Nearly every Star Trek series is led by its Captain, and some own a distinctive maneuver that helps define them. Besides their daily ship-running and mission-related duties, Starfleet Captains are also responsible for resolving conflicts and crises that arise and threaten their ships, crews, and other representatives or members of the Federation. Each commanding officer must work to their strengths and talents and employ their Starfleet training to devise strategies for survival in the face of overwhelming odds.
Every ship’s Captain in the Star Trek franchise demonstrates an impressive range of skill, forethought, creativity, and tactical knowledge to overcome challenges and accomplish their assigned missions. Faced with unpredictable challenges and tight deadlines, these famous Captains have forged unique and identifiable maneuvers. Whether it’s a series of piloted moves, habits or mannerisms, or intellect and sheer nerve, many Star Trek Captains have a signature move associated with them.
8 Kirk’s Corbomite Maneuver
In Star Trek: The Original Series season 1, episode 10, “The Corbomite Maneuver”, the USS Enterprise encounters the Fesarius commanded by Balok, played by Star Trek veteran Clint Howard. In an episode that sets the tone for subsequent First Contact missions, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) makes a calculated bluff and informs Balok that all Starfleet vessels carry a destructive material known as corbomite. This substance returns any lethal force onto the attacking ship. The bluff works, and Kirk later orders the Enterprise to return to the Fesarius to offer assistance when it broadcasts a distress signal, ultimately establishing a new intergalactic friendship.
7 Kirk’s Other Corbomite Maneuver
In Star Trek: The Original Series season 2, episode 12, “The Deadly Years,” a freshly-recovered Captain Kirk (previously suffering from an aging radiation-based illness) uses a variation of The Corbomite Maneuver to escape destruction at the hands of the Romulan Empire. Surrounded in Romulan space, Kirk opens a transmission to Starfleet to notify them of the Enterprise’s imminent destruction and subsequent detonation of the ship’s Corbomite device. He broadcasts this message on a coded frequency that he knew had already been hacked and would likely be monitored. The gamble pays off, and the Enterprise safely returns to Federation space under the command of its rightful Captain.
6 The Pike Maneuver
In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1, episode 4, “Memento Mori,” the Pike Maneuver is named by Lieutenant Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) during an ongoing confrontation between the USS Enterprise and a hostile Gorn vessel. Under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), the Enterprise seeks shelter in the atmosphere of a brown dwarf star that’s being drawn towards a nearby black hole. Captain Pike has an idea to risk a slingshot maneuver around the singularity, using the black hole’s gravity and the simultaneous release of a damaged atmospheric pressure device as a gravitational time dilation-based decoy. The Gorn pursue the decoy, and the Enterprise escapes.
5 The Picard Maneuver
The Picard Maneuver is the most widely-known maneuver named for Star Trek‘s Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). First seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, episode 9, “The Battle,” Picard devised this tactic while commanding the USS Stargazer in response to an attack by an unknown (Ferengi) vessel. With the ship heavily damaged, Picard ordered sudden acceleration into high-warp towards the attacking ship, creating a secondary set of sensor readings showing the Stargazer in two different places simultaneously. Dropping out of warp, he instantly opened fire and destroyed the Ferengi ship in an engagement called the Battle of Maxia.
4 The Other Picard Maneuver
An alternative move dubbed the Picard Maneuver refers to Captain Picard’s habit of tugging his uniform shirt down. Due to the materials used in the costume, the fabric tended to ride up and wrinkle when the character sat down, resulting in this habit when he stood up. The move was done by other members of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast as well, and the material retained odors from the cast and cleaning products, with costumes worn for up to 12-15 hours per day during filming. The uncomfortable and unflattering uniforms were also tight and stretchable, leading to the fabric cutting at the actors’ shoulders and resulting in many cast members developing back issues.
3 The Janeway Protocol
The Janeway Protocol in Star Trek: Lower Decks season 1, episode 2, “Envoys” comes up when Commander Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) finds the USS Cerritos in the direct path of an oncoming asteroid. The term relates to Star Trek: Voyager season 1, episode 2, “Parallax,” when Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and crew attempt a ship rescue and become themselves trapped inside a quantum singularity. To escape, Janeway orders the ship to push its way back through the too-small opening in the rift, leading to the term “The Janeway Protocol” as a reference to force or punch something through.
2 The Riker Maneuver
In Star Trek: Insurrection, Commander Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) devises a tactic to combat two Son’a battle cruisers. Ordering the collection of volatile Metreon gas, Riker employs the ship’s manual steering controls and pilots the Enterprise near the battle cruisers, releasing the Metreon gas between them. When one of the cruisers opens fire, it ignites the gas, destroying the attacking cruiser and disabling the other one. Enterprise Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) suggests that history might assign the name “the Riker Maneuver” to this strategy.
1 The Other Riker Maneuver
Also known as the Riker Chair Maneuver, this meme-worthy move refers to Jonathan Frakes’ distinct method of sitting and standing by lifting one leg over the back of a chair. A similar Riker stance, dubbed the Riker Lean, refers to a noticeable lean in the character’s posture. These actions resulted from a prior back injury that Frakes suffered, caused by a previous job that involved moving furniture. While these quirks are borne from easing discomfort over long filming shoots, they are also a mildly amusing and relatable character quirk that audiences now affectionately associate with a much-loved character. The Riker Chair Maneuver has been lovingly referenced in Star Trek: Lower Decks and is part of Star Trek lore in-universe and in real life.