This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
You would think Starfleet would be very careful about who they promote to Admiral, running numerous psychological tests, only promoting those with a solid track record as Captain and keeping a close eye on them for signs of inappropriate behavior. But no. Based on the evidence of this sorry lot, Starfleet generally just promote whoever happens to be in the vicinity and looks good in the fancy uniform.
As will become clear below, this is particularly true of Admirals sent to work with the Federation’s flagship, the USS Enterprise. During the 24th century, the appearance of an Admiral on the bridge of the Enterprise is generally a solid indicator of upcoming shenanigans. We can only presume Starfleet had become aware of their impending lunacy and sent them to the mysteriously un-promoted Captain Picard to sort them out.
10. Admiral Owen Paris, Star Trek: Voyager (Richard Herd)
Presumed reason for promotion: He served as Captain on the USS Al-Batani, with Kathryn Janeway as his Science Officer. While we don’t wish to cast aspersions on one of Starfleet’s few female captains, Janeway does seem to prefer nepotism as her primary reason for promoting anybody (promoting Chakotay’s bestie to Chief Engineer, Paris’ convicted felon son to pilot AND nurse, and let’s not get in to her feelings about Chakotay himself) and makes it to Admiral surprisingly quickly herself, so we assume she had something to do with it.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Admiral Paris was put in charge of the project dedicated to finding his own lost son, which is a clear conflict of interest, but to be fair that’s his superior’s fault. According to his son, he never changes his opinion once its fixed, which probably isn’t a great trait in an explorer and diplomat.
Other bad behavior: The potential conflict of interest didn’t seem to make much difference anyway, since Admiral Paris was prepared to make time to talk to Captain Janeway about the Doctor’s moonlighting as a popular fiction author, but not, it seems, to actually talk to his son or daughter-in-law. When he welcomes Janeway and the crew home, one or both of them switch off the channel before he’s as much as said ‘hi’ to his son, and seconds before he could have heard the first gurgles of his newly born granddaughter.
Suggested disciplinary measures: He’s a bit odd, but hasn’t done anything to deserve demotion. Yet.
9. Admiral Haftel, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Offspring (Nicholas Coster)
Presumed reason for promotion: His grumpy-face is quite something to behold and probably fits in quite well in the Grumpy Admirals’ Mess Hall.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Data has built a new android in his spare time and presumably at the non-capitalist 24th century version of his own expense. Haftel is convinced Starfleet have a right to take her/it away from him. Considering Data’s autonomy was already established at length in his own earlier trial, either Lal is his property and cannot be stolen, or she is his daughter and cannot be kidnapped. Either way, Haftel is clearly in the wrong here.
Other bad behavior: He’s really mean about it, too.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Someone needs to take away his favorite toy and/or first-born child.
8. Admiral Satie, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Drumhead (Jean Simmons)
Presumed reason for promotion: Classic Hollywood actress Jean Simmons’ poise and elegance were surely an impressive sight at Starfleet Balls.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Having called Picard to the stand during an official inquiry, when his answers annoy her, Satie accuses him of treason and launches into a xenophobic tirade that results in her removal from the case.
Other bad behavior: While she is technically in the right in exposing Crewman Tarses as half-Romulan, not half-Vulcan, its a rather ungenerous thing to do and carries with it the whiff of Space Racism.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Enforced retirement is probably the answer here.
7. Admiral James T. Kirk, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (William Shatner)
Presumed reason for promotion: Starfleet probably heard about Kirk’s rather personal approach to diplomacy, especially with young, attractive, female aliens, and decided to promote him out of harm’s way.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Inciting other officers to disobey orders and sabotage the Federation’s flagship, the USS Excelsior, stealing the USS Enterprise and blowing up the USS Enterprise (though we can probably let him off that last one, since it was full of Klingons at the time).
Other bad behavior: Admirals are not supposed to run off to personally command ‘little training cruises’ in what are clearly remote and inhospitable parts of the galaxy, considering there are never any other Starfleet ships in range.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Kirk is basically rewarded with demotion to Captain (there was a whole saving-the-world incident), which is probably for the best.
6. Admiral Pressman, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Pegasus (Terry Quinn)
Presumed reason for promotion: He probably intimidated his superiors into doing it. He’s a scary man.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Secretly testing a Federation cloaking device, in violation of a treaty with the Romulans, and then covering it up when things went wrong.
