1. Jonathan Archer
Jonathan Archer not only captained the first Enterprise and United Earth starship, but he was also one of the founding members of the Federation, being on hand to sign the Federation Charter of 2161. It makes all sorts of sense to build a show around him when you realize he was essentially the George Washington of the Federation.
Archer as a character was forced to be not just an explorer but a soldier and a politician at a time when alliances weren’t in abundance and distrust were everywhere. Even among the Vulcans and humans. He was given command of the first NX vessel but was saddled because of the Vulcan distrust of humans, the assignment came with a Vulcan babysitter. A babysitter he initially didn’t want, let alone like. Yet, through it all, he ended up earning the trust of T’Pol as well as her respect. Together, with the rest of the crew, they helped broker peace between two warring alien races (Vulcans and Andorians), all while becoming one of the founding pieces of the Federation.
Part of the appeal of Archer wasn’t just the fact he was the first to do many things but the fact that he was a man of principles when he didn’t need to be. There were no doctrines, just his moral code, which would serve him very well. While Jean-Luc Picard defied order after order and James T. Kirk laughed at the Prime Directive, Archer often refused to compromise who he was or what he believed. He’d often stand his ground when things got dicey and would stick to his own principles and morals to help solve problems. It’s why Shran always trusted him because he knew Archer would not betray his own internal morality no matter who he was dealing with.
Archer was brought to life beautifully by sci-fi legend Scott Bakula, and it’s hard to think of a better person who would’ve been able to fill the shoes of Archer any better. Bakula was always an actor who was able to bring a gentle touch and an abundance of nobility to each of the characters he plays. Something that shines through with Archer.
It’s fair to say that anyone could’ve brought Archer to life, but Bakula made Archer a legend.