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Well, before is kinda too late if you get my meaning, but it might help other people, and it can help for a re-watch.

I am a late Trekkie, I didn't even watch all the movies if I'm not mistaken.

At Comic Con Paris, I remember Sir Patrick saying that you didn't need to watch previous movies/shows. I find that quite wrong.

I might be in the worst situation. As I watched some of the movies, I know some events in Picard are direct references to the movies (First Contact and Nemesis are quite prominent).

I assume I missed a lot of story references (I'm not talking about Easter Eggs, I consider them to be a different category).

So can someone list for me what I need to watch to fully enjoy Star Trek: Picard? I don't care about spoilers about Picard anymore, or by events of the movies/shows that are spoiled by Picard, but it might be good to keep the spoilers tags for others anyway.

By the way, I did find this Medium post about TNG on this site (I think) and it is in my to-watch list, so don't worry about the 'gaps' unrelated (I also have the one for DS9). I also consider by default the pilot and final of any show cited.

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    I never watched star trek, but 5-6 episodes when I was a kid, in the 70s. So I know about 2-3 characters, but not much else. Without knowing much at all, I have very much enjoyed Picard so far. It is clear that there are references that fans will know and I'm missing them and I can imagine immersion is better if you watch the previous material, but you don't need to: it is good enough to stand by itself. – Thomas Mar 31 at 18:42
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    @Thomas: If you had watched Star Trek, you probably would have enjoyed ST:Picard less... – einpoklum Apr 2 at 15:54
  • @einpoklum, really? why is that? it doesn't fit well within the original universe? – Thomas Apr 2 at 17:41
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    @Thomas: That's part of it. Other parts of it is that "viewership experience" will make some of the plot weaknesses and failures inherent to ST:Picard more obvious. – einpoklum Apr 2 at 18:20
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You can enjoy the show without having to watch anything in advance - as you mentioned yourself. That having said, Star Trek: Picard is dealing with a few themes that can be better understood by watching the movies and episodes listed below.

TNG is a series of the 80s and 90s - since references between episodes are rare and most of the time everything is "back to normal" after any given episode, you can watch the episodes in any order you like.

If you are completely new to The Next Generation, the Enterprise and its crew, however, I recommend starting with the movie First Contact. It sufficiently introduces the crew while also providing background to Picard's relationship with the Borg. Additionally, of all movies listed below, this one is probably the best!

  • Star Trek: Nemesis: The Picard series opens with a traumatic event happening in Nemesis, and how Picard deals with this, so this might be a good starting point. I am hiding the event behind spoiler tags, in case you haven't seen Nemesis yet:

    Commander Data dies, and many fans feel that his death was not handled very well by the authors.

  • Star Trek (2009) sets the stage to what happened to the Romulans in the prime time line, which is helpful for understanding the Romulan society in the day and age of Star Trek: Picard.
  • TNG Season 2, Episode 9: "The Measure of a Man" deals with the question whether or not Data has rights on his own or is merely "property" . It also

    introduces Bruce Maddox, a character which returns in Star Trek: Picard.

  • TNG Season 3, Episode 16: "The Offspring" deals with Data's wish to become a parent, which also fits into the theme of Picard.

  • As of Star Trek: Picard, Picard still struggles with his assimilation, which happened in TNG: Season 3, Epsiode 26 and Season 4, Episode 1 ("The Best of Both Worlds" 1&2).
    • TNG Season 4, Episode 2, "Family" deals with the aftermath of Picard's assimilation. It also gives us a rare glimpse into Picard's family, and it introduces the vineyard which we also see in Star Trek: Picard.
  • Alternatively or in addition, you might want to watch First Contact, which shows how Picard deals with this trauma, as mentioned above.
  • And last but not least, you might want to watch TNG: Season 7, Episodes 25 and 26 ("All Good Things..." 1&2), which is the last time we see Jean-Luc Picard on screen (sans movies), and also includes a reference to a

    medical condition of Picard, which is referred to quite early in Star Trek: Picard.

If you want to dive deeper: The topic of former Borg being part of the Federation is also a theme of the series.

