When I imagine myself on a spaceship, I often think about Captain Jean Luc Picard, the captain of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. When facing tough decisions, I always wonder how he’d handle the situation. So here are the 18 Best Decisions Captain Picard Has Made In Star Trek with some lessons you can learn from them.
Picard gave refuge to Q
Q was a benevolent but mysterious godlike entity. Q’s motives often conflicted with the interests of the Enterprise crew in the very first episode. He tormented members of the Enterprise crew and attempted to turn Riker into one of his kind . . . . Q even flung the Enterprise into a far-off region of space, introducing them to the Borg and setting up one of their greatest enemies.
Q, once a god-like creature, his people exiled him and made him into a mortal. When he proved to be more trouble than he was worth to the Enterprise crew, Picard offered to help him. It wasn’t an easy decision, but most people would have understood if Picard had turned away Q. As he had direct access to the ship during this time. Picard was also going through some personal issues of his own. However, that didn’t stop him from helping Q. Since then, Q has been grateful for the help Picard gave him and tries to give it back whenever possible.
Helped the Mintakans
“Who Watches the Watchers”, Star Trek: The Next Generation
It has everything a true Trekkie could want in an episode. It all starts when a pre-industrial society called the Mintakans discovered a secret Starfleet research team. In the subsequent confusion where the Enterprise comes to assist and begins to believe that Picard is an all-powerful god. The prime directive demands they not interfere, but the damage is done. While the Starfleet expert advises they hand down a set of religious tenets to mitigate damage, Picard outright refuses.
Jean Luc Picard explains to them that he and the rest of the crew aren’t at all like them. He is in fact from a very faraway place. He was willing to die to show them he wasn’t a god. They start to understand when they see how Picard is willing to sacrifice himself for them. In the end, Captain Picard went back to the ship and came up with a plan with his crew to save everyone. He showed compassion towards Mintakan culture but also rescued the Federation scientist Dr. Marr who had been kidnapped by the Mintakans. Picard kept the tapestry that he received from the people of Mintaka III. It was a reminder of how important his decision was along with other special moments from his journey.
Involved in the Klingon civil war
Throughout the fourth season, trouble brewed for the Klingon Empire. Worf was still dealing with the death of his beloved, Jadzia. He returned home to play a role in the fallout from Chancellor K’Empec’s assassination. When it was determined that Duras, the same man who framed Worf’s father; carried out the killing, jolting Worf into murdering him in a desperate rage. Duras’ powerful family haunted the Empire, it all came to a head in the two-part season-ender “Redemption”. Gowron was about to take his place as leader of his people, with outside help from the Romulans. They made their move to take control of the Empire. Torn between his people and duty, Worf sided with Gowron and asked Captain Picard and Starfleet to join him.
Picard hatches a plan with Duras’ family to expose the Romulan alliance. Worf regains his honor and Gowron is installed as Chancellor. It sets off a chain of events that would have after-effects for years. Spilling over into “Deep Space Nine” years later.
Piloted The Enterprise
“Booby Trap,” Season 3
Jean Luc Picard demonstrated his leadership skills when he took the helm of a ship trapped in an asteroid field. They needed to escape a thousand-year-old booby trap laid during an ancient war. He used gravitational pull from a large asteroid to get the ship out.
Did not help Help The Onarans directly
TNG: “Symbiosis” Season 1
They saved two Onara residents from their vessel’s destruction. Captain Picard beamed them, two Brekkian representatives, and special cargo onto the Enterprise. Dr. Crusher quickly determined that the Brekkians had brokered a deal. It essentially hooked the Onarans on a rare narcotic, which they mistakenly believed was medicine for a plague.
Picard did not want their plan to succeed despite Prime Directive’s order not to interfere. The entire Onaran race had to stop their addiction as Picard refused to give them the coils for their ship. As they were using the ship to deliver the drug.
TNG: “The Survivors” Season 3
Picard believed that Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge’s survival from an attack on a Federation planet by unknown aliens was too convenient. The Uxbridges’ property was the only one left intact. Picard wasn’t convinced there was nothing more to it than that.
A series of incidents culminated in the obliteration of the Uxbridge home from orbit by a super-powerful alien starship. Picard suspected that it was all part of a ruse. Upon returning to the planet, Picard found Kevin and Rishon very much alive. When they were caught, Kevin revealed his true identity as an immensely powerful alien intelligence. He created a copy of his wife Rishon from memory to deal with her loss.
