AI: Best Captain Ever

Inspired by an explosive nerd rage argument I observed over Sisko Vs. Janeway, I want inspire that ire in our tribe as well.

Simple rule: there can be only one. Pick the best and defend them. Anything from J.J. Adams of Forbidden Planet to Dallas of Alien to Shepard of Mass effect is fair game, but you only get one.

Who is the best space captain ever? Pick the best and defend.



Ryan is a professional nerd, teaching engineering in the frozen north. Somewhat less professionally, he is a costumer, author, blacksmith, juggler, gamer, serial enthusiast, and supporter of the Oxford comma. He can be found on twitter and instagram @studentofwhim. If you like what I do here, feel free to leave a tip in my tipjar.

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  1. Well if we’re not limiting ourselves to Star Trek captains, then my vote is for Commander Shepard, hands down – but only as long as we’re talking the kick-ass Jennifer Hale FemShep and not that bland tofu Mark Meer MaleShep. Even Enterprise’s Captain Archer is better than MaleShep.

  2. Turanga Leela, captain of the Planet Express.

    I know you’re thinking that other captains that are more noble, are bigger badasses or are more ruggedly handsome. Well, consider this: of all those captains you can think of, I bet every single one of them surrounds themselves with crew members that are at least halfway competent.

    Harkness, Shepard, D’Argo, Kirk, Picard and Reynolds. All of them have support of a great team, even if they have serious issues (looking at you Torchwood). Without their crews the captains wouldn’t be as impressive. In contrast let us take a moment to consider what Leela has to deal with…yeah. It’s a miracle anyone survives.

    It takes bravery to lead a good crew to victory. But to lead a crew of pizza delivery boys, alcoholic robots and unloved crustaceans to victory it takes a miracle worker. Leela is that miracle worker.

  3. @wundergeek, My only issue with Shepard is that both he and she have a bit of a workplace harassment problem. Neither of them can have more than three conversations with a crew member before they start trying to get them into bed.

    @zoonerd, Leela is a regular victim of her emotions. How many times has she acted against her own crew out of spite? How many deliveries have been mishandled on her whims?

  4. Also, D’argo is not a captain. He’s more like a guest on Moya.

    I would argue that Pilot is the captain of Moya. He’s just not a very assertive one.

  5. Honor Harrington FTW. None of these TV “Captains” would stand a chance against her. Not when she’s won multi-ship battles involving physics real enough that no one ever escapes unscathed. No transporter to Deus ex Machina her ass out things. She’s also been on the receiving end of constant sexual and political harassment and still managed to rise through the ranks.

  6. Picard. I’m sorry that I have no more eloquent explanation than he is who he is. But I think that’s the best explanation.

  7. Well of course Picard is the best Star Trek captain. That should be self-evident. (Okay, I’m trolling a bit here.)

    @Ryan: I can see where you’re coming from, but I’m willing to turn a blind eye to genre requirements in favor of FemShep. She’s just that awesome.

  8. Captain Malcom Reynolds, of Firefly.

    He’s an atheist.
    His crew is his family.
    He will totally desecrate dead bodies just to get vital information out to the masses.

  9. I’m with Skulleigh. Mal is the awesomest.

    Honor Harrington comes second mostly because she’s actually Horatio Hornblower in space.

    Actually, make that third. Heris Serrano comes second.

  10. @Wundergeek, trolling right back at you:
    How can you take Picard over Kirk when you love Shepard.

    Shepard is just Kirk in armor. Think about it: they explore every planet and cause trouble every time they do; they both go on their own away missions; they always leave their ship with their favourite two senior officers; they both have a yeoman to “feed their fish”; and they both knock boots with every alien they can.


  11. Well, on second thought, the major points deduction should come from usually losing most of her crew. Repeatedly. Your uniform on her ship doesn’t have to be red for you to be in mortal danger.

  12. I like Heris Serrano too, but I’m going with another of Elizabeth Moon’s and Anne McCaffrey’s captains, Sassinak of the Zaid-Dayan from the Planet Pirates series.

    Sassinak is rebellious, noble and righteous and maybe a bit hard. She doesn’t mind using everything she can to get her way (her right-hand man has connections to criminals) and she has a mission. I liked her from the first time I read that series.

  13. Hey, man. My Shepard has been monogamous. She doesn’t go bumping uglies with EVERY alien that comes along.

    Also, Shepard head-butted a krogan. Did you ever see Kirk headbutt a Klingon? Yeah I don’t think so. I love Picard, but Shepard would feed both Picard and Kirk their livers on a plate.

  14. I’m also with Skulleigh. It’s Mal for me. If I had to pick one captain to get me somewhere or out of a jam, I’d pick Mal. He’s not as smart as Picard, but he’s not going to hesitate when someone just needs to be effing shot to make a route for us to escape through. Kirk, sure, he’s a good captain’ but he’s lucky too. And luck runs out.

  15. Ok – never posted before, but with this topic – I felt compelled. 🙂
    I adore Mal – I think he’s absolutely fantastic. Yes – the epitome of a loyal, witty cowboy, and a natural leader.
    However – Picard is it for me. Better than Kirk, Archer, Janeway, and even Sisko. He is the quintessential inspriational leader, best negotiator, and will even put his life on the line without hesitation. He knows what, and sometimes unfortunately who, needs to be sacrificed to ensure what needs to get done does. He has survived different occassions of torture (ex – Cardassians and Borg) as well as other personal losses, and has learned from these experiences, and applies this knowledge constantly. Oh my, I could go on. Sorry for the long post! Wow – definitely passionate about this particular topic. 🙂

  16. I vote Cap’n Jack Harkness.

    Because of sex on legs.

    (Yes, yes I am that shallow.)

    (And Mal is a very, very close second.)

  17. @Felicia, I’m not sure that Harkness counts as a space captain. His spaceship got blown up in his first appearance and his captain rank is a fake one he stole from the US air force in WWII.

    @Wundergeek, Kirk headbutted a Klingon so hard that their entire race got their foreheads rumpled.

  18. Malcom Reynolds by a light year. Mal is the captain in the best Sci-Fi series ever produced. Han Solo had his charm also. Archer was the best of the “Trek” captains.

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