Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Has Given Worf One Heck Of A Character Arc

Michael Dorn's complicated Klingon, Worf, is one of the most beloved of all "Star Trek" characters, and for good reason. The first Klingon Starfleet officer appears in more episodes of "Star Trek" than any other character, with regular roles in three different "Star Trek" series. He seems somewhat simple on the surface, as his stoic attitude and appreciation for oddly mundane/human things like prune juice and opera make him seem like your basic space curmudgeon, your grumpy Gus with a laser pistol. He's so much more than that, however, in large part because the actor who plays him, Michael Dorn, has invested so much into both the character and the Klingon culture that helped shape him

Fans have gotten to watch Worf grow over the years, first appearing as a command officer on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" before becoming the Enterprise-D's chief of security after the death of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby). He served under Captain Picard until the Enterprise-D crashed in the film "Star Trek: Generations," after which he took an assignment on the titular space station of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Now, he's back one last time on "Star Trek: Picard," and even though his hair has gone white and he preaches pacifism, he's still the same old Worf. It's unusual for a fictional character to continue for this many years with such a protective and creative steward, but Dorn and the rest of the "Star Trek" team have ensured that his saga is a satisfying one. 

A chaotic origin story

Klingons were terrifying adversaries in the original series of "Star Trek," but their culture and society were largely ignored. With "The Next Generation," audiences were introduced to the first Klingon Starfleet officer ever: Worf, son of Mogh. Descended from a noble house but raised by humans after the tragic deaths of his parents in the Romulan attack on Khitomer, Worf became an interesting mix of his Klingon nature and human upbringing. Raised by the Rozhenko family, partially in their ancestral homeland of Russia, Worf learned many human traits and tendencies. When he was a teenager, he left to stay with Klingon relatives and undergo his rite of MajQa, which serves as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood for Klingons. While undergoing the MajQa, the spirit of the great Klingon hero Kahless appears before him and tells him that he will do something no other Klingon has ever done before. 

Worf ends up accomplishing many things that no other Klingon had done before and helps relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, eventually becoming the Federation Ambassador to the Klingon homeworld, Qo'noS. He also took the fall for the Klingon Empire and lost his house's honor in order to do the right thing, then cleared his family's name with the help of his half-human mate, K'Ehleyr, and killed the man who framed him. He helped raise a son named Alexander, married the incredible Trill science officer Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), and even defeated the mad Chancellor of the empire, Gowron, before passing on being Chancellor himself and giving the title to General Martok (John Garman Hertzler Jr.). He is, in no uncertain terms, a total badass. 

Don't judge a Klingon by his ridges

Despite being a rather stoic Klingon warrior who follows a very strict code of conduct, Worf is full of surprises. Many of his best appearances on "The Next Generation" put him in situations where he doesn't know how to reconcile his human and Klingon sides, sometimes in unexpected ways. Holodeck episodes can be hit or miss, but in "A Fistful of Datas," Worf, ship's counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and young Alexander become trapped in an old west simulation with real stakes, and Worf has to learn to fit into a whole new set of rules very quickly. Watching Worf blossom into a sheriff protecting his town is a joy, and shows that he's so much more than just a curmudgeonly Klingon who really loves his operas. 

Just as he is steadfast in his beliefs, Worf is devoted in all of his relationships. He would do anything he could to be a good father (even as he often failed), tried to pledge himself to K'Ehleyr when she showed up on the Enterprise with Alexander, was good to his brother Kurn at every turn, and was fiercely loyal to his crewmates. Worf's attempts at romance were all doomed in one way or another. His will-they-won't-they with Troi was mostly a mess, and he barely had a chance to know K'Ehleyr, who understood him pretty well as a half-Klingon herself, but once he boarded Deep Space Nine and met Jadzia Dax, Worf was changed forever. 

