If I'm not mistaken two important parts of Picard's character were introduced in the same episode of TNG, "Contagion", in the space of three lines:

PICARD: Archaeology has been a hobby since my Academy days. But why don't we talk about what really brought you here?

WESLEY: It's the Yamato, Captain. I can't stop thinking about her. All those people dead. I don't know how you and Commander Riker and Geordi, how you handle it so easily.

PICARD: Easily? Oh no, not easily. We handle it because we're trained to, as you will be. Tea, Earl Grey, hot. But if the time ever comes when the death of a single individual fails to move us (a pot plant appears in the replicator)

WESLEY: Didn't you order tea, sir?

PICARD: Now that should not have happened.

(Source, emphasis mine)

Is this a coincidence, or was there some deliberate attempt to introduce more backstory and mannerisms around the same time?

  • 7
    I've noticed this has a score of negative 2. It would be helpful not only to sir ThePopMachine but also the rest of us if you gentlemen/ladies would explain your reasoning for the negative review. It helps no one to vote down and move on Jun 1, 2015 at 21:59
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    I downvoted. I'm really a loss what to answer beyond "yes, it appears so".
    – Valorum
    Jun 1, 2015 at 22:06
  • 1
    What is the question, if there is something weird about a Frenchman having a traditionally English drink during his post teen years in a Californian military school?
    – user16696
    Jun 1, 2015 at 22:30
  • 3
    This is a perfectly legitimate question, which I believe has a legitimate answer within the bounds of reasonable speculation (see my answer below). People can vote as they wish of course, but 9 downvotes on the OP's question seems highly excessive. There are plenty of SFF questions that are less concrete than this one.
    – Praxis
    Jul 10, 2015 at 3:47
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    The comments on this question strayed off-topic into a discussion of milk in tea, so this conversation has been moved to chat. I've deleted all the comments that don't bear directly on the question.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Feb 21, 2016 at 11:03

3 Answers 3


I believe the OP is correct that the sudden introduction of these two facets of Picard's character is no coincidence.

First of all, drastic changes in the writing personnel between Season 1 and Season 2 are what paved the way for new character developments:

There were significant changes backstage to the writing team. Maurice Hurley became head writer, and following extensive re-writes to "The Royale" and "Manhunt", Tracy Tormé left the writing team. Likewise, following the submission of a script for "Blood and Fire", David Gerrold allowed his contract to run out due to issues with Gene Roddenberry and Leonard Maizlish, Roddenberry's lawyer. Other departing writers included Leonard Mlodinow and Scott Rubenstein, while Melinda M. Snodgrass, Hans Beimler, and Richard Manning joined the team.


The new staff made the decision to focus more on Picard, Riker, and Data, in order to foster a Kirk-McCoy-Spock triangle that was felt to be missing in TNG  thus far:

A further change seen in Season 2, which increased later in the season, was an increasing focus on the trio of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Commander William T. Riker and Lt Cmdr. Data, reminiscent of Captain James T. Kirk, Dr. Leonard McCoy and Commander Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series. This relegated the other cast members to background roles for the majority of episodes.


As "Contagion", the episode the OP is referring to, was the 11th episode (exactly halfway through the season), it is likely that Picard's archaeology obsession and Earl Grey tea addiction were part of this "increasing focus".

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    I'm repeated impressed by your ability to find information others can't a present good answers. I hope others will take note and not be so hasty with their downvotes. At time of writing, the OQ is +8/-9. Jul 10, 2015 at 14:21
  • @Richard: I hope you can accept the criticism that on many occasions I see you downvoting or criticizing myself and others (Ernie most recently comes to mind) in a not-unbiased way which isn't befitting a moderator. In this instance, downvoting should be primarily for ill-formed or off-topic questions, not because YOU think the answer is "yes, it's a coincidence." YOUR leadership influences people. Jul 10, 2015 at 14:26
  • I don't think @Richard should be singled out or condemned. He is a very active user and a mod, and so his actions invariably stand out. At least he took the time to explain his downvote and he has (like anyone else) has the right to vote in any way he or she chooses, with or without explanation. I just personally think the question is valid and that the total number of downvotes is unjust / weird for such an innocent question.
    – Praxis
    Jul 10, 2015 at 14:44
  • It's precisely for those reasons that I do single him out. (1) He's very active and a moderator (2) It does influence people (3) (IMO) he should know better. Yes, he's entitled to his opinion, but on this question, where it is basically even over 20 votes, whether the first vote is up or down radically changes the way it evolves over time. So clearly it is not obviously a good or bad question. My opinion is that those more experience users (which I nearly count myself among) should be a little conservative with the downvotes near the beginning... Jul 10, 2015 at 15:07
  • ... unless it is obviously off-topic or ill-formed. I have little doubt, that if the first votes on this question had been positive this would be solidly in the green now. Bottom line: bandwagon effect is clear and obvious, so we should be mindful of it. Jul 10, 2015 at 15:09

TL;DR: Yes, this was likely a deliberate attempt to give Picard more "character".

As others have stated, Season 2 saw a pointed effort to put more focus on Picard as a character. As a result, the producers decided that Picard would be a man with classic interests and that his favorite beverage would be tea.

Patrick Stewart discusses this briefly in an interview from 1998:

Q: In Star Trek you drink a lot of Earl Grey. Do you see that as a man's tea?

A: When it first came up that Captain Picard was going to drink a lot of tea I suggested lapsang souchong, but the producers thought that nobody would know what it was. I must urge people not to send me any more Earl Grey. I've got so much of it now I could open a tea shop.

Source: Neon Magazine, July 1998, interview by Ben Mitchell

As for the archaeology, Stewart has also mentioned on numerous occasions that - following the success of Season 1 - he had an increasing amount of input into Picard as a character. Since Stewart himself has interests in both history & theatre, it's not a huge assumption that this influenced Picard's interests as well.


In hindsight this looks like the deliberate introduction of a key trait, but consider the early installment throwaway traits that didn't become permanent. We don't see Wesley getting into snowball fights all the time ...

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