The “rebooted” Star Trek universe—if it can even be called that (technically it’s an alternate timeline)—offers a certain luxury for the writers: it uses established characters. Though the recast Kirk, Spock and the like bare little semblance to their classic incarnations, for the writers, penning a story with at least marginally recognizable characters becomes much easier. The Enterprise crew doesn’t need to establish themselves, so long as the actors have personality and spout familiar catchphrases. This will come in handy, we’re sure, when Star Trek Beyond arrives in theaters later this month.
As history shows, creating a beloved Trek character isn’t exactly easy. For every Data, Odo or Picard, there’s… well, the entire cast of Enterprise (the TV series, not the ship), for example. Great Star Trek thrives on the interactions and philosophical debates among its characters, and the more vibrant a character, the better the adventure.
Which brings us to today’s list: the characters listed here in no particular order represent the utter failure of the writers to tap Trek’s best asset. In other words, the characters are just plain bad. Some have honorable beginnings; writers intended for the character to stand in for a portion of the viewing audience, or as worthy love interests, family or adversaries for beloved heroes. In any case, they come off more pedestrian than interesting, and more annoying than compelling. Here are The 15 Worst Characters In Star Trek.
Voyager ostensibly tried to mess with the Trek formula first established with Next Generation, though it didn’t take many risks. One attempted change-up: swapping out food replicators in favor of a ninny of an alien chef. Now, Neelix does have his moments as a character, and has something of a cult following. He also has an angry mob following, wanting his mohawked head on one of his serving platters.
Neelix spent most of the Voyager TV series panicked over what he would serve for dinner in ten-forward, no matter what the threat. Kazon pirates? Neelix is worried about trail mix. Borg invasion? Neelix frets over if the Borg like pasta or some other insipid concern.
In fairness, Etan Phillips tries his best to make Neelix endearing, and the direction the character takes over the course of the series is probably not one the creators had intended. Neelix opens Voyager smitten with the Ocampa empathy Kes, though when the producers omitted Kes from the show in the fourth season, it left Neelix without an object of desire… or much of a storyline. Neelix did, however, find new life as a merchandise peddler, headlining the Star Trek Cookbook in bookstores everywhere.
14. Nurse Chapel
Majel Barrett’s status as “First Lady of Star Trek,” while deserved, has some dubious origins. Chapel had begun as a contract actress for Desilu Studios, appearing on shows like I Love Lucy before she landed the recurring gig on Trek. It helped that she was the mistress—and later wife—of creator Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry had wanted Majel to play the second lead on the show, a cool, logical character called “Number One.” When the network rejected the pilot, Roddenberry retooled the show to omit Number One and recast Barrett as Nurse Chapel.
Unfortunately, when Roddenberry had her return to the show as Nurse Chapel, he didn’t write the character to her strengths. A talented actress, Barrett had a knack for more comedic roles rather than drama, and as a result Nurse Chapel, often lovesick for Spock or a long-lost beau, never became a fully realized role. In essence, the character felt superfluous to the show, further evidenced by Chapel’s almost total omission from the Trek film series. Chapel has just a minor role in The Motion Picture with no real function in the plot, and apart from a brief cameo or two, vanished from the series altogether.
Lucky for Barrett, she would find a much better role as the computer voice, and the irrepressible Lwaxana Troi on The Next Generation.