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How TNG Changed Star Trek with Poker

Star Trek: The Next Generation's poker games proved Gene Roddenberry's idea of Starfleet officers having personal lives - and shaped the franchise.

Star Trek: Picard came to an end in a manner very familiar to fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After closing down Guinan's bar in 24th century Los Angeles, the former crew of the USS Enterprise-D settled into a game of poker -- suggesting that their very long evening had just begun. The credits rolled with the lifelong friends laughing and happily talking with each other as Jean-Luc Picard dealt a fresh hand of cards.

The crew's first adventures ended more or less the same way, as then-Captain Picard finally joined his senior officers in a poker game at the conclusion of The Next Generation. Poker was central to the Enterprise-D crew's friendship, and it served an important purpose in the series. It began as a simple way to show leisure activity onboard the vessel, but it became a perfect fulcrum to illustrate how much the characters meant to each other. Those scenes changed the Trek series that came after them.

Star Trek Always Hinted at Characters' Personal Lives

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry famously pitched The Original Series as Wagon Train to the stars -- a reference to the popular TV western. That meant civilians living onboard Starfleet vessels in addition to the crew. In "The Cage," as Christopher Pike walked from the bridge to his quarters, he passed a young couple in casual summer wear and sandals. The second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," opened with James T. Kirk and Spock playing 3-D chess in the ship's lounge. A similarly attired young couple was clearly visible behind them, with the woman dressed in the exact same outfit as her counterpart in "The Cage."


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