Star Trek has had some great Captains during its decades long run. Here we look at them all. Time to vote who was the best of the best at Star Fleet…!
The world of Star Trek is vast. This popular show and spin-off movies have been with us since the 1960’s when the first pilot aired.
So no doubt many of you would have watched the show. For those that know your Star Trek what the question everyone who was a follower of this popular show would ask themselves at times is this:
Who was the BEST Captain?
In this article a brief summary of the Six contenders, which you, the reader, will hopefully post your opinions on.
Now boldly go where no one has gone before…
Captain Christopher Pike
Portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter & Bruce Greenwood
Jeffrey Hunter was the original Captain Pike aboard the USS Enterprise.
Many of you may remember the very first pilot episode of Star Trek and Captain Christopher Pike commanding the USS Enterprise NCC 1701. Pike was portrayed by Hollywood star Jeffrey Hunter, the dashing and handsome star that women adored.
The first pilot show was entitled “The Cage” and was the only episode that Hunter was to portray the Captain of the Federation’s flagship. This was due to the original pilot being rejected and Hunter decided that filming any further episodes was not something he wished to pursue.
As for the character little is known. Pike apparently came from the city of Mojave on Earth and he also owned a horse called “Tango”.
However in the latest remake of Star Trek, directed by the brilliant J.J. Abrams, Pike is portrayed by Bruce Greenwood and is known to encourage the young James T. Kirk to join Star Fleet. Kirk does and is under the command of Pike on the USS Enterprise.
Bruce Greenwood in the modern day feature, Star Trek as Captain Pike
In the film Kirk rescues Pike who is later promoted to Admiral and proudly yields his command to Kirk whilst he recovers injuries sustained during the film.
So Pike is where it all started for most of us, even though references have been made in Star Trek history to a Captain prior to Pike.
Captain James T. Kirk
Portrayed by William Shatner & Chris Pine
William Shatner was the original and famous Captain kirk commanding the USS Enterprise
James Tiberius “Jim” Kirk is a fictional character in the Star Trek media franchise and the original dashing, handsome and swashbuckling Captain of them all. Still held in the highest regard by many fans of the series and movies, Kirk was the one who used cow boy diplomacy and was a hit with the ladies. The original Kirk was played by the now famous William Shatner, his fame primarily down to his portrayal of Kirk for decades in the hit shows and films.
The character was later portrayed in the 2009 film Star Trek and was carried out by Chris Pine.
The character of Kirk has been subjected to many spoofs and satires. Still Kirk has been called the quintessential officer, a man among men and a hero for all ages.
History of Kirk
According to the history of the character, James T. Kirk was born and raised in Riverside, Iowa in the year 2228. He was made famous for his various “cheats with death” throughout the episodes and films and early reference was made to this part of his persona when it was made clear he was the first student at Starfleet Academy to defeat the Kobayashi Maru test, garnering a commendation for original thinking by reprogramming the computer to make the “no-win scenario” winnable.
The character of Kirk became Starfleet’s youngest captain when he received command of the USS Enterprise. This was for a five-year mission, three years of which are depicted in the original Star Trek series. The character became famous for his “cowboy type” diplomacy, usually pulling the trigger and asking questions later. He could be considered a sort of Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” of outer space.
However his character was also blessed with an eye for the women and in many episodes his smooth talking charm and dashing good looks were a massive hit for both the women characters playing alongside him and also thousands of female fans around the world. However, whenever it came between choosing between a woman and his ship, his first love, the USS Enterprise NCC 1701 and NCC 1701-A always came out the runaway winner.
Maybe women who complain their husbands or boyfriends love their car more than them should consider watching Kirk in action and perhaps then they will understand a male’s love for their vehicles.
He also boasted some humorous relationships, most notably with his first officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and chief medical officer Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley).
Kirk also had a son, David Marcus and this was shown in the motion picture Star Trek II; The Wrath of Khan. However his son is murdered by a Klingon in the sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In this film Kirk shows his human side of agony and dismay as he hears of the Klingon Commander’s boast his son has just been killed.
Kirk continued in the films to portray his human side, his swashbuckling dare devil antics and his love for his ship, fun, adventure and women.
