If you were to sneak into Jean-Luc Picard's captain's log while he was out of his quarters, you would probably find plenty of entries with incidents that would qualify as heroic.
Everyone back on Earth knows about that time he was hung up naked by the wrists and gaslighted within an inch of his sanity. Or when his humanity survived being stripped away in pieces and nearly being assimilated by the Borg. Or his illustrious speech about android civil rights.
However, what is often overlooked among these legendary, almost mythic trials he endured is that Picard's heroism often reveals itself in some of the strangest and most awkward situations he's ever encountered.
While there is no doubt that only a resolve of steel can overcome a computerized consciousness taking over your flesh, that same innate bravery is what drives Picard to face an alien monstrosity with no face, barely cringe when he ends up with the woman who has been relentlessly stalking him on his lap and get out of Sherwood Forest with his head still on.
Accelerate your warp drive and journey through seven of Captain Picard's most heroic moments that emerged from some particularly peculiar circumstances
He actually is Robin Hood (for a day)
Picard has no choice but to be the bravest man in all the land when he materializes in Sherwood forest as Robin Hood. You have to brace yourself for any situation Q may throw at you (or throw you into), and it does take some measure of courage to save your lady fair while dressed in tights and a ridiculous hat with a feather stuck in it, though the captain is less than dashing when he crashes through the window of Vash's prison and struggles to sweep her off her feet. The threat of Maid Marian losing her head both literally and figuratively if he doesn’t break into the castle like the king of thieves is kind of an incentive for that. She loses it figuratively anyway.
You can only imagine how Picard keeps it together as he and Vash are marched to the headsman's block by creepy hooded figures. Actually, he doesn’t, because he is constantly arguing with her out of the side of his mouth, but the ability to keep a straight face when your cranium is about to be separated from the rest of your body requires a spine.
He confronts the Blob
The captain never asked to reenact a horror movie or come face to face with something that looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon dripping with tar. It's just what you do your ship is sucked in by the gravity of a deceptively barren planet that hides something sinister that doesn't register as quite alive on a tricorder. Not that something which can revert from a solid state to a liquid and back again would.
After the thing that calls itself Armus murders Tasha Yar for standing up to it, Picard beams down for a showdown. He refuses the talking tar pit's request to entertain it and instead gives it an epic lecture on what the embodiment of evil really is. Handing whatever this bizarre life form's back end is to whatever its front end is must be far easier than trying to sympathize with it — but Picard somehow pulls that off too. Later that stardate, Picard must have made a note to himself in his captain's log to never, ever assume a planet is uninhabited no matter what Data and his computer scans say.
He pretends he's obsessed with his own stalker out of duty
It takes an unearthly level of courage for any single man to have a close encounter with Deanna's often inappropriately flirtatious mother. Lwaxana Troi is also Picard's number-one stalker. Picard avoids her easily enough on the Enterprise, but when she's kidnapped by an obsessed Ferengi and wakes up naked on his ship and about to be experimented on like a lab specimen, he has an obligation to (reluctantly) beam her back. Picard's obligations to his passengers mean he has to do something drastic when she decides to trade her freedom to free fellow captives Deanna and Riker. He then does the bravest thing anyone could do: emphatically recite lines from Shakespeare's sonnet #147 like a scorned lover and pretend to be thrilled when Lwaxana is beamed right into his lap.
Considering that Sir Patrick is a bona fide Shakesperean actor, his overblown recitation of the Bard's poem in the name of false love is downright hilarious. It also led to the screenshot that spawned a million memes.
He translates an alien language without Google
Even Picard doesn't find himself stranded on a strange planet because of a blocked transporter every day, let alone with dinosaur-faced Tamarian captain Dathon, who can't speak a word of English (and Picard doesn't speak ... whatever it is). He's confronted by Dathon with a knife in each hand and no idea what that mysterious babbling of "Darmok" and "Jalad" at "Tanagra" means. Just as Picard starts to realize that the Tamarians speak in mythological metaphors, he has the dying captain on his hands after being attacked by something with dagger teeth and a roar that gives a you a vague idea of how huge they are.
Being brave enough to fight off something that could impale you is nothing compared to trying to establish communications between yourself and an alien race when the ambassador of said alien race is on his last breath. Picard deserves to be even more decorated for facing death and isolation head-on.
Confession: It takes a lot for TV to make me reach for a tissue box, but this episode had me bawling.
He appears as the enemy to investigate the enemy
What do you do when you fear your most venerated Ambassador has defected to the Romulan side? You disguise yourself as a Romulan — extreme brows, bowl cut, massive shoulder pads and all — and beam down. Picard withstands looking like he got a botched facelift because the potential threat to security is astronomical. It's also impossible not to be concerned about a Vulcan when you shared a mind-meld with his father a year ago.
The fact that Spock is a masochist who used to force himself to endure torture probably doesn't help the situation, and neither does Data hovering over Picard and calculating how exactly they should behave as faux Romulans while his captain is trying to sleep. What makes this mission that much more intimidating is that Spock is supposedly with a Romulan rebel, not surprisingly labeled a rebel because he vies for peace. Associating with him could mean death by disruptor pistol.
Another shocker in this episode is that Picard himself betrays his usual Earl Grey for mint tea.
He totally owns the Klingon High Council
You really don't want to interfere with a trial of a Klingon accused of high treason, but if anyone is going to do it (and do it with panache), it's Jean-Luc. The captain descends into the First City of the Klingon homeworld as Worf challenges the alleged crimes of his father, making for the most dangerously awkward interspecies situation ever. Picard even ventures into an undercover mission that could either exonerate Worf or have him mauled by a bat'leh — that much more badass in a grim reaper-ish hooded cloak.
What even the Klingon High Council doesn't know is that one does not simply pwn Picard. He defiantly refuses to hand Worf over for execution anytime soon, and when the council decides to ostracize them, both human and Klingon show them the most epic turning of backs in the universe. Proof that battle can be done without wielding a weapon.
He gives an epic smack-down even as a ghost
How many times have you just wanted to backhand Q? When the shapeshifter encounters Picard in a blinding white void that is supposed to be the afterlife, the captain gives him a verbal smackdown which is exponentially justified by his shifty gaze and the fact that he never seems to look the captain straight in the eye. Never mind this creature has the nerve to call himself God. Q has been the most bothersome pest on the Enterprise next to that swarm of nanites Wesley let loose in a lab experiment once, so it's no wonder that when asked what he regrets most in life, Picard snaps it's passing into some sort of purgatory with him guarding the nonexistent pearly gates. When Q later zaps him into the past, he smacks the alien that insults him with the most eerie composure.
Picard’s confrontation with Q somewhere between the realm of the living and the dead also conjured one of the best insults in the universe: "I refuse to believe that he afterlife is run by you. The universe is not so badly designed!”