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Jean-Luc Picard's Relationship With Beverly Crusher Explained

Spoilers for "Star Trek: Picard" ahead.

In 1987, "Star Trek" replaced Kirk, Spock, and McCoy with an all-new crew for the franchise's first television spin-off, "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Aboard a sleeker and faster Enterprise was Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a Frenchman with an English accent who led his intrepid crew on missions where no one had gone before. With him was the ship's dedicated medical officer Dr. Beverly Crusher, who Picard clearly has history with.

Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher spent seven seasons in a classic will-they, won't-they romance that saw them test the boundaries of their friendship. It was obvious to audiences that they shared a fiery passion for one another, but they could never quite muster the nerve to act on it. But now, more than 20 years after we last saw them together, Picard and Crusher are reunited in the third season of "Star Trek: Picard," and things will never be the same between them.

With the shocking revelation that Picard and Crusher have a son together, you may be thinking back on their long and complicated history on screen. From a connection that predates their first meeting to their many years as colleagues on the Enterprise and their new adventure in "Star Trek: Picard," we've prepared a primer to help. So grab your medical tricorder and engage warp engines, because we're here to explain Jean-Luc Picard's relationship with Dr. Beverly Crusher.

Picard's friendship with Jack Crusher

To really explore the deep relationship between Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher, we must go back to before they even met. Their friendship and will-they, won't-they romance was always complicated by the bond Picard shared with Beverly's first husband, Jack Crusher. Picard became acquainted with Jack before he married Beverly, meeting him at an exotic bar located on Tau Ceti II as a junior officer.

Picard and Jack were both assigned to serve aboard the USS Stargazer as young officers.As their careers progressed, Jack would meet and eventually marry Beverly Howard and the three would quickly become inseparable friends, spending much of their shore leave together. In time, Jack would become a lieutenant commander, and Picard would find himself promoted to captain after a deadly interstellar incident that killed the Stargazer's commanding officer. While serving together, Jack and Beverly would have a son, Wesley, who'd one day serve under Picard.

Aboard the Stargazer, Picard and Jack would serve together as faithful friends and fellow officers for many years. Several non-canon sources, such as the novelization of the premiere "TNG" episode "Encounter at Farpoint," suggest that Jack was actually Picard's first officer. While this has never been confirmed on screen, it speaks to the strength of their legendary friendship.

A tragic death

Jean-Luc Picard and Jack Crusher had an unshakable bond, and Jack's wife Beverly was just as close with Picard when they were fresh-faced officers aboard the Stargazer. But after Picard became the ship's captain, a disastrous mission would lead to Jack's tragic death, and it would forever alter the relationship between Picard and Dr. Crusher, with consequences that would be felt for decades. 

Jack's death is first mentioned in the premiere of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" when a young Wesley Crusher remarks that it was Picard who brought the body of his father home. Later we learn that Jack's death occurred on an away mission led by Picard, where he'd had to make a life or death choice. Wesley Crusher was barely five years old at the time, and he'd later address his resentment of Picard for getting his father killed more than once. In "Coming of Age," Wesley's Starfleet psych evaluation tests him with a similar life-or-death choice, while in "The Bonding," he angrily confronts Picard regarding his father's death.

Though the specifics of the fateful incident that got Jack killed have never been fully divulged, the "TNG" Season 5 episode "Violations" provides a flashback to the day Picard visited Dr. Crusher to take her to view his body. Given their friendship, Picard felt a swell of guilt for Jack's death, and carried that with him into his later friendship with Dr. Crusher.

Unrequited feelings

In an episode of "The Next Generation" late in its run titled "Attached," Captain Picard opens up about the period in his life when he was friends with Jack Crusher, while Beverly was his fiancée. The episode reveals that Picard's romantic feelings for Dr. Crusher didn't begin when they became crewmates on the Enterprise, years after Jack's death, but that he had desired her for far longer, even while she was married to his best friend. Owing to a deep sense of shame for loving his best friend's wife, the younger Jean-Luc Picard vowed never to reveal his unrequited feelings, especially after Jack was killed, claiming that to do so would have felt like betraying his friend.

In fact, it's revealed then that when Crusher was assigned to the Enterprise under his command, Picard didn't want her aboard for this very reason. Unsure of how he would react at being close with his old friend's widow, a woman he was once deeply in love with, Picard protested, but was overruled. Luckily, with nearly a decade having passed since they'd last seen one another, Picard soon found that he no longer had those feelings for her — or so he believed.

Serving together on the Enterprise

Between seven seasons of "The Next Generation" and four full-length feature films, Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher served together for 14 years across two starships. During their tenure serving together on two Enterprises, Crusher and Picard were involved in a number of critical missions together. 

In "The Arsenal of Freedom" the pair get trapped together on the planet Minos after falling into a cave. Crusher has to guide Picard in the treatment of her own injuries. Two years later, while embroiled in an incident on Rutia IV, Crusher and Picard once again find themselves in peril together, this time after being kidnapped by extremists. On a third occasion in the episode "Attached," Picard and Crusher are again prisoners, captives of the government of the planet Kesprytt, which is embroiled in a civil war.