  • TNG Season 5, Episode 23, "I, Borg" shows how Hugh, a Borg, struggles with the concept of individuality. Hugh returns as a (minor) character in Star Trek: Picard
  • TNG Season 6, Episode 26 and Season 7, Episode 1 ("Descent" 1&2) shows Hugh's development and how he becomes the leader of a group of Rebel Borg. (Actually, all of this happens in Part II, but since it's a two-parter, you should not skip the first part)

Seven of Nine also appears as a special guest star, but a lot has happened to her off-screen between VOY and Picard. She cares a lot about former Borg. Here are a few Voyager episodes to provide more background on that (Unlike the episodes above, you should watch them in order):

  • VOY Season 6, Episode 16, "Collective", introduces three Borg children which are freed from the collective and put under Seven's care.
  • VOY Season 6, Episode 18, "Ashes to Ashes" gives us insights in how Seven grows into her role of a caretaker for the children.
  • VOY Season 6, Episode 19, "Child's play" deals with one of the children, Icheb, returning to his home planet and Seven dealing with that.

    Icheb also briefly returns in Picard.

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    Aside from "I, Borg", you'll want to watch "Descent" Parts 1 and 2; (Season 6 episode 26, Season 7 Episode 1). You need to see Part 1 to make sense of Part 2, but Part 2 is where Hugh shows up again and demonstrates the care he has for his fellow recently liberated drones who are somewhat lost. – Keith Morrison Mar 31 at 14:51
  • Great addition, thanks! I have addded it to the deep dive section. – Philipp Flenker Mar 31 at 15:03
  • Also, the TOS episode "Arena". :) – Simon Richter Mar 31 at 16:53
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    Nemesis also explains why they keep playing "Blue skies" – Rob Apr 1 at 11:25
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    "All good things" heavily referenecs all the way back to "mission farpoint". And perhaps you want to see how Seven was de-assimliated (in "Skorpion"?) – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 1 at 17:09
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In addition to Philipp's list, there's some other contextual episodes worth noting.

  • TNG S4E03 Brothers. This helps to explain

    who Dr. Soong (the original) is and why Picard's Dr. Soong looks like Data.

    There are several inside references and jokes in PIC S1E09 and E10 that play off of that episode. You'll also need this to make sense of TNG S6E26 and S7E01 Descent (mentioned in the other answer)

  • TNG S7E10 Inheritance helps a great deal with PIC S1E10. In it we learn

    Soong perfected mind transfers, as well as making finite life span androids. Both play into Picard when we see Picard's mind transferred into an android golem. Picard is told by Soong that has has a finite lifespan, a direct reference to this episode.

  • TNG S6E14 Face of the Enemy gives you lots of context into the Tal Shiar and the pre-Hobus Romulans (helps to understand where Narek and Narissa are coming from)

  • TNG S1E9 The Battle explains in detail what the "Picard maneuver" is (there's an enormous joke in PIC S1E10 that won't make sense without this)

  • Star Trek: Generations - The weakest of the TNG movies, you see Data starting to play with the emotion chip. Not necessary to understand any PIC episode, but you get to see a broader Data, complete with Data using an appropriate colorful metaphor. None of the other Trek movies really tried to play with "emo Data" like this one did.

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    And then there is also the other Picard maneuver ... – Hagen von Eitzen Apr 1 at 17:10
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Aside from the answer above regarding Picard, the Borg, Seven, and androids, here are some other episodes dealing with the other big part of the show: the Romulans.

The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror" introduces them.

While the Romulans appeared previously in the Star Trek Enterprise, the fourth season episodes "Babel One", and "United" showed how the humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites eventually combined efforts to deal with a mysterious ship (that they didn't know at the time was Romulan) trying to make them fight one another. This was, essentially, the birth of the Federation although it took a few more years to make it official. This explains why it's stated in ST: Picard that some members of the Federation really didn't like the idea of helping the Romulans, since the Federation itself was essentially founded to defend against them.

The Next Generation episode "The Defector" (S3 E10) establishes the Romulans as willing to manipulate even their own people, but willing to back off when they see it isn't worth fighting. "Unification" I and II (S5 E7 and E8) also shows the manipulation and sneakiness Romulans are known for, but is also the first time you see ordinary citizens of Romulus who aren't all conniving, backstabbing manipulators who are plotting against the Federation, and instead desire peaceful coexistence.

"Timescape" S6 E25 has Picard and the Enterprise crew working with the Romulans in order to overcome a mutually-threatening problem, and Picard's willingness to help the Federation and Starfleet's oldest enemies.

The Tal Shiar, the Romulan secret police/intelligence service who are mentioned frequently in ST: Picard (and the organization his two Romulan employees used to belong to) was first mentioned in S6 E14 "Face of the Enemy".

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    "Timescape" also shows that Riker was bluffing: Romulans don't have warp cores... – Chronocidal Apr 1 at 1:55

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