Look online, and you’ll find quite a few lists of the sexiest/hottest/most beautiful women of Star Trek, but not so many of the bravest/boldest/most badass ones. Granted, there some thoughtful blog posts and articles that address the topic, but even some of those round-ups include women who did little more than show up and do their jobs.
So what constitutes a kickass female Star Trek character? For one, she can’t be a villain using her badassery for nefarious purposes. That rules out people like Seska, the Duras sisters, and even Lwaxana Troi, who, while a glorious character and never evil, does about 80% of what she does simply for herself.
The good ones are the female heroes, the strong and powerful women–both loud and quiet, showy and restrained–who really shine. It was an especially challenging task for the women on the original series to achieve, given the sexism of the times, but some succeeded, and as the franchise evolved, there were even more of them. Here we go — 18 Of The Most Kickass Female Characters In Star Trek.
18. Tasha Yar
When Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987, audiences were introduced to the very first female security chief, Lt. Natasha “Tasha” Yar. She was athletic, tough, commanding, and unafraid to show her vulnerable side, proving that it didn’t have to take away from her strength.
Tasha’s back story was brutal: her parents were killed when she was a child, and she and her sister were left on her own on a violent colony, where they dodged rape gangs as they scavenged for food. She escaped at fifteen, and joined Starfleet, where she found the moral center she’d been looking for. She went into security because it was the opposite of the lawlessness she’d grown up with. She remained somewhat haunted by her past, but she led her security team with courage and expert tactical knowledge, and Picard, who had specifically recruited her, trusted her implicitly.
Tasha was killed, senselessly, but returned later in “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” where she volunteered to go back into the past and fight a doomed battle because she wanted to give her death the meaning it never had. Brave to the end.
17. Rain Robinson
Sarah Silverman got her first TV acting gig on Star Trek: Voyager as Rain Robinson, a scientist at the Griffith Observatory in 1996. She detected Voyager in orbit and sent them a message, and when Paris and Tuvok tracked her down to erase evidence of Voyager’s appearance, she went from protesting their interference to joining them as they tried to prevent the evil Henry Starling from destroying the universe.
Rain would’ve been perfect Starfleet material had she been born a few centuries later. Even though she saw through Paris’ ridiculous “secret agent” explanations–who wouldn’t?–she still grasped the gravity of the situation and knew a good guy when she saw one. She helped get Starling out of his office, and stuck with them even after her own life was put at risk. She was only temporarily freaked out by the transporter beam and the phasers, because she was too busy admiring the idea that Paris and the crew were working for something bigger than themselves. She adapted, quickly, and helped Paris despite the danger involved. She was brave, smart, resourceful, self-sacrificing, and way ahead of her time.
There are two Uhuras now: Nichelle Nichols, and Zoe Saldana.
While Nichols’ Uhura spent most of her time opening hailing frequencies, she stepped it up in “The Gamesters of Triskelion,” where she showed off her combat skills and her impeccable moral code, refusing to use a thrall as practice target. But it’s in “Mirror, Mirror” where her courage was tested. Kirk sent her alone into the lion’s den of the bridge to get information on the Halkans, forcing her to avoid, divert, and manipulate a horny and deadly Sulu. She got the job done and helped her team home, working without benefit of her Captain’s protection.
Reboot Uhura, not being stuck in the 1960s, did not disappoint. In Star Trek Into Darkness, she beamed down just in time to save Spock from Khan AND stop Spock from killing him so they could save Kirk’s life with his blood. And in Star Trek Beyond, she managed to separate the saucer section, even though it meant she was left behind with Krall, and was the first one to figure out his true identity. She also knew how to put Spock in his place, a feat unaccomplished by anyone else.
15. Mirasta Yale
Mirasta Yale is one of the quieter heroes on this list. She ran the warp program on Malcor III, and for this she put up with teasing and jokes, which is what she thought Picard and Troi were doing when they first showed up in her office. But when she was finally convinced–by a visit to the Enterprise–that they were who they said, she was thrilled. She’s the adventurer in all of us, the kid who dreamed of aliens, then made it into a profession. She’d have been an astronaut if her planet had had a space program.
She convinced her planet’s Chancellor to listen to Troi and Picard, and help rescue Riker. She was crushed when the Chancellor said he was turning down Picard’s offer of first contact, but acknowledged the truth: the rest of her people weren’t ready. She asked Picard to take her with him. “I have to believe that you cannot be fully prepared for the realities of space travel,” he told her. Her response was classic. “I have been prepared for the realities of space since I was nine years old, and sitting in a planetarium.” He took her.
