10 Best First Officers In Star Trek, Ranked
One of the most central Star Trek relationships is that between the captain and their first officer. It's no surprise that the most important bond in TOS was between Kirk and Spock. After all, the captain and first officer work together to lead the ship. They are the driving heart and mind of the entire operation. Ever since, all captain and first officer relationships have been core parts of each series.
While all Trekkies love their captains, first officers have always been fan favorites. All of them have been amazing, but there are certain "number ones" that stand above the crowd.
Here are the 10 Best First Officers in Star Trek, Ranked.
11 Michael Burnham
In her own way, Burnham thought she was doing what she should as a first officer. After all, a key part of their job is questioning anything the captain does that might endanger the crew or their mission. They aren't supposed to agree with them all the time. When in conflict with the Klingons, Burnham thought pacifism would get the USS Shenzhou destroyed. However, instead of following her captain's lead when she still chose not to fire, Burnham mutinied, firing on the ship herself.
While she had great leadership qualities, Burnham doesn't have the best discipline as a first officer. Question them in private, but stand as a united front in person. Obviously, Burnham didn't.
While there isn't much inherently wrong with Chakotay, there also isn't much right. He's a decent enough first officer, supporting his captain and advocating for the crewmen. He has flared moments of selfish injustice and other moments he is way too soft on Janeway. But Chakotay ends up lower on the list because he's so milquetoast. He doesn't really add much to Janeway's leadership capabilities and, even when he does oppose her, it oftentimes doesn't change anything.
Janeway needed a more assertive first officer and it shows. However, in his own right, he's still a pretty good one (especially considering he hadn't been in Starfleet for years by then).
In most ways, Data is a perfect officer. He can calculate and react with wicked speed, he knows everything about protocol, and is a loyal friend. When he commanded a ship during a stand-off with the Romulans. In control of the USS Sutherland, Data does very well as captain, despite judgmental crewman. The guy definitely can lead, android brain and all. However, as a first officer? He does have a problem. While he can cite protocol, his loyalty to Starfleet and his crew mates would make it easy for him to fall back on ever questioning the captain, even when it's deserved.
A great officer, but not the best.
Commander Shelby is a fantastic up-and-coming Starfleet commander, willful, powerful, and a great leader. When Riker becomes too complacent, she's exactly what he needed to remind him his job as a first officer. Even if she gets under people's skin, she does it for the good of the ship and Starfleet. While she's not a traditional second in command and may push a little hard, she has good, commanding sense about her.
Shelby's greatest flaw, though, is her ambition. Not that ambition is bad, it's more she uses her goals as leverage against other crew-members. Sure, she may fulfill her role great, but she's also supposed to be a conduit for the crew to engage with leadership. She wouldn't be great at that.
Worf was always made to be a first officer. He's hard-working, opinionated, but ultimately married to duty and honor. In DS9, he finally gets that honor both under Sisko on the Defiant and under Martok in the Klingon fleet. A great warrior with a fresh perspective, the first Klingon in Starfleet always serves his commanding officers well. He may be a little too combative, but it doesn't make him any less of an honored commander.
Watching him go from a stereotyped security officer to the man he becomes only made his capabilities as a first officer all the sweeter.
When the Enterprise was Captain Pike's, he was the face and leader of his crew. The logistics leader, who managed everything going on in the ship and keeping everything running smoothly, was his "Number One", Una. Pike was a seasoned captain and Una's style of supporting his day to day duties. Part of being a great first officer is adapting to the ship and captain's needs, and Una was perfect at that.
The ship only ran so well because she orchestrated it, and she and Pike had serious mutual respect for each other. She wouldn't work for every captain, but she and Pike made an amazing team.
T'Pol was a revolutionary first officer in Starfleet history. While tensions were still high with the Vulcans, she took a step and joined a human-run organization.
Bringing in a fresh perspective and her own strengths, T'Pol did amazingly at her job (especially considering she wasn't trained for it by Starfleet). She did everything right: challenged her captain but respected him, fought to understand her peers, and lead when necessary.
Maybe she and Archer butted heads and she had some inconsistent characterization, but she did a wonderful job for her situation.
4 Kira Nerys
While not an official Starfleet member, Major Kira Nerys acted at Sisko's first officer on DS9. In war-time, her Bajoran resistance experience made her invaluable. In his absence, she could lead just as well as he could. And when he was there, she added her nuanced Bajoran perspective and fought for the rights of Bajor, not just Starfleet. Arguably, she was one of the most invaluable advisers Sisko ever had.
By all means not a traditional first officer, and definitely not a great fit for all captains, Major Kira Nerys helped hold DS9 together even in its darkest hours.
3 Will Riker
As a lot of fans' personal "Number One", of course Will Riker had to rank high on the list. He was a perfect leading man next to Patrick Stewart's Picard and they led the starship Enterprise beautifully.
Riker always was more of a wild card, but that helped make him a better first officer. He was always open to new experiences and new ideas. He respected his captain and helped make the crew of the Enterprise brave, motivated people.
At times he got complacent with his job and just followed Picard's lead, but it's hard not to when your captain is Jean-Luc Picard. Riker still deserves top merits for a job well done.
Of course, there are few first officers as dedicated to their captain than Spock. Despite their differences, he and Kirk bonded. They became inseparable and were willing to do anything to protect each other and their crew. Moreover, the pair balanced each other out. Kirk was pure passion and charisma. Spock was logic and order. The complemented each other beautifully as leaders and friends.
Spock is almost everything Starfleet could ever dream of in a first officer. He's intelligent and knows his job well. He follows the rules, but breaks them when it feels like the logical, right choice.
His only flaw really is that maybe he's a bit too dedicated to his captain.
In a shocking turn of events, Discovery's Commander Saru gets the top pick for best first officer. While he has all the other great qualities of his predecessors, the show doesn't rely on the bond between him and his captain. Because of that, he gets to be the best, objective first officer here. Saru is loyal to Starfleet and his commanding officers. But once they are threats to Starfleet and his crew, he is always ready to take over and do anything to protect the Discovery. Even if that includes going against his former superior officers. Furthermore, he was willing to abandon his home planet, something no Kelpian had done before, just to join Starfleet. That is commendable all on its own.
Saru really deserves so much credit for being such an amazing member of the Discovery team.