The Star Trek Series Everyone Is Wrong About

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek wrong

For many modern Star Trek fans, The Next Generation is the platonic ideal of the franchise, and that’s largely thanks to Captain Picard. Anchored by Patrick Stewart’s amazing performance, Picard lent the sometimes silly series an air of dignified gravitas. Interestingly, this also led to a major misconception about this newer captain among Star Trek fans: in contrast with Kirk, Picard is often thought of as an intellectual and sometimes boring diplomat, which is wrong because he’s secretly the impulsive loose cannon that everyone always says Kirk is.

Action Picard

If you’re a huge Star Trek fan, you might think I’m mostly talking about the movies when I say audiences are wrong about Picard. And it’s true that First Contact and (to a lesser extent) Nemesis tried to rebrand Picard as the kind of action-hero leading man you’d expect to find in a Die Hard movie rather than a Star Trek movie.

However, that side of Picard has been hiding in plain sight throughout most of The Next Generation, and reviewing some of the captain’s crazier decisions may cause you to question whether you really know this iconic character or not.   

Hiding In Plain Sight

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For example, any Star Trek fan who thinks I’m wrong about Picard always having an impulsive action hero lurking beneath his British baritone needs to go back and rewatch the TNG episode “Starship Mine.”

This was the adventure in which the Enterprise was evacuated ahead of a baryon sweep, and only Picard in his civvies can foil a group of thieves trying to steal trilithium to create a deadly bomb.

Mostly, this episode was an excuse for Patrick Stewart to kick butt in comfy clothes, but I humbly propose that this action hero is who Picard actually is and the calm, cool diplomat is just a persona.

Speaking of Picard as a diplomat, Star Trek fans who think he is constantly calm and collected are wrong and should remember how dangerous the captain’s diplomacy can really be.

When he was supporting Worf in “Sins of the Father,” a Klingon wanted to challenge Picard and sneeringly said that as a Federation officer, the captain would refuse to fight.

Picard responded with “You may test that assumption at your convenience,” which modern fans have noted is just about the classiest way to tell aliens who previously killed 100 million Federation citizens that they could f**k around and find out if they really wanted to.

Chain Of Command

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One of the great ironies about this famous Star Trek captain that so many are wrong about is that he not only knows what a risk-taker he is but credits this trait for his happy life and successful career.

By the end of “Tapestry,” he argues to Q that a nearly fatal barfight in his youth gave him a taste of his own mortality and helped him learn that he can’t spend his life always playing it safe. This might explain why even a much older Picard gets his jollies driving dune buggies around, snapping Borg spines, and even ramming a Romulan ship with the Enterprise.

Yes, those last three examples are all from the Star Trek movies that made Picard more openly an action here, but I contend that fans are wrong–these films don’t so much transform Picard’s character as they let him stop hiding who he really is.

He’s a tough character who withstands extensive torture in “Chain of Command” and literally dies taking out as many of his enemies as possible in the alternate universe of “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” 

The Alternate Picard

Speaking of alternate universes, season 2 of Picard went out of its way to show that a slightly more amoral Picard would have no trouble defeating and killing alien characters who are much tougher than the average human, including the Cardassian Gul Dukat and the Klingon General Martok.

Incidentally, Klingons are at least three times tougher than humans, and the fight with Dukat is supposed to be so intense that the alternate Picard had to get a new robot body.

I could go on, but I hope the point is already clear: Star Trek fans who think Picard is just this boring, tea-sipping diplomat are wrong because he is actually the same kind of loose-cannon fighter everyone thinks Kirk is.

Give the captain a chance and he will both start and win the most improbable fights, and he’s never afraid to make downright reckless decisions in the name of the greater good.

He’s No Intellectual Bore

Look back at “Q Who” and you’ll see that Picard basically tried to big dog a minor god through sheer arrogance, and that’s the main reason Q forced him to fight the Borg–a race the captain would eventually be responsible for destroying in the ultimate act of revenge.

Looking back, it’s clear that Picard isn’t so much a calm hero as he is someone you really don’t want to mess with because he’ll hit you harder than Kirk’s judo chops ever could.

None of this argument is to take away from the character’s actual skills as a diplomat and as a captain, of course. But Picard’s reputation as a boring by-the-book guy needs to die, preferably with plenty of screaming and Tommy guns involved.

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