Following the destruction of the Enterprise-D, both Picard and Crusher return to serve on its successor in the films "First Contact," "Insurrection," and "Nemesis." At the conclusion of the latter, the crew of the Enterprise is split up, with Riker receiving his own command. In a deleted scene, Dr. Crusher leaves the ship to take a position at Starfleet Medical, though "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3 addresses her departure somewhat differently.

A deepening friendship

Outside of Riker and Troi, a pair of former lovers, no two members of the "TNG" crew were closer than Picard and Crusher prior to serving together. Over the course of their nearly 15 years as colleagues, the relationship between them deepened, thanks to the many perilous situations they endured together, as well as spending time with one another when off-duty. 

In "The Next Generation," Picard and Crusher enjoy regular breakfasts before reporting for duty, as seen in episodes like "Lessons" and the previously mentioned "Attached." More than anyone else on the Enterprise, Crusher and Picard confide in each other about their deepest troubles, coming to each other in moments of crisis to offer both advice and emotional support in a way that transcends their professional relationship. This leads to an increasing familiarity as the two often spend time together when not in uniform. Perhaps most notably, Dr. Crusher is the only member of the crew who addresses Picard more casually by his first name. They are even seen sharing a few not-quite-platonic kisses from time to time.

As Picard and Crusher's friendship grew, it became clear that romantic attraction did as well, even if they never really acted on it. In the iconic episode "Remember Me," when the crew of the Enterprise begin mysteriously disappearing, Crusher comes very close to confessing her true feelings for Picard, just as he too vanishes from existence.

Romantic close calls

Despite both Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher insisting throughout seven seasons of "The Next Generation" that they were nothing more than good, close, personal friends, there were quite a few occasions where they let their romantic and sexual attraction go a little further than they may have liked. Arguably one of the best will-they, won't-they couples in science fiction, they came awfully close to becoming involved in a few key episodes, and one of them was earlier in the show's run than you might expect.

In the series' second episode, "The Naked Now," Crusher outright attempts to seduce Captain Picard. Though under the influence of a virus, it's said to only take away one's inhibitions, revealing that Crusher did indeed hold some serious lust for the fabulous Frenchman. You could chalk this one up to the first season's notoriously bad writing, but, nevertheless it did happen, and it wasn't the end of the obvious sparks between them. Similarly in the episode "Allegiance," an alien replicant of Picard attempts to woo Dr. Crusher. The good doctor believes this to be the real Captain Picard, and she seems genuinely flustered by the proposal, almost eager with anticipation.

The clear romantic chemistry between Picard and Crusher didn't go unnoticed. In fact, the apparent connection was so obvious to some that Remmick confronted Dr. Crusher on her feelings for the Enterprise captain during an investigation into the ship's crew. However, it would be quite some time before Crusher and Picard admitted it to themselves.

Feelings revealed

For seven long seasons, Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher danced around their feelings for one another. They'd gone on countless adventures side-by-side, even going on a covert mission to Cardassia together, growing ever closer in moments of crisis. But in the Season 7 episode "Attached," Picard and Crusher get kidnapped by a rogue faction on the planet Kesprytt, where they become psychically linked thanks to a pair of psionic devices implanted for the purposes of intelligence gathering. In the episode, they are forced to face their romantic connection for the first time, as they can no longer hide their thoughts and feelings from each other.

It was in "Attached" that Picard finally came clean about his decades-long love with Crusher, and the deep sense of shame he felt for having thoughts about his best friend's wife. He revealed how it had started as a harmless infatuation, but eventually grew into something much more. But the psychic link they share does more than just reveal their true feelings — it also forces them to expose their inner selves, even experiencing each other's dreams as they sleep, something Crusher describes as "very intimate."

At the end of the story, both the captain and the doctor agree that their friendship has become something else entirely and Picard openly expresses an interest in pursuing a romantic relationship. While Crusher remains hesitant, she doesn't seem entirely opposed, but neither the remainder of the series nor the subsequent feature films would address this further.

A father figure for Wesley

When "Star Trek: The Next Generation" begins, Crusher's assignment to the Enterprise is the first time that Picard has seen her in years, and with her she brings her now teenaged son, Wesley. This makes Picard doubly uncomfortable because of his unease with children, and in his first encounter with the youngster, he doesn't even realize that Wesley is Crusher's son. Despite being openly hostile to Wesley's presence on the bridge — and some of his less-than-proper antics in early episodes — Picard soon becomes a mentor to the teen, particularly after he shows himself to be capable of great things in the episode "Where No One Has Gone Before."

In that entry, the alien known as The Traveler tells Picard that Wesley is special and encourages the captain to nurture his talents. As a result, Picard makes Wesley an acting Ensign, allowing him to serve on the bridge of the Federation flagship. He assigns Commander Riker to guide his studies, while episodes like "Coming of Age" show Picard and Wesley in an almost father and son-like relationship, as the experienced commander gives the fresh-faced ensign much-needed life advice. Later, Picard grants him a field commission to the full rank of Ensign.

