Jonathan Archer

From Academic Kids

Template:ST Character

Captain Jonathan Archer, played by Scott Bakula, is the captain of the starship Enterprise (NX-01) in the fictional television series Star Trek: Enterprise. He was born in Schenectady, New York and spent many years of his life in San Francisco, California.

His father, Henry Archer was a part of the early Starfleet team to help design Enterprise, so it was only fitting that Jonathan took command. He grew up with a distrust of Vulcans, since he perceived them as having held back Humanity's progress, particularly with regard to his father's warp five engine.

Archer's favorite sport is water polo and has a pet dog named Porthos. His parents are Henry and Sally Archer (Henry appeared in the pilot episode; Sally's name revealed in episode 'In a Mirror, Darkly (Part II)' from computer records of the USS Defiant (NCC-1764)).



Born to famed warp engineer, Henry Archer, and his wife Sally, Archer was born in upstate New York. His dream of exploring started as a boy. Eventually landing in San Francisco, where he later claimed to have spent the majority of his life, he joined Starfleet.

There he served as a pilot on the NX warp tests with people like A.G. Robinson, Duvall and Gardner (all mentioned in "First Flight"; it's assumed it is this Gardner who eventually becomes admiral when Admiral Forrest dies in "The Forge"). Robinson pushed the limits of a test ship, ending in its destruction. The Vulcans recommended the warp trials end, which Starfleet agreed to, until Lt. Charles "Trip" Tucker (who later became commander under Archer) fixed the intermix ratios and Robinson and Archer stole the ship to prove its readiness.

Although Archer was suspended for the act, it's believed his risk (and the fact it paid off) eventually secured his role as captain of Enterprise, the first warp five starship.

Seasons 1 and 2: The Explorer

Jonathan Archer gets his sea legs. As a man who loves to travel amongst the stars, he realizes being captain is a larger duty than manager and astronomer. Quickly he runs into species from all over the universe trying to kill him and his crew. Run-ins with the Mazzarites, Tholians, Suliban and Klingons cause him to become more of a military commander.

In addition, he learns the duties of captain should include diplomat. During seasons 1 and 2 he's somewhat uncomfortable with the role, especially in "A Night in Sickbay" where a group of aliens "poison" his dog.

While the captain is exploring, he makes quick enemies of one race we'll see again: Klingons. In a dispute with the Klingon Empire in 2152, Archer was convicted and sentenced to exile on Rura Penthe. With his escape, a bounty was put on his head and tensions with the Klingon Empire increased.

During this era, Archer had the distinction of making Earth's official first contact with dozens of alien races, including the Andorians, the Axanar, the Suliban, the Romulans, the Tandarans, the Tellarites, the Tholians, and, eventually the Xindi.

Season 3: The Expanse

Missing image
Archer in The Expanse.

With the Xindi attack on Earth in 2153, Archer became a changed man, determined to seek out and confront the perpetrators. This pushed him to commit desperate acts of questionable morality to ensure a future for Earth. It also changed him from a congenial captain, to one who was driven, secluded and focused.

While on his mission to locate the Xindi, Archer was briefly transformed into a member of the extinct Loque'eque species by a mutagenic virus. He later was afflicted by subspace parasites, creating an alternate timeline in which the Enterprise mission failed and Earth was destroyed. ("Twilight") With the help of Crewman Daniels, he and T'Pol traveled back in time to 2004 Detroit to prevent the release of a Xindi-reptillian bioweapon. ("Carpenter Street") By the end of the third season, Archer was presumed dead when the Xindi superweapon was destroyed. However, he was transported back to the early 1940's, as was the Enterprise herself.

The character commits many controversial acts including torturing a prisoner in "Anomaly," stranding 86 aliens to steal their needed warp coil in "Damage" and cloning Trip in order to harvest body parts in order to save the chief engineer.

Season 4: The Diplomat

Missing image
Jonathan Archer with Gral, the Tellarite ambassador.

In 2154, Archer helped a faction of Vulcans fight an oppressive government on their planet. During this incident, he was the recipient of the katra, or living spirit, of the great Vulcan philosopher Surak. The katra was later transplanted into a Vulcan priest and Archer was left unharmed. In the process, he became the first known human participant in a mind meld. Since that experience, Archer has used that knowledge at least once: to assist Commander T'Pol with conducting her first mind meld, gaining information about who captured Doctor Phlox (as seen in "Affliction").

