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The Best Forgotten Star Trek: Voyager Characters


How has it been 20 years since Star Trek: Voyager ended? The fourth live-action show in the franchise has found a resurgence in fans of late thanks to streaming, and rightly so. Star Trek: Voyager has its flaws, but the show also has a diverse cast, some fascinating storylines, and cool guest stars.

Star Trek as a franchise is known for its surprising cameos and guest performances. Since there are so many shows and characters, you’d be forgiven for forgetting a few notable actors who appeared during Star Trek: Voyager’s seven seasons. If you’re wondering which names you’re missing, here are nine famous faces who appeared on the show.

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Michael McKean as The Clown


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Michael McKean is a veteran actor who has appeared in… just about everything. Before his recent critically acclaimed work on Better Call Saul, McKean was perhaps best known for his role in This is Spinal Tap, and has had a formidable career as a comedian. His role in Star Trek: Voyager Season 2, Episode 23, however, is anything but a laugh riot. In “The Thaw,” Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) are trapped in a computer program with the Clown (McKean) and his cohorts. Harry spends the entire episode being terrorized by this maniac, while the crew of Voyager try and figure out how to save him. The episode is an obvious attempt to subvert the expectation of both McKean’s presence and the circus iconography. Let’s just say, if you have Coulrophobia, this episode will likely exacerbate it.

Ed Begley Jr. as Henry Starling


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Multiple Emmy nominee and Golden Globe nominee Ed Begley Jr. has had a prolific career playing so many different kinds of characters that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Begley Jr. guest starred in the Season 3 two-parter “Future’s End,” and boy, was he evil. He played Henry Starling, a futurist from 20th century Earth who becomes embroiled with Voyager, as the crew is trapped in the past, but can’t return to their own time without stopping Starling and correcting the timeline. Star Trek loves a time travel storyline, and an insidious villain like Starling ups the stakes considerably. He’s smarmy and considers himself the smartest person in the room, but he’s also extremely nasty. The scene where he captures the Doctor (Robert Picardo) is brief but still distressing to watch all these years later.

Sarah Silverman as Rain Robinson


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She’s a household name nowadays for her comedy, but one of Sarah Silverman’s earliest on-screen acting roles was as Rain Robinson, also in the Season 3 two-parter “Future’s End.” Rain is a scientist in the 20th century who is the first person to spot an anomaly in the skies (Voyager’s warp signature). This information puts her life in danger, but luckily Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Tuvok (Tim Russ) come to her aid. Despite Tom and Tuvok’s attempts to disguise their true identities as time travellers, Rain deduces that there’s something fishy about them, and helps them on their mission against Starling. Silverman played the character with her quintessential wry humor and sarcasm, and her easy chemistry with Duncan McNeill made their characters’ budding and brief romance an adorable subplot in the episodes.

John Rhys-Davies as Leonardo da Vinci


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John Rhys-Davies has such a towering presence that I could have sworn he appeared in several Star Trek: Voyager episodes. Turns out, he only starred in two of them, the Season 3 finale “Scorpion” and Season 4’s “Concerning Flight.” Rhys-Davies played the holographic version of Leonardo da Vinci, Captain Janeway’s (Kate Mulgrew) mentor, on the holodeck, pulling out his best Italian accent to take the captain under his wing. Leonardo acted as the captain’s confidante, as well as a sounding board for her ideas; while the character’s appearances were more ponderous than plot specific, “Concerning Flight” did give Rhys-Davies more work to do when the holographic character was accidentally transported to an alien planet. Hilarity definitely ensued.

Lori Petty as Noss


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Lori Petty has such a wide-ranging filmography, but somehow her Star Trek: Voyager guest appearance is still a surprise. When Tom Paris and Tuvok are stranded on a mission in the Season 5 episode “Gravity,” they cross paths with Noss (Petty), an alien scavenger, and the trio form an unlikely bond as they remain trapped for months in the desolate landscape. Noss even learns to speak English to communicate better with Tom and Tuvok, after their universal translators are destroyed upon landing. It’s not long before Noss becomes attracted to Tuvok – his enigmatic, Vulcan aloofness was always appealing – but despite Noss’ overtures, Tuvok remains dedicated to his wife and family. Petty’s performance is more in line with her Point Break character Tyler; she’s sweet and naïve but can hold her own in difficult circumstances.

Jason Alexander as Kurros


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For many, Jason Alexander has become synonymous with Seinfeld, but his role in the Season 5 episode “Think Tank” was far removed from his signature character. Alexander plays Kurros, the leader of a group of highly intelligent aliens. The Think Tank, as they call themselves, claim to have a way to prevent dangerous bounty hunters from pursuing Voyager. But the group soon show their true colors when they insist on recruiting crewmember Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Alexander plays against type here — the episode would have been completely derailed if Alexander had been over the top, but instead he plays Kurros as calm and sinister, which makes the character even scarier.

Daniel Dae Kim as Gotana-Retz


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In the Season 6 episode “Blink of an Eye,” Voyager gets accidentally trapped in a planet’s orbit, thereby inadvertently altering the planet’s history forever. The planet experiences a time differential which causes years to pass on the surface without much time going by for Voyager’s crew. As the generations are influenced by Voyager’s presence, two astronauts land on the titular ship. Daniel Dae Kim’s Gotana-Retz survives the landing and although his character is mostly offscreen, he plays a significant part in helping Voyager break free. Dae Kim only appears in the fourth act, but his character arc is remarkably memorable. The last shot of his character remains a bittersweet moment in the show’s history. Star Trek has been at the forefront of diverse casting choices, and Dae Kim is part of a still short, but brilliant, list of Asian guest stars in the franchise.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as The Champion


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Dwayne Johnson is one of the biggest movie stars today, but his road to stardom had an unlikely pitstop aboard the starship Voyager. Admittedly, the role of the Champion in the Season 6 episode “Tsunkatse” wasn’t very different from playing The Rock on Monday Night Raw. In the episode, the crew of Voyager are invited to watch a gladiatorial tournament, but their excitement dissipates when one of the fighters is revealed to be their own Seven of Nine. She and Tuvok had been captured by aliens, and Seven is subsequently forced to fight in the match in order to save Tuvok. Johnson is very much in his element in this role, playing to his strengths as a famed wrestler. It’s more of an extended cameo than a role, but you will still be on the edge of your seat waiting to see if The Rock can beat a Borg.

Mark Sheppard as Leucon


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As prolific character actors go, Mark Sheppard is high on the list. He’s appeared in everything in every genre, so why would a Star Trek show be any different? Late in Season 6, Sheppard guest-starred as Leucon Icheb, the long-lost father of Voyager’s latest resident, Icheb (Manu Intiraymi). Icheb was a child who had been assimilated by the Borg before being rescued by the crew of Voyager. In “Child’s Play,” Voyager locates his parents on the Borg-ravaged Brunali homeworld. Sheppard is infamous for playing morally ambiguous characters, and this episode plays to his strengths as it keeps you guessing about Leucon’s actions and motivations. In the end, this is a heartbreaking installment, and much of that comes down to Sheppard’s scene-stealing turn as a parent with a difficult decision to make.

Star Trek: Voyager is streaming on Paramount+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

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