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Daniel Davis Agreed To Moriarty's Star Trek: Picard Return With Zero Information

Mystery and fun on the final frontier. It's what "Star Trek: The Next Generation" does for seven seasons, and that legacy continues in "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3, which finds beloved cast members trying to protect Starfleet from an attack during Frontier Day. While this season has plenty of tense moments, it's also taking the time to call back to the more whimsical moments of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and that includes the return of Data's holographic foe, Professor James Moriarty (Daniel Davis).

The professor appears from the shadows of Daystrom Institute's Daystrom Station during Season 3, Episode 6, "The Bounty." He greets Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Worf (Michael Dorn), and Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) as they work to retrieve a manifest being guarded by Data (Brent Spiner). 

Davis made his first appearance as the hologram villain in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Season 2, Episode 3, "Elementary, Dear Data." And he didn't think twice when asked to appear on "Star Trek: Picard." He told Screen Rant, "I picked up the phone one day and the caller ID was my agent. And the first thing he said was, 'Well, we've heard from Star Trek...' And my response was, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Don't you want to know what it's for?' And I said, 'No, it's Star Trek. The answer's yes.'"

But this Professor Moriarty is not an exact replica of the one seen in "The Next Generation."

Why Professor Moriarty is so different in Star Trek: Picard

While Professor Moriarty is known as a self-aware hologram, Daniel Davis points out that the Professor Moriarty seen in "Picard" is not the same one that fans remember from "The Next Generation." He told StarTrek.com, "It wasn't until I saw the episode myself that I realized that I was a figment of whatever powers Data had left to guide Worf and Riker into where Data was so they could find him."

Having Davis return as the famous "Sherlock Holmes" villain took a lot of work, and it's a tale that goes back to "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Professor Moriarty and Data first battle it out in a holodeck program meant to improve Data's problem-solving skills, in which Data portrays Sherlock while Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) portrays Dr. Watson. But Professor Moriarty doesn't return until Season 6, Episode 12, "Ship in a Bottle."

Davis told Screen Rant that they had to wait until Season 6 to bring Professor Moriarty back because they did not receive clearance from the Arthur Conan Doyle Society the first time around, noting that the team thought that the characters were in the public domain. "Then they find out to their shock that the Conan Doyle Society holds the rights to those characters and stories in perpetuity because the Conan Doyle Society sponsors so many orphanages and charitable organizations," he said, adding that it took "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry a few years to smooth everything out, eventually leading to them getting the rights.