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Best USS Enterprise Commanding Officers In Star Trek

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Star Trek: Worst Starships to Work On

Highlights

  • Characters like Riker, Archer, and Pike have strong ties to the Enterprise, shaping its legacy across the timeline.
  • Spock’s journey from Ensign to Captain, representing the unique Vulcan-human dichotomy, resonates in modern Star Trek iterations.
  • Picard, the soul of modern Starfleet, prioritizes diplomacy and intellect in navigating the galaxy’s challenges aboard the Enterprise.

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No other starship in science fiction history has as much name recognition as the Enterprise. Even people not into the Star Trek franchise recognize this famous space-faring vessel. The IP could be rebranded as “Enterprise” and the fans would barely notice the change.

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It makes sense that the most popular and beloved characters in Star Trek would have some connection with the Enterprise. Some of the most popular characters in the galaxy’s history have served as commanding officers on everyone’s favorite starship.

7 William Riker

The Yang To Picard’s Yin

Jonathan Frakes as Captain William Riker

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E
  • Rank:
    Commanding Officer, First Officer, Captain

Diplomacy might have been the main theme in The Next Generation, but that doesn’t mean the bridge doesn’t need a bit of muscle. William Riker was always the more outspoken and emotional half of the command on the Enterprise D and would often step in to back up Picard’s delicate touch with some confident attitude.

Riker wasn’t just an important character in TNG; he also played an essential role in several of the movies and appears in various other shows, including Picard, Discovery, Enterprise, Voyager, and even in animated form in Lower Decks. Riker’s popularity is partly due to his experience in Starfleet; he’s been in a command position on several other Federation ships, like the Titan and the Zheng He, and when directing a battle, he often took the fight to his opponent.

6 Jonathan Archer

The First Captain Of The Enterprise Ever

Scott Bakula as Capt. Jonathan Archer in Star Trek

  • Ship:
    Enterprise NX-01
  • Rank:
    Captain

Before there was a United Federation of Planets or a Starfleet as fans know them in the present day, there was an Enterprise, and its Captain was Jonathan Archer. Archer’s father designed and built the first warp engines, so it makes sense that the first official starship powered by that engine would have him as the captain.

Humanity’s history of space exploration had a rocky start, squeezed under the careful diplomacy of the Vulcans, and it took Archer’s leadership to break through the glass ceiling they’d built around Earth. Jonathan Archer would go on to become an Admiral and helped found the modern institutions that humans in the future take for granted.

5 Una Chin-Riley

Also Known As Number One

strange-new-worlds-rebecca-romijn-una-chin-riley

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise NCC-1701
  • Rank:
    Lieutenant Commander

She was only known as Number One when she appeared in the pilot episode of Star Trek in 1965, a nameless officer played by Majel Barrett. Not only did she take command of the Enterprise when Captain Pike was held captive by the Talosians, but she was the one who demonstrated with steel determination and a phaser set to blow just how difficult it would be to make human beings into pets.

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Strange New Worlds is a spin-off series that was born from the popularity of Star Trek: Discovery, and its plot describes the early life of the original USS Enterprise in the years before James Kirk. The series included many of the same characters from that early pilot episode, and it was the Discovery episode, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2,” that finally gave this famous commanding officer a name.

4 Christopher Pike

Trained And Taught Some Of The Best

Ethan Peck as Spock. Anson Mount as Christopher Pike. Rebecca Romijn as Number One.

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise NCC-1701
  • Rank:
    Captain

Christopher Pike was the captain of the Enterprise in the pilot episode of Star Trek that was filmed in 1965. The episode was later edited into a two-parter called “The Menagerie,” which aired as part of the regular TOS lineup in 1966. The plot included some interesting backstories about Spock and Pike’s former first officer, Una Chin-Riley, and a lesson about how Vulcan loyalty isn’t as rigid as one might have thought.

The original version of “The Cage” only aired many decades later in the 1980s, and even after that point, his name remained an obscure reference until he appeared as a supporting character in the Kelvin universe movies. Pike was brought in as a temporary captain in Star Trek: Discovery and resonated well enough with audiences to generate a spin-off, Strange New Worlds.

3 Spock

A Fan Favorite And A Stellar Commander

Spock in

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise NCC-1701
  • Rank:
    Executive Officer, Science Officer, Commander, Captain

Spock was one of the few characters to survive from the pilot into the regular show, although his character became considerably more stoic in the following episodes. He’s famous for representing the dichotomy between Vulcans and humans, with his Ambassador father and human mother, and he was one of the first Vulcans to attend the Academy and serve in Starfleet.

Star Trek‘s most recognizable Science Officer has been in almost every show and movie in the IP, and he appears in the Kelvin Timeline movies as two characters because of a time loop. His character is also part of the cast in Strange New Worlds and Discovery, two assignments that would shape his future career. This is the younger version of Spock, and viewers can watch his rise from Ensign to Captain.

2 Jean-Luc Picard

The Soul Of Modern Starfleet

Jean Luc Picard Star Trek TNG

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise-D
  • Rank:
    Captain

Picard was a diplomat with a quick wit and sharp edge, and even though he wasn’t the kind to start fights, he was surprisingly good at finishing them. Although always taking the path of peace when possible, Captain Picard was savage in knowing and using official Starfleet and Federation rules when it came to getting the results that he wanted.

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Brains before brawn were what the Federation needed in the post-Kirk era when Klingons were training in Starfleet and serving as officers on Federation starships. This was the time of the Borg and the Q Continuum and was home to other unique enemies that required more thought to outsmart as opposed to brute force. Picard’s goal was always diplomacy on behalf of Starfleet, regardless of the danger or doubt, even with hostile forces. Out of all the officers to serve on the Enterprise, it’s fitting that he would be the one to serve as Chancellor of Starfleet Academy.

1 James T. Kirk

The Face Of The Enterprise

star trek tos captain james t kirk

  • Ship:
    USS Enterprise NCC-1701
  • Rank:
    Commander, Captain, Admiral

James Tiberius Kirk was the younger, more idealistic captain who replaced the older and slightly jaded Christopher Pike from the pilot episode. His bravado took the viewers across the galaxy and gave the franchise enough steam to power it through 50 years, with no signs of slowing down.

Kirk wasn’t alone on the bridge, of course, and the characters that accompanied and supported him were part of the reason. Spock, Bones, Uhura, and Sulu were just a few of the brace explorers that joined the Enterprise crew, and although not all of them were officers, they were just as important as he was. Although he would eventually reach the rank of Admiral, Kirk was never happy as a professor and bureaucrat and was pleased when he was demoted back to Captain after the events of Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home.

StarTrekFranchiseTag

Star Trek

Created by
Gene Roddenberry

Creation Year
1966

First Film
Star Trek: The Motion Picture

First TV Show
Star Trek: The Original Series

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