The captain was also involved in one of the first, and possible most significant treaties yet, being asked to escort Gral, the Tellarite ambassador, to the Tellarite-Andorian negotiations. En route, they run into the Andorian Shran, a long-time friend/enemy/ally of Enterprise. During his stay, Romulans attack in disguise and cause the fragile alliance to crash to a halt. In the mix up, a Tellarite kills Shran's mate Talas. Shran avenges her death by asking the Tellarite who killed her to fight to the death. Archer takes that challenge instead. And before the captain is about to (what his colleagues think is: meet his doom), T'Pol comes to reason with him, whispering, "If anything were to happen to you ...." The fight proceeds, Shran is incapacitated, but not hurt and the alliance remains. What fans call the Andorian Arc is just another stepping stone to the Enterprise, and specifically Archer, gaining the credibility they need to help the universe form a United Federation of Planets.

Temporal Cold War

Although initially optimistic, Archer became involved in his first mission as captain of the Enterprise in the middle of the Temporal Cold War. The Temporal Cold War begins at the beginning of "Broken Bow," the first episode of the season. In that episode, the audience is introduced to the Suliban and a man referred to as "Future Guy" (a being from the future who is guiding the Suliban). As the TCW continues, we also meet a character named Daniels who's purpose seemingly is to safeguard Captain Archer in particular and Enterprise in general. Daniels comments are that Archer will be the man who builds the Federation.

His relationship with T'Pol

Although initially distrustful of his science officer, T'Pol, Archer has grown to trust her implicitly and supported her when she chose to resign her Vulcan commission in order to stay aboard Enterprise for the Xindi mission. Episodes in the first and second seasons seemed to suggest that Archer and T'Pol had the potential to become more than just close friends. Archer is openly jealous when a Vulcan suitor pursues T'Pol in "Fusion"; he insists the Vulcans won't take something away from him that's important ("Shadows of P'Jem") -- meaning her. He assists her in finding help with her Pa'nar syndrome and indicates he's happy she'll be staying aboard ("Stigma") and many other instances. However, it appears his drive to complete the Xindi mission and save Earth has possibly diminished this possibility. In the alternate timeline of "Twilight" T'Pol becomes Archer's caretaker for more than a decade after the subspace parasites rob him of his short term memory; the question of how far their relationship had progressed in this timeline goes unanswered, but it is made clear that some bond of love existed by that point, albeit somewhat one-sided as this alternate future Archer is unable to retain memory of it. It remains to be seen whether anything close to this occurs in the "real" timeline, even though the author of "Twilight" indicated in the Star Trek Communicator magazine that eventually Archer and T'Pol would marry in the real timeline, a point some think was in jest. The finale of the series gives no clue as to whether this outcome actually occurs, but the ending indicates hope and possibilities.

The Mirror Archer

In the Mirror Universe, Archer holds the rank of Commander and is the first officer of the mirror Enterprise. In this universe, Archer serves under the command of Captain Maximilian Forrest - the alternate version of Admiral Forrest. Unlike in the normal Trek universe, where Forrest and Archer are close friends and comrades, the mirror versions of the characters do not get along well at all - the mirror Archer (like most characters in the Terran Empire) is treacherous, cunning and scheming. Archer even leads a mutiny against Forrest and takes over the ISS Enterprise. However, Archer is forced to trust his captain and release him from the brig when the crew discovers the USS Defiant, a Starfleet ship from the normal Trek universe which had crossed the dimensional barriers. Archer leads a team to take control of the Defiant, and - after successfully crushing a rebellion against the Empire - attempted to take the futuristic vessel to Earth where he would proclaim himself Emperor. However, before he could do so, Archer is killed by his universe's Hoshi Sato, who poisons him and takes the ship for herself.

His place in history

Missing image
Jonathan Archer in 2161.

The time traveler Daniels had revealed that Jonathan Archer would eventually have a major role in the founding of the United Federation of Planets in 2161. He briefly took Archer ahead in time to the point where Archer is about to sign the Federation accords on Earth.

