The ever expanding universe of Star Trek has graced audiences with some amazing characters of the years, from the questionably large-eared Ferengi to the terrifying body mutilating Borg. Among these, none are so center stage than the Starfleet captain heroes of the shows and movies. Of all these captains, however, there is one who stands above the rest, who many fans believe to be the best from the entire franchise: none other than Captain Jean Luc Picard. But why is he considered the best of them all?


While a completely subjective opinion, there are various reasons why many fans favor him to the likes of Kirk, Sisko, or the ethically ambiguous Janeway. The first of these reasons comes down to the acting, a masterful performance from the very talented and classically trained actor Patrick Stewart. The science fiction platform was very different from the classic roles he had played before, so different he was actually warned by close friend Ian McKellen to not take the role, as it would damage his career. Gene Roddenberry was also not keen on him being his heroic captain, not thinking that an ‘old, bald, Englishman’ would do his character justice. Thankfully both, Stewart and the producers were keen on him taking the role. While things started rocky with a disastrous season one, they quickly improved.

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RELATED: Star Trek: Why TNG Improved So Much After Season 1

Many praise Stewart for not only playing the role amazingly, but actually elevating the material and giving the character a certain level of gravitas no other actor could have done. He gave the role his all, and surpassed all expectations of him. Not only that, brought the show a surprising amount of resonance, lifting not only the source material up from a rather gaudy space sitcom, but elevating his fellow cast as well. Up until this point in time, it’s important to remember that the sci-fi genre was largely considered something for kids, a childish endeavor that was not only light viewing, but was not to be taken seriously in the world of ‘proper’ drama. Stewart changed this, his acting skills giving the genre a profound and often emotional narrative. This was something he did yet again years later in his role as Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies, movies that are often heralded as the start of mainstream comic adaptations.

picard shouting in star trek first contact

While a lot of the favoritism surrounding Picard comes from these acting skills, that is not to say writing was not on point to begin with. A great show is founded on both elements. Stewart and other cast members helped keep the show afloat during the first few seasons, their skill making up for the writers wobbly footing. However, things improved a lot around season three.

This is where everything seemed to come together. The actors had found their comfort in the roles and changed them to reflect their abilities, but more importantly, The Next Generation from this point onwards was consistently well written. There’s the odd bad episode, often featuring less likable characters such a Wesley Crusher, insufferable know-it-all, or Alexander son of Worf. However, the majority of them were great, well written, well acted narratives. Other shows certainly had their moments in the sun, with Deep Space 9 and even the often underappreciated Voyager series having some amazing episodes. Still, they varied a lot more than TNG did. This all helped concrete fans’ love of Picard, not only because of the terrific acting skills behind the character, but because his narratives and stories were often much better than those of other captains.

Picard and Riker

The last, and potentially most important, reason fans seem to gravitate towards Picard was that his character was great. He was an incredibly intelligent, yet open-minded figure of authority who had a heart of gold — ticking all the boxes of a well-loved character, no matter what series they are in. Above all, however, he was honorable, and always tried his hardest to do what was right no matter the personal consequences. What distinguished him from other captains in Starfleet, like the ill-liked Jellico, was that he was always in control and had clear ideas on what to do in most situations. Yet, he never shunned the counsel of those around him, always asking for opinions and advice, and taking that into consideration while he made a decision. In many ways, he was the pinnacle of what Roddenberry was trying to portray with his creation: a utopian version of humanity which everyone today should strive to become.

While Picard is universally loved by fans, what makes his position as most loved captain from the franchise interesting is that fans often love him for plethora of different reasons. Some love him because he features in some of the franchises the best episodes; others because they admire the work, effort, and skill put into the character by Patrick Stewart. And of course, there are a handful of others who see him as a confidence boosting icon for bald men.

MORE: Star Trek: Who Was Dr. Pulaski, And Why Did Fans Hate Her?

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