His beloved Enterprise is finally decommissioned in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. At the final scene, Kirk gives a fitting speech to his ship, his crew and sets the tone for future generations who continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Kirk was often referenced to in the new series of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He later went on to make a special appearance and come back in the motion picture Star Trek: Generations.
Set 70 years later the new Galaxy Class Star ship Enterprise D is under the command of Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart) who finds Kirk alive in the timeless Nexus, despite the fact history recorded his death during the Enterprise B’s maiden voyage.
Kirk dies when helping Picard overcome a crazed scientist and the Enterprise D’s captain buries Kirk.
Kirk’s last statement was “It was fun”; a fitting statement to Kirk’s character and persona throughout the years as the commander of the famous star ship.
Chris Pine is the “new” Captain Kirk in the 2009 feature Star Trek
Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek
In the latest movie Star Trek directed by J.J Abrams, Kirk is shown how he grew up and how he came to serve on the Enterprise and forge a relationship with Spock. It also goes onto display how he became Captain of the famous star ship.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Portrayed by Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart portrayed Captain Picard in Star trek: The Next Generation
Perhaps one of the most memorable Captains of the Enterpriseto many a younger generation will be the iconic Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This character is portrayed by the British Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart. He was commander of the Enterprise D in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis. He also made a special appearance in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Picard is unlike Kirk. This captain is shown as extremely moral, very logical and cerebral. This Captain is a master of diplomacy and debate who resolves seemingly intractable issues between multiple parties. But this isn’t all fans will know him as being. Even though such resolutions are generally peaceful, Captain Picard is also shown demonstrating his remarkable tactical cunning in situations when it is required and is not afraid to roll his sleeves up and take the fight to the enemy when required, both with all phasers firing and fists high ready to box!
Picard oozes a sex-appeal that has had women in his life charmed by his sophistication and educated voice. Female fans worldwide swooned over his character and it wasn’t long before Picard had an avid and admirable fan base baying for his attention.
History of Picard
The history of the character Picard is very thorough as demonstrated throughout the history of the show and the films. He was born to Maurice and Yvette Picard in La Barre, France, on July 13, 2305. According to the historians of the show he always dreamed of joining Starfleet and surprisingly failed his first Starfleet Academy entrance exam. However he was subsequently admitted and became the first freshman cadet to win the famed Academy marathon.
Picard is also portrayed as being a reader of history and his academic training in archaeology is mentioned in numerous TNG episodes. In one episode he also remarks at one point that he failed a semester of organic chemistry.
Picard is also portrayed as being stabbed in the heart by a Nausicaanin his Academy years, leaving the organ irreparable and requiring replacement with a parthenogenetic implant. He served as first officer aboard the USS Stargazer, which he later commanded. His command attributes during this time included inventing a star ship evasive attack manoeuvre that would become known as the Picard Manoeuvre.
The Picard character had many adventures and some of the most notable were his fight against The Borg, both for the preservation of mankind and also on a personal level.
He also had a light-hearted adversary in “Q”, who had a fascination for Picard’s intelligence and humanity and would inadvertently go out of his way to cause trouble for Picard that had possible and at times serious repercussions for the whole of the human race. If anything, “Q” was responsible for inviting The Borg to encounter The Enterprise D, even though The Borg has been shown in the prequel series Enterprise.
Commander Benjamin Sisko
Portrayed by Avery Brooks
Star Trek continued with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was a long running series about a group of Star Fleet officers and members of the Federation on a space station. The commander of the station was Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, played by Avery Brooks.
History of Sisko
Sisko was born in 2332 in New Orleans. He was the son of Joseph Sisko, the chef and owner of the restaurant “Sisko’s Creole Kitchen”, “Sisko’s” for short. According to Star Trek historians his birth mother was a human woman named Sarah. Star Trek was never as straight forward as that though and his mother was actually possessed by one of the Bajoran Prophets (the life-forms that exist inside the Bajoran wormhole), who manipulated her into marrying Joseph and conceiving Benjamin. Sarah disappeared two days after Sisko’s first birthday, when the life-form left her body. It was shown that his mother died in an accident several years later.
