It’s a common enough occurrence that it’s known as a career killer: too many Star Trek stars have come and gone, leaving little to no trace of their presence in their wakes. Faster than you can say, “Beam me up, Scotty,” they disappear, careers and all. Plenty of fan theories exist as to why this happens; for starters, there are so many characters over each incarnation of Star Trek that it’s bound to happen to at least some actors. Not every fan favorite can go on to become a celebrity.
But there’s that whole typecasting possibility as well. Since many of the stars who did go on to remain famous actors stuck to the sci-fi field, there’s even some proof to support the idea that once you’ve gone into deep space (Nine or otherwise), you’re never coming back.
Of course, plenty of actors just up and decide to squash the original acting bug that landed them onto the Enterprise, whether opting to step out of the limelight completely or moving on to another career path in the business. They might have even made it big in the production department, but their acting careers, once so promising, still flopped in the process.
Here are 15 Star Trek Actors Whose Careers Flopped After Their Shows Ended.
15. Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher)
Dr. Beverly Crusher had it all, and by all, we mean Jean-Luc Picard. All kidding aside, Gates McFadden was amazing in the role. With her porcelain features, flaming head of hair, and personality that matched – ranging from gentle compassion to fiery fierceness – she’d easily fit in with a lot of TV show casts. After her TNG days, that unfortunately never happened. She’s been in a few films and appeared on a couple of TV shows like Franklin & Bash and a recent episode of NCIS, but nothing near the level of Crusher.
Most of McFadden’s TV absence is explained not with dirty secrets or scandals but with a simpler career: teaching. She’s focused on passing the acting torch on to younger generations, teaching theater in various college settings. She has even served as the Artistic Director of Ensemble Theater at the Theatre of Los Angeles.
14. Jennifer Lien (Kes)
Kes was a fan favorite on Star Trek: Voyager. Between her Mayfly lifespan and cool powers, it’s not hard to see why. Unfortunately for Jennifer Lien, who played Kes, audiences outside the Star Trek circle weren’t as impressed with her acting chops. Even though Richard Lutz wrote about what a remarkable job Lien did bringing Kes’s character to life, Lien’s own worries about the direction of her career seemed to become a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Every subsequent role that Lien had following Voyager involved voice work and she hasn’t made anything since 2003. She provided voices for the animated series of both Men in Black and Superman. What’s worse is that she’s also been in trouble with the law, from a domestic assault arrest in 2012 to a DUI just last year.
13. Avery Brooks (Sisko)
Benjamin Sisko was one of the most compelling captains in the history of Star Trek, but after Deep Space Nine ended, Avery Brooks, who portrayed him, seemed to fall off the map. He hasn’t done any TV or film work in over a decade, with his last project, the video game Star Trek: Legacy, recording in 2006. With his trademark voice and renowned acting skills, it almost seems a waste.
Even though we don’t see him anymore, that doesn’t mean he’s not doing well elsewhere. Brooks is a tenured professor at Rutgers University. He taught there long before Deep Space Nine and continues to do so in the theater department. He was also the first African-American person to earn an MFA in acting and directing from the same school.
12. Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar)
Security Chief Tasha Yar’s time on the Enterprise was short-lived in TNG but that didn’t stop her from being a fan favorite. The fact that she was a beautiful security officer had a lot to do with that, and when her character was killed off fans were outraged not only regarding her death itself, but the way she died. It became known as not only one of the worst deaths in the franchise but in TV history.
Crosby maintained steady work since that season, appearing in both films and TV shows like Castle and The Magicians. She even had a recurring spot on the Ray Donovan show and Walking Dead fans were thrilled to see her have an arc in seasons 4 and 5, but her popularity remains with her Trekkie base.
11. Michael Dorn (Worf)
He has one of the most famous faces in TNG, but it was mostly prosthetics. Michael Dorn’s Lieutenant Commander Worf is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise’s long-running history, so popular that not only was he kept around after initially being written as a brief role, but he also was brought back for Deep Space Nine.
It’s not that Dorn has disappeared since playing the brusque Klingon; he has been in several films and many TV appearances since, maintaining steady work. He just hasn’t landed any roles as large or well-recognized as his Klingon character. Between five movies and over 270 episodes, Dorn is the most prolific Star Trek actor and it’s pretty hard to top that kind of success.
10. Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi)
Counselor Deanna Troi proved to be one of the most compassionate and complex characters in TNG, but Marina Sirtis has expressed her frustrations about her inability to find work following the role many times. The animal activist and regular on the Comic Con circuit has kept her work steady since her Star Trek days but she’s had no roles as renowned as her time as Troi. From Gargoyles to The Outer Limits, NCIS to Scandal, we still get to see her on TV from time to time.
Sirtis has also been in a few movies, like The Grudge 3 and Finders Keepers, and although she continues to make films they’re just not recognizing her as well as they should. Talent like hers is meant to move on to bigger and better things, but it’s difficult to find something bigger and better than Star Trek.
9. John de Lancie (Q)
He sticks mostly to voice work these days, but once upon a time John de Lancie was known as the character Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role he reprises in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. While he’s more noticeable than many other characters in this list, particularly after his repeat performances on Breaking Bad and Stargate SG-1, he is notably absent from major motion pictures and TV shows in general.