14. Captain Rachel Garrett
Garrett, who turned up in the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” is the only female captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, as far as we know. She commanded the Enterprise C, which emerged through a temporal rift into the 24th century mid-battle, changing history and putting the Federation at war. Picard tried to keep the whole time travel thing quiet, but she demanded to know the truth: where were they, and when?
When she learned that the defeat of her ship in battle could save thousands of others and prevent years of war, she didn’t hesitate, agreeing to go back and make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the future and the possibility of a future of peace instead of war. She set an example for her crew, which they followed even after she died in the effort. She was brave, demonstrated the true meaning of Starfleet principles, and saved the timeline, along with thousands of lives, even though it meant the loss of her own.
Guinan was so much more than just the Enteprise’s bartender. She advised everyone from the Captain himself to the lonely, alienated Ensign Ro; in fact, her friendship with Ro is what brought a dangerous Federation conspiracy to Picard’s attention.
Guinan is an El-Aurian, a race that was scattered across the galaxy by the Borg, and she’s the only member of the crew who was capable of frightening the omnipotent Q. She fenced with Picard, beat Worf on the phaser range (working left-handed, no less), and stopped a sleep deprivation-fueled rebellion in Ten Forward with a few shots of an energy-beam rifle.
Her relationship with Picard went “beyond friendship and beyond family,” and it was because of this that she was able to convince him to right the timeline gone wrong in “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” or go after Soren, the villain in Star Trek: Generations. She made him see the light when Borg escapee Hugh was on the ship, and helped him figure out how save Data in “Measure of a Man.” Her wise counsel, calm demeanor, and courage made her irreplaceable.
12. Edith Keeler
Edith Keeler wasn’t just Kirk’s soulmate, she was also a visionary. During the Great Depression, she ran a soup kitchen in New York, feeding those who couldn’t find work and giving them jobs. Her speech the first night Kirk and Spock arrived said it all.
“One day soon man is going to be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom. Energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in some sort of spaceship. And the men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope and a common future, and those are the days worth living for.”
Not only did she predict the development of atomic power, had she not been killed she would have founded a peace movement that delayed America’s entry into World War II. “She was right,” said Spock, “but at the wrong time.” Edith Keeler fought for what she believed in every day, no matter how impossible it seemed.
11. Naomi Wildman
Naomi Wildman, sub-unit of Ensign Samantha Wildman, was born on Voyager, and as she grew up, she found herself the only child on a ship full of adults. It suited her. She wanted to pull her weight early on, hoping to be of particular assistance to the Captain and happy to study every subject they could throw at her.
In her quest for perfection, she chose to emulate the crew member she feared most: Seven of Nine. She conquered her fear, stated her goals when confronted, and became not just a friend to Seven–who needed one–but also a trusted colleague. The two of them became one of the most enjoyable character partnerships on Voyager. Naomi was smart, strong, brave, and steadfast in her defense of Seven of Nine when necessary. In “Bliss,” she refused an order from Chakotay to lower a force field that kept him out of Seven’s cargo bay, then woke Seven after she was knocked out by an EM surge and helped save the entire crew from a giant creature that almost devoured them. Not too shabby for a ten year-old!
10. Jadzia Dax
Jadzia Dax looked and sounded like a 28 year-old woman, but she was an old soul, and that’s not figurative. Inside her was a 300 year-old symbiont, which gave Jadzia a depth and strength that made her one of the most fascinating people on Deep Space Nine. “I guess seven lifetimes gives me a somewhat broader perspective,” she told Major Kira, who was confused by Dax’s attraction to an alien with a transparent skull.
She was a friend to the Klingons, honoring a blood oath Curzon (her symbiont’s previous host) made with Kor, Koloth and Kang, and fighting at their side. While she was known for her warm, easygoing nature, she proved her bravery in wartime, especially when she was put in command of the Defiant. “I’ve been through my share of wars, I know what we have to do,” she told Worf. She destroyed the sensor array that the Dominion was using to detect and track Federation ships across five sectors, a major strategic victory for the Federation. Dax combined her warmth and compassion with courage and integrity, proving she had the heart of both a lover and a warrior.
