Star Trek's Data Turned Down Being Human 34 Years Before Picard Season 3


Star Trek’s Data Turned Down Being Human 34 Years Before Picard Season 3

Data was given the opportunity to become human in an early episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but he turned it down.


  • Lt. Commander Data’s desire to be human is a central theme throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond.
  • Data declined the opportunity to become human in TNG season 1 because he believed true humanity comes from personal growth and learning, not external transformations.
  • In Star Trek: Picard season 3, Data finally achieves his wish to be human with a new synthetic body that allows him to experience emotions and physical sensations, while still remaining true to his identity as Data.



Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) turned down the chance to become human in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, 34 years before Data’s synthetic resurrection in Star Trek: Picard season 3. Despite TNG’s rocky star, the android operations officer, Data, quickly became one of the best things about early Next Gen. From his first appearance in TNG‘s premiere, “Encounter at Farpoint,” Data expressed a desire to be human and his exploration of humanity would last throughout all of TNG and beyond. Despite this, however, Data refused an immediate human upgrade in TNG season 1, episode 10, “Hide and Q.”

After putting the crew of the USS Enterprise-D on trial in TNG‘s series premiere, the omnipotent being known as Q (John de Lancie) returned in TNG season 1, episode 10. He reveals that Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise so impressed the Q Continuum that they now wish to learn more about humanity. Q then selects Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) to visit the Q Continuum as humanity’s representative. Q grants Riker the powers of a Q and gives him the chance to offer his friends a gift before joining the Continuum. Having already grown overconfident with his new powers, Riker offers the other senior officers something he thinks they most desire.

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Data Could Have Been Human In TNG Season 1

First, Riker uses his Q powers to give acting Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) his so-called gift. Wesley is often frustrated that people do not take him seriously because of his age, so Riker turns him into a grown man. While taking ten years of a young man’s life may not seem like much of a gift, everyone on the Enterprise bridge is suitably impressed and understandably weary of what will come next. Riker then looks over to Data, but before he can say more than the android’s name, Data stops him.

Riker protests that he can grant Data humanity, something he has always wanted. But Data replies: “I never wanted to compound one illusion with another. It might be real to Q, perhaps even you, sir. But it would not be so to me.” Data understands that true humanity is something he must learn on his own, something that not even Q can provide. Data’s journey to discover his own humanity is what ultimately makes him human. Everything he experiences and learns along the way shapes him. Humans, too, change and grow as they experience life and the journey is often more important than any destination they may reach. If Data had skipped over this essential journey, he would have been human in appearance only.

Data Is As Close As He’ll Get To Human In Picard Season 3

Star Trek Picard Data

After a journey that lasted over 30 years, Data finally gets his wish to be human in Star Trek: Picard season 3. Despite having died in Star Trek: Nemesis and then again in Picard season 1, Data is resurrected in Picard season 3 thanks to help from his friends. After being rescued from the top-secret Starfleet facility at Daystrom Station, the Soong android formerly known as Data has to go through yet another journey. Dr. Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Data’s creator Dr. Noonian Soong, built a brand-new synthetic body for Data. This body was embued not only with Data’s consciousness, but also that of Lore, B-4, Data’s daughter, Lal (Hallie Todd), and Altan Soong himself.

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After a battle fought between the consciousnesses of Data and Lore, Data emerges as a new person. With the ability to experience emotion and physical touch, Data is now as close to human as he could ever hope to be. And yet, he is still undeniably Data. After his upgrade, Data revels in his new emotions, joyously flying the Enterprise and doggedly fighting to save his friends. Data’s Star Trek journey may have had many ups and downs, but his transformation in Star Trek: Picard season 3 was well worth the wait. While Data could have achieved his dream all the way back in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, it would not have been nearly as rewarding for him or for Star Trek fans.

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