What If... What if Jean-Luc Picard hadn't left his heart in San Francisco?

That's right, I'm doing one of these on TV Week. It's easy! Do you know how many shows have riffed on Capra? Loads!

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Tapestry"
Based on: The story Picard tells Wesley to pass the time on a shuttle in "Samaritan Snare"
The true history: When Picard was fresh out of the Academy, he recklessly tried to cheat a Nausicaan at dom-jot and got a knife through the heart for his trouble. Decades later, he's mellowed and has a mechanical heart he has to get rotated every few thousand miles.
Turning point: What if Young Picard was just a little more level-headed?
Story type: You're lame but the universe doesn't care.
Watcher's mood: Randy.Altered history: A Picard that never had a brush with death might still have a heart, but he might not have a career! Not knowing to live every day like his last, this Picard played it safe and didn't seize the same opportunities, didn't lead an away team on Milika III to save an ambassador, never took charge of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed. So he wasn't offered a command, and never got noticed. Somehow is still winds up on the Enterprise, as a lieutenant junior grade in Astrophysics.
He's under the command of Captain Thomas Halloway who apparently chose the same exact bridge crew he did. (In non-canon material, Halloway oversaw the building of the Enterprise, but retired before he took command of her.)
Stuff canceled as a result: Since Q did say no one else would be changed (tell that to Halloway, the poor man's unable to retire), Next Gen would probably have gone ahead. However, without Picard becoming Locutus, we probably wouldn't have the same Deep Space 9 (not about the same Sisko, at any rate), and without First Contact, the TNG franchise would have ended sooner.
These things happen: On every other show, in fact. Other television episodes that did It's a Wonderful Life include...
-Enterprise's "Twilight" - What if Archer couldn't beat the Xindi?
-Xena Princess Warrior's "Remember Nothing" - What if Xena had never been born?
-Quantum Leap's "A Leap for Lisa" - What if Al died before he could meet Sam?
-Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Tapestry" -
-Married with Children - What if Al Bundy didn't exist and the world was better for it?
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "The Wish" - What if Buffy had never come to Sunnydale?
-That 70s Show - What if Eric and Donna had never been together?
-Smallville's "Apocalypse" - What if Kal-El never came to Earth?
-Doctor Who's "Turn Left" - What if the Doctor never met Donna Noble?
-The Simpsons - What if Homer hadn't married Marge?
...and plenty more... Any favorites?


Jayunderscorezero said...

One of the worst ones of these is the Angel episode "Birthday", primarily because it is such a rip-off of the similar Buffy episode "The Wish", even down to the fact that it's Cordelia making a self-serving wish that causes all of the problematic changes.

As for a really good one, there's the Batman TAS episode "Perchance to Dream". And I believe Farscape did the concept once or twice too.

Alden said...

Would DS9's "The Visitor" count? That would certainly be my favorite "What if/wonderful life" episode, if it counts.

You could also say that without Jean-Luc as captain, Q wouldn't be interested in TNG and would never bother to send the Enterprise to the Delta Quadrant. Without "a kick in [their] complacency", the Federation would be extremely vulnerable to the Dominion. There goes the Alpha Quadrant...

Siskoid said...

It's a paradox.

Without Picard, Q has no interest in the Enterprise, so he obviously doesn't give Picard a chance to change his life.

Anonymous said...

"A Case of Spring Fever". Trust me, you DON'T want to live in a world without springs.

Alden said...

According to Parallels (I think it was in that episode), there are alternative time tracks that are infinitely created each moment. According to this line of thought, the Star Trek shows could have been showing us numerous time tracks without even acknowledging it. Whenever they go back in time and return to the future they are actually in another parallel future without even knowing it. So it could work theoretically, if anything in Star trek actually makes sense.

Maybe I remember it from Q2, which I would suggest to be on your Star trek reading list.

Nizbel said...

Over the Edge, episode from Batman animated series.

It was pretty shocking as an episode starting off with killing Batgirl right form the start, then Gordon going all revenge mode on Batman. Resulting in Batman and Gordon dieing as well.

But it was all a dream. I don't care, it was still cool to see that "what if" moment.

Siskoid said...

Alden: Q-Squared maybe? Q2 is the awful Voyager episode with Q Junior. I loved Q-Squared!

Alden said...

Q squared was definitely what I meant.

I would not recommend Q2 for any list, reading or otherwise (well, maybe it would work to be on the "worst uses of Will Riker" list).

Siskoid said...

And there I think you mean Death Wish.

Alden said...

I now feel as though I have tarnished all trekkies before me.

It would be easy to simply blame my mistake on the fact that i don't want to remember Voyager, but one of the articles of trekdom includes knowing vast amounts of trivia. If I can't even remember episode titles, what's the use of knowing that Kirk was given a court martial at Starbase 11.

Siskoid said...

Don't worry about it. I once crushed a guy by recognizing his Starfleet Halloween costume as Chakotay (he didn't do the make-up), but told him he forgot to make the pips Maquis.

He was disconsolate.

LiamKav said...

Hey, if Kirk can forget that they're in orbit around Gamma Hyrda II, then we can all forgive ourselves.

LiamKav said...

Also (christ, did I really read this stuff two years ago? Wow. Anyway...)

One thing about this episode is that Picard is only a lieutenant junior grade. The character is supossed to be about 65 at this point, right? That's only one promotion in 40 years, and you know it must have been because everyone was feeling guilty that this bald middle-aged guy was still an ensign.


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