Big Bang Theory

Star Trek: What Brent Spiner Has Done Since TNG Ended

Brent Spiner is best known as Commander Data but the multitalented actor has had a diverse TV and film career. Here's what he's done since TNG ended.

Here’s what Brent Spiner has done since Star Trek: The Next Generation fully ended in the early 2000s. Spiner is best known for playing the android Lt. Commander Data for seven seasons of TNG from 1987-1994; the multitalented and versatile actor continued playing Data throughout the four TNG feature films, which culminated with Data’s death in 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. But since then, Spiner has pursued a varied career across film and TV, while never straying too far from Star Trek.

In the 1990s, Spiner’s most high-profile role outside of Star Trek: TNG was his appearance as the mad scientist Dr. Okun in 1996’s Independence Day, a role he reprised two decades later in the 2016 sequel Independence Day: Resurgence. In 1999, Spiner gave a critically acclaimed performance as Dorothy Dandridge’s manager, Earl Mills, in the Emmy-winning HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Amusingly, Spiner also voiced Conan O’Brien in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. He also guest-starred in Mad About You, Dream On, and The Outer Limits.

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In 2004, after his (then) final appearance as Data in Star Trek: Nemesis, Brent returned to the franchise to play Dr. Arik Soong, the ancestor of Data’s creator Dr. Noonien Soong, in a multi-episode arc of Star Trek: Enterprise season 4. That same year, Spiner had a role in the Martin Scorsese-directed biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator. Spiner also guest-starred on Friends and cameoed as himself on the Friends spinoff, Joey. Spiner also cameoed in Frasier, and he appeared in the 2006 sci-fi series Threshold, which was canceled after one season. In 2006, Spiner starred opposite Haylie and Hilary Duff in the comedy Material Girls.

In 2011, Brent Spiner became one of several Star Trek cast members to cameo in The Big Bang Theory; he appeared alongside recurring guest star Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spiner voiced the Joker in an episode of Young Justice, starred in a multi-episode arc of Syfy’s Warehouse 13, and he guest-starred in The Simpsons episode “Them Robots”, where he fittingly provided the voices of all of the robots. In 2020, Spiner appeared as Ned Vanderhoff in Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

In a delightful surprise to Star Trek fans, Spiner reprised his role of Commander Data in Star Trek: Picard. Spiner appeared in the pilot episode, playing poker opposite Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), and Data’s twin android daughters, Dahj and Soji (Isa Briones), emerged as linchpin characters who were the focal point of Star Trek: Picard season 1. Spiner also appeared as Dr. Altan Inigo Soong, the son of Data’s creator Dr. Noonien Soong and one of the designers of the new breed of synthetics derived from Data’s positronic neuron.

The season 1 finale of Star Trek: Picard featured what Spiner promised to be his final appearance as Data; though his body was destroyed, a segment of his personality and memories were kept alive thanks to his positronic neuron. In a touching scene, Picard fulfilled his beloved android friend’s last wish and shut down the machine keeping him alive, which allowed Data to experience a mortal death, giving him the final gift of the humanity he sought all of his life. While Data has been put to rest, Brent Spiner is open to returning as Altan Soong in Star Trek: Picard season 2.

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