Throwing the starship Voyager into a part of the universe hardly explored by Starfleet pretty much gave the writers and showrunners free reign to create whatever they wanted. Like new aliens, unique encounters, and cosmic phenomena that may have never existed in any other Star Trek series. Star Trek: Voyager did use some ideas, stories, and characters from other series - some of whom are included in this list - but for the most part, the show did an excellent job introducing new people and ideas for fans to enjoy and debate over.
Like many long-running television shows, it’s hard to maintain the popularity of a series by focusing on the main cast all the time. New characters are added to keep things fresh. Some become guests, participating in a few episodes, and others become recurring stars, getting backstories and multi-episode story arcs. Voyager was unique in that the time frame of the show ran concurrently with Deep Space Nine and was on the tail end of most of The Next Generation characters’ ages. In that respect, it was easy to assume when the show started that familiar characters from other series would make it to the show. In many of the Voyager novels this happened.
This list includes both short-run characters and those who became recurring guests over more than once season. There’s a good balance of recognizable characters as well as brand new roles to the Star Trek universe.
Here’s Star Trek: 11 Character Additions That Saved Voyager (And 9 That Hurt It).
20 Saved: Reginald Barclay
Reginald Barclay was the superbly-talented engineer who sported a nervous energy, self-deprecating behavior, and introversion. He began his Star Trek screen career on The Next Generation working under Geordi La Forge. For Voyager, he became instrumental in establishing contact between Earth and the ship, with new technology to reach the Delta Quadrant. He gave the ship’s crew hope as they received regular communications from their families and eventually, Barclay gave them the opportunity to talk to them over video.
Barclay grew from The Next Generation to Voyager, Mainly in his confidence of his abilities. He knew his research was sound and prototypes would work and fought for testing and usage when his superior officer, Admiral Paris, was not as enthusiastic about the project.
19 Hurt: The Borg Queen
The Borg Queen role was played by two different actresses. Alice Krige had the part in the movie First Contact and one episode of Voyager (”Endgame”). Susanna Thompson took over the majority of Voyager episodes by playing the Queen in “Dark Frontier” and “Unimatrix Zero, Part 1 and 2".
For that reason, the Borg Queen addition hurt Voyager. Two different actresses gave the show inconsistency in the role. Krige took the part after Thompson and purposely limited her study of Thompson’s portrayal. She had said, “I thought to see someone else’s performance would throw me off course” (Star Trek Magazine issue 169.) That mayb e the reason the Borg Queen character here was not as strong as the version in the First Contact movie.
18 Saved: Icheb
Icheb was part of a group of four children rescued from the Borg. These children were considered too immature for the Borg, but after most of their drone implants were removed, Icheb and the others stayed on Voyager during their transition phase. Icheb was the only one who returned to the Alpha Quadrant with the ship.
It was wonderful to see Icheb come under the tutelage of Seven of Nine. She became a mother figure to Icheb over time, when he realized she exhibited some of the same behaviors as a mother. Icheb was a good addition because the writers showcased him as willing to become human again. He had intelligence, humor, and a good nature that was perfect for the show.
17 Hurt: Deanna Troi
While on The Next Generation, Deanna Troi served as the compassionate and caring ship’s counselor. She had her challenges, but overall, she was a competent crew member on the Enterprise. One of the more notable things she dealt with was another crew member, Reginald Barclay.
Barclay had more of a role on Voyager in the latter seasons when his technology found a way to communicate with the ship. With the adversity and complications Barclay had, he needed his old friend and counselor Deanna Troi to visit him to help talk him through his issues. Troi only partook in three episodes, but it was too convenient to bring her on when it was time to focus on Barclay’s insecurities. Maybe if her character had been established earlier in the series or used after, Troi would have made more sense.
16 Saved: Q
In seasons two, three, and seven of Voyager, the popular Star Trek character Q made appearances. He should have been in more episodes besides three.
This dynamic character of the Continuum has antagonized Jean-Luc Picard and Benjamin Sisko, so why not Kathryn Janeway? He had an odd crush on the Captain, but it was so endearing, it was hard to hate the guy. Q garnered more respect for Janeway than expected. He even entrusted the Captain with mentoring his son in “Q2”. Whenever Q's in an episode, you can be assured that crazy shenanigans will occur, which can help alleviate a run of dark or serious episodes in a row.
15 Hurt: Lon Suder
Lon Suder started as a Maquis member and was lost on the Val Jean with Chakotay as their ship and Voyager were thrown into the Delta Quadrant. This character had been “present” in the first season but had major episodes in seasons two and three.