Sisko’s father met and married another woman who went on to bring Benjamin up as her own son. Sisko remained unaware of this well into his adulthood and long after he had otherwise made contact with the Bajoran Prophets. Sisko also had a sister named Judith and at least two other brothers.
Benjamin Sisko joined Starfleet Academy in 2350. During this time he met his wife, Jennifer and they wed and had a son named Jake.
Deep Space Nine
It was in Star date 2369, that Sisko was given the task of running Deep Space Nine and help Bajor’s recovery from the recently-concluded Cardassian occupation. He was reluctant to take the command and saw that raising his son on the station was less than ideal. Another clear indication of Sisko’s emotion is shown in the very first episode when he is briefed by Captain Jean-Luc Picard on his mission aboard the station. Sisko bears much resentment towards Picard after his wife was one of the thousands killed by a Borg attack at the time Picard had been assimilated into a Borg.
Sisko was a great leader. He put faith in his crew and oversaw the running and defence of the space station with a calm but firm grace. His voice was low and always commanding and one would consider he was a man consumed in his own thoughts, yet what he said you listened to.
To many they would see Sisko as a combination of both Picard and Kirk. Extremel diplomatic and with the best interests of his crew such as Picard, yet demonstrating qualities of Kirk where he was never afraid to roll his sleeves up and fight when required.
What was interesting about his character was the portrayal of him as a single parent, single-handedly raising his young son throughout the series to adulthood. A testament to men faced in real life with such a task.
Sisko was also shown for having a sporting side. He was an avid follower of base ball and one famous symbol of Sisko was his base ball on his desk. He would be seen clutching it and tossing it about when in thought.
Another quality that embraced fans was his love for food and cooking. Following in the footsteps of his father he was never shy in showing his skills in the kitchen.
Sisko was also ambitious, whilst remaining grounded with his day to day tasks running the station. It was known he always aspired to be an Admiral someday.
Sisko’s life was constantly being revealed through the series and his history. If anything Sisko’s character was extremely multi-layered and delved deeply into the psyche of his emotional and mental fabric that made the man we see on our screens. One quality he was known to show on occasion was his ability to reason and compromise both with his crew and his adversaries. Qualities you could compare to both Picard and Captain Janeway from Voyager.
As already mentioned he was never afraid to use force where necessary and in an encounter with the mischievous “Q” character he was shown to punch the entity on the nose. Something we would all expect to see from Captain Kirk.
Captain Kathryn Janeway
Portrayed by Kate Mulgrew
Kate Mulgrew was Captain of the USS Voyager
What was surprising to many fans of Star Trek was the introduction of a female Captain. And boy did she do a great job. This was depicted in the series, Star Trek: Voyager.
The character of Captain Kathryn Janeway was played by Kate Mulgrew. Janeway was the captain of the USS Voyager, Later on she was portrayed as an Vice-Admiral in the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis.
History of the birth of this show recalls that the character was originally called “Elizabeth Janeway”, after the famous real life write. Genevieve Bujold was cast but the actress demanded the character to be renamed to “Nicole Janeway”. Bujold was an actor with mainly film experience and on the second day of shooting the first episode pulled out as the demands of television schedules were too much. It was then that Kate Mulgrew, who had previously auditioned for the role, took over the role of Janeway and came up with the suggestion she be named Kathryn.
History of Captain Janeway
According to the history of the show, Captain Janeway’s hometown is based in Bloomington, Indiana.
The female captain first took command of the Intrepid-class USS Voyager in 2371. It was this very first mission that set the stall for the successful show to continue for many seasons. Voyager’s first mission under her command was to locate and capture a Marquis Ship in the Badlands, an area of space feared by many. It was during this pursuit that both the Marquis ship and Voyager were transported against their will into the Delta Quadrant, 75,000 light-years away. During this, the Marquis ship and Voyager team up whilst fighting an enemy. The Marquis ship is destroyed but just in time for its crew to be beamed aboard Voyager.
A new, but if not strained alliance is shown as both Federationpersonel and the renegade Marquis crew is forged. However, as the series goes on and under the leadership of Janeway, any resentment or mistrust subsides as both crews work as one.