In an early episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Yesterday's Enterprise"), produced a decade before Star Trek: Enterprise was conceived, the planet Archer IV is mentioned twice; the planet was named in Archer's honor, as we learn in a later episode of Enterprise. In the film Star Trek: Nemesis, which takes place more than 200 years after Enterprise, it was revealed that a starship, the USS Archer (NCC-44278), is part of Starfleet; this vessel is presumably named for Jonathan Archer.

Computer records of the USS Defiant - seen briefly in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode 'In a Mirror, Darkly (Part II)' reveal some of Archer's future:

  • Archer will be called 'the greatest explorer of the 22nd century' by historian John Gill (from the original series episode Patterns of Force)
  • Archer served as captain of the Enterprise (NX-01) from 2150 to 2160. (These dates are erroneous since his command of Enterprise actually began in 2151, and ended around the time of the signing of the UFP charter in 2161.
  • In 2160, Archer will be promoted to Admiral. (Again this date appears to be in error, as Archer is shown to still be a captain in 2161). He will retire from Starfleet in 2169, as the Starfleet Chief of Staff.
  • Archer serves as ambassador to Andor from 2169 to 2175. His old friend Shran, by then a General, will make Archer an honorary member of the Andorian Guard.
  • Archer serves on the Federation Council from 2175 to 2183, after which he will be elected President of the Federation. He serves as the UFP President until 2192.
  • Archer will have two planets named after him: Archer IV, from the aforementioned ST:TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" (and the ENT episode Strange New World), and Archer's Planet, in the Gamma Triangula sector.
  • Archer will die peacefully in his sleep at his home in Schenectady, New York, in 2245 - exactly one day after he attends the commissioning ceremony of the Constitution class starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

Note: episode writer Mike Sussman, in a posting to the Trek BBS, cautioned that the information regarding the death of Archer as indicated above should not be considered strict canon as it did not actually appear on screen.[1] ( It is possible, for example, that the reference to Archer being promoted to admiral following the Enterprise mission may be contradicted by dialogue in the finale episode suggesting that Archer intended to get a new command following the decommissioning of Enterprise. Reportedly some of the errors were either deliberate or simply a matter of making things up on the spot, as Sussman indicated he never expected the information to be legible on HDTV sets.

Another possible (albeit retconned) reference to Archer might be found in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "In the Flesh", aired three years before Enterprise debuted, in which the Voyager crew discover an alien recreation of Starfleet Command, populated by Species 8472 masquerading as Starfleet officers. One has the name Commander Valerie Archer who says she comes from a Starfleet family. Assuming a "real" Valerie Archer exists on Earth (which is likely, considering the groundskeeper Boothby was also mimicked), this could be a descendant of Jonathan Archer.


  • To T'Pol in Impulse: "We'll find a way around this, but I won't leave anyone behind, not if I can help it."
  • To T'Pol in Impulse: "I can't try to save humanity without holding on to what makes me human."
  • To Mayweather in Azati Prime: "An hour ago I gave the order to kill three Xindi in cold blood. A month ago I had Phlox create a living being to harvest some of its tissue, then I watched him put it to death."
  • To Mayweather in Azati Prime: "I'm saying I won't order anyone else to die."
  • To Sim in Similitude: "I don't have to tell you what's at stake, I must complete this mission, and to do that I need TRIP, TRIP, I'll take whatever steps necessary to save him."
  • To Degra: "If you destroy Earth, you won't just be eliminating my species, you'll be eliminating your own."
  • To The Aquatics in Countdown: "Help me save my people..... and I can help you save yours."
  • To the Bridge crew in Azati Prime: "I've always been better at avoiding farewell's than giving them so.... I'm not even gonna try. What I am gonna ask you to do is look back to the day when this ship was first launched.... we were explorers then. When all this is over, when Earth is safe I want you to get back to that job."
  • To T'Pol in Damage: "We've had our share of arguments, but you've never taken it out on my desk before."


  • Some fans have nicknamed Archer "Captain Quantum", because of Scott Bakula's previous role of Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap. Bakula himself once suggested that Captain Archer's middle name is Beckett...
  • In early stages of writing, the character of Jonathan Archer was called Jeffrey Archer. This was reportedly changed to avoid clashing with the notorious UK politician/author Jeffrey Archer. Another name considered for the character was Jackson Archer, until someone by that name was discovered.

External links

nl:Jonathan Archer


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