Most people agree that de Lancie wields some pretty big acting chops, so it’s a letdown to see him not advance as some of his co-stars have. Even so, the fact that he’s still keeping busy, even if it’s with My Little Pony and Olaf’s Great Adventure, means that he’s not gone or forgotten completely. He also voices video games like Assassin’s Creed: Origins and World of Warcraft: Legion, which has to be fun.
8. Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax)
Terry Farrell’s farewell from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine left plenty of fans upset; even if Jadzia Dax continued through a new host, Nicole DeBoer played a completely different entity. Farrell may have hoped to move on to bigger and better prospects after her six seasons on the show, but her track record doesn’t fare so well.
Aside from a major role on Becker, Farrell had spots on a few TV movies like Legion, One True Love and Gleason, but after that she pretty much disappeared and hasn’t been in a motion picture or TV show since 2003.
7. Robert Beltran (Chakotay)
Robert Beltran seemed to be going places when he landed the role of Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager. With dozens of films and TV shows under his belt from Miami Vice to Lois & Clark, Bugsy to Nixon, his career seemed to be going nowhere but up– until he left Voyager. A few guest spots on shows like CSI: Miami and Medium, a recurring role on Big Love and poof, he hasn’t been seen on TV since 2011.
Beltran became more involved in the theater circuit following his time as a Starfleet commander, appearing in plays like Henry IV and Boleros for the Disenchanted, but even then it seemed as if he had bigger roles prior to his Star Trek Days. Beltran hasn’t been seen in a production since 2011, either.
6. Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed)
English, handsome and a history of drag acting may sound like a recipe for successful acting career, but Dominic Keating didn’t travel far once his Star Trek: Enterprise days were kaput. Lieutenant Malcolm Reed and company weren’t enough to save the series from being canceled, and Keating hasn’t been seen in much since then. He’s been back on the TV as a guest on shows like Sons of Anarchy, CSI: NY, and Prison Break but never for more than one episode. He also had a spot on Beowulf.
Aside from a few small, scattered roles, Keating is providing voices for animated features these days, largely in video games like Diablo III, Destiny, and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. He’s not even credited in some of these.
5. Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris)
On Star Trek: Voyager, Robert Duncan McNeill was famously known as ex-prisoner Lieutenant Tom Paris. Today, McNeill is rarely seen on screen, preferring to work behind the scenes as a director. The Chuck executive producer and sometimes-director hasn’t done a guest spot since his time on The Outer Limits and Crossing Jordan in 2002, but he’s directed plenty of shows that we’ve all seen: Supernatural, Dawson’s Creek, Dead Like Me, One Tree Hill. From Desperate Housewives to White Collar, chances are if you’ve ever binged it, he’s been involved with it in some capacity.
4. Garrett Wang (Harry Kim)
Brilliant but naive Harry S. L. Kim may have become a Starfleet Captain in his future, but it’s too bad that we never saw a running arc featuring that scenario. Garrett Wang starred in seven seasons of Voyager before entering life outside of Star Trek, where he had very few roles in both TV and film before exiting the acting world in 2014. Films like Ivory Tower, The Auteur Theory, and Demon Island had nowhere near the visibility of Star Trek, and his brief time on television after his Voyager days was limited to the miniseries Into the West and, of course, Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.
3. Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna)
The first Voyager actor to be cast, Roxann Dawson’s fierceness and humanity went unrivaled as Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres. The half-human, half-Klingon character’s struggle with her identity and character development over the show’s seven years were intense and intriguing, and Dawson’s skillful portrayal should have opened doors for her into many other dramatic roles. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for her acting career, where she appeared in a handful of movies and TV shows, where she was last seen in The Closer in 2011.
That said, her directing career is going well. Dawson has directed episodes of both Voyager and Enterprise before directing episodes of shows like Lost and The O.C. She’s directed several episodes of Crossing Jordan and Cold Case, which she also produced, and she’s done an episode here and there for many other shows, from House of Cards to The Runaways.
2. Jonathan Frakes (Riker)
Let’s start by saying that Jonathan Frakes’ career in general is far from the toilet. He’s made it big as a director, particularly with the fantastic new Star Trek: Discovery, The Librarians, NCIS: Los Angeles, and plenty of other shows. But remember back when he was Number One in TNG? Frakes used to make people swoon as the rakish, handsome Commander William Riker. Sure, he fascinates us with his directing today, but we miss having him command attention on-screen.
It’s not as if he hasn’t tried. From Castle to Criminal Minds, Leverage to Roswell, he hung around for a little while but never achieved the same level of stardom as an actor as he did on Star Trek. Some of that voice work is pretty awesome, though. Who didn’t love him paired with Marina Sirtis in Gargoyles?
1. Jolene Blalock (T’Pol)
While she’s known around the independent project circuit fairly well, Jolene Blalock, the practical yet gorgeous Vulcan T’Pol on Enterprise, has bizarrely not made it big in Hollywood where many of her fans believe she belongs. The actress hasn’t made a film since 2014 when she had roles in Sex Tape and Killing Frisco, and before that she was mainly seen in guest roles on shows like House and CSI: Miami. She’s had bigger parts in indie productions like Sinners and Saints.
Blalock, a model, was often the target of some snippy comments about her revealing outfits that some fans thought to be cheap efforts at making an already cool and character-driven show “sexy,” which may have hindered her prospects. Like many of her fellow space travelers, her career seemed to have been moving forward until her Star Trek days.
Which Star Trek actors have the best careers? Let us know in the comments!
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