At some point in your life, if you're a hardcore Trekkie, you have dreamed of being on board one of those infamous starships of the Federation. You dreamed of working under one of the great captains in the entire history of Starfleet. Don't deny it. You know you have. But in your wild imaginings, you probably did not give much thought as to which captain you should serve under.
Captain Kirk, the epitome of Star Trek captains, might come to mind first, but is he really the best captain of the lot? Is Captain Pike really the kind of leader you'd want to follow to the final frontier? What about Captain Sisko? There are quite a few great captains to know and admire in the Star Trek series. Read on if you want to know the worst and the best of them.
8 Captain Gabriel Lorca
Lorca ranks the lowest on this list because trouble seems to dog his footsteps in a major way. And by in a major way, we mean in a parallel dimension kind of way. The Captain Lorca from the prime universe disappeared somewhere in the "mirror" universe. He ended up being replaced in the prime universe by his "mirror" counterpart.
If we were to judge Lorca based on the mirror version of himself, he still wouldn't fare too well on this list. Mirror Lorca infiltrated his way into the prime universe and landed himself in the position of captain of the USS Discovery. He intended to use his position to maneuver his way back to the mirror universe and take over there. Lorca fails as a captain not only because his prime version just disappeared; his mirror version is a jerk.
7 Captain Philippa Georgiou
Captain Georgiou was not that bad of a Starfleet captain, especially not compared to Lorca. However, she had the misfortune to not listen to her first officer when she really should have. Simultaneously, she also had the misfortune to engage a Klingon in hand-to-hand combat. If there is one rule the average Trekkie should follow, it's to never engage a Klingon in hand-to-hand combat. They live for that stuff.
We honestly did not have enough time with Captain Georgiou to get to know her well as a Star Trek captain. In most Star Trek shows, the captain we meet is the captain we stick with for the entire length of the story. Georgiou was just one of the captains we meet in Star Trek: Discovery. She seems like she would make a good captain, especially if she learned to listen to her officers a tad more.
6 Captain Jonathan Archer
Captain Archer is definitely one of the most relaxed captains in Starfleet you could ever hope to work under. Where someone like Georgiou or Picard might look down on you for taking it easy, Archer would be chill right alongside you. He was the captain of the Enterprise in the show Star Trek: Enterprise, and he exemplified the spirit of exploration inherent in the series.
A few things about Archer that stand in his way of being a better captain is his initial distrust of Vulcans. Over time, he learns to be more accepting of them. But that's still a place Archer has to eventually reach. If you had to work under Archer, you can bet your buckles that it'd be an adventure. He's a pioneer of the highest sort, with some trust issues to sort out along the way.
5 Captain Benjamin Sisko
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine focuses on the adventures of a space station rather than a starship, but it has its own captain we can admire. Captain Benjamin Sisko is a man ruled by his passions. He is an expert at making split-second decisions, but he is not so good at following orders. We have too few fingers on our hands to count how many time Sisko has spit in the face of authority.
Funnily enough, when someone questions Sisko's authority, he has a tendency to blow a gasket. The best thing about Sisko as a captain is how loyal he is to his crew. Part of the reason he defies orders at times is for the benefit of his crew. The worst thing about Sisko is how often he seems to blow things out of proportion with his temper.
4 Captain James T. Kirk
Captain Kirk was the first Star Trek captain we were ever introduced to. He was the first swashbuckling Starfleet officer we imagined ourselves working under. However, after much reflection, we've realized that Kirk is perhaps not the best captain of them all. For one thing, do you know how many red-shirts have passed away under his command? Too many, friends. Too many. For another thing, he should have been reprimanded by Starfleet for bothering too many female co-workers at some point.
Kirk definitely has some old-school class in his favor, but we shouldn't let our enthusiasm for the legacy of Star Trek blind us to his failings. All the things we like about Kirk are kind of the things that make him a so-so captain. He's daring, so he puts himself and his ship at risk. He's charismatic, so at times he's over friendly. Kirk as captain is an adventure, but you might not survive it.
3 Captain Kathryn Janeway
Janeway does not get enough credit for being an all-around satisfactory captain. Sure, she put her ship, the Voyager, at risk when she closed off their way home in order to protect an entire civilization, but that moment is to her credit. Captain Janeway knows how to balance the good of the many with the good of the few. She can be humorous at times, but for the most part, she's one of the most professional captains in Star Trek history. She knows when to be familiar with her crew, and when to put on her steely-eyed captain face.
There is practically no other captain that can achieve this kind of balance. Our time viewing Star Trek: Voyager was made ten times more enjoyable thanks to the inclusion of Captain Janeway. She faced some tough decisions and kept a level head. If you worked under Janeway, you can bet you'd not only survive, but you would thrive under her leadership.
2 Captain Christopher Pike
Captain Christopher Pike normally would have ranked very low on this list given that we only knew him from a few episodes. Pike was the first captain of the Enterprise in the original Star Trek, but Captain Kirk replaced him shortly after. Pike seemed to be a dedicated officer, inspiring strong attachments from his crew and admiration from Kirk, but we knew little about him.
However, with Pike's inclusion in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, we have a better idea about what the man is like. Pike is like Kirk done right. He has a sense of adventure, but he maintains that level of maturity that captains need to have. Perhaps most importantly of all, Pike is the kind of person that can see the impending doom of fate and still carry on regardless. This guy saw his future as a disfigured hunk of meat on a wheelchair, and yet he still pressed on. That's what we call bravery.
1 Captain Jean-Luc Picard
People expect the leader of a starship to be a figure of nobility and intelligence. However, that's not always what we get. Starship captains are like everyone else, flawed and all. However, the closest we can get to that image of perfection is Captain Picard. Picard was the captain of the Enterprise in the show Star Trek: The Next Generation. While some of us might have spent time missing Captain Kirk, we couldn't help but appreciate the differences between the two.
Picard's sense of right and wrong seems a little more on point than Kirk's. The intellect beneath Picard's exterior appears vaster and more focused than Kirk's. (Kirk seems to rely more on gut instinct.) Captain Picard is the kind of person you want with you when you're exploring the far reaches of space or negotiating the tricky avenues of diplomacy.