K’Ehleyr deserved so much better. Like Tasha Yar, she was murdered by a jerk and died far too soon, with stories left to tell.
She first turned up to help the Enterprise deal with a sleeper ship of Klingons who were unaware of the Federation-Klingon Alliance and thought there was still a war. She and Worf convinced the crew to lay down their weapons, then she boarded the ship to help them transition to the 24th century. Fun! Not.
K’Ehleyr had a sarcastic edge, and took no bullsh*t from anybody, ever, which is what ultimately led to her death. She was guiding Picard through the Klingon Rite of Succession after the Klingon chancellor died, and discovered that Duras, one of the contenders for leadership, was behind the conspiracy that led to Worf’s unjust discommendation from the Empire. Duras killed her, and in her dying moment, she united Worf and their son Alexander, knowing that these two broken souls could possibly heal each other, and find strength together.
8. Ro Laren
Ensign Ro Laren’s childhood was even more brutal than Tasha Yar’s. Raised in a refugee camp during the Cardassian occupation, she was forced to watch a Cardassian interrogate and torture her father to death when she was just seven years old.
She was assigned to Enterprise under false pretenses, but Guinan encouraged her to come forward and she told Picard everything she knew. Thanks to her honesty, a conspiracy to blame the Maquis for an attack they didn’t commit was foiled, and a corrupt Starfleet officer was exposed. She eventually joined the crew, and served them well, but in the end she followed her conscience and left Starfleet to join the Maquis. She regretted the impact this would have on her crewmates, but even Picard understood why she did it.
Ro was in eight episodes of The Next Generation, but was so popular that actress Michelle Forbes was asked to become a series regular. She turned down the offer, as well as the chance to bring her character to new show Deep Space Nine, which paved the way for the creation of Major Kira Nerys.
7. Lily Sloane
Lily Sloane was a much-needed voice of sanity in the movie Star Trek: First Contact.
One minute she was hanging out with Zefram Cochrane, helping him build the first warp-driven spacecraft, on the edge of a pivotal discovery in Earth’s history. Then she got wounded, so Crusher took her–unconscious–to the Enterprise to save her life. But she ship got attacked, Lily was revived, and in a panic, ran away from the team she was with.
She took Picard hostage, but released him once he proved that they were on a ship, and the real threat came from the Borg. She joined the fight, but as she watched him slowly unhinge over the relentless destruction by the Borg, she called him on it in no uncertain terms.
It was her persistence that finally got through, especially when she compared him to Captain Ahab (even though she never actually read Moby Dick). But it worked, and she turned Picard around at the last minute, which is ultimately what saved the rest of the crew and Earth’s history.
At first glance, Natira–of the hilariously titled episode “For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky”–seemed like a mere rule follower. She was the High Priestess on Yonada, who took her orders from an oracle. She obeyed, and believed, but still followed her heart, especially once she met McCoy. “I wish you to stay here on Yonada as my mate,” she told him shortly after they met. When he confessed he only had a year to live, she suggested he spend it with her. He agreed, as smitten as she was.
Her strength showed when she found out that everything she’d believed her whole life was a lie. She learned she was on a spaceship, not a planet, and her oracle had deceived her. She confronted the oracle even though it was blasphemy, incurring the pain of the “instrument of obedience.” She faced the truth unflinchingly, and when McCoy asked her to leave with him, she could not. “You came here with a great mission to save my people,” she said. “Shall I abandon them?” Her people needed her, and she stood by them, even though her whole world had been turned upside down.
5. B’Elanna Torres
Roxann Dawson was the first actor cast for Star Trek: Voyager. She was hired to play B’Elanna Torres, a half human/half Klingon woman who struggled with the dual sides of her nature, much like Spock once did–but in her case the human side was the more peaceful of the two.
She joined Starfleet Academy, but dropped out; she impressed her teachers, excelled in Engineering, but got into conflicts regularly. Next, she joined the Maquis, where she fought in the resistance against Cardassia, finally finding an appropriate outlet for her violent emotions.
Once she became part of the Voyager crew, she worked harder on controlling the darker side of herself, and proved her worth, quickly becoming Chief Engineer. Despite having never made it through the Academy, she exemplified Starfleet values: she was brilliant, resourceful, compassionate, brave, and had Scotty’s knack for beating the odds. And she never lost her edge, n matter how “civilized” she became. “If you even think of joining in on this ’embrace your heritage’ nonsense,” she once told Tom Paris, “I swear, I’ll rip out your tongue and wear it as a belt.”
