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Star Trek: The 10 Smartest Characters, Ranked

Enterprise, Enterprise, hurling through space, who's the smartest character in that place? Hint: it's not child prodigy Wesley Crusher, who gave up his commission in order to go who knows where with the Traveler.

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Star Trek has been host to a plethora of genius species, incredible thinkers and even an omniscient character over the years. It pretty much has to be filled with smart people in order to make the sci-fi drama work. Even so, narrowing down the top 10 most intelligent single people requires difficult choices to be made, particularly in terms of what defines intelligence in the first place.

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Star Trek Voyager Seven of Nine
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10 Seven Of Nine

Star Trek Voyager Seven of Nine

Jeri Ryan may have been added to the cast of Voyager as Seven of Nine in order to drum up some drama and appeal, but the former Borg drone is easily one of the smartest characters on the show. She was designed to have a "Spock-like appeal" for fans, which included a high level of intelligence and the ability to reason very well. Had the character focus been more on those traits and her many sexy scenes or her outfit designed to make her stand out, she may have been taking more seriously.

Like Spock, she didn't always make the best decision, but it was usually a well-informed one, and she could offer sage advice during missions based on her knowledge and rational thinking.

9 Barclay

Dwight Schultz as Barclay on Star Trek the Next Generation

When it comes to creative problem solving and innovation, Lieutenant Barclay is hands-down the smartest person in the room. What makes the character so compelling is that he's very conversational and doesn't act like many people believe an intellectual should act. In fact, he's emotional, has an addictive personality and even struggles with social issues, but that's also why he's so brilliant in terms of representation.

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Like many Star Trek characters before him, Barclay challenged what it means to fit into a role, proving that being intelligent doesn't have to mean acting like a professor or president. It can mean being a highly imperfect person with incredible creative skills, which is what we've come to notice from many geniuses over the years.

8 Kirk

On the surface, Captain Kirk seems like a bit of a meathead. He fights a lot, he falls in and out of love just as often and he acts on pure instinct rather than seeking counsel, if it can be avoided. Therein lies Kirk's intelligence, however, which are the street smarts that many characters lack.

Kirk may not have the deep wisdom or analytical skills of many other characters, but he often made the best choice and saved lives by feeling a situation and going with his gut. That may not always be the best way to get things done, but Kirk made it work and demonstrated that "book learning" isn't the only way to become an intelligent person. Life experience also matters.

7 Guinan

Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan in Star Trek The Next Generation

When it comes to facts, figures, reason, and logic, there are plenty of characters to choose from as the most intelligent, but what about emotional intelligence? Counselor Troi may first come to mind, but Whoopi Goldberg's wise bartender character Guinan may be the smartest person in this field.

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Much of Guinan's sagacity comes from her being so old, but her "folk wisdom" shouldn't be dismissed so easily. Not only has she been able to untangle many a sticky situation on the ship with her gentle advice, but she's also been able to comfort just about every character at some point or another in the Ten-Forward lounge, which might be an even greater quality.

6 Picard

Fans will argue which Captain, Kirk or Picard, is best until the end of their days, but both captains are incredibly intelligent people. Picard is often chastised for not being as bold as Kirk, but whose decisions still stand the test of time? Picard's legacy has definitely aged better, largely because of the more progressive time it was written in, but also because he sought the counsel of others before making decisions, which is not only a much more enlightened way of leading but smart.

Acknowledging your blind spots and using the wisdom of others to help make decisions that affect many people is much smarter than running with your gut every single time you face adversity--especially with so many lives at stake. Picard also took part in the arts, from music to theater, and continuously worked on his education, making him the Renaissance man Kirk never was.

5 Scotty

One of the most brilliant engineers ever written, Scotty has proven to be an impressive character over and over again, even when played by multiple actors. His exceptional intelligence was most evident during the original series, though, particularly during the time he utilized an old Klingon vessel in order to execute impossible missions, including traveling to the future and transporting whales.

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Scotty's intellect has saved the crew on many occasions, not to mention the planet Earth itself, and while successful missions also depend on the respective talents of everyone else, he was definitely the smartest man on board when they happened.

4 Janeway

Which captain would you most want commanding your ship, making the most intelligent, sound decisions? Kathryn Janeway definitely comes to mind. Kate Mulgrew definitely portrayed the character with insight and aptitude, providing her with a captain's intuition and sound judgment. One certainly doesn't achieve admiralship without a brilliant mind.

Some fans claim that Janeway's intelligence wasn't something to be celebrated, since it often made her appear too flawless and boring on the show. New talent was brought in to help generate more interest when writers should have simply embraced her as a real person instead of attempting to make a perfect female captain.

3 Spock

The human-Vulcan hybrid known as Spock has become so synonymous with the Star Trek franchise that it's his salutation that we use to acknowledge one another. One of the reasons he was so popular was due to his keen intelligence, which was often built upon his innate sense of logic. Reasoning is something that Vulcans excel at, and in the show, Spock has almost always done it best.

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Of course, it was Spock's humanness that also made him so beloved, particularly when half of his nature went at war with his Vulcan instincts. The result of his inner conflict was often the mark of true intelligence.

2 Data

If someone with omniscience is present in a series, the next smartest person in the room isn't going to technically be a person but an android. Data is a walking, talking computer with 800 quadrillion bits (100 PB or 88.81784197 PiB) of storage capacity. His computational speed is a whopping 60 trillion operations per second, leaving the rest of Starfleet in the dust.

Data isn't street smart--at least, not at first--but he learns faster than most humans. Given his logical reasoning abilities, computation stats and propensity to learn new things, Data is one of the smartest beings in science fiction, period.

1 Q

If you're omniscient, it means you know everything, so if we go by that reasoning, Q pretty much has to be the smartest character in the history of Star Trek. Q challenges characters, posing questions outside the box and defies the laws of physics, space, time and even reality.

The extra-dimensional character knows everything that ever happened and utilizes his twisted sense of humor in ways that make him appear very godlike. In fact, he has attempted to play god several times, which sometimes surprises him and makes the audience wonder about how truly omniscient he could possibly be.

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