Kirk vs. Picard: Who’s the best Starfleet captain?

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It’s the question at the heart of all geekdom. Yes, even bigger than Superman vs. Batman, or Android vs. iPhone, or Boy Meets World vs. iCarly. Which is the best Star Trek captain: Kirk or Picard?

It’s interesting that the other captains don’t come close. Sisko may have been the best military leader. Archer may have been the best pet owner. Janeway may have been the best psychopath, destroying all faith and confidence in the Federation as a viable organization. But really, it comes down to the extremes: tough and tumble James Tiberius Kirk or Earl Grey loving Jean Luc Picard.

Fortunately, Rooktopia is on the case, providing a blow-by-blow analysis that is in no way a means to grab cheap page views right before the American debut of Star Trek Into Darkness. The superiority of each captain can be broken down into a few salient points, such as:

Young Captain Kirk is played by Christopher Pine in the recent movies directed by J.J. Abrams. Young Picard, or at least a clone of him, was played by a young Tom Hardy in the movie Star Trek: Nemesis.

Both young actors were romantic rivals for the heart of Reese Witherspoon in the romantic spy thriller movie, This Means War.

Winner: no one. No one wins for appearing in that dumb movie.


You have to credit William Shatner for burying his Canadian accent so deep that he is believable as a resident of the great American state of Iowa. I don’t know what the Iowan accent is, but I assume it has to do with stretching the middle section as long as possible. (i.e. “Spoooooooooock.”) Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, was playing a French Starfleet captain with a British accent.


You’d think that this would be a runaway victory for Captain James T. “Ladies Man” Kirk. I mean, this is his number one characteristic: that ladies from any skin color or any species are all over him like brown shells on wild rice. BUT! As any Trek fan will tell you, Kirk’s true love is the USS Enterprise. With Picard, he gets most sentimental when he talks about his first command, the Stargazer. And it can’t really be called his true love. Picard has been associated with a sexy lady archaeologist and the very fetching Beverly Crusher.


Winner: Picard. That ship thing, Kirk… it’s kinda weird.

Whenever Kirk’s in a jam, problems are usually resolved by fisticuffs, followed by the kicking fight music from “Amok Time.” While Picard gets into a few scrapes himself, his method is mostly to invoke the Prime Directive, and that’s the end of that argument.

Winner: Picard. I was tempted to give this one to Kirk, as “Amok Time” is fantastic. However, the Prime Directive never sounded convincing unless it was spoken by Patrick Stewart, so I’ll give the man the point.

Kirk rolls the galaxy with a pointy-eared hobgoblin, a cantankerous doctor, a shirtless Asian dude, and a Russian who has a hard time pronouncing “nuclear vessels.” And Scotty’s around to beam people up. Now, while the Enterprise-D are not exactly slouches in the staffing department, it’s hard to overlook that a.) one of them is Wesley Crusher, and b.) sitting right next to Picard is a pretty much useless psychiatrist who dresses up in a skin-tight leotard.

Winner: Kirk.

Kirk’s most heralded victory is against a genetic Superman armed with a missile that shoots out planets. Picard’s most important victory is against robot zombies led by a sexy queen.

Winner: Toss up. Though I imagine that if Kirk and Picard had switched roles, both battles would be much shorter. Picard would have totally Prime Directive’d Khan (i.e., not even bothering with Ceti Alpha 5 because it would’ve gone against Federation policy). The alien robot queen would have found that resistance is futile when it comes to Kirk’s charms.

And, finally:

Star Trek: Generations
This was the only time that both Kirk and Picard showed up at the same time. Both got sucked into the space-time warp known as the Nexus, where we learn that Kirk’s ideal life is owning a horse ranch on William Shatner’s house, and Picard’s fondest fantasy is reliving a Christmas Carol. Also they team up to beat up an elderly man.


Winner: No one. Like This Is War, nobody came out of Generations the winner.

So there you go! In a truly scientific evaluation of both captains it seems that Kirk and Picard are equally matched. Which means that there’s only one way that this can go: there needs to be a movie where William Shatner and Patrick Stewart fight over the same girl. Played, perhaps, by Helen Mirren.

C’mon Trekkies: you know you want it.


18 thoughts on “Kirk vs. Picard: Who’s the best Starfleet captain?

  1. Long time Star Trek fan and US Navy veteran here, and my vote goes to Picard. Both were great, and as the article points out they both have strengths and weaknesses but IMO Picard was a better military leader and actor.

  2. Kirk is the winner! No doubt. History declared it. Also the most recent movies are centred on Kirk-Spock relationship. They belong to history. Picard is only a season of history.

  3. Im glad im seeing a lot of votes for Picard. Another one from me as well. He is very calm and level-headed but can be harsh when he needs to be.

  4. Both are great captains. I prefer the TOS Kirk because he was young and rugged. One must also remember that Kirk was captain during the early Federation years. A lot of his adventures where he had to encounter strange/potentially dangerous situations for the first time became standard reading for Picard and later captains to learn to avoid. So I would expect Picard to have a much library of references to draw upon than Kirk.

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