Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery ahead
Star Trek: Discovery recently launched yet another band of adventurers into far-reaches of space to seek out new life and new civilizations. Set roughly 10 years before before Kirk and his crew began their five-year mission, the show is both a reinvention of the long-running franchise and an exploration of an important event in the Star Trek’s history, the Federation-Klingon War.
In the first episode, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), and the U.S.S. Shenzhou's crew reconnected with the Federation’s archetypal adversary, the Klingon Empire. The redesigned race won’t be the only familiar faces to appear either. While Discovery’s creative staff doesn't necessarily want to rely on the old show as a crutch, they have confirmed several classic characters for the latest show. Here are a few favorites who will (and a few who might) beam in for a visit.
First and foremost, Trek’s most notable throwback will be Spock’s father, Sarek. Originally played by actor Mark Lenard on The Original Series, Sarek long served the Federation as an Ambassador to Earth and on the Federation Council. He also appeared in several films and on other shows like The Next Generation.
On Discovery, the venerable Vulcan is portrayed by James Frain (Gotham). As Lt. Cmdr. Burnham’s adoptive father (he raised her after a Klingon raid on Vulcan killed her parents) Sarek is almost a main character in the show. He dropped by during the first two episodes, both in flashbacks to Burnham’s childhood and via Starfleet's hologram-based communication device. Apparently, he follows his adoptive daughter’s career closely (and sculpts it to a degree), and will likely offer his advice during the escalating conflict with the Klingons.
Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd
Though his encounters with Captain Kirk and crew were few and far between, Harry Mudd left an indelible impression on fans of the show. Two classic episodes, “I, Mudd” and “Mudd’s Women,” as well as a stopover on Star Trek: The Animated Series, established Roger C. Carmel’s character as an irrepressible scoundrel always looking for the next scam.
On Discovery, Rainn Wilson (who played Dwight Schrute on The Office) takes over as the somewhat comedic foil. This time around, however, Wilson insists the younger version of the character is a touch more “dastardly.” IMDb lists Mudd in 9 episodes, which means he could inform a fair amount of the first season’s story arc. If the seasonal promo is any indication, Mudd isn't too happy about getting caught in the middle of a war. We're guessing his indignation isn't based on altruism, though.
Technically, Tribbles are a species, not a character. That said, most fans would be hard-pressed not to think of the little balls of fur as intricate connective tissue between Star Trek’s past and present. The classic episode “The Trouble With Tribbles” featured Klingon hostilities, intergalactic espionage, and no shortage of humorous moments (who can forget Captain Kirk’s fuzzball shower). Spinoff series Deep Space Nine even featured a memorable episode where the members of the crew head back in time to save Kirk from an assassin (no, it wasn't a Tribble).
In a darker-edged show like Discovery, it’s unclear how the fluffy, cooing, creatures will fit in. Their only known prior Federation encounter was a cameo on Enterprise – as food for one of Dr. Phlox’s many "alternative medicine" sources. Hopefully, Discovery won’t use them as mere fan service, and perhaps will finally reveal the true reason for the Klingons’ long-standing beef with the space hamsters (and vice-versa).
During an interview, Sonequa Martin-Green mentioned the show would include more young Michael flashbacks throughout the season. While her admission isn’t confirmation that Spock will cameo, it does suggest a younger version of the iconic Vulcan will pop up on Discovery at some point.
Not only would fans love it, but his presence signifies another connection between the latest Trek and its predecessors. Most importantly, these glimpses into the past will (hopefully) explain the reason why Spock’s adoptive sister never gets a mention (many still wonder where his half-brother Sybok came from too). Michael’s absence from the family tree could relate to Sarek and Spock’s falling out over his choice to enter Starfleet. Either way, the writers promised everything will make sense, even according to the complex continuity.
As Sarek’s second wife and the mother of Spock, Amanda was originally played by Jane Wyatt on TOS and later by Winona Ryder in the 2009 movie reboot. While not officially confirmed, Sarek actor James Frain discussed a later episode in the first season where she's introduced in some manner. Amanda could also turn up in a transmission alongside her husband or in a flashback from the displaced human’s past – assuming Lt. Cmdr. Burnham doesn't make it back to Vulcan at some point. Her inclusion makes sense, too, since Amanda is Michael's only human “family” member.