Jean-Luc Picard returns: Here are 5 of his best Star Trek lines

Patrick Stewart, the Captain of Cool, always knows exactly how many lights there were.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
3 min read
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Star Trek fans rejoiced on Saturday when CBS announced that a new show would explore the next chapter of Captain Jean-Luc Picard's life, with Patrick Stewart returning to play the iconic captain. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.) 

Why so much love for Stewart's Picard? Over the seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the charming French-born (but English-accented) captain staked a claim to fans' hearts. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) was the swashbuckler who'd fight first and ask questions later, but Picard was the cooly competent intellectual with the heart of a lion. It's unclear yet where the new show will take him, but with Stewart guiding the ship, fans probably don't need to worry.

As we sail towards a new chapter in Picard's life, here are five classic quotes from his Star Trek: The Next Generation days.

1. 'I am Locutus of Borg.'

Between internet spoilers and random leaks, it's tough to keep surprise plot twists out of television these days. But for TNG, Picard turning into a Borg in this 1990 cliffhanger episode was a true stunner, the plot twist to end all plot twists. Watch the other actors' faces as they witness the transformed captain for the first time and you get an idea of how first-time viewers were feeling. Resistance did indeed seem futile.

2. 'There are four lights!'

It's tough to see a beloved character like Picard tortured by the Cardassians, who try to get him to break in this difficult-to-watch episode. It's hard not to think of prisoners of war and the torments of George Orwell's novel 1984. But then Stewart's Picard brays his final defiance in a much-imitated line that shows he may have come close to breaking, but never shattered. THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS.

3. 'Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.'

In this fifth-season episode, Picard finds himself transported alone to a planet with the Tamarian captain, Dathon. While coming together to fight a beast, Picard discovers that the Tamarians communicate by allegory (the much-quoted "Shaka, when the walls fell," means failure). It's fascinating and beautiful to watch as the two opponents work together not just to fight, but to really understand each other. And at the end of the episode, a new allegory has been added to the Tamarian language: "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel."

4. 'Things are only impossible until they're not!'

In this first-season episode, the children of the Enterprise are kidnapped, and it would seem that the Aldeans have the upper hand. Even Data thinks things are hopeless, and then Picard delivers his snappy line, which could be the motto of all the Trek captains, before him and since: "Things are only impossible until they're not." Kirk, who famously defeated the Kobayashi Maru scenario, would agree.

5. 'And the sky's the limit.'

In the series' final episode, and its final scene, the crew -- like family to viewers at this point -- gather for one of their regular poker games. But then a surprising guest stops by: Captain Picard himself. Listen to the quiet regret in his voice as he says, half to himself, that he should've done this a long time ago. And then he announces the game: "Five-card stud, nothing wild." But it's the final line that gets you. "And the sky's the limit."

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