Why Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Didn't Kill Off Any Of Its TNG Crew

This article contains spoilers for the "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3 finale: "The Last Generation"

If every "Star Trek" fan had sat down and watched the "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3 finale premiere at the same time, the collective sigh of relief at end of the episode would have been deafening. Despite numerous close calls and fake-outs, the returning cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" all made it out of the season-long caper alive. Having such an uplifting ending for the show's central characters is certainly welcome among fans, but some may be wondering how none of the original "Next Generation" crew bit the dust throughout the story.

In an interview with Inverse, "Star Trek: Picard" showrunner Terry Matalas spoke about the creative team's decision to keep all the classic crew members alive. "It's good old fashion manipulation," he explained. "We put some scenes in there that are scenes you play where characters are going to die; those goodbye scenes. Honestly, it would be very easy to kill off one of these characters, and it would be entirely appropriate. But I didn't have it in me to do it. In a weird way, I wanted the surprise ending to be that it was a happy ending."

Terry Matalas might have further plans for the crew

It seems that sentiment and surprise value were the main reason that Terry Matalas and the rest of the "Star Trek: Picard" team ended up keeping every "The Next Generation" crew member alive throughout Season 3, but there may also be another reason for the decision. The "Picard" finale is ostensibly meant to be a final farewell to several major characters, including the titular captain himself, but there's a slight chance that Matalas might be picking up some of these characters again in a future project.

In the shocking post-credits scene of the finale, Jack Crusher encounters Q, who he had long thought dead. Q cryptically suggests that Jack is due for some sort of trial, leaving a dangling plot thread that would be ripe for a "Star Trek: Picard" spin-off to tackle. "I know how this would all go if we were lucky enough to come back," Matalas told Inverse regarding the tease.

If Matalas were to get his wish and develop that additional series, it's quite possible that the plot he envisions could involve characters from "The Next Generation." In fact, the same is true for the broader sphere of "Star Trek" projects — by keeping the classic crew alive, there's always the potential that they could be brought back for another adventure if the situation calls for it. In essence, "Picard" created a happily-ever-after for its characters with just enough narrative wiggle room to possibly bring them back.

Some cast members are open to returning

It seems that many veteran cast members of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" aren't ready to say goodbye to their characters just yet either. During the release of "Star Trek: Picard" Season 3, Patrick Stewart was quite candid about his openness to returning to the franchise beyond the sequel series. "There is still enormous potential for matters in what we can do and there are doors left open and we didn't close all of them," the actor said during a press tour reported on by Deadline. Several months later, Stewart expressed interest to Variety in returning for a "Star Trek: Legacy" spin-off along with Ed Speelers. "If I can occasionally crop up to offer a little bit of comedy myself, then I shall be happy to do that," he noted.

Several of Stewart's fellow "The Next Generation" alums have said similar things. Jonathan Frakes seems keen on returning as Riker, as he tweeted a vague message indicating that "Star Trek: Picard" might not be his final go-around with the franchise. Meanwhile, LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner said in a joint interview with Variety that while they have some reservations about returning beyond "Star Trek: Picard," they aren't shutting the door completely. "LeVar and I've talked about the fact that if this lands in a way that we hope it lands, maybe it would be best to be the finale," Spiner said. "And if there should be something more than this, well, as he said, that would just be another gift that we can't really contemplate at the moment."