It would appear we have seen the last of Brent Spiner as Data in the Star Trek universe. After playing the role across multiple television show iterations and several Star Trek movies, Spiner established Data as one of the most beloved characters among all fans of the series. Speaking about the role in a new interview, Spiner makes it clear he's never going to play the character again, but that doesn't mean the actor is finished with the franchise. Because we'll be discussing the events of Star Trek: Picard below, know that major SPOILERS lie ahead for those who have yet to catch up on the series.
Longtime Trekkies will know Spiner first began playing the android Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which ran for seven seasons between 1987 and 1994. He would continue playing the role for the TNG-based movies, culminating with Data's "death" scene in 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis. At the time, many fans expressed their displeasure with the way the scene had been handled, feeling Data deserved a much better sendoff than the one given to him by the movie. Acknowledging the criticism, Spiner admits he was surprised by the reception from the fans, as his perception of the scene was different.
"When he blew up in Nemesis, I never expected to get the backlash [the show got] from so many fans over that. I thought, 'Well, that's a great, big emotional ending, and he's sacrificing himself for his friends' and that was just. But it didn't seem to sit that well with too many people."
Brent Spiner reprised the role of Data for a handful of guest appearances on the Star Trek prequel series Enterprise, but following the show's cancellation, it appeared we'd never see him play the android again. Fortunately, Star Trek: Picard allowed for Spiner to give us one last performance as Data, as Picard was able to reunite with Data when his consciousness was transferred into quantum simulation. Having returned to the Star Trek universe as Data one more time to give the character - and the fans - a proper goodbye, Spiner now appears content to leave the scene be as Data's swan song.
"I mean, there was just a finite amount of time that I can actually play Data, no matter what anyone says. So many people were like, 'Oh, you can do it. You're not too old,' and then I do it and they go, 'You're too old. Why'd you do it?' I think we did it in such brief sequences that it was fine to do it, and I felt good about it. But I wouldn't really entertain the idea of doing it again because I just don't think it would be realistic. So it seemed right to me to give him this more gentle sendoff, and it seemed right to me in the context of the entire season of Picard and what Picard himself had been experiencing because of the loss of Data. I think it allows him to feel okay about it too. So it seemed like the right thing to do."
Other fan favorite Star Trek characters from the past have also appeared on Picard, which includes Jonathan Frakes as The Next Generation's William Riker and Jeri Ryan as Voyager's Seven of Nine. Because the show is moving forward with a second season, there's always the possibility we'll be seeing other Star Trek fan favorites showing up as well. There's a good chance others from The Next Generation will be having special appearances on Picard, but it looks like we shouldn't get our hopes up on seeing Spiner back as Data once again.
Though Spiner won't be playing Data again, it's still possible we haven't seen the last of the actor in the Star Trek universe. On Picard, Spiner also plays Alton Soong, a descendant of the man who built Data, and Spiner is open to reprising the role if asked for season two. "Now there's a character that could conceivably go on and continue, so of course I'd love to [reprise the role]," Spiner states in the interview. You can read the full interview with Spiner at TV Guide.