I don't remember a time before Star Trek was a part of my life. This phenomenon, built around over 700 television episodes and 13 motion pictures, has inspired my life choices and underpins so much of who I am. I've passed the point of calling myself a "fan" of Star Trek. It is no longer this separate thing, just another TV show or sci-fi franchise, that I enjoy. Its spirit is intertwined with the threads of experience that make up my life.
I seriously considered removing this section; my preferences from long ago seem woefully out of date. But then I met my current housemate, whose first words to me were: "I stalked you to see whether you were going to be a psychopath, and when I saw that your favorite captain was Picard, I knew you'd be alright." So I guess this stays for now...awaiting a much-needed update that includes Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, and more!
In the eternal debate between Kirk and Picard, I am definitely on Team Picard. How can you argue against a man who is versed in both science and Shakespeare and has an exceptional taste in wine? A cool and collected leader, Jean-Luc is the quintessential "cerebral captain." While many people favor Kirk for his outstanding physical attributes, one must remember that Picard is no pushover: he was the first freshman cadet to win the Starfleet Academy marathon. Runner-up: Kathryn Janeway.
When it comes to first officers, classic Spock leaves the competition in the dust. He's organized, reliable, intelligent, and handles stress better than anyone else. As an accomplished scientist, Spock's expertise in astrophysics and exobiology is ten sigma above the mean. As a distinguished ambassador, Spock is regarded as one of the foremost diplomats in Federation history. And as an executive officer, Spock is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard the needs of the many. Runner-up: William T. Riker.
Scotty from the alternate timeline is my first choice chief engineer. He's witty and brilliant, with expertise in both warp mechanics and transporter theory. The so-called "Miracle Worker" is completely competent on his own, making him ideal for unpredictable away missions (don't let that red uniform fool you!) or errand runs for more food/booze. He also seems to be the only one on the Enterprise with a conscience in Star Trek Into Darkness. Runner-up: Charles Tucker III.
The Emergency Medical Hologram is one of my favorite Star Trek characters of all time. Originally a blank slate with one solitary purpose to his existence, he developed beyond his programming into a sentient being with diverse talents and interests. The EMH's natural curiosity and creativity outweigh his slightly obnoxious bedside manners. As a hologram, he can assume command of the ship if the biological crew become incapacitated. In my opinion, there is no finer physician (or musician) in the fleet. Runner-up: Julian Bashir.
If this all-star team had an MVP, it would be Data. The android can do it all: he's as logical as Spock, as knowledgeable as the Doctor, as strong as Worf, and as ingenious as Scotty. One might assume that such an awesome being would be supremely arrogant—after all, he has much to brag about—but Data's most endearing qualities are his innocence and his quest to become more human. Runner-up: Nog.
The position of science officer was a close call between Jadzia Dax and Seven of Nine. I chose Dax because she is a more well-rounded individual: an accomplished navigator, a skillful tactician, and a trustworthy counselor. Much of this can be attributed to her being a Trill symbiont host. In fact, Dax is quite the steal—she's essentially seven people for the price of one! Runner-up: Seven of Nine.
Though he's made his fair share of mistakes in the past, Tom Paris is the undisputed top contender for helmsman. He safely returned the U.S.S. Voyager on a 70,000 lightyear journey back to Earth, outmaneuvering the Kazon, the Borg, and no small number of spatial anomalies along the way. Quite the party pleaser, Paris will keep the crew entertained as a comedian, holonovelist, and lover of all things from "antique" Earth. He can also fill in as a medic, though he'd prefer not to. Runner-up: Hikaru Sulu.
When aggressive tendencies are needed, Worf, Son of Mogh, is my top choice. The burly Klingon is a one-man arsenal of hand-to-hand, mêlée, and particle weapon combat. He is an adept ship's weapons officer and covert ops specialist. One cannot underestimate the advantages of having a senior officer with ties to the Klingon Empire. Fiercely stubborn and loyal to the end, Worf leads with his heart. Just keep the prune juice on tap. Runner-up: Tuvok.
Who needs a Universal Translator when you have Hoshi Sato? The answer: no one. Decades before Nyota Uhura entered the fray, Sato tackled the responsibility of communicating with alien species while the Universal Translator—which she developed—was still in its infancy. A gifted polyglot and language educator, Sato was wholly unprepared for the rigors of space travel, but adapted to her new workplace environment almost as quickly as she picked up Klingon. Runner-up: Nyota Uhura.
My brother thinks Deanna Troi is the most underrated character in all of Star Trek, and I agree. I mean, who wouldn't want an empath on the bridge? Imagine being contacted by a rapidly approaching unknown vessel. "We come in peace," they say, but then Troi whispers, "I sense hostility in their intent." You raise your shields just before the first barrage of torpedoes slams into your ship. I have only one qualm about having Troi on board: don't let her anywhere near the driver's seat. Runner-up: Ezri Dax.
Are you in a pinch and need someone to die or nearly die to save the ship? Harry Kim is your man! No, seriously. There is not a soul in Star Trek who has had more close-calls or perished as many times as Kim. There's also no one in the universe quite as unlucky with women, either. Poor guy. Runner-up: Pavel Chekov.
Guinan, the enigmatic traveler, bartender, and listener, is the one civilian you definitely want on your starship. She experiences the fabric of space-time differently from others and thereby has insights no one else can have. Sometimes her thoughts seem as crazy as her hats, but when Guinan comes to speak to you, you will want to listen. Also, Q is afraid of her, and that's got to count for something. Runner-up: Garak.
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