Home > Editor's Pick > Star Trek Captains: Who is Starfleet’s Number One Captain?

Star Trek Captains: Who is Starfleet’s Number One Captain?

star trek captains

There are many factor to consider when picking the best of the Star Trek captains.

Check the (star)date. Is it a day ending in “y”? Then yes, the debate still rages in the Trekkie community over who of the Star Trek captains is truly the best. Most of us have heard the arguments before. Some say that Captain James T. Kirk is the best captain because he paved the way for all captains after him. Others identify Captain Catherine Janeway due to her flexibility and scientific intellect. Still others look toward Captain Jean-Luc Picard due to the way he inspires confidence in his crew and commands the respect of those who serve under him. Captain Benjamin Sisko gets some mention because of his hard-nosed dealings with both the Dominion and the Cardassians, and Captain Jonathan Archer gets a shout-out here and there for his trailblazing. Yet here’s an overall truth: every Star Trek captain worth his (or her) salt has a personal history that earned them their titles, and each had recognizable successes in their respective roles, deeply impacted the Star Trek universe. As we all eagerly await to discover what Star Trek captain CBS will add to the universe, we can look to the current crop of captains for inspiration. Though consensus is more elusive than Q, there is some credence to the idea that every Star Trek captain has accomplishments worth noting.

Star trek Captains - ArcherChronologically, everything begins with Captain Jonathan Archer. 2151 marks the year Archer began humanity’s first, organized trek into the stars. There is something to be said about the character of the man given the honor of piloting the first Enterprise. Although Jonathan Archer has never been an overwhelming fan favorite, among Star Trek captains he had some of the most foundational impacts on the future of the Federation. In truth, many fans identify him as a very genuine captain, facing somewhat of a “wild west” of sorts. Captain Archer’s most prominent successes were saving Earth from imminent destruction from the Xindi, and playing an extremely important role in creating the Coalition of Planets (the precursor to United Federation of Planets). Archer has been described as a “Davy Crockett-type character” by well-known Star Trek producer Brannon Braga. (Star Trek: The Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 16). Indeed, had the Enterprise series been longer lasting, Jonathan Archer may have found much more notoriety among Star Trek fans. As it stands, most fans speak well of him, despite the Enterprise series, and not because of it.

The much-vaunted Captain James T. Kirk holds serious weight among Star Trek fans. Most debates regarding the “best” Star Trek captain typically teeter between Captains Kirk and Picard. Captain Kirk, for his part, played Star trek Captains - Kirkan extremely important role in expanding mankind’s influence and experience in the Alpha Quadrant, as well as helping to forge a (somewhat tenuous) peace with the Klingon Empire. If not for that peace, the Alpha Quadrant would surely have devolved into a war more endless and dangerous than a tribble’s reproductive drive. Among fans, Captain Kirk is routinely praised for his drives (yes, plural): his personal drive, his drive toward trailblazing and exploration and yes, even his (ahem) sex drive. Despite being the butt of many a sex joke, fans continually praise Captain Kirk for his rough-and-tumble personality and dedication to protecting the Federation, even at the continued risk of his own life.