Other bad behavior: He doesn’t seem to care too much that most of his crew, who mutinied in protest at the above-mentioned court martial-worthy behavior and risky scientific experimentation, were all killed trying to shut down the illegal experiment. He also yells at Riker, which is clearly a mistake. No one gets away with yelling at Riker.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Definitely time for a dishonorable discharge. Send him to some remote island, maybe, to think about his mistakes. Throw in a polar bear. Why not.
5. Admiral Dougherty, Star Trek IX: Insurrection (Anthony Zerbe)
Presumed reason for promotion: His beard. He has a Great Admirally Beard of Admiralness.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Conspiring with an alien group to transport their estranged families from their home planet without their knowledge or permission, indirectly killing them as their home planet happens to be a fountain of youth and without it they’ll all die of old age.
Other bad behavior: That pretty much covers it. He didn’t know about the estranged families/revenge aspect of the plot and eventually objected, but too late. He just wanted access to the fountain of youth stuff. As reasons for ‘insurrection’ go, it’s a pretty pathetic one.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Admiral Dougherty had the bad luck to appear in a movie, rather than a TV series, and suffered the unnecessarily grisly fate of death by skin-stretching machine. Dishonorable discharge would have been quite sufficient.
4. Admiral Jameson, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Too Short A Season (Clayton Rohner)
Presumed reason for promotion: He was considered a hero, thanks to his successful cover-up of how he really negotiated a tricky hostage situation. So that probably helped.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Traded weapons with a hostile force in order to obtain the release of hostages, falsified the official records of the incident, then gave weapons to the group’s opponents in an attempt to redress the balance, causing decades of civil war.
Other bad behavior: Like Admiral Dougherty, Jameson was also obsessed with a desire to reverse the aging process, though in his case he at least had the excuse of suffering a debilitating chronic illness as an extra incentive. He really should have told his wife what was up, though.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Jameson is able to die in the hopes of atoning for his mistakes, without a skin-stretching machine being involved. Considering he was trying to prolong his life, this poetic justice is probably enough.
3. Admiral Marcus, Star Trek Into Darkness (Peter Weller)
Presumed reason for promotion: Beards are eschewed in the Abramsverse, but he has a suitably scowly look for an Admiral.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Secretly released genetically enhanced warrior Khan Noonien Singh thinking he could control him, then tried to get Kirk to kill him when he couldn’t, then threatened the entire crew of the USS Enterprise in an attempt to cover it all up.
Other bad behavior: While it’s true that Kirk violated the Prime Directive (who hasn’t?), demoting him, removing him from command, and sending him back to Starfleet Academy was probably excessive punishment.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Being in a movie, Marcus experienced a death only slightly less grisly than Oberyn Martell’s; his poor daughter really didn’t need to see it.
2. Admiral Leyton, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Homefront and Paradise Lost (Robert Foxworth)
Presumed reason for promotion: Judging by his later actions, probably a conspiracy using naive Starfleet cadets to do his dirty work for him.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Conspiring to enact a military coup involving several other officers and a group of elite cadets known as Red Squad, who were ordered to sabotage Earth’s power grid and blame it on Changelings. He also falsified a blood test to make it appear that Captain Sisko was a Changeling.
Other bad behavior: He has a McCarthy-like zeal for identifying and punishing Changelings.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Attempted military coup is surely worth some kind of prison term, not just a resignation. You can’t resign after attempting a military coup. At the very least, you should be dishonorably discharged.
1. Admiral Cartwright, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Brock Peters)
Presumed reason for promotion: He seems pretty competent as an Admiral in Star Trek IV. Plus, his distinct similarity to Sisko’s dad suggests a long family line of loyal service.
Behavior worthy of court martial: Conspiring with a mixed group of Starfleet officers, Klingons and Romulans to assassinate the Klingon Chancellor and the President of the Federation, in order to prevent peace being brokered between their various peoples. Ironically, the conspirators showed a great skill for working together, despite their political differences.
Other bad behavior: Various members of the conspiracy were also responsible for framing Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy and having them sent to Rura Penthe (Klingon Siberia) just before retirement. They should have known they’d have a better chance of success if they managed not to antagonise James T. Kirk.
Suggested disciplinary measures: Presidential assassination is a pretty serious crime. A life sentence in Klingon Siberia would seem appropriate.
Honorable mention: It seems a tad surprising that Captain Janeway, much as I love her, was promoted to Admiral before Captain Picard, but to be fair, we haven’t seen her do anything especially silly as an Admiral, so it didn’t seem entirely fair to put her on the list.