The greatest romance in the galaxy

Worf could let his hair down every once in a while on "The Next Generation," but he was still pretty rigid most of the time. Then he met the Trill Starfleet officer Jadzia Dax, whose former incarnation was Curzon Dax, renowned among Klingons, and they got to know one another. On their first meeting, Worf asks her if she hosts the same symbiont as Curzon, and she replies in flawless Klingon to tell him that she is, but she's much better looking. Worf is flustered and stays flustered through the rest of their romance, which is a beautifully healthy thing where they truly encourage one another to be better, more fully realized people. Unfortunately, Worf seems truly doomed to tragic romances, because Jadzia is murdered by a possessed Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) in the Bajoran temple on Deep Space Nine. It would be easy for Worf to slide back into his old ways of thinking and acting as a result of his grief, but Jadzia changed him permanently. 

Jadzia and Worf are one of the best, if not the best, "Star Trek" couples, and the behind-the-scenes friendship between Dorn and Farrell really helped make it sing. The two were excited for Jadzia and Worf to get together because it meant they would get to have more scenes together, and their onscreen chemistry is brilliant. Worf begins his time on "Deep Space Nine" with much of the same bad attitude that he had on "The Next Generation," but by the end, he's a changed man who manages to enjoy the holodeck and sort-of befriend the Ferengi bartender he would have previously only wanted to throttle. The crew of the Enterprise-E was calling, however, and Worf had to get back to space-trekking business.

Forced to get serious once more

Worf would reunite with the crew from "The Next Generation" for three more movies: "Star Trek: First Contact," "Star Trek: Insurrection," and "Star Trek: Nemesis." Most of the "Next Gen" movies are not exactly beloved by fans or critics, though Worf fans at least get a chance to see him kick serious Borg butt in "First Contact." He's responsible for helping ensure that first contact between the Vulcans and humans happens due to some time-traveling silliness, making him a hero for the ages even more than he already was. He also maybe finally got over his lifelong hatred of Romulans in "Nemesis," but that was the last we would see of Worf for 20 years, both in-canon and in real life. 

Between Worf's last appearance in "Nemesis" in 2002 and his first appearance in season 3 of "Star Trek: Picard" in 2023, the only hints we had as to his future were tiny tidbits or vague in nature. He served as Captain of the Enterprise-E for a short while, according to the official Star Trek Logs on Instagram, but he stepped down after an incident on Krillar Prime. Now it looks like he's working with Starfleet Intelligence as the handler of undercover Commander Raffaela "Raffi" Musiker (Michelle Hurd) as she tries to investigate the theft of a powerful weapon from Daystrom Institute. In his first appearance on the show, he had to rescue her from a bad situation with a nasty Ferengi named Sneed, giving fans just a taste of who he's become in the past two decades. Worf has always been a tiny bit mysterious, but this version is extremely enigmatic. 

A wizened warrior

It's hard to imagine Worf as a pacifist, and many fans (myself included) were extremely skeptical of how he would be handled in season 3 of "Picard." Thankfully, Dorn was careful to steward the character as he always has, taking him from a Viking berserker to more of a skilled samurai. He is still capable of some serious violence, but he avoids it if possible. The trajectory makes a lot of sense given the amount of loss that Worf has endured even his newfound, Buddhism-influenced philosophy. In an interview with /Film's Vanessa Armstrong, Dorn explained that he had plans for the character before he was even approached for "Picard":

"[...] I had written a screenplay or pilot where it was a spin-off of the Worf character. 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. And he has really gone further in that realm, because it's more in keeping with who he is and his journey. And I told the producers that, 'Yeah, he still is very dangerous, but he has tempered that with a wisdom that his meditation and his teachings has kind of added to who he is.' And they were very good with that."

They also gave him a reluctant student of sorts in Raffi, which reminded Dorn of the relationship between assassin Beatrix Kiddo and her master Pai Mei in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill Vol. 2" and felt like the right direction for the character. Worf has gone from an angry, lost young man to a wise warrior with a truly legendary legacy, and season 3 of "Star Trek: Picard" feels like it will be a proper sendoff. Qapla'!

You can check out silver fox samurai Worf when new episodes of "Star Trek: Picard" air Thursdays on Paramount+.