• Picard’s fragility and mortality have impeded his full potential, despite his bravery and loyalty.
  • While Picard prefers diplomacy, his former second-in-command Riker has better tactical acumen.
  • Pride often led to Picard’s worst failures, and his aggression and vengeance could have had catastrophic consequences.

Among characters in the Star Trek franchise, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise stands out as one of the most recognizable and pivotal Starfleet officers whose actions made an indelible mark across the galaxy. After all, it’s Picard’s bravery, loyalty, and unwavering sense of justice that ensured the Enterprise’s missions continuously saved lives.


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However, as with other Star Trek characters, Jean-Luc Picard is simply a human: a being capable of making mistakes and flawed judgments. Made iconic by actor Sir Patrick Stewart, Picard’s actions across The Next Generation and even in the more recent Picard highlight both the character’s strengths and glaring weaknesses.

8 Fragile Humanity, Mortality Limited His Actions

“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” (Picard, S01E10)

Picard in the series finale

While both Starfleet and the rest of the galaxy showcased the innate capabilities and talents of different races, the innate intelligence of Vulcans, the physical prowess of the Klingons, and even the shapeshifting Changelings make humans seem rather underwhelming. Although the resiliency of humans amid adversity makes them every bit as amazing as other species, Picard’s fragility and mortality have admittedly impeded his full potential.

In the Picard-centric Star Trek: Picard, it’s revealed that remnants of Borg DNA in Picard’s brain transformed into an incurable case of Iurmodic Syndrome. Dr. Altan Soong, son of android Data’s creator Noonien Soong, transferred Picard’s consciousness and memories into a synthetic body. Even without the threat of an incurable disease, Picard’s old age also deemed him not as capable of accomplishing stunts that he could’ve done with ease in his prime.

7 Preference For Diplomacy Shadows Combat Tactics

“Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2” (Picard, S01E10)

Riker in Et Arcadia Ego

While it’s known across Star Trek fandom that Jean-Luc Picard always preferred talking things out when it came to conflict, Picard can stand his ground on the battlefield if things come to a head. Known for his iconic Picard Maneuver, Picard is capable of commanding the Enterprise to outlast the worst of threats. However, when it comes to combat skill, his former second-in-command William Riker has better tactical acumen.


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When Jean-Luc was assimilated into the Borg as its Locutus, Riker took the lead as the Enterprise’s new captain. Through his skill, Riker managed to outmaneuver the aggressive Borg to stop an attack on Earth while at the same time luring the Locutus into a trap that would free Picard from Borg control. In the events of Picard, it was also Riker who, despite his retirement, was entrusted command of the USS Zheng He, at the time considered Starfleet’s most advanced ship, to aid Coppelius from Zhat Vash forces.

6 Pride Often Took The Helm

“Q Who” (The Next Generation, S02E16)

Encountering the Borg for the first time

While Picard’s illustrious career proved he was more than capable of making the right call, pride often paved the way for his worst failures. One of the most notable examples of pride getting in the way of Picard was in “Q Who,” the episode where Q attempts to get himself recruited into the Enterprise-D. Due to Q and Picard’s clashing personalities, Picard immediately rejects the notion. Q retaliates by whisking the ship into the Delta Quadrant, forcing an early first contact with the Borg.

Although Picard eventually asks Q for assistance in facing the seemingly unbeatable foe, the damage has already been done. Their first contact piqued the Borg’s interest in sentient life, leading to horrific wars and even Picard’s eventual assimilation. Perhaps the most telling part of Picard’s pride in taking over his initial decision was the sheer impact of Q on Starfleet. Being part of the seemingly omnipotent Q Continuum, Q could’ve potentially helped Enterprise-D and humanity avoid unnecessary bloodshed in various conflicts.

5 Aggression Resulted In Fits Of Unnecessary Bravado, Vengeance

Star Trek: First Contact

Picard in First Contact

After his demise in “Tapestry” in The Next Generation due to a faulty artificial heart, Q offers Picard an opportunity to relive his life and undo one regret. For Picard, this was getting in a tavern brawl with a Nausicaan, where a chest wound results in a heart replacement. While “Tapstery” reveals that life without risks can lead to more regrets, it’s revealed a younger Picard has a tendency to be aggressive and desperate to prove himself.