Janeway realises her crew need to get back to the Alpha Quadrantand this task, even at maximum warp, would take decades. Undeterred, Janeway demonstrates excellent leadership skills whilst at the same time showing compassion to her crew, that they can get home and she would not stop until she got them back safely.
Janeway’s character, whilst female, is extremely protective of her crew. It is a quality that the female species demonstrates in everyday life. Her instincts are almost mothering, whilst being firm in command and not afraid to exercise her duties as a Captain of a Star Ship. Janeway was also a fighter and would, should diplomacy fail, demonstrate a side of her that was never afraid to take the fight to the enemy if needs must.
Janeway was also famed for not only forging an alliance with outlaws in the Marquis, but also putting her trust in a convicted criminal in Tom Paris who became helmsman on Voyager.
Her run ins with new life forms never seen before on Star Trek was many as she fought to get her ship and crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. In many episodes she also has encounters with the Federation’s most feared enemy, The Borg and in particular the Borg Queen. Female rivalries at its best as both try to outsmart the other.
Janeway’s character demonstrated many qualities and none more so than her nurturing of the ex-Borg Seven of Nine reclaim her individuality and humanity when she joins the crew on their dangerous voyage home. She was also an advocate for the Doctor’s status (who was a hologram) as a sentient being.
In the latest series of the Star Trek universe the writers were not shy of introducing “Q”. This, apart from adding obvious danger to her crew, also gave way to understanding “Q” a little more and what he stood for. Plus this also enabled some welcome light-hearted humour to the fray, which was in many aspects portrayed with both the Doctor and Tom Paris.
Janeway finally brings her crew home when they encounter The Borg and use one of their conduits to return her ship to Federation space. This was after seven years of many brushes with death and adventures in the Delta Quadrant.
Captain Jonathan Archer
Portrayed by Scott Bakula
The final piece of the Star Trek universe is set in a century before the adventures of Captain Kirk. The series, Enterprise was born. This acted as a prequel and was a successful attempt at bringing the Star Trek universe full circle and portrayed the first Enterprise(NX-01) to travel deep into space.
His character was referenced as being the greatest explorer of the 22nd Century. He enjoys water polo and has a pet dog aboard the star ship named Porthos.
The beauty of Archer is he is a Captain who was predominantly an explorer and not a defender, though as the show went on we were to find many traits that make up humanity in a person.
The show was keen to show the early stages of technology such as warp drive and transporter technology, as well as the introduction to Vulcans and Klingons to the Star Trek universe.
Archer and his crew also demonstrated traits similar to those we find in the 21st century with a mixture of diplomacy, compassion, cockiness and some colourful language included!
Archer was shown to be the son of famed warp engineer named Henry Archer. He was born in the year 2112 in Upstate New York. However he claimed to have lived much of his life in San Francisco. He always dreamed of exploring space as a boy.
His character was shown to have a distrust of Vulcans as he saw them as having held back Humanity’s progress. This was in particular with regards to his father’s warp five engines.
He was portrayed as serving as a pilot in the NX warp trials. They pushed the limits of the test ship much to the dismay and protests of the Vulcans who demanded that trials be put to an end. Starfleet agreed to this until Charles Tucker III (who was to become Archer’s chief engineer on board Enterprise) fixed the intermix ratios. Archer and his co-pilot Robinson stole the NX-Beta, the second test ship, in order to prove its readiness and defy the Vulcans. Archer was suspended but ironically this act also secured his role as Captain of Enterprise which was also Earth’s first deep space warp star ship.
Archer and his crew went on to explore much of what we had taken for granted in the previous Star Trek shows. He was a strong Captain who cared for his crew yet showed many traits we as humans are accustomed to in today’s life.
Whilst sharing a mix of all of the Captains previously portrayed in Star Trek he had his own unique style about dealing with problems and Enterprise quickly caught on with the fans around the world.
So there you have it. Five unique Captains of the Star Trek legend that continues to fascinate us all and will no doubt do so in many years to come. It was a show that bridged the gap between science and science-fiction and opened up our imaginations into a whole new era of thinking.
Six of best and six characters who if they were living in our time period or us in theirs we would certainly want on our side…
But the question remains for you viewers: Which one did you see as the best of all?
Please post your comments.