This Star Trek: Picard article contains spoilers.
We knew he was coming, but few could have guessed at the excessiveness of Worf’s entrance in Star Trek: Picard. No, not so much him beheading the Ferengi Sneed and his enforcers to rescue Raffi Musiker at the end of episode two. Rather, it’s the introduction he gives in episode three: “I am Worf, son of Mogh, House of Martok, son of Sergey, House of Rozhenko, Bane to the Duras Family, slayer of Gowron,” he declares to a stunned Raffi.
Worf’s litany covers most of the greatest hits for the Klingon’s past, including his battles against Duras sisters Luras and B’Etor in The Next Generation and his rivalry with duplicitous Klingon Chancellor Gowron. And it also suggests that Worf is at peace with his lineage, as he claims not only his biological father Mogh but also his adoptive human father Sergey Rozhenko and his place in the House of Martok. And instead of drinking prune juice, a warrior’s drink, he offers Raffi another beverage: “I have made some chamomile tea. Do you take sugar?”
This older and wiser Worf is full of surprises. Until his return on Picard, all we knew about the character after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came from the pages of non-canonical Star Trek novels where he climbs up the Starfleet ladder until he eventually becomes captain of the USS Enterprise. But Picard finally gives us the canon version of Worf’s next act: in the 25th century, he’s a totally zen sword master working for Starfleet Intelligence, someone who is more likely to preach pacifism than decapitate an enemy (unless it’s Sneed on a Wednesday). As he tells Raffi, the Klingon warrior has spent the last few years “working on himself.”
Picard‘s Worf, whom actor Michael Dorn compares to fictional Shaolin martial arts master Pai Mei, has actually been years in the making. In fact, Worf’s evolution goes all the way back to a Star Trek spinoff pilot Dorn wrote and pitched for his character that never got made.
“I had written a screenplay or pilot where it was a spin-off of the Worf character,” Dorn told Slashfilm. “And part of that was he has gone back to this planet, like a martial arts place, and they taught him about meditation and what is the mark of a true warrior.” However, Dorn also told Trek Movie that despite using that plot point, Picard season three represents a significant divergence from the rest of his ideas for a Worf solo series.
“Interestingly enough, what I envisioned was quite different than what we have seen,” Dorn explained. “And so I would have to go back and really rework that whole pilot that I pitched.” In fact, he went onto say that based on season three plot details he can’t yet reveal, “they would have to throw out my idea, or my script, and sort of like go off of what they have written so far.”
When talking to Trek Movie in 2021, Dorn actually outlined just how different his unproduced screenplay was from what we’re now watching on Picard season 3. Intriguingly, the script would have seen Worf trying to save the dwindling Klingon Empire from extinction.
“Basically, the script I wrote was: Instead of looking at the Klingon Empire from Starfleet, we look at Starfleet from the Klingon Empire. And it has been going on for decades, the Klingon Empire just can’t go on,” Dorn said at the time. “It’s the Russians, basically. And they decide that they have to either die with a sword in their hands and go extinct, or change with the times and become something different. And Worf is the guy that says, ‘We have to change with the times, that is the mark of a warrior.’”
According to Dorn, the show would have seen Worf visiting different planets and societies across the the Empire as a sort of diplomat during a time of great upheaval in Klingon society.
“Their resources are limited and dwindling, because the Klingon universe is just like the Federation. They have planets and worlds and societies that they own, but they do it in a brutal way. And so they have to go out to every one of these worlds and either give them their freedom, or try to work with them, which is something that’s anathema to Klingons,” Dorn explained. “And since Worf opened his big mouth and said, ‘This is what we have to do,’ then they say, ‘Okay, then you’re the guy that has to go out to all these worlds.’ And every world is different. Some worlds are rebelling. Some worlds want to be part of the Klingon Empire. Some worlds want to be independent. And so every episode is that.”
While this particular Klingon show may never come to pass now, Dorn remains confident in his character’s future. “I always felt that Worf has a place. Not just one of the characters, but there is a Worf show out there,” he told Trek Movie after his debut on Picard season 3. “And if they have the will to do it, I think they would be totally shocked at how popular the character is.”
If the Son of Mogh, et. al. does get to continue past this season of Picard, Dorn says he will be ready to take on that challenge. “Jesus, I have done almost 300 Worfs. I think the character is pretty popular.”
Star Trek: Picard season 3 streams on Thursdays on Paramount+.