In Star Trek canon, Jean-Luc Picard was captain of the Enterprise for far longer than James T. Kirk. Famously, Kirk commanded the iconic Starfleet ship for its five year journey through space before it returned to Earth. After ascending to the rank of – and then being demoted from – admiral, Kirk then captained the Enterprise-A for another seven years. Picard, on the other hand, captained the Enterprise-D/E for 21 uninterrupted years.
As ScreenRant has pointed out, the reason why Picard remained on board the Enterprise so long may be because of Kirk himself. The two space-faring legends finally met in Star Trek: Generations, with Picard discovering that the presumed-dead Kirk had actually ended up in the Nexus, an extra-dimensional realm. When the pair team up, they share a poignant exchange in which Kirk asks Picard if he’s planning to retire. Picard tells him he isn’t currently, but the former tells him not to.
“Well, let me tell you something. Don’t! 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.”
It seems that Jean-Luc took his forebear’s impassioned words to heart. Following Generations, and the tragic death of Kirk, Picard stayed as Enterprise captain a further 14 years. As we now know, thanks to Star Trek: Picard, he eventually became an admiral and then retired from Starfleet at the age of 80 – unfortunately, under sad circumstances. Eventually, however, Picard later returned to active duty well into his 90s and helped solve the Starfleet conspiracy that had caused him to quit, saving countless lives along the way. As Kirk would say, he made a difference.
It’s never been outright confirmed in Star Trek media, but it’s moving to think that Picard’s lengthy Enterprise career, and even beyond, have been influenced by the wise advice he once received from Kirk.