32% Agree This Was The Best Star Trek: The Next Generation Character – Do We Agree?

(Welcome to Survey Says, a feature where we conduct a movie-related survey for a random group of people and explain why they're completely right, completely wrong, or somewhere in-between.)

Representatives from /Film have just returned from the distant future, and, dear readers, it is bleak. In the 27th century, the galaxy is in turmoil after the disappearance of the Tox Uthat, a unique quantum phase inhibitor, and the galaxy's preeminent scientist Kal Dano, inventor of the Tox Uthat. None of the citizens of the Federation/Andromeda alliance can agree as to an appropriate course of action, and hopelessness has gripped the souls of quadrillions of people. And while diplomatic arrangements were underway to work on a path forward, the alliance dramatically octofurcated into eight warring factions. 

Each of the factions has fallen into the thrall of one of the Elders of the Enterprise, a cadre scholars of the distant past: In the 21st century, you may know the Elders better as the eight main characters from the TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." 

I have traced the origin of this 27th century schism to this very point in the year 2022. A distant future of war and turmoil all began with the following poll, casually conducted among a random assortment of film and TV fans, asking them their favorite "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character. Me must study this closely, dear readers. The fate of several galaxies depend on it. Enough scrutiny may alter our views and save us from unending strife. 

The winner is...

The stern, intelligent, diplomatic Captain Jean-Luc Picard was the most popular in the poll, garnering 32.31% of the votes tallied. 

Picard was the first character in "Star Trek" history to have an entire TV series named after them (although Khan and Spock beat him to movie titles), and Patrick Stewart, a classically trained actor, has now lent the character his signature intelligence and tough-love compassion for decades. When "Next Generation" was in its heyday in the early '90s, the most common arguments among Trekkies was whether Kirk was a superior captain to Picard. And while Kirk was more judicious a character than his pop reputation as a reckless, horny cowboy would have you believe, Picard was still the more professionally poised of the two. Kirk was more generally militaristic, quick to make a decision, but open to the crew's input. Picard was far more protocol-oriented, careful to give his crew a voice, often holding meetings in the conference room, and overseeing it all with an open mind. 

If "Star Trek" is to be seen as a workplace drama — which it is — Kirk was the boss you kind of wanted to be friends with, while Picard was the boss you were eternally afraid of disappointing. Personally, were I a Federation citizen living on the Enterprise-D (I would certainly not hack it as an officer of any stripe), I would feel a lot more comfortable with Picard in the captain's chair than Kirk. Additionally, if Picard stepped away, we'd get Data, Riker, George La Forge, or even Dr. Crusher to take his place, and all of them are preferable to the hot-headed, trigger-happy Montgomery Scott. 

The rest of the crew

Coming in second was Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) with 15.85% of the vote. Riker, while often quick-thinking and able to make sound command decisions in the spur of the moment, could also be a little too reckless at times. It was Riker, after all, who had a healthy fling with someone he met on vacation, only to carry a brainwashing virtual reality game back to the Enterprise where everyone got addicted ... and became susceptible to manipulation. As far as I know, Riker was never disciplined for that. He also seems to have escaped discipline when he was caught covering up the existence of a unique cloak/phase technology that killed everyone aboard his previous ship, the U.S.S. Pegasus. I suppose in that instance, everyone was distracted by the presence of Terry O'Quinn, so much more clearly the episode's bad guy. But when it comes to bosses I want to hang out with, I'd much rather play poker with Riker than with Kirk. 

Following at a very close third on this incredibly historically significant poll was Lt. Comm. Data (Brent Spiner) with 15.35% of the vote. Data, an android, was a largely emotionless being whose curiosity about humanity led to an abiding aspiration to become more and more human. Data's "outsider" perspective on humanity allowed viewers to examine themselves a bit more closely, attempting to articulate in plan English how to define an emotional state, or why a joke is funny. Every good Trekkie has a conversational plan should they ever meet Data in person. 

Fourth is Wourth. Er, Worf (Michael Dorn), the Enterprise's security chief (a position he took up after the death of Tasha Yar in season 1). Worf is one of the show's funniest characters specifically because of how unfunny he is; Worf's lack of sense of humor stresses his outsider status. But Worf is poised and honorable, concerned with respecting those who warrant it; he is no bully. An interesting piece of trivia: Because Worf would eventually move to "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Michael Dorn holds the record for most "Star Trek" appearances. This includes Patrick Stewart's involvement in "Star Trek: Picard." 

The lower decks

Fifth on the list was Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) the relentlessly moral chief medical officer on the Enterprise, who captured 6.95% of the vote. While the other characters often floated practical ideas as to how to overcome the crisis of the week, it was Crusher who had the wherewithal to mention what was the correct path. She seemed to be the most sophisticated character outside of Picard. 

Rounding out the list, Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) tied for sixth, with 5.01% of the vote apiece, and bringing up the rear is the Enterprise's own teenage narc, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) with 4.68%. The poor nerdy engineer was ignored, and the sensitive counselor was not visited. And sorry, Wes, no one likes a narc. 

Counselor Troi may be the most underwritten character on "Next Generation." She was a trained diplomat, present on the show to give personal advice but also talk the captain through difficult situations. She likely had multiple psychology degrees, and was responsible for the mental health of an entire military battalion. She should have been given more scenes wherein she could display her intelligence, insight, and diplomatic powers. More often, she was merely given lines of dialogue along the lines of "I sense he's hiding something." "Star Trek" is often very much about multiculturalism and empathy, and Troi is a literal empath who can feel the emotions of others. There was so much, much more that could have been done. 

With these opinions bubbling in your brain, move into the future cautiously. We cannot allow our disdain for one another grow into a full-blown diplomatic breakdown. We must live in peace. Do you like Worf the best? That is fine. And remember that Geordi or Troi fans are just as correct as you. Please, Riker fans, the lives of quadrillions of people depend on it.