Wikipedia claims that Jean-Luc Picard was named after the Piccard twins:

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry named Picard for one or both of the twin brothers Auguste Piccard and Jean Felix Piccard, 20th-century Swiss scientists.

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However, neither of the two references given in the Wikipedia entry for this "fact" are authoritative. (They are informal claims made by individuals with no obvious connection to Star Trek.) The same references are repeated in the entry on Auguste Piccard.

Was Captain Picard really named after one or both of the Piccard twins?

  • 3
    I'm migrating this question to Skeptics.SE :-P Just kidding - interesting question!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 15:53
  • Memory Alpha makes the same claim, but openly admits that there is no official source for the information. So good luck. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 16:23
  • I've always thought that his name was a more French sounding take on Captain Pike, but the sun doesn't shine on my source.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 0:43
  • In none of my reading, listening or watching documentaries about Roddenberry (though I can't say I've much time for his biography) and Star Trek have I ever noted that being noted. But as they say, absence of proof... More likely, if it's named after anyone called Picard or Piccard is Jean-Felix Picard, notice the singular "c", an astronomer of some repute in the 17th century. Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 14:47
  • I remember hearing that he was named after the famous French mathematician Émile Picard. Much of the "techno-babble" in this show is nonsense using terms out of mathematics, and I thought there were mathematicians on the show. (There is a reference to Fermat's last theorem in one of the first episodes.) Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 16:33

3 Answers 3


Bertrand Piccard (The grand-nephew of Jean Felix Piccard) claims this to be true.

"Jean-Luc Picard was named after the twin brother of my grandfather. The twin brother of my grandfather emigrated to the US. He built the first stratospheric balloon...in the US. And he was taken as an example for Captain Jean-Luc Picard"

  • 1
    ok here is Bertrand Piccard claiming it. Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 9:34
  • 1
    This has gone from a poor answer with a (tertiary) wiki source to an excellent one with a primary video source. I've removed my downvote, changed it to an upvote and I've added a small bounty as reward.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 9:58
  • 5
    @Valorum : This is a nice find and I've upvoted. I also agree with the bounty for research effort. DTagliaferri has done some commendable work. But I'm not sure it should be accepted as a definitive answer (yet). We don't know where Bertrand received this information. For all we know, he (or his publicist) read it on Wikipedia. I'd love to see something relating to the genesis of Jean-Luc Picard, from Gene Roddenberry or someone else closely involved with the early production of TNG.
    – Praxis
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 16:04
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    @Praxis - No, I agree that it's not definitive. It may be a family myth that he's been spreading for years, hence the reason why there's no other sources. On the other hand, the answer above doesn't state that the claim is a fact, merely that it's a fact that there's a claim. That alone is worthy of reward as far as I'm concerned.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 16:06
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    @NKCampbell - The 4th Edition Encyclopedia is an abomination. Limited release which means that it's hella expensive and almost impossible to find (oh, and riddled with all sorts of mistakes).
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 16:24

Is this relevant to Picard travelling in space....Two people successfully made it to the bottom of Challenger Deep, the planet's deepest point at the southern end of the Mariana Trench. Back in 1960, oceanographer Don Walsh was the first to make it down to the trench successfully, reaching about 35,814 feet (10,916 m). He took the journey with Swiss oceanographer and engineer Jacques Piccard.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. The question was about the Piccard twins; are you proposing Jacques Piccard as the actual source of the name instead? Can you provide any evidence that he was a more likely choice?
    – DavidW
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 4:27

There was actually an astronomer named Jean Picard who, in 1680, was the first to detect the aberration of starlight which (although not explained until later by a different astronomer) was instrumental in proving that the Earth does, in fact, revolve around the Sun. While I have no grounds for saying that this is where Captain Picard's name came from as a definitive fact, I find it incredibly likely a Star Fleet captain would be named after someone so important to our understanding of astronomy and astrophysics.

  • 2
    While interesting, this is merely personal conjecture. Do you have any sources that could corroborate your claim?
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 18, 2019 at 2:24

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