Checking out Janeway's history on Memory Alpha, I see that she had her first assignment sometime in the 2350's.

She was promoted to Admiral shortly after Voyager's return home, which was in 2378.

Now, Picard on the other hand, had his first assignment in 2327. He was then ordered by Admiral Janeway to Romulus in 2379. Is there any canonical reason why Picard never became an Admiral?

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    I'm pretty sure he's turned down a promotion to Admiral once or twice, but I can't remember the specifics, I'll have to do some research.
    – Monty129
    Feb 14, 2013 at 15:23
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    Personally I always liked SFDebris's explanation (Jump to the 3:30 mark if you want to watch it). Janeway planted a computer virus before she got sent off to the delta quadrant. Every time Picard was given a promotion it was re-routed to her instead. Feb 15, 2013 at 8:05
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    Affirmative action at work. But seriously having faced the real life scenario of never reaching home Janeway probably decided easy living admiral life was the life for her. Apr 8, 2013 at 16:47
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    Kirk told him to in Star Trek: Generations. You do not ignore the advice of legends.
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 18, 2015 at 13:14

7 Answers 7


Because he didn't want a desk job.

Picard: 2364 Offered but turned down promotion to admiral as commandant of Starfleet Academy (src: startrek.com)

A more detailed version on Memory Alpha:

Mere months upon taking command, Picard was offered a promotion to commandant of Starfleet Academy with the rank of admiral by Admiral Gregory Quinn, but turned it down to retain command of the Enterprise. (TNG: "Coming of Age")

Also, he likely heeded the wisdom of an advice given by Kirk in ST: Generations:

Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you. Don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there... you can make a difference.

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    That was it! I knew it was a fairly prestigious job, but obviously one he wasn't suited for.
    – Monty129
    Feb 14, 2013 at 15:35
  • The quote would have to be from Generations, and it sounds familiar. Someone (maybe me later) will have to review the movie or a transcript to confirm. EDIT: Here it is, thanks to Google.
    – Iszi
    Feb 14, 2013 at 15:47
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    The quote's from Generations: imdb.com/title/tt0111280/quotes Feb 14, 2013 at 15:48
  • Thanks for a wonderful answer. I forgot all about that episode.
    – PiousVenom
    Feb 14, 2013 at 21:19
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    Whereas I imagine Janeway was very keen to take a desk job!
    – Liath
    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:57

Think about the tons of research Janeway conducted, that was beyond anything any other starship captain could even dream of. The odds she beat with a skeleton crew and a bunch of partisans. She established an alliance with Species 8472, the worst enemy of the Borg, which are in turn the worst enemy of the Federation. In addition, she struck a critical blow to the Borg commanding a single vessel (a deep space ship designed primarily for scientific exploration).

I don't want to diminish Picard's accomplishments, but the Federation didn't even trust him enough to allow him to command their fittest ship into the confrontation with the Borg in the beginning of Star Trek VIII. Why would he prefer to work closer with those admirals if he could simply keep the captain's chair.
Janeway on the other hand had probably enough of deep space for a while after returning home, and it would seem more natural for her to accept a (well deserved) promotion.

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    I don't think "partisans" is typically used in English as you intended (unlike Russian or German), despite "guerilla" being oe of the thesaurus definitions. You probably may want to s/partisans/guerrillas/; Feb 15, 2013 at 14:40
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    @DVK "Partisans" is fine; it is the usual term for the Spanish guerrilla fighters in the Peninsula wars, for example. Feb 15, 2013 at 15:09
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    The Maquis? TERRORISTS Mar 21, 2013 at 22:22
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    @Liath - The first time Voyager tried to contact 8472 they were met with "Your space will be cleansed". This, coupled with the Borg getting their butts kicked prompted the Alliance with the Borg. Voyager later made amends with 8472 when they found them training for Infiltration/Covert-Ops of Earth/Starfleet.
    – Robotnik
    Sep 4, 2014 at 7:05
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    They didn't trust Picard to face the Borg because he was once-assimilated, by force, against his will... Janeway got multiple members of her crew assimilated deliberately, as a part of a plan. I think Starfleet's Admiralty Board is just as crazy as she is.
    – T.J.L.
    Jul 2, 2018 at 17:12

A careful examination of all of Janeway's decisions coupled with her inconsistent characterization due to multiple writers not really working as carefully as they should have been (to the point that Janeway was inconsistent with previous behavior from episode to episode, or even inconsistent during the course of a single episode) could possibly yield the conclusion that Janeway was mentally unbalanced, which could not have been helped by her time on Voyager.

Starfleet couldn't relieve Janeway of command for being mentally unbalanced after returning a hero, but nobody in their right mind could possibly justify letting her loose on the galaxy.

So they put her behind a desk where she couldn't do any harm.

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    "Starfleet couldn't relieve Janeway of command for being mentally unbalanced after returning a hero" — Yes, they could. It would be hard to dispute that her mental issues developed or at least got worse during the journey, and so relieving her of her duties so she could get the care she needed could almost be seen as a reward for her efforts.
    – jwodder
    Sep 30, 2015 at 23:17
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    These downvoters are pretty humorless. I consider this a likely explanation, I have to say - promoted beyond her level of incompetence, always a part of some sort of Board or Council where other people are around to mitigate her decisions. Makes sense to me, though it does depend on an alternate character interpretation I suppose... Janeway was probably not intended by the writers to be a few dilithium crystals short of a functioning warp core! :)
    – Wolfie Inu
    Oct 1, 2015 at 5:58
  • Promoting people who are unstable or worse to flag rank is a time honoured tradition in Starfleet. Dec 26, 2022 at 5:05

Well let us use some practical reasoning. Janeway is mainly an Admiral for one reason..while coming home after getting 70,000 light years away from Starfleet, she traveled the trek, while holding and maintaining to all the rules and regulations of Starfleet. It would have be so much easier for Janeway to ..forget all the rules and her and her crew would have been home much sooner. Picard never did anything remotely like that. That is why Janeway is an Admiral and Picard is not.


Picard never wanted to be an admiral. Picard's sole dream since he was a small child was to be a captain of a starship. He has devoted his entire life to that single goal and purpose. He never sought to become an admiral, because it would take him away from what he loved most in life: His ship and his crew.

Janeway likely had different career goals and was more interested in moving up the chain of command.

  • Welcome to SFF:SE! We prefer answers that are backed up by source material, rather than simple assertions. In particular, as an avid Star Trek fan myself, I see no direct evidence for the statement, "Janeway likely had different career goals and was more interested in moving up..." This answer can be improved if you flesh it out with direct quotations that back up your opinions.
    – Praxis
    Feb 21, 2016 at 0:31

In the expanded novels, Every member of Voyager's crew was upped two additional ranks, given their performance in helping to save the Federation from various threats Delta Quadrant based (Krenim time manipulation, the Borg, 8472, Recapturing the USS Prometheus)

  • [Citation Needed]
    – T.J.L.
    Jun 23, 2020 at 12:46

If Picard says yes, his character would be over. He'll no longer a main character at Enterprise. He have done more than enough to deserve a promotion. I think that is a clever way that writers came up to keep him as a main character at Enterprise. With Janeway, it was the last episode, so why not put her all the way up to admiral?

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    This question is asking for an in-universe answer. We are all aware of the writers' restrictions, but we're trying to learn why that makes sense for the story.
    – bitmask
    Jul 25, 2013 at 15:55

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