Star Trek Guide

Star Trek TNG: Captain Picard's 10 Most Heroic Quotes

Few pop culture characters are as heroic, honorable or moral as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the famed captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. A philosopher, historian and truth-seeker, Picard followed his innate goodness and became a champion on the side of right. He stuck to his principles and refused to budge, even at the cost of his own career.

A character as courageous as Picard has a wealth of memorable quotes that are easily remembered by fans. As the real world goes through some dark times, it's a good excuse to revisit the implicit morality, integrity and truth of Picard's most heroic quotes from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

10 "The First Duty Of Every Starfleet Officer Is To The Truth. It Is The Guiding Principle Upon Which Starfleet Is Based."

Season 5's "The First Duty" placed an uncomfortable light on Wesley Crusher during his days at Starfleet Academy. During a squad demonstration, Wesley and his team perform a forbidden maneuver that leads to the death of one of their own, prompting them to create a cover story to shield themselves from expulsion.

The lie soon catches up with Wesley after Picard does a little digging, and he confronts Wesley as a superior officer and boldly reminds him of the first duty that every Starfleet officer must uphold— lest they allow corruption and dishonor to permeate everything the organization stands for.

9 "I Do Not Fire On Defenseless People."

The Season 5 episode "Conundrum" put the crew of the Enterprise in a very tough position when an alien weapon successfully wiped the memories of the entire crew. After the confusion had settled, a mysterious infiltrator posing as a Starfleet officer concocted a false narrative that the Federation was at war with another species.

When Picard realized that their greatest foe was severely outmatched by the sheer might of Federation technology, he began to suspect something was wrong. The infiltrator pushed Picard to fire on an installation with no means to defend itself, and he replied with this quote which summed up his sense of morality, honor and compassion.

8 "You Must Not Kneel To Me. I Do Not Deserve It."

Season 3 was loaded with great stories that allowed Picard to shine through as a true hero. One such episode was the excellent "Who Watches The Watchers," in which an accident causes a Federation research team to inadvertently expose themselves to a primitive civilization.

Events spiral out of control when the aliens believe a God named "the Picard" is watching over them. To help undo the damage, Picard has one of the most enlightened of the group beamed onto the Enterprise where she promptly kneels due to fear. Unwilling to allow this worship to occur, Picard utters this quote to help her understand that he is in no way superior to her.

7 "There Can Be No Justice As Long As Laws Are Absolute. Even Life Itself Is An Exercise In Exceptions."

The first season of The Next Generation put heavier emphasis on the concept of the Prime Directive than the original series bothered to do. A seemingly harmless accident on a paradise planet in the episode "Justice" ends up with Wesley Crusher scheduled for execution.

When a powerful alien entity attempts to uphold the execution by interrupting the Enterprise's transporter system, Picard appeals to it directly with this quote which demonstrates the need to continuously re-examine laws as society evolves.

6 "You Have To Measure Your Successes And Your Failures Within. Not By Anything That I Or Anyone Else Might Think."

The episode "Coming of Age" sees Wesley Crusher participating in an entrance exam for Starfleet Academy featuring a number of difficult trials. Wesley performs admirably but ends up failing, which shatters his confidence and leads him to believe he has let the Enterprise down.

Picard instantly dismisses this mode of thinking and reminds Wesley that studying harder will lead to success on his next attempt. He then speaks this quote, which is excellent advice not just for Wesley, but for all of us.

5 "There Are Four Lights!"

After being captured by the Cardassians during season 6's "Chain of Command," Picard is subjected to inhumane physical and psychological torture in an attempt to break his spirit. One method is to activate four lights and then force Picard to admit that there are actually five— a direct reference to George Orwell's 2+2=5 scenario in 1984.

As Picard tries valiantly to maintain his sanity and composure, his Cardassian captor ratchets up the torment before his government is forced to release Picard back to Starfleet. Before leaving, Picard turns and screams this quote in direct defiance.

4 "I Have Never Subscribed To The Theory That Political Power Flows From The Barrel Of A Gun."

The Season 3 episode "High Ground" tackles the very uncomfortable subject of ideological terrorism and the cycle of perpetual violence which always follows in its wake. The Enterprise soon becomes involved when Dr. Crusher is kidnapped by terrorists and used as leverage to spark a violent revolution designed to draw in the Federation.

A key scene in the episode features Commander Data discussing the nature of terrorism as an effective tool for political change. While Picard does admit that humankind has wrestled with this for centuries, he utters this quote which directly scorns and rebukes all forms of terrorism as a means for advancing a cause.

3 "If The Cause Is Just And Honorable, They Are Prepared To Give Their Lives."

In Season 3's "The Defector," a high ranking Romulan admiral flees his home world to warn Starfleet of a plot to start a war. Forsaking his career, his home and his family, the admiral agrees to help Picard investigate the site of a potential staging ground for an invasion.

They soon learn the entire thing was a ruse to test the loyalty of the admiral, whilst luring the Enterprise into a potential diplomatic incident. After refusing to surrender, Romulan commander Tomalak urges him to reconsider for the sake of his crew. Picard responds with this noble and heroic quote which is echoed among Starfleet officers who realize the value of giving their lives for the right cause.

2 "Order A Man To Turn His Child Over To The State? Not While I'm His Captain!"

Commander Data's decision to create an android daughter in the Season 3 episode "Offspring" proved to be a particularly controversial one. While Data struggled with the concept of parenting, Picard faced scrutiny from Starfleet who had their own intentions for this new android, named Lal.

When a high ranking Starfleet Admiral arrived to take custody of Lal, Picard stepped in. After being threatened with discipline and damage to his career, Picard refused to budge, replying with this quote— a testament to his dedication towards being a man of good conscience above all else.

1 “The First Speech Censured, The First Thought Forbidden, The First Freedom Denied...Chains Us All, Irrevocably."

The Season 4 episode "The Drumhead" saw Picard face a much different enemy— one from within the Federation. A highly respected Starfleet admiral arrives on the Enterprise to interrogate a Romulan saboteur, but expands her investigations towards the entire crew.

Picard soon realizes that the Admiral is spreading unjust fear, paranoia and rampant conspiracy theories aboard the Enterprise and its crew. She uses every method at her disposal to divide her targets while pushing a punishment in search of a crime. Picard finally utters this quote— a direct line from the Admiral's own father which single-handedly destroys her narrative and exposes her for what she is.

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