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Jean-Luc's death (and subsequent android body rebirth) in the Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Picard was certainly an unexpected development for fans, but rest assured that Patrick Stewart was just as shocked as you were. In fact, he was probably even more surprised.
"I think I first heard about Picard's death by accident when I wasn't meant to," the actor told Empire magazine for the publication's Summer 2020 issue. "I thought, 'Dead? Am I being written out? Hang on, the show is called Picard!' Historically, we knew that Picard had a health issue and for him to die on camera was rather intense, I have to say."
But it was really Data's (Brent Spiner) death that broke him emotionally.
"I get out of the chair, walk to the door, then turn around and say, 'Goodbye, Commander.' We had to do it several times because I couldn't say the lines. I was just too moved by it," Stewart said.
A second season of the show was ordered before the first one even premiered. With the coronavirus pandemic keeping all the live-action productions on indefinite hold, however, there's currently no way to shoot Picard's sophomore outing. With that said, Stewart is already looking toward the future and fan-casting the Next Generation alums he'd like to see make their return to the world of Star Trek.
"I'm hopeful that in the next year or two, we'll find the rest of my colleagues turning up," he said. "I want Michael [Dorn, who played Worf], LeVar [Burton, who played Geordi La Forge], and Gates [McFadden, who played Beverly Crusher] to be part of all this, too."
As of the Season 1 finale, Spiner, Jonathan Frakes (William Riker), Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi), and Jonathan Del Arco (Hugh) are the only TNG alums — other than Stewart — to appear.
All 10 episodes of the first season are now streaming on CBS All Access.