Wesley and Picard have their own adventure together in the episode "Final Mission," and in its closing moments Picard expresses his pride in the boy's accomplishments and gives him advice on how to succeed at the Academy as any good father would. Though they clash in the later installments "The First Duty" and "Journey's End," they remain close, with Picard eventually accepting that Wesley's path didn't have to involve a career in Starfleet.

Other loves

Through seven seasons of "The Next Generation," Picard and Crusher never did get together, but that doesn't mean they didn't have their share of romances. Each had their own passionate flings, longing loves, and whirlwind affairs, and topping the list is Captain Picard's dalliance with the relic hunter Vash in the episodes "Captain's Holiday" and "QPid." When Crusher learns of the relationship, she seems somewhat annoyed. She comes across as a little resentful upon realizing that Picard never told her about his time cavorting with this much younger woman, and it was hardly the last time she'd show surprise at one of the captain's romances.

Picard's best match may have been with Lt. Cmdr. Darren, the ship's short-lived head of stellar sciences, who forces Picard to accept how his feelings can interfere with his duty as captain. But what did it say, Crusher may have wondered, that Picard had no such worries about his feelings for her?

Dr. Crusher had her own loves, too, first with a Zalkonian visitor in "Transfigurations" and later with Ambassador Odan in "The Host." Picard is likewise visibly jealous at times, but always supportive of Beverly's other romantic relationships. However, her connection to the enigmatic Ronin in "Sub Rosa" is a major concern for Picard, especially when he suspects that he might not have her best interests at heart. But, while they both expressed reluctance and even a little jealousy over the other person's partners, they always maintained a mutual respect for their romantic independence.

Love in another timeline

It's true that we never saw Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher get together on-screen, but that's not to say they didn't hook up during the show's run. In the series' epic movie-length finale "All Good Things," the show jumps between three different time periods, giving us a glimpse into an alternate future that never was, and it's one that did in fact see the pair become involved.

Set some 25 years after the events of the episode proper, we catch up with an aging Jean-Luc Picard, now apparently suffering the debilitating effects of Irumodic Syndrome. When a crisis emerges and he is thrown back and forth through time, this future version of Picard seeks out the aid of Dr. Crusher, now commanding her own medical starship, the USS Pasteur, and who goes by the name of Dr. Beverly Picard. This is when we discover that, in this timeline, Picard and Crusher did indeed pursue a romantic relationship, ultimately leading to marriage — and then divorce. While the returning Jean-Luc is surprised to hear that she kept his name, it does lead to an awkward moment when both of them turn to react to an eager ensign addressing "Captain Picard."

As we've learned in "Star Trek: Picard," the dynamic between Crusher and Picard never did go in this direction in the prime timeline. But, while they didn't become seriously involved, they did become linked in a surprising way, as revealed in Season 3 of "Picard."

The son Picard never knew

"Star Trek: Picard" brought back the entire cast of "The Next Generation" for its third and final season. In the premiere, we find Dr. Crusher aboard her own starship accompanied only by a young man played by Ed Speleers. We quickly learn that this young man is Dr. Crusher's son Jack — named for her late husband — and his father is none other than Jean-Luc Picard.

As revealed in the season's third episode, "Seventeen Seconds," Picard and Crusher did wind up becoming, well, involved. A rendezvous while on shore leave not long before she departed the Enterprise left her pregnant. Crusher made the heartbreaking decision not to tell Picard about his child, fearing that being involved with him properly would put her son's life in danger. He's the son of a man who is constantly the target of deadly enemies, after all.

Instead, Dr. Crusher cut off all contact with Picard and the rest of the Enterprise crew. She even left Starfleet, embarking on her own private mission to aid those in need throughout the quadrant that the Federation couldn't — or wouldn't — help. When Picard becomes aware of his son's existence, he's understandably not happy that Beverly chose to keep Jack from him. As for Jack himself, he seems to be hiding more secrets of his own, and we're forced to wonder if there's more to this new-found Picard than meets the eye.

Missed connections

The appearance of Jack Crusher, while stunning for both the audience and Admiral Picard, isn't the first time that he's had to deal with the shocking arrival of a son he never knew. In the "TNG" episode "Bloodlines," Captain Picard is confronted by an old adversary, the Ferengi Bok, who claims to have located Picard's apparent son and vows to kill him in a sinister revenge plot. 

This young man, Jason Vigo, is said to have been born of a union between Picard and one-time flame Miranda while Picard was a young ensign. Vigo is a fiery, brash young man, and in the period when it's believed he is Picard's son, they struggle to accept their connection. Ultimately, he is revealed to be unrelated to Picard — his DNA was altered by Bok in an elaborate scheme to get back at him for the death of his own son years earlier. 

For Dr. Crusher's part, she would later lose touch with her own son Wesley, who left Starfleet to explore time and space with the mysterious Traveler (who recently popped up in Season 2 of "Picard"). This leaves the young Jack Crusher as her only son, but the mysteries surrounding him threaten to take him away as well.