In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus,” the children living on the Enterprise-D honored Captain Picard with his own day. While Starfleet’s flagship captain was more than a little embarrassed with the adorable crafts made in his image, there is perhaps no one in Star Trek more deserving of a day in their honor.
From putting his career on the line to defend Data’s civil rights, to his instrumental role in turning back the Borg threat, here are 10 times Captain Picard earned his own day.
10. Preventing another Cardassian-Federation war
How far is one man willing to go to protect peace? In Jean-Luc Picard’s case, the answer is: all the way.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Wounded,” Captain Picard and the Enterprise are tasked with tracking down and bringing to heel a rogue Starfleet captain wreaking havoc in Cardassian space.
Fueled by a conviction that the Cardassians are massing for war again, Captain Benjamin Maxwell is taking matters into his own hands — destroying Cardassian ships and space stations and killing hundreds in the process. His actions stretch the new Cardassian-Federation peace agreement to the breaking point, and threaten to plunge both powers into another series of deadly military conflicts.
Walking a razor’s edge between appeasing his Cardassians-Starfleet superiors and doing the right thing, Picard proves he’s willing to do anything — even fire on a Federation ship — to preserve peace.
“The Wounded” is a treatise on the amorality of pre-emptive strikes and on the damage war can do to a person’s psyche, but above all it hammers home Picard’s dedication to the principles of Starfleet.
As far as we’re concerned, a man willing to preserve the peace at all costs is a man worthy of his own day.
9. Making Peace Across the Galaxy
Over his decades in command of the U.S.S. Stargazer and two ships called Enterprise, Picard has done battle with his fair share of deadly enemies, and saved the Federation countless times. But it’s his ability to make peace — not war — that earns our admiration this time.
A tireless advocate for peaceful relations and mutual understanding, Picard’s diplomatic work in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants cannot be understated.
He’s saves entire colonies with his knowledge of law and diplomatic savvy (TNG “The Ensigns of Command”), cracks impossible linguistic codes that prevents meaningful contact with new species (TNG “Darmok”), and initiates first contact with worlds taking their first steps into the universe (TNG “First Contact”). And that’s just the tip of the Andorian iceberg.
Jean-Luc Picard has brought peace to so many worlds, mediated so many deadly disputes and made so many first contacts, it’s a wonder there isn’t a Captain Picard Day in every star system from here to the Breen Confederacy.
8. Defending Data’s Fundamental Rights
Data is one of Star Trek’s most endearing characters. He’s made us smile and touched our hearts for over 30 years now. But he was nearly reduced to a pile of parts, doomed to non-personhood and servitude, if it weren’t for the efforts of his captain and friend, Jean-Luc Picard.
In The Next Generation episode “Measure of a Man,” Data finds himself in the middle of a legal hearing to determine his status as a sentient being. If the court finds that he isn’t one, he’ll be forcefully dismantled against his will and experimented on until Starfleet can mass-manufacture their own race of, essentially, slave androids.
The outcome of this hearing determines not just Data’s future, but sets the stage for how all artificial lifeforms are treated within the Federation. So, in one tiny room on an unassuming starbase, and with just a handful of individuals present, Picard finds himself in a desperate fight for the future rights of all artificial life.
With grace, eloquence, and inspiring conviction, he wins a landmark legal victory for the rights and status of artificial beings.
This trial would be the first but not the last time he put himself in the line of fire to protect Data and android life. He goes on to defend Data’s right to procreate, and the rights of his offspring (TNG “The Offspring”), as well as advocate for artificial life after the synth attack on the Utopia Planitia Shipyards (Star Trek: Picard).
7. Settling the Klingon Civil War
Does anyone know how to say “Captain Picard Day” in Klingon? After this entry, you might want to learn.
When a Klingon civil war erupts in 2367, the conflict threatens to destabilize the balance of power in the Alpha and Beta quadrants and plunge them into chaos. Picard, having served as Arbiter of Succession for the lawfully chosen new leader, Gowron, is caught between a rock and a hard place.
His position in Starfleet forbids him from interfering in an internal Klingon matter, but he also suspects Romulan meddling in the conflict. His solution? Convince Starfleet to let him blockade the Klingon-Romulan border and stop the Romulans from conducting their own little proxy war in Klingon space. It all happens in The Next Generation’s “Redemption.”
Walking a dangerous line between Starfleet captain and Klingon political figure, Picard manages to keep the Federation’s hands clean while preserving the status quo in the Klingon Empire and strengthening the alliance with them.
Considering all he’s done for the empire, it’s a wonder they don’t have a Captain Picard Day on Q'onoS.
6. Saving the Federation From Parasite Invaders
Normally, setting your phaser to kill, pointing it at an alien sentient who proclaims “we seek peaceful co-existence” and vaporizing them on the spot wouldn't exactly be grounds for celebration.
But when it comes to events of the The Next Generation episode “Conspiracy,” we’ll make an exception.
In it, Picard learns of a malevolent conspiracy that cuts deep into the heart of the Federation. A group of unknown parasitic aliens have taken over the minds and bodies of high-ranking Starfleet officials — from senior admirals to influential captains — and they’re clandestinely paving the way for an invasion.