This aggression extends to his later years, particularly in the events of First Contact. In the film, the Borg launches a full-blown invasion of Federation space in the Battle of Sector 001. Due to Picard’s trauma and experiences as the Locutus of Borg, Starfleet orders him to stand down. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, Picard defies orders and engages the Borg. While one can’t truly comprehend Picard’s trauma, being fully driven by his emotions in these situations could’ve led to catastrophic consequences for the Federation.

4 Idealistic To A Fault, Especially About Starfleet

Star Trek: Insurrection

Picard in Insurrection

While Star Trek: Picard showed a modern, more optimistic take on Star Trek stories, Jean-Luc’s previous adventures in The Next Generation show it’s not always sunshine and rainbows in the United Federation of Planets. Although Picard tries his best to represent the best of the Federation’s ideals, these tendencies also make it easy for him to lock horns with fellow Starfleet officials.

For instance, events of Star Trek: Insurrection involve Picard and the upgraded Enterprise-E stopping the Federation’s plans of deceptively relocating the Ba’ku people. As their species have been made practically immortal by their planet’s metaphysic rings, Federation higher-ups wanted to study the rings to replicate them on a massive scale prior to the Enterprise’s interference.

3 Aloofness, Lack Of Personal Social Skills

“All Good Things…” (The Next Generation, S07E25/26)

Picard plays poker in All Good Things

While Picard’s tenure in The Next Generation saw himself and other crew members as some of Star Trek‘s most charismatic characters, the Captain’s strength in diplomacy seems to hardly make it past outside work obligations. Picard’s dedication to his work makes him a pillar of efficiency, but it also left little time for him to ever get to know his peers beyond their professional relationships.


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It’s only in the “All Good Things…” finale of The Next Generation that Picard finally joins his senior officers in their regular poker matches, where he remarks he should’ve done this way back. While it’s implied in Picard that Jean-Luc has made strides in getting out of his shell, having done this earlier could likely have resulted in better relationships.

2 Susceptibility To Manipulation

Star Trek: Nemesis, “A Matter of Time” (S05E09)

Picard and Shinzon

Despite Picard’s skills as a diplomat, his own tendency to be naive leaves him susceptible to manipulation. One such occasion was an encounter with Berlinghoff Rasmussen, a 26th-century time traveler who managed to use Picard’s interest in archeology to earn his trust. It’s revealed that Rasmussen was indeed a time traveler, but was also a con man from the 22nd Century who wanted to steal Starfleet technology.

A more worrisome instance of Picard being manipulated was through his clone Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon was created originally to replace Picard as a Romulan spy in the Federation but was eventually discarded as a slave. After his rise as Praetor, Shinzon wanted to destroy Earth and steal Picard’s blood to stop his sickness, something he almost did after building a good rapport with the captain. While both instances were stopped by Picard and his crew, Picard extended a more cautionary eye to individuals he met, which could avoid putting his crew in jeopardy.

1 The Prime Directive Shows Moral Folly

“The Drumhead” (The Next Generation, S04E12)

Picard on Trial in the Drumhead

Despite the Enterprise’s mission “to boldly go where no man has gone before” on behalf of Starfleet, it still follows the Federation’s Prime Directive that forbids them from interfering with a civilization’s natural growth towards becoming space-faring societies. As a narrative tool, the Prime Directive seems to have been made specifically to be a flexible plot device. Unfortunately, the Prime Directive seems to also demonstrate Picard’s tendency to become hypocritical.

Granted, Jean-Luc can be considered to possess a degree of moral absolutism. However, his “trial” in “The Drumhead” where he’s said to have violated the Prime Directive nine times doesn’t speak well of his desire to uphold Starfleet’s values. Not only that, Picard has had a tendency to push his ideals despite moral objections from his crew, chastising them for not following his lead while he also regularly defies Starfleet on decisions he himself thinks are morally objectionable.


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