Star trek Captains - PicardNearly 100 years after James T. Kirk, humanity finds itself another Enterprise captain: Jean-Luc Picard. Fan favoritism quite often falls into Jean-Luc Picard’s lap. There are several reasons for this. First of all, Captain Picard’s personality is enjoyed by fans, often due to the stark contrast it presents to that of James T. Kirk. Where Kirk is unpredictable, Picard’s actions are easy to foresee. Where Kirk bucks the rules, Picard strictly enforces them, both on himself and on others. Where Kirk is suave, Picard is quite often a bit awkward. Yet fans praise Picard for these traits, in that they present a captain who is both consistent and unwaveringly honest. It is Picard’s constant pursuit of the truth that, in some ways, makes him into the Star Trek version of Superman (which, quite obviously, would make Kirk the Star Trek version of Batman). Picard’s accomplishments are many, but most can point directly to his dealings with the Borg as one of the primary reasons he is indeed a Star Trek captain worth remembering. However, much like Jame T. Kirk, Picard also played an integral role in the Federation’s dealings with the Klingon empire, helping to stave off a Klingon civil war that threatened to put the entire Alpha Quadrant at risk.
Existing concurrently in Star Trek’s timeline, Captains Catherine Janeway and Benjamin Sisko each possess qualities that make them unique among Star Trek captains. Captain Janeway, for example, is often looked to admiringly as a female captain who bucks the trends. Strong, capable and Star trek Captains - Janewaysomewhat unconventional, many fans see her as a cross between the unconventional James Kirk (whom she strongly admired) and the Federation standard-bearer Jean-Luc Picard. Her similarities to Picard were related primarily to her intelligence and her strong dedication to the Prime Directive, despite her many reason and opportunities to break it. Her similarities to Kirk are found in her willingness to bend the rules when necessary. Yet fans tend to see her as far too inconsistent to be considered “the best”. Despite this, and despite being lost in the Delta Quadrant, she almost single-handedly saved mankind from a Borg threat, while simultaneously destroying the Borg’s major avenue into the Alpha Quadrant.


Commander, and then Captain, Benjamin Sisko set many fans’ settings to “stun” when he punched Q in the face. Star trek Captains - SiskoMany fans respect Sisko as a captain because of the way he bucks convention, and due to his willingness to not only fight back but to bring the fight to the Dominion. Unlike most Star Trek Captains, Sisko’s captaincy placed him on the frontlines of an impending war, stuck between an increasingly hostile Gamma Quadrant species, and an underhanded and untrustworthy Cardassian Union. He was consistently forced into situations that required him to be both brutal and diplomatic, two characteristics that most fans appreciate in a Star Trek captain. Although he rarely “boldly went where no man has gone before” (the consequences of being in charge of a space station on the outskirts of Federation Space), he still accomplished important successes that helped shape and protect the future of the Federation. Sisko’s integral role in defeating the Dominion saved not only the Federation by all of the Alpha Quadrant. While he is often seen as a bit too dry for many fans, a good many also view him as the most charismatic, next to Kirk.

The debate over who is the best of the Star Trek Captains continues to burn more furiously than a Vulcan mid-Pon farr. Yet the best Star Trek captain is undoubtedly one who not only upholds the core beliefs of the Federation but does his or her best to inspire and protect their crew. Which captain would that be? That goes without saying. It’s quite obviously {incoming transmission}.

You may also like
Star Wars and Star Trek, space battles
Star Wars and Star Trek: Why Neither One is Better Than the Other
Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation with a tablet - Star Trek: The Next Generation technology we already have
Star Trek: The Next Generation Technology That We Have, or Are Working On
A cityscape from the Star Trek world - Examining the Economics of Star Trek and the Star Trek Federation
Examining the Economics of the Star Trek Federation
Spaceship for the Star Trek: Discovery Series
Captain’s Log – Star Trek: Discovery Launch Will Be Delayed

1 Response

  1. Phil

    Im undecided between Kirk and Picard, I think Picard was wiser and more laid back, so If I was a regular crew member on the ship I would choose Picard but if I was on the bridge and one of the magnificent seven then I would choose Kirk as I would have hella fun with james Tiberius, Spock, and Bones! I would have to slap Archer as he is annoying sometimes and acts like a spoiled brat, Janeway would make me want to vent myself out of an airlock for want of escape from boredom (although might would get with seven of nine) speaking of that The Vulcan goddess on Enterprise, I so would Ponfarr her mind out…well mostly my mind out. And Sisko is pretty cool but being stuck on that space station would suck, although if my memory serves me right the early seasons had a cute blonde alien i think….yeah Definitely Kirk all the way! He is coolest..but now I want to serve under T’Pol…a whole lot, Like a really whole lot, I want to live long and Ponfarr, all night long, all night , all night, all night long, all night…scuse me while I sing this song, ALL NITE! ALL NITE….

Leave a Reply