.
Did Jean-Luc and Beverly have any other relationships during the TNG era?
As well as doing his best to dodge the affections of Deanna Troi's mum, Lwaxana, Jean-Luc had several romances during his time on the Enterprise. Most notable were his relationships with archaeologist Vash (who appeared in season 3's 'Captain's Holiday' and season 4's 'Qpid') and the immortal Anij (Star Trek: Insurrection). The alternative reality of the Nexus (Star Trek: Generations) also showed a timeline where Picard had a wife and five kids.
Beverly, meanwhile, had a relationship with a Trill ambassador (season 4's 'The Host') which came to an abrupt end when the death of his humanoid host forced his symbiont to find a new body. And, in season 7's 'Sub Rosa' (widely regarded as one of the weakest episodes in the Star Trek canon), she had a brief affair with a 'ghost' who'd previously seduced her late grandmother.
Did anyone else get together on the Enterprise?
While there was little time for workplace romance on Picard's highly professional Enterprise, some relationships did (eventually) manage to flourish. Will Riker and Deanna Troi had already had a relationship by the time they arrived on the Enterprise- D, though they remained "just good friends" throughout The Next Generation – Troi even had a romance with Worf in season 7. Love did eventually find a way, however, and Riker and Troi got back together in Star Trek: Insurrection, before marrying in Star Trek: Nemesis.
Chief Miles O'Brien also married botanist Keiko O'Brien before transferring to Deep Space Nine, while Tasha Yar had a brief fling with Data in the aforementioned 'The Naked Now' – an episode where she learned the Enterprise's resident android was "fully functional".
What's happened between Beverly and Jean-Luc since we last saw them?
Quite a lot, it appears – and then nothing at all.
We've now learned that Beverly and Jean-Luc eventually got together, and ended up having a son. But seeing as Jean-Luc seemingly has no knowledge of Jack (named after Beverly's late husband) in Star Trek: Picard season 3, and that he hasn't heard anything from Beverly in over 20 years, it seems they weren't on the best of terms when they parted.
That said, she still trusted Picard enough to make him her first port of call when she found herself in trouble on the edge of Federation space, so it's safe to say they'll be re-examining their past relationship over the coming weeks.
New episodes of Star Trek: Picard stream on Paramount Plus in the US every Thursday, and on Fridays in the UK courtesy of Prime Video.