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In the Star Trek TNG series finale, "All Good Things", Data is clearly alive and well while Picard is an old man.

But Data is clearly destroyed in Star Trek: Nemesis, while Picard is still relatively young.

How is this possible?

Surely it's not "B4" that we're seeing in the All Good Things future timeline?

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20  
The best way to reconcile time travel in Star Trek is to not. –  Xantec Feb 26 at 2:52
    
The upside of having a lot of contradictions is that you can pick what you consider canon. NOT canon to me: bad movies (Nemesis), embarrassing episodes (Lizard Janeway and Paris), the Great Eugenics War of 1996, and so on. –  jdm Feb 26 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 37 down vote accepted

Just remember these lines at the end of "All Good Things" (from the transcript here):

CRUSHER: You know, I was thinking about what the Captain told us about the future. About how we all changed and drifted apart. Why would he want to tell us what's to come?

LAFORGE: Sure goes against everything we've heard about not polluting the time line, doesn't it.

DATA: I believe, however, this situation is unique. Since the anomaly did not occur, there have already been changes in the way this time line is unfolding. The future we experience will undoubtedly be different from the one the Captain encountered.

RIKER: Maybe that's why he told us. Knowing what happens in that future allows us to change things now, so that some things never happen.

(Worf and Riker look at each other)

WORF: Agreed.

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2  
Picard violated Temporal Prime Directive! –  DVK Feb 26 at 3:04
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I should also add that the second answer at scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/33/… mentions that in the backstory to Star Trek Online, Data's memory was recovered and overrode B-4's program in 2385, and that the comic book Star Trek: Countdown (a tie-in to the 2009 movie by the movie's co-writer Roberto Orci) showing Data as Captain of the Enterprise-E in 2387. –  Hypnosifl Feb 26 at 4:55

The events in All Good Things were the result of Q playing around with reality (or possibly just Picard) by moving things backwards, forwards, and sideways through time. The presence of Q and his usual shenanigans means that all bets are off as to what is real, what isn't real, what will be real, and what might become real.

The future events in All Good Things were just one possible future. Q chose or created that particular future to see if Picard could step outside of his limited human view of time and reality. Also keep in mind that the events shown during the Farpoint mission didn't happen in the past-as-we-know-it either.

Time travel is all wibbly wobbly timey wimey and doubly so when Q is involved.

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1  
Ehm, Quwee wuwee? –  Mr Lister Feb 26 at 20:13
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@MrLister: Or perhaps Qwibbly Qwobbly Quwee Qimey. –  mu is too short Feb 26 at 20:30
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Ooh, this would have been pure blasphemy, if there hadn't been an episode named "Q Who". –  Mr Lister Feb 26 at 20:37

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