Picard didn’t give up on Barclay
In season three of Star Trek, fans met an unusual Starfleet officer: Lieutenant Reginald Barclay. He was a social misfit and outcast. Struggled to fit in among the more gregarious and bold crew of the Enterprise. Barclay was awkward, clumsy, and lacking in confidence; When it became known that he wasn’t measuring up, Commander Riker wanted him off the ship. Insisting he had no place on the Enterprise. He suspected that Barclay’s previous commanders might have given him recommendations just to get rid of him. Troi tried to help in her capacity as counselor, but it didn’t seem to be making a difference.
Picard did something that nobody had done before: He reached out to Barclay with a caring, compassionate helping hand. Instead of transferring the so-called problem officer, Picard instructed Geordi to “become his best friend”. Eventually, the crew came to appreciate Barclay for his unique talents and skills. Together, they helped him come out of his shell. Barclay would go on to become a valuable officer, even getting several episodes of his own.
Jean Luc Picard Trusted Ensign Ro
Ensign Ro Laren joined the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation in season five. At a time when the show was transitioning from its darker early years to something more optimistic. She started as a bitter Bajoran prisoner put under a spell by Admiral Kennelly. However, a conversation with Guinan about what would happen if she fulfilled her mission. Or, what would happen if she didn’t help Laren realize that being true to herself was more important than returning home a hero. So Ensign Ro refused to complete her mission and freed Picard from Admiral Kennelly’s control. Because of her integrity, Captain Picard asked her to remain aboard the Enterprise-D.
It’s true that at the start of the episode, most of the crew despised Ensign Ro. Because of her less than stellar reputation. But you know what? Throughout the following seasons, she’d become an incredibly valued member of the bridge crew and a fan favorite of the series.
Made William Riker his number one
When Lieutenant Commander Riker first meets his new captain, Jean-Luc Picard, in the series premiere of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” he is given a stern order right away. Picard shows almost no regard, simply telling Riker to manually dock the ship’s two sections. It sets the tone for Picard as a cold, by-the-book commanding officer. But over the course of the series, Riker would be appointed the first officer. He became one of just a few genuine friends that Picard had, which altered his path in life.
Riker was initially responsible for ensuring Picard’s reputation as a respected authority figure. It was his relationship with the captain that helped Picard grow more friendly and accessible to his crew. This trend would continue as Picard advanced from the man we see in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” to the man seen in “Star Trek: Picard”. He is shown to have much more casual friendships with those under his command. They are all thanks to Riker.
Defended Data’s rights
Like William Riker, the act of recruiting Soong-type android Data to serve as his first officer would be as big a decision as any Jean-Luc Picard made. But the Starfleet officer had a long and distinguished service record that would warrant just about any starship captain bringing him on board.
While other officers may have seen Data simply as a machine – a robotic humanoid capable of great feats and able to pilot their starship and provide scientific analysis for them – It was rare for other starship captains to see Data as a person. But Captain Picard and those on the Enterprise did.
Picard and most of his crew members—except Dr. Pulaski—saw Data as a person. When his rights as an individual came under attack, they leaped to his defense, and Picard especially fought hard to defend Data. Picard was his defense counsel in “The Measure Of A Man,” an episode that has had an important impact on the “Star Trek” universe.
Took advantage of the Contract Clause
TNG: “The Ensigns Of Command,” Season 3
Picard was confronted with the task of relocating a group of settlers from a planet. It was controlled by an inhospitable species known as the Sheliak Corporate. The Sheliak Corporate gave the Enterprise only a few days to move the settlers of the planet. If not, they would wipe them out if they refused.
Picard was able to find a clause that allowed him to choose a third party to decide Sheliak’s claims. Based on evidence given by either side. The Sheliak agreed to Picard’s request, allowing more time for the evacuation of the colony.
Risk, passion, or ambition
TNG: “Tapestry,” Season 6
When Picard died in sickbay after suffering a traumatic injury, the omnipotent Star Trek entity Q saved his life. Picard was so regretful over the impulsive and reckless decisions of his youth that he desired to go back and do things differently.
When Q granted Picard’s wish, things did not work out as Picard had hoped. He lived a life without risk, passion, or ambition. Eventually returned to duty on the Enterprise as a junior grade lieutenant. Picard begged Q to let him set things right—by dying as the man he once was. However, Q decided to spare Picard’s life in the process.