Picard, with help from Enterprise first officer William Riker, confronts and is forced to kill the mother creature of the parasites, who had taken up residence inside a Lieutenant Commander named Dexter Remmick.
While he laments having to destroy a newly discovered life form, Picard’s efforts save the Federation from a secret takeover by a sinister alien power. It’s the kind of thing they name a day after you for you.
5. Discovering the Origin of Humanoid Life
We all know Captain Picard loves a good mystery — just look at all the hours he’s logged as detective Dixon Hill on the holodeck.
But no work of holonovel fiction could compare to unravelling the mystery of the origins of life itself, which is exactly what he did in “The Chase.”
Completing the decades-long work of his mentor, Richard Galen, the captain of the Enterprise-D breaks a four-billion year old genetic computer code that contains the revelation that humans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, and more are all descended from the same common ancestor.
That ancient ancestor seeded the Alpha and Beta Quadrants with their genetic material, leaving behind clues in the code that required their wayward children to work together to crack it.
It is a discovery with profound implications for interspecies relations — the knowledge that no matter how different the various humanoid species may be in our part of the Galaxy, we all share common ground.
And while the lessons of this discovery initially fell on “deaf ears,” as Picard puts it, we think it’s at least worthy of a day on the calendar.
4. Turning back the Borg Threat
If there were a list of criteria for getting your own day on the Federation calendar, “going back in time to save Earth, the entire United Federation of Planets, and perhaps the quadrant” has to be near the top.
During the events of Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard single-handedly turns the tide at the Battle of Sector 001, stopping a Borg cube that’s cutting its way to Earth intent on assimilating the human homeworld. But that's only the half of it.
When a small contingent of Borg escape the battle to travel back in time to the 21st Century and assimilate humanity before they reach the stars, Picard and the Enterprise follow them back. Overcoming personal demons that have haunted him for years, he leads a desperate fight to save the future and prevent the Borg from rewriting history.
The efforts of Jean-Luc Picard and his crew prove that resistance is anything but futile, and if that doesn’t earn you your own day, we don’t know what will.
3. Picard’s Temporal Sacrifice
It turns out Captain Picard is worthy of a day in his honor in any timeline. To find out why, we need to travel back to season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In the episode “Yesterday's Enterprise,” a Picard from a much darker timeline than our own faces an impossible choice. He can save the time-displaced Enterprise-C and her crew and recruit them in the desperate fight against the Klingons in the here and now, or send them back in time to their deaths to gamble on changing the timeline for the better.
Relying on little more than Guinan’s intuition, he opts to send his ship’s predecessor of 22 years ago back through a temporal rift in an attempt to wipe his war-torn timeline from history. It's an act that would destroy the only universe he’s ever known.
But with three Klingon battlecruisers attempting to stop them, Picard is forced to defend the limping Enterprise-C to the death to allow it to make it back through the rift.
In this act of sacrifice and faith, Captain Picard restores the universe to its previous state, saving billions of lives in the process and preventing a war with the Klingon Empire that would have brought the Federation to its knees.
2. Helping Save Organic Life From Extermination
So far on this list, Jean-Luc Picard has saved Earth, the quadrant, and even the timeline. So what could top that?
How about the whole universe.
In the events of Star Trek: Picard, the now Admiral Picard proves he’s still worthy of a day in his honor by playing an instrumental role in fending off an apocalyptic event that would bring about the end of all organic sentient life as we know it.
The Romulans call it Ganmadan, but you can just call it “bad.” It’s a prophetic myth that predicts the destruction of all life everywhere at the hands of ancient demons — or an incredibly advanced race of protective synthetic life forms — depending on who you ask.
Single-handedly holding off an entire Romulan fleet of warships with little more than an under-gunned freighter and a nifty piece of synthetic tech, Picard sets a selfless, heroic example for the androids on the planet Coppelius that convinces them not to bring about the end of all organic life.
Stopping a “galactic-level biocidal event” and saving a peaceful colony of synths from destruction, all while battling a fatal medical condition? Not bad for a 94-year-old.
1. Sparing Humanity From Q’s Judgement
Picard’s encounters with the entity known as Q are full of fantasy, whimsy, and occasionally, true terror. But behind Q’s antics there is always a purpose.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation series premier, “Encounter at Farpoint,” Q puts the human species on trial for being what he calls a “grievously savage” child race. If found guilty, the omnipotent entity makes it clear that the punishment won’t be pleasant.
Lucky for us, humanity’s defense lawyer is none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who eloquently defends the merits of the human race while staving off Q’s judgement.
But, as Q says in a later episode of TNG, “The trial never ends.”
Picard has sparred with Q many times over the years. Each time the fate of humanity is on the line and each time Picard has proven his case in the court of Q.
If saving us all from the judgement of a cabal of omnipotent god-creatures isn’t good enough to get your own day named after you, we don’t know what is.
Colin McNeil (he/him) is 32-year-old journalist living and working in Toronto. A lifelong fan, he continues to be moved by Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of the future. Follow him @McNeilColin.
Star Trek: Picard streams on CBS All Access in the United States, in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and OTT service Crave, and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories.