Star Trek has cultivated a reputation as the optimistic, intellectual science fiction franchise over its 52 years. Starfleet is ostensibly a military organization, but its main aim is exploration, discovering new life and new civilizations to better understand the universe and the people in it. It’s a vision of humanity at its most highly evolved, having moved beyond such petty and self-obsessed things like petty grievances and the accumulation of wealth. We aspire to the likes of Jean-Luc Picard and James T. Kirk.
But there are more than a few moments that show the Federation’s best in less than idealistic situations within the fiction, behind the scenes, and in different projects altogether. Despite the fact they tend to play stone faced, painfully earnest characters, most cast members of Star Trek productions have long and storied histories of acting like supreme goofballs whenever the cameras aren’t rolling.
They may be boldly going where no one has gone before, but even humanity’s best need to cut loose on occasion. We’re taking a look at some of the most notable moments of Starfleet officers acting decidedly unlike Starfleet officers.
These are 21 Photos That Would Get The Cast of Star Trek Kicked Out Of Starfleet.
21 Picard and his Borg Friends
Forget about the Klingons, the Romulans, even Khan; there is no more terrifying villain in all of Star Trek than the Borg. Introduced at the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s second season, the Borg are essentially cybernetic zombies, obsessed with assimilating other cultures and technologies into their collective. They’ve menaced the Federation many times, but their most famous victim is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who they assimilated into the collective as Locutus, their unwitting spokesman. It was an experience – a violation - that would haunt Picard for the rest of his life.
The good captain and the Borg seem to be getting on just fine here.
This behind-the-scenes photo comes from the seventh season TNG episode “Descent”, which was the last time the Borg would be seen until their big screen bow in the second TNG film, Star Trek: First Contact.
20 Chris Pine in Smokin’ Aces
Chris Pine has become one of Hollywood’s most sought after leading men. Pine has starred in films like Wonder Woman, Hell or High Water, and The Finest Hours, all showcasing his inherent charm and good looks. He’s also managed to pull off the impossible, taking over for the legendary William Shatner in the role of Captain James T. Kirk. Pine's somehow pulled off the trick of honoring Shatner’s version of the character and making it his own.
Before he was swaggering around the bridge of the Enterprise, Pine was making a name for himself as something of a weirdo character actor.
No role was weirder than his turn as Darwin Tremor in Smokin’ Aces.
A tattooed, filthy hick with bad teeth, he was a delightfully strange killer who stood among that film’s sprawling cast. Hopefully Pine can find room for more offbeat roles like this down the road.
19 Picard cuts loose
Star Trek: Insurrection was the point when it became clear the TNG crew were on borrowed time. A little-loved film that played more like a mediocre two-parter of the TV series than a motion picture, it was one of the earliest signs that Star Trek’s decade long run of wild success was coming to an end. The dual failures of Star Trek: Nemesis and the prequel TV series Enterprise were just over the horizon, and would throw the franchise into limbo for years.
But the cast and crew were still in high spirits during its production, and a shirtless Patrick Stewart with ceremonial beads on his head can be seen here indulging in some silliness during a rehearsal, as co-stars Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes look on in delight. If nothing else, it’s nice to know someone got some fun out of Insurrection.
18 Khan and his little friend
Star Trek fans remember Ricardo Montalban as Khan, the genetically enhanced superman who attempted to conquer Earth in the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. The original series was produced in the 1960s, so the '90s felt like a far enough future for science fiction planetary wars, apparently. K
han actually only showed up in two stories: the TOS episode “Space Seed” and as the titular antagonist of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, still considered by many to be the high-water mark of the franchise.
Non-Star Trek fans are just as likely to remember Montalban from his popular TV series Fantasy Island, which aired from 1977-1984. His Mr. Roarke character had a popular little person sidekick, Tattoo, played by Herve Villechaize. The crew of Wrath of Khan rigged up a doll of the diminutive Villechaize, much to Montalban’s apparent delight.
17 Captain Kirk and his thruster
There are still plenty of things about the original Star Trek series that are worthwhile and timeless – the performances of most of the cast, the music, and the themes of optimism and exploration are still hallmarks of the franchise. Even with an impressive HD remaster that updated many of its special effects, there are limits to how much a series shot in the 1960s can hold up visually today.
One of the most infamous examples of this features Captain Kirk wielding what should be some sort of rock formation, but what looks to be made out of popcorn and shaped like… well, Captain Kirk’s favorite diplomatic tool, if you will. The fact that Shatner seems utterly unaware of what it looks like he’s holding makes the moment all the more amazing.
16 Kirk meets Vader
In the pantheon of nerd arguments, there is perhaps no more heated and enduring battle than the one between Star Trek and Star Wars fans. Each franchise has its inherent weaknesses and flaws, and each franchise has had the cultural upper hand at different time.
Star Trek was dominating in the '90s with three successful TV series and a movie franchise while Star Wars was stuck in the muck of pre-prequel limbo. Star Wars is lapping Star Trek these days, as Disney’s sequel trilogy continues to break box office records and Star Trek offering only the polarizing, subscription only prequel series Discovery.
Despite that ongoing feud, the outcome of a direct battle between two of the franchise’s biggest icons – Captain Kirk and Darth Vader – would probably be a lot more cut and dry. Kirk may be the better man, but he’s no match for the dark lord of the Sith.
15 Riker and his lil Picard
Collectibles have become one of the most pleasurable and universal aspects of fandom. A plastic Optimus Prime or a statue of Batman makes the stories we obsess over tangible for us. Interestingly, there’s not much evidence of that sort of fandom within the sort of properties that spawn that fandoms.
There’s really not much in Star Trek either, but a notable exception occurred in the seventh season TNG episode “The Pegasus”, where the crew’s children are allowed to indulge in Captain Picard Day, much to the chagrin of Captain Picard himself.
While reviewing the children’s arts and crafts entries for a contest, Commander Riker takes a liking to a Captain Picard doll, which he uses to imitate his captain’s voice. Picard’s visible irritation at the whole Enterprise was a nice bit of cringe comedy.
14 Lobster Picard
Captain Jean-Luc Picard is one of the great icons of science fiction. The stoic, cerebral commander of the Enterprise is, for many people, the platonic ideal of progressive humanity; a man of deep intellect and equally deep empathy. Patrick Stewart shares many of those noble characteristics, as he’s both a classically trained Shakespearian actor and a noted advocate for progressive political causes.
Since joining social media, Stewart has shown another side of himself – a decidedly goofy sense of humor.
Perhaps not a surprise to those that know him for his work on Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad, Stewart has taken to provocatively bantering with comedians and posting silly photos, none more memorable than his crustaceous Halloween costume. Captain Picard’s story may be over, but may his Instagram account never leave us.
13 Locutus has script notes
Locutus of Borg is one of the most nightmarish images in all of Star Trek. After being apprehended by the Borg in “The Best of Both Worlds”, Captain Picard is assimilated into the Borg collective as Locutus, who will serve as their spokesperson as they make their way toward Earth in an effort to assimilate all of humanity. The breakneck effort to save both Picard and Earth is considered one of the franchise’s greatest, most tense moments.
For his part, Patrick Stewart seemed to be having fun behind the scenes in his Borg getup.
He can be seen here reading over the script for the then upcoming episode “Suddenly Human", thumbing through his lines with his massive mechanical Borg claw. Resisting the giggles is futile.
12 Kirk and Spock enjoy a rag
Star Trek’s version of the future shows a version of humanity that has evolved to its best self, leaving behind poverty and the pursuit of personal wealth in favor of exploration and serving their fellow man. With the exception of the occasional Beastie Boys jam, most of the real life pop culture shown being consumed by the denizens of the Federation leans toward the high brow, with the works William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Ludwig van Beethoven often on display.
Maybe Mr. Spock would have been more eager to embrace his human side if he had access to Mad Magazine.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are seen here taking in the infamously silly magazine beloved by 12 year olds the galaxy over in a break from shooting on the original series.
11 Picard and Crusher get in the mood
Star Trek: The Next Generation is generally held up as the iteration of the franchise that most fully embraces the high minded ideals that Gene Roddenberry espoused about humanity’s future. This is somewhat ironic, since by the show’s golden period – generally agreed to have begun during its third season – Rodenberry’s direct influence had been curtailed in favor of younger writers like Michael Piller and future Battlestar Galactica and Outlander producer Ronald D. Moore.
But those first two seasons featured the more free wheeling attitude of the original series, with decidedly mixed results. One of the most eye rolling examples was the first season episode “The Naked Now”, which mirrors the plot of the original series episode “The Naked Time”, where a strange virus makes the crew of the Enterprise functionally drunk. In their stupor, Picard and Dr. Crusher get a little too close for comfort.
10 Picard and his smiley cloud
In the TNG episode “Timescape”, Picard, Data, La Forge, and Troi return from a conference on a shuttlecraft only to find the Enterprise and a Romulan warbird frozen in space, seemingly in the midst of a battle. The four members of the Enterprise crew must determine what caused the spatial anomaly and attempt to undo it, while also managing to save the Enterprise from the Romulans and avoid being pulled into the time lock themselves.
It’s one of the show’s better late season episodes, full of some very cool science fiction ideas and a genuinely compelling mystery. But it’s mostly known for this image of Picard, delirious from the growing effects of the time anomaly, drawing a smiley face into the cloud from a warp core breach like a little kid playing with freshly fallen snow.
9 Psych Trek
Psych was one of the more original shows to air on USA in its pre-Mr. Robot, procedural heavy days. An offbeat dramedy detective series that ran for 8 endearingly goofy seasons, the show constantly referenced pop culture, and even had multiple themed episodes that served as loving tributes to cultural staples like Twin Peaks, Clue, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
In an episode that took Shawn and Gus to Comic-Con, Gus can be seen wearing the iconic visor of Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, the blind chief engineer of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s one of the most immediately recognizable props in all of Star Trek, and it’s a pretty ridiculous image to see someone in the real world sporting.
8 Picard with hair
There are certain things that are supposed to be fundamental truths in the universe; the Earth revolves around the sun, This Is Us will always make you cry, and Patrick Stewart is the world’s greatest bald actor. Indeed, by Stewart’s own account, most of his hair had left him by the time he was in his early 20s, but he still had to wear the occasional hairpiece if a role required it.
There’s simply something wrong about how one of our most celebrated bald men looks with fake hair.
In a now famous anecdote, Stewart was prepared to wear a hairpiece for his role as Picard, with a Paramount executive arguing humanity would have found a cure for baldness by the 24th century. Creator Gene Roddenberry countered “by the 24th century, no one would care,” and a bald icon was born.
7 Spock is sad
While J. J. Abrams’ reboot movies have been largely successful with critics and generally audiences, they’ve been fiercely divisive among longtime Star Trek fans. Aside from a general aversion to the franchise going backwards in its own history, some complaints lobbed at the films revolve around Zachary Quinto’s Spock, who has shown bursts of emotion not generally associated with Leonard Nimoy’s iconic performance as the Enterprise’s Vulcan first officer. The fact that Nimoy’s Spock showed occasional bursts of emotion is, for some reason, an argument that never gains much traction with the reboot films’ detractors.
This behind the scenes image is likely not going to win over any of those fans.
Quinto is seen here leaning into the inherent ridiculousness of seeing Spock with exaggerated emotional expressions. It’s a funny moment for most people, but maybe not for Star Trek fans.
6 Shatner the stormtrooper
William Shatner has always been funny, but he’s only recently become aware of that fact himself. The immortal captain of the Enterprise has developed a surprisingly eclectic sense of humor in his old age. He is almost alarmingly active on Twitter, and indulges in weird old man hijinks on the series Better Late Than Never.
One of his more memorable gags happened a few years ago at the Country Music Awards where, after hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley performed a brief skit dressed as Princess Leia and Han Solo, Shatner emerged in a full Star Wars stormtrooper costume. After some bantering with the two country music stars, Shatner’s departing line was “I'm boldly going to the gift lounge and may the Force be with you all.”
5 The Doctor and The Doctor
Voyager is not exactly considered the high water mark of Star Trek. Indeed, Voyager and the third TNG movie, Insurrection, were the first signs of Star Trek’s dominance in the '90s coming to an end. That doesn’t mean the show didn’t have its moments, and it featured a few beloved characters, chief among them the Doctor, a holographic projection who served as the titular ship’s chief medical officer. Robert Picardo imbued the artificial physician with charm to spare, often one of the few bright spots in a weak show.
Picardo is a regular on the convention circuit, and is know for his wit. Here here’s seen with a shirt referencing another science fiction titan who goes by the same name – the title character of the long running British series Doctor Who.
4 Worf cosplaying as Worf in Ted 2
Seth MacFarlane’s deep love of Star Trek: The Next Generation is pretty common knowledge at this point. The entire cast have guest starred on Family Guy at least once, Patrick Stewart has been a series regular on American Dad since day one, and MacFarlane has even fashioned himself a very Star Trek-esque series with the live-action dramedy The Orville, which is in some ways more reminiscent of Star Trek’s golden age than Star Trek: Discovery.
MacFarlane managed to sneak in a pretty great in-joke with his film Ted 2.
When Ted finds himself at a comic convention late in the film, he runs into two of his and John’s friends, played by Michael Dorn and Patrick Warburton. The pair are seen cosplaying as the characters that made them famous, Lieutenant Worf and The Tick.
3 Young Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy’s Spock is probably the most iconic character in the long and storied history of Star Trek. The stoic, emotion free Vulcan was Captain Kirk’s most trusted confidante. Always seeing the logical solution, he sometimes found himself in intellectual conflict with things like human empathy. A deeply intelligent man of science, he could be described in many ways, but the appeal was generally projected onto Captain Kirk.
But Nimoy can do sexy too! Before he was Spock, he could pull off the ruggedly handsome type with relative ease. It’s a side many people don’t think of when they think of Nimoy, but he was a man of significantly greater talents than his most famous, pointy-eared role, as he was an accomplished director, writer, and artist as well.
2 The many faces of Brent Spiner
Brent Spiner’s Data was essentially TNG’s version of Spock. An incredibly advanced android, Data was constantly striving to be more human, despite the fact he was incapable of feeling genuine emotion for most of his existence. Spiner’s understated, often expressionless performance was a marvel of restraint; he could make you feel profound sadness or make you laugh out loud with a subtle, robotic swivel of neck.
The irony is that before and largely after TNG, Spiner made his name as a fairly cartoonish comedic actor in sitcoms like Night Court and Cheers, and films like The Master of Disguise and Dude, Where’s My Car? He also had a memorable turn as a zany scientist in Independence Day, a role that could not have been much further from the subdued Data.
1 Worf dreams of a different kind of ship
Worf was one of the breakout characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The stoic, honor obsessed Klingon who was raised by humans and shunned by his own people was often in favor of shooting first and asking questions later, in direct opposition to Starfleet’s ethos. He would be fleshed out even further on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where he married Jadzia Dax and became Captain Sisko’s right hand man. He was an exemplary officer, yet he always yearned for a Klingon life, full of combat and glory.
Maybe he also dreamed of getting away from it all and taking up yachting. It’s actually not hard to imagine; Worf on the high seas, mastering the oceans and honoring the House of Mogh. We just want you to be happy, Worf.
Do you have any funny Star Trek cast photos to share? Leave them in the comments!