Even for a darker Star Trek like Deep Space Nine, Suder didn't fit in. Perhaps if there were more storylines or episodes about the Maquis, his character would be perfect. He joined the Maquis to have an outlet for his violent needs; his homeworld wasn’t even being threatened. Suder was just too much of a sociopath to work on Voyager. He had violent tendencies that all manners of therapy couldn’t fix. It’s surprising that he lasted as long as he did.
14 Saved: Owen Paris
Owen Paris was Tom Paris’s father, and an Admiral when his character became prominent in “Pathfinder”. While his son was somewhat of a troublemaker and in a Federation Penal Settlement for a while, Owen Paris was a strong Commander and Admiral. He was tough, fair, and accepted only excellence.
Janeway told Tom once that “Your father taught me a great deal.” Tom replied, “You must be good. My father only accepts the best and brightest” (”Caretaker”). When he was in charge of the Pathfinder Project, he encouraged the team and found ways to motivate them even when things looked less than hopeful. If any of the Captains in Starfleet wanted to emulate someone, Owen Paris would have been a good choice.
13 Hurt: Michael Jonas
Michael Jonas was one of the members of Chakotay’s Maquis crew aboard the Val Jean that was converted to the Voyager crew. Jonas hated Starfleet and rebelled against the Starfleet rules Janeway insisted everyone follow.
Eventually betraying the crew of Voyager, Jonas never developed. He gave plans and information to the Kazon. There seemed to be so many other ways for Janeway and Voyager to struggle than having one of the characters deceive the crew. Did he lose all respect for his former Maquis members who managed to make the transition just fine? Raphael Sbarge, the actor, almost turned down the role, stating the character had no depth (TV Zone, Special #29.) Although he took the role, he was still right.
12 Saved: Samantha Wildman
Samantha Wildman was an Ensign on Voyager with a specialty in Xenobiology. She bore her daughter Naomi on the ship. In the episode “Once Upon a Time”, she sustained serious internal injuries and passed away.
In her short time on the show, she was constantly peppy and quick to help others. She pushed Chakotay to help Neelix remember his family was the Voyager when he felt homesick and had a crisis of faith. It also helped that she convinced him that she needed assistance raising Naomi by naming Neelix the godfather. If you want a definitive reason for Samantha as a good addition, she was one of Neelix’s most loyal supporters of his news program “A Briefing with Neelix”-- now that’s being a good friend.
11 Hurt: The Other Borg Children
Azan, Rebi, and Mezoti are included as one entry because their character additions hurt Voyager for the same reasons. They were assimilated by the Borg, but as children, never fully matured into Borg drones. Voyager rescued them and removed their implants so they could establish their personalities again-- much like what happened to Seven of Nine.
Seven took all the children (Icheb was also part of this group) under her wing, but Azan, Rebi, and Mezoti were less than thrilled most of the time. They were indifferent to their whole situation. The three were in six episodes and each left the Voyager to live with the Wysanti (Azan and Rebi’s people.) It wouldn’t have been difficult to write them off sooner, giving Icheb more development time early on.
10 Saved: Doctor Chaotica
Doctor Chaotica was the creation of Tom Paris in his Holo-novel The Adventures of Captain Proton. Paris always took on the role of Captain Proton, and other crew members played various secondary characters.
Chaotica was a typical pulp science fiction villain. He was the self-professed ruler of the cosmos with henchman that were extremely loyal but not the smartest. Chaotica’s goal, of course, was to rule the universe unconditionally. However, Captain Proton (the “scourge of intergalactic evil” as stated in the episode “Night”) always seemed to thwart Chaotica’s plans. The Chaotica character (and the entire Holo-novel experience) is pure fun. Only three episodes exist with this character, but how can you not love a character that constantly pined for Kathryn Janeway?
9 Hurt: Vorik
Vorik, a Vulcan, had a more major role beginning in season three of Voyager. The actor, Alexander Enberg, had also played a Vulcan in The Next Generation. Most of the time, the writers were able to give each Vulcan introduced some unique feature to remember them by.
Vorik was the cliched Vulcan, with no memorable abilities, expressions, or phrases. Vorik was smart, quick-thinking, and not prone to atypical Vulcan emotion. He did misinterpret B’Elanna Torres’s actions as romantic interest, which had the potential for a longer, fun storyline, but it lasted less than one episode. The show may have missed an opportunity with this character by waiting until the third season to showcase him more.
8 Saved: Boothby
Boothby, played by Ray Watson, wasn’t your typical Starfleet hero, but he was a hero in other ways. As the Starfleet Academy groundskeeper, he hated the modern advances in pesticides, herbicides, and technology that could make his job easier. Instead, he worked the Academy’s grounds with his bare hands.
