In Star Trek Discovery, in the last episode of the first season, we see

the USS Enterprise popping up in front of the Discovery and Captain Pike hailing this last one. The way Commander Burnham highlight to the deck the name of the captain and which ship is that seems to include some sort of reverence -at least to me, I could be wrong on this.

Later, at the beginning of the S2:01, we see

Tilly going all groupie while interacting with him, quite differently from the way she was interacting with the previous captains. Again, this IMO.

Question: were the USS Enterprise and its captain famous by the year 2257, did they achieve some meaningful achievement? Or I simply misinterpreted things?

  • I don't read particular reverence in Michael's mention of Pike, but rather a dry statement ("It's one of the guys") but the cinematography makes it more reverent because Pike is an important character to the viewer (in what is going to be the future). Tilly's behavior can be attributed to (1) Tilly's awkward nature (2) Her general reverence for command (3) Pike being a handsome older man
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 6:53
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    "in the last episode" Which episode do you mean?
    – Burhan Ali
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 18:18
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    Another way to read Michael's reaction is that she recognises this as Spock's ship, and she has a complicated relationship with her adopted brother, so pretty much anything could be going through her mind regardless of the Enterprise's reputation, or that of Pike.
    – delinear
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


In episode 5 of season 1, Saru, looking for inspiration on how to be a good captain since he's in charge with Lorca having disappeared, asks the computer to list the most decorated Starfleet captains. The list consists of Matthew Decker (who will later appear as a Commodore in TOS "The Doomsday Machine"), Phillipa Georgiou, Robert April (1st captain of NCC-1701 according to The Animated Series), Jonathan Archer (captain of the first Enterprise, NX-01), and Christopher Pike, then captain of Enterprise.

Given that its first two commanding officers (one of them Pike) were among the most decorated in Starfleet history, the ship was named after another starship commanded by another of the most decorated officers in Starfleet history (and in show canon considered one of the parents of the Federation), it's reasonable to assume that Enterprise had a bit of an aura about it.

That information about Pike speaks for itself.

  • As well as the captain of the Enterprise being significant, the ship (and presumably its class generally) is considered state of the art (there have been a couple of side comments in dialogue to that effect in Discovery S2). So the Enterprise is one of the best ships, manned by one of the most respected (or, at least, most noted) command staff. If Pike had been in command of the Enterprise for some time at that point then their respective reputations would feed into each other somewhat, so meeting Pike and seeing the Enterprise is a double-whammy. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 10:11
  • @DavidSpillett : The Enterprise is ~20 years old by the time of Discovery, and I believe Pike even comments on that point when he first beams over. (When he mentions his new uniform vs their new ship)
    – Pod
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 9:39
  • @Pod : Having been in service a while doesn't mean that the ship isn't state-of-the-art amongst in-service vessels, if you discount experimental craft like Discovery. I assume whole new ship designs take quite some time to dev & test, and active ships, especially flagships and others of significnace, get some upgrades in that time rather than remaining exactly as first commissioned. Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 10:13
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    There's also nothing saying that the Crossfield class design isn't old either. Discovery is noted as being brand new when it was introduced, but there's no indication yet how old the class itself is. It might be a situation where they took an existing class that perhaps pre-dated the Constitution Class and used it as the basis for the spore drive testbed. Sort as if someone took a brand-new Boeing 737 and equipped it with new engines to test, but it's still a 737 and thus not as capable a transport as a 767 built 20 years ago. Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 16:21

And in TOS "The Menagerie Part 1":

MENDEZ: You ever met Chris Pike?

KIRK: When he was promoted to Fleet Captain.

MENDEZ: About your age. Big, handsome man, vital, active.

KIRK: I took over the Enterprise from him. Spock served with him for several years.

SPOCK: Eleven years, four months, five days.

This shows that Pike was one of only two starship captains, both in the TOS era, known to have been promoted to the little known rank of fleet captain.

The other is seen in "Whom Gods Destroy":

SPOCK: A total of fifteen incurably insane out of billions is not what I would call an excessive figure. Who is the new inmate?

CORY: Garth. Garth of Izar, a former Starship fleet Captain. (He calls up a picture on a monitor)

KIRK: When I was a cadet at the Academy, his exploits were required reading. He was one of my heroes. I'd like to see him.


KIRK: I agree there was a time when war was necessary, and you were our greatest warrior. I studied your victory at Axanar when I was a cadet. In fact it's still required reading at the Academy.

GARTH: As well it should be.

KIRK: Very well. But my first visit to Axanar was as a new fledged cadet on a peace mission.

GARTH: Peace mission! Politicians and weaklings!

KIRK: They were humanitarians and statesmen, and they had a dream. A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars, a dream that made Mister Spock and me brothers.


KIRK: No, sir. Captain Garth, Starship fleet Captain. That's an honourable title.

GARTH: And I was the greatest of them all, wasn't I?


KIRK: No, I, I can remember. You were the finest student at the Academy, the finest Starship Captain. You were the prototype, the model for the rest of us.

GARTH: Yes, I do remember that. It was a great responsibility, but one I was proud to bear.

The qualifications for becoming a fleet captain are unknown. But they seem to have been rarer than starship captains below them and commodores above them. If, repeat if, a captain had to be another Garth of Izar in order to be made fleet captain those were pretty big shoes to fill.

And one significant voyage of the Enterprise under Pike is mentioned in "the Menagerie Part 1".

KIRK: What every ship Captain knows. General Order 7, no vessel under any condition, emergency or otherwise, is to visit Talos Four.

MENDEZ: And to do so is the only death penalty left on our books. Only Fleet Command knows why. Not even this file explains that. (unlocks the magnetic strip) But it does name the only Earth ship that ever visited the planet.

KIRK: The Enterprise, commanded by Captain Christopher Pike.

MENDEZ: With a half Vulcan science officer named Spock.

And in "The Menagerie Part 2":

UHURA [OC]: Message from Starbase Eleven, sir. Received images from Talos Four. In view of historic importance of Captain Pike in space exploration, General Order Seven prohibiting contact Talos Four is suspended this occasion. No action contemplated against Spock. Proceed as you think best. Signed, Mendez, J.I., Commodore, Starbase Eleven.

This implies that Captain Pike's historic importance in space exploration is so very important that General Order Seven is temporarily suspended this one time. So Pike must have explored a lot of planets for the first time, make first contact with a lot of space travelling species and federations, negotiated the admission of a number of worlds to the Federation, defeated a lot of planet destroying space menaces, etc., etc., etc., and generally have been the James T. Kirk of the previous decade, just as Garth would have been the James T. Kirk of the previous generation.

  • While this is one fine answer, the problem is that with the new timeline the Discovery is placed in, none of what is here happened (maybe with exception of some of Pike's exploits). There was no Axanar as the UFP-KE war hasn't happened in same way... It can be droned on for... a while. Again - not criticising (at least not the answer), just pointing out the annoying in new ST Timeline
    – AcePL
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 14:31
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    @AcePL “with the new timeline the Discovery is placed in” — what new timeline is that? Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 15:51

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