Saved Hugh’s life
The first time the Enterprise came in contact with the Borg, they were a robotic collective bent on assimilating other races. However, when Captain Picard meets a Borg injured in an attack by his ship and offers to help him, the Borg eventually recovers and becomes named Hugh. He begins to exhibit strong morals and even fights alongside Captain Picard against other members of his race.
In the end, Picard chooses to respect Hugh’s autonomy and let him make his own choice about his future. Hugh chooses to return to the collective. Picard hopes he will spread a sense of self and good morals throughout the Borg. Hugh returns in “Descent” and eventually leads a project in “Star Trek: Picard” to help ex-Borgs recover their former lives. It’s an incredible humanitarian initiative. Picard would never have been able to accomplish it if he hadn’t saved Hugh’s life, to begin with.
Mind-Melding With Sarek
TNG: “Sarek,” Season 3
Ambassador Sarek had come aboard the USS Enterprise, seeking to mediate a crucial dispute between two peoples. He suffered from a rare Vulcan disease known as Bendii Syndrome. Because of his deteriorating condition, Captain Picard was forced to take drastic measures.
When Sarek began slipping into fits of frenzy and anger, Picard made a risky decision to mind-meld with him. This temporarily granted Sarek emotional stability, allowing Sarek to complete his task. While at the same time taking on the burden of his emotions for a short time. This racked Jean Luc Picard with a lifetime of horrible regret, anguish, and pain.
Changed The Narrative Of A Court Case
TNG: “Measure Of A Man” Season 2
Nagilum, a powerful entity, used his powers to put the crew into stressful situations—simply for his curiosity. When he revealed that he wanted to kill a third of the crew in different ways for the sake of research, Picard finally had enough.
Picard set the auto-destruct sequence on his ship and refused to surrender. Claiming he was unwilling to allow his crew to be subjected to that kind of cruelty. Nagilum didn’t believe Picard would go through with it. So he tested him to see if he would honor his word. When it became clear that Picard wasn’t bluffing, Nagilum let the crew go.
Picard Fought for Worf’s honor
“Sins of the Father”
A sudden accusation of treason levied against Worf’s dead father forced a trip home to the Klingon homeworld. The arrival of Worf’s long-lost brother Kurn (played by Tony Todd of “Candyman” fame) started a political drama. When Kurn was the victim of an assassination attempt, Worf found himself alone. Not as captain of the Enterprise, but as a trusted friend, Captain Picard stepped in to help.
A direct eyewitness clears Worf’s father of the crime, but Worf takes the fall to prevent a civil war. He averts a death sentence, leaving justice for another day. “Sins of the Father” ignites an ongoing story that will continue for nearly a decade. With effects that will run through two different “Star Trek” TV series. Without Picard’s valiant assistance on that fateful day, many parts of the story might not have been possible.
Brought back James T. Kirk
When the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series debuted in 1987, it was immediately compared to the original “Star Trek” series. Captain Jean-Luc Picard was being compared unfavorably with Captain James T. Kirk, as played by William Shatner. But eventually, Patrick Stewart won over fans with his portrayal of Picard. He went on to become just as beloved a character as his predecessor. In “Star Trek: Generations,” which premiered in 1994, two captains of the Enterprise were finally brought together. When a string of events caused a rift in space-time.
The villain Soran encounters the energy anomaly called “The Nexus,” and he is forever trapped within. But he manages to nearly kill Captain Picard in his escape. The captain discovers Kirk inside the Nexus, and together they stop Soran from destroying the planet. Kirk dies at Soran’s hands but manages to save millions of lives in the process. The decision to bring Kirk back for one more mission may be the most important choice he ever made. Saving lives and meeting Kirk were important reasons for bringing Kirk back to life. It was also an opportunity for Trekkies to see how two great Captains work together.
Promoted Geordi to chief engineer
In the first season of “The Next Generation,” no single character was established as the chief engineer, with at least three different officers filling the spot. But in the season two premiere, Captain Picard would promote one of those helmsmen—Geordi La Forge—to the head of engineering. This was a major change for the crew, but it would get much better ratings in future episodes.
La Forge became one of the standout characters in the series, and with good reason. He solved countless crises including several galactic threats. He never would have been able to if he had stayed as a mere pilot or been moved to another post. In fact, in at least one alternate future timeline he became Captain La Forge of the starship Challenger, and he owed it all to Picard’s decision to put faith in his abilities as an engineer.