What is an alpha? According to AlphaMen, the characteristics of an alpha are leadership, confidence, inner-directed, humor, consideration of others, protective . They left out integrity, but I’d include that on the list as well.
Spock hits on most of these. He knows who he is (confidence), he does what he thinks is necessary (inner-directed), he does what must be done to protect the ship (“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one,”) and a case could be made that he even has a sense of humor (his ongoing debates with McCoy).
But he’s not a true leader. While Spock’s integrity and ability earned the respect of the crew, he doesn’t have the charisma necessary to inspire people to follow him–nor does he particularly want to. And that more than anything else is why Spock is a beta.
How does a beta differ from an alpha? He’s not a wimp, but he’s no pushover, either. He doesn’t need to be in charge, but he can be when he has to. He’s perfectly happy doing what he’s good at, but he’s able to step up and take command when necessary–and to relinquish that control when he’s no longer needed.
If alphas are the most popular romance hero trope, why is Spock so appealing? I think it’s because he’s the ultimate challenge. He doesn’t give his attention to every woman that comes along (unlike a certain alpha we could name). Only a rare and very special woman can attain his regard, and many of us, who are drawn to the brainy type, like that. We don’t want to be one of many. We want to be the One. (That’s one of the reasons I married my brainy beta. It didn’t hurt that he was pretty darn cute, too. :-))
So why does Spock do it for you? Or not?