4. Seven of Nine
Yes, she was hired because she was hot and sexy, and yes, she inexplicably–from a story perspective–wore a catsuit. Yes, she was there to attract heterosexual male viewers and yes, it worked. But what Seven of Nine did once she arrived, ridiculous outfit and all, was to transcend that sex object role and become one of the strongest female characters in TV history.
Poor Seven. Accompanying her parents on a dangerous mission into Borg space, she was assimilated at age six. When Captain Janeway liberated her from the Collective, she had to learn to be human again, and over time, also come face-to-face with the terrible violence she had inflicted on others as a Borg. Not only did she overcome all of that to become a member of the Voyager family, she saved the ship more than once, proving her strength didn’t come from her Borg implants, but from her unbreakable spirit. Along the way, her outside status gave her crew–and the viewers–a unique perspective on humanity we hadn’t seen since Spock.
Jaylah is the newest female hero in the Star Trek universe. She arrived on the scene in Star Trek Beyond, where she defended “Montgomery Scotty” against Krall’s thugs, and risked her own life to help the Enterprise crew escape.
Like Tasha Yar and Ro Laren, she’d had a rough childhood. She and her father got caught on the run from Krall, and he gave his life to buy enough time to get away. She found the U.S.S. Franklin–Krall’s ship–and made it into her home, using holographic technology to keep it hidden. All on her own, she learned to speak English from the ship and trained herself in martial arts, using a combination of her fighting skills and hologram-creating expertise to defend herself.
Once she was convinced to team up with the Enterprise crew, she was invaluable to their triumph over Krall’s “bees” and joined them as they defended the Yorktown space station. Jaylah was strong, smart, resourceful, and supercool, making us hope that when she graduates from Starfleet Academy, she gets assigned to the Enterprise. We want more.
2. Kira Nerys
Deep Space Nine producers initially wanted to add Ro Laren to the crew, but when Michelle Forbes turned them down, they created Kira Nerys, recognizing a new storytelling opportunity. They said, “It meant that our captain of the Federation would be matched against someone in a different color uniform, who had a different agenda, who had different priorities, and that put them in conflict.”
And conflict there was. Major Kira was a former resistance leader assigned to the station as a liaison officer, but she was still an angry ex-freedom fighter, full of faith in her religion and mistrust in all things politics. She never backed down from what she believed in, and was a formidable opponent in both talk and action, a warrior at heart with a religion of peace to guide her. Kira’s beliefs were frequently challenged, and she continued to grow as a person by being willing to open her mind to possibilities she’d never considered before.
One of the strongest characters in the franchise, period, Kira was a key figure in the Dominion War, promoted to Colonel at the end of the series, and given command of Deep Space Nine after Sisko’s departure.
1. Kathryn Janeway
Captain Janeway takes a lot of flak, but it’s undeserved: she was a strong, magnficent leader who held up Starfleet ideals, protected her crew, and was formidable in battle, both verbal and physical.
Janeway was a scientist and a leader. She made the difficult decisions, setting a high standard of behavior for her crew. She got to know them personally; she was a captain you could go to with a personal problem as well as a professional one. She knew when to be hardcore and when to go easy, when to trust someone and when not to, and had impeccable principles.
She fought the Borg, railed against prejudice, fought new enemies, welcomed new friends, outwitted her foes, and, in “Year of Hell“, sacrificed her life. She was a true pioneer, who had a deep understanding of what things were like for Kirk and his crew way back when. “It’s not surprising they had to bend the rules a little. They were a little slower to invoke the Prime Directive, and a little quicker to pull their phasers. Of course, the whole bunch of them would be booted out of Starfleet today. But I have to admit, I would have loved to ride shotgun at least once with a group of officers like that.”
But as she told her crew: “In a part of space where there are few rules, its more important than ever that we hold fast to our own. In a region where shifting allegiances are commonplace, we have to have something stable to rely on. And we do… The principles and ideals of the Federation. As far as I’m concerned, those are the best allies we could have.”
She knew it wasn’t easy to stand by one’s principles in the Delta Quadrant, but she was steadfast, telling Captain Ransom in “Equinox,” “It’s never easy, but if we turn our backs on our principles, we stop being human.”
And against all odds, she got her people home.
Star Trek: Discovery, the newest show in the Star Trek franchise, premieres later this year.