Introduced in “Final Mission” in passing mention, Boothby was a great mentor to some of Starfleet’s best, like Picard and Captain Richardson. And also Janeway. In Voyager’s “In the Flesh”, Richardson told Chakotay, “Half the Captains in Starfleet wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for Boothby.” With his sage advice, kind words, and willingness to lend an ear at any time, Boothby gave Voyager a boost. Without this groundskeeper, Janeway might have turned out differently.
7 Hurt: Braxton
Does it seem like whenever Star Trek might be slowing in the ratings or story ideas are running low , we're thrown a time travel episode or two? Voyager did this in season three and again in season five with a character named Braxton.
Braxton worked for Starfleet, but in the 29th century. By that time, time travel was common, and he was Captain of the timeship Aeon. His mission was to come back in time to destroy the Voyager since the ship was responsible for the entire collapse of the Sol system in the 29th century. That plotline is too basic even for Star Trek. The character was the usual villain bent on revenge above common sense.
6 Saved: Lewis Zimmerman
Lewis Zimmerman was a holographic engineer who created the holo-engineer and was instrumental in developing the Emergency Medical Hologram. Robert Picardo played both the Doctor and Zimmerman, though Zimmerman was older.
If you ever wondered prior to meeting Zimmerman if the Doctor’s creator was just as cantankerous, wonder no more. The answer is yes. This made for some light-hearted moments as two grouchy personalities - essentially the same - argued and debated with no clear winner. Picardo played both roles with such a subtle difference that Zimmerman’s addition helped save the episodes he was in. The Doctor didn’t have a name through most of the series. However, during pre-production, notes indicated that the medical officer would be named Doc Zimmerman.
5 Hurt: Danara Pel
Danara Pel was a female Vidiian; a species that was afflicted with a disease called the Phage, which damaged skin tissue at the early stages and became more severe as the disease progressed. Pel specialized in hematology.
There was almost no reason to have a character like Danara. The Vidiians were well-represented already, and this character appeared added in order to explore different themes with the Doctor. One of these themes was love. The Doctor and Danara worked together and the Doctor fell in love with her. It’s an odd relationship indeed. The role may have been introduced too soon to pull that kind of emotion from the Doctor; he wasn’t ready for those type of feelings until he figured out his personality more.
4 Saved: Naomi Wildman
Ensign Samantha Wildman had a mixed-species daughter named Naomi. She was half-human and half-Ktarian. Naomi was born and raised on Voyager while the ship was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. She was portrayed at different ages in season four, and became a main addition in season five. The character was played by four actresses: one as a baby, one as a young child, one for her regular appearances, and one as an adult.
Naomi was a strong, positive presence on the ship, especially when her mother passed away from injuries during a Delta Flyer crash. Neelix took to raising and keeping an eye on her, but in essence, the whole ship raised her. They probably had the same attitude as an elderly person who enjoys young kids around: their energy and exuberance are refreshing.
3 Hurt: Cullah
The Kazon were not a well-liked species in Voyager. These fake Klingons had a pirate attitude, warring with others and scavenging whatever they could to survive. When they found out about the Voyager, the ship became a special target of the Kazon.
One of the higher-ranking Kazons at First Maje, Cullah was the ultimate, over-the-top bad guy alien. If you wanted a leader with no substance and weak motivations, then Cullah was your man. He sought to steal technology from Voyager while improving his status within his race. The Kazon were written out of the show, so Cullah was in just six episodes.
2 Saved: Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was "used" by two different characters in Voyager. The Doctor studied the scientist for his personality traits, while Janeway visited a holographic version of da Vinci and his workspace to distract her mind during her down time. It’s clear the character was an important addition to Voyager. He provided new perspectives on humanity to the Doctor and different thinking on leadership to Janeway. Both characters took what they learned from the holodeck and applied it to situations in the Star Trek real world. In some ways, da Vinci was the on-ship Boothby.
Janeway wasn’t the only Captain who knew da Vinci. In “Concerning Flight”, Janeway stated that James Kirk said he met da Vinci, but that the evidence was paper thin.
1 Saved: Seven of Nine
It’s difficult to think of Voyager and not picture Seven of Nine. This Borg was saved from the Collective, nursed back to most of her humanity by Captain Janeway and her crew over the show's final four seasons.
The idea of having a Borg crew member was-- and still is-- genius. Brannon Braga came up with the concept and adding Seven of Nine to Voyager was the best thing to happen to the show. Seven was the focus of many episodes and became one of the characters fans could empathize with. Even if she was introduced with the intent of being eye candy, the character became so much more very quickly.
What Voyager additions to you think hurt or saved the show? Let us know in the comments!