In "All Good Things…", the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard time travels to a number of eras, including his relative future. When the crisis is resolved, he chooses to share what he's learned about the future with the crew.

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.

So I see two points here:

  1. As Data noted, the timeline has already been modified (by the anti-time anomaly not happening)
  2. As Riker notes, Picard appears to want to further change the timeline by altering the individual futures of the crew (I assume that the falling out between Riker and Worf over Troi was one of them)

With respect to point #2, did Picard violate the Temporal Prime Directive, which likely was codified around this time, by intentionally telling his crew about the future? Wouldn't the proper behavior of the Temporal Prime Directive have been to keep his mouth shut to minimize the number of changes to the timeline?

  • 2
    No. Since that future never happened, PIcard seems to have decided that he can share. I don't really see what explanation is required beyond what's already described in the episode.
    – Valorum
    Jul 4, 2019 at 20:16
  • @Valorum "Knowing what happens in that future allows us to change things now, so that some things never happen." Picard is already making further changes to the future. If he kept his mouth shut and followed the Temporal Prime Directive, less damage would be done to the timeline than was already done by his actions. Jul 4, 2019 at 20:18
  • Which is fine, but the explanation is there in front of you. Other than us taking it in turns to agree with you that this is something of a plothole, what do you actually want to get out of this question? What would a suitable or acceptable answer look like?
    – Valorum
    Jul 4, 2019 at 20:19
  • 6
    Does the Temporal Prime directive even apply to manufactured situations? Q admits the situation was, essentially, a sham: "PICARD: You had a hand in helping me get out of this. Q: I was the one that got you into it. A directive from the Continuum. The part about the helping hand, thought, was my idea." - it's left to speculation whether the whole thing was an elaborate illusion by Q, if it was real, or even what events would possibly even happen in the future
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 4, 2019 at 20:28
  • 1
    I wonder if the TPD is relevant in this situation as Picard is changing his own relative future. From what I recall the TPD is there to prevent time travel backwards from effecting the present, I do not recall an instance of it being used to prevent use of knowledge from the future. That is unless it is being enforced by operatives from that future (Such as Daniels in Enterprise).
    – axevalley
    Jul 4, 2019 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


The changes to the timeline - past, present and future - were erased when the anomaly ceased to have been (as confirmed by Q). Since the future that Picard had experienced was one where the anomaly existed - which it now won't have - that future has already changed, and Picard is only saying what might have happened, not what definitely will. He is then telling them about an alternative future, not their actual future.

This also raises the question as to whether this was even really time travel, or just an elaborate simulation created by the Q-continuum - much like scanning the Enterprise into a holodeck, and running it at double-speed to predict tomorrow.

So long as Picard doesn't start betting on sports events, there is little more "damage" to the timeline than a decent psychologist could manage. (e.g. "If you keep trying to woo the same woman, you will have a fight")

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