Who are the best Star Trek characters? The many Star Trek series may be best known for their plethora of amazing Star Trek starships, like the USS Titan, and for their unique sci-fi premise. But behind all the different alien species, intergalactic politics, and epic space-combat, the countless Star Trek characters are the franchise’s true strength.
Whether it’s the Star Trek captains, the chief engineers, or lowly lower deckers, Star Trek’s longevity is down to its many iconic characters who range from aspirational to detestable. So, we’ve decided to pick out the very best of the best: the characters who truly elevate Star Trek into something far, far more than your average sci-fi series.
Of course, choosing such a list is an impossible task. There are endless Star Trek characters who deserve to make the list but just miss out. Still, here’s our picks for the very best Star Trek characters of all time.
Who are the best Star Trek characters?
- Lieutenant Barclay
- Seven of Nine
- The Doctor
Quark is a sleazy, shrewd, greedy stand-in for (almost) the entire Ferengi species. He is also a survivor, having managed to maintain a healthy business on the dark, grim space station that is Deep Space Nine.
However, it’s in his many relationships and interactions with others that Quark truly comes to life. His dynamic with Odo is a lot of fun, as the conning Ferengi does his best to continually outsmart the chief of security. Despite that, there’s a begrudging friendship between the two which steadily grows as the gritty drama series progresses. This, and his heroics in the final act of the series, proves that Quark is far more than simple comic relief.
To keep it succinct, Lieutenant Barclay was a huge breathe of fresh air. He’s one of the few Starfleet officers who don’t feel like they’ve been churned out of some human-perfection machine, and he’s one of the best characters for driving home a sense of real human emotion, which can sometimes get lost amidst all the technobabble.
Lieutenant Barclay is also the source of some of Star Trek’s best laughs. Hollow Pursuits has a claim to be one of Star Trek’s funniest episodes, but it’s expertly balanced against genuine sympathy and pathos for poor old Reginald. Similarly, The Nth Degree is packed full of hilarity while also being a meditation on the gnawing impact of a lack of self-confidence, and belief in your own worth. Every time Lieutenant Barclay appears is a win.
Seven of Nine
Ignoring the catsuit, Seven of Nine is one of the most fun and engaging characters to ever bless Star Trek. Like the EMH, she’s one of the Star Trek characters with the best journeys, which is all the more impressive given that she only came aboard the USS Voyager halfway through the series.
The internal struggle between her human instincts and her learnt behaviour from her time in the Borg collective creates a character who is always surprising those around her, and the audience. Her relationship with Captain Janeway is especially captivating as it becomes an analogy for a struggling child and an adoptive parent. It’s filled with disappointment on both sides, but it’s founded on an increasingly unshakeable mutual love, and more importantly, respect.
Seven’s story has now been continued in Star Trek Picard. While the first two seasons of the show were – how should we put it? – disappointing, Star Trek Picard season 3 has done a much better job of carrying on Seven’s journey for acceptance. She’s the first officer of the USS Titan under Captain Shaw, and while she’s older and wiser, she still has that underlying anger we saw in Voyager.
When Guinan was first introduced to Star Trek in the second season of TNG, she was an enigma. The beauty of her character is that she remained that way. Acting as Captain Picard’s ultimate confidant, Guinan was a voice of wisdom, experience, and calm, offering her insights into the most challenging situations faced by the crew of the Enterprise-D.
However, Guinan was never perfect. Hidden away beneath a snazzy hat, there was always a simmering anger. Occasionally this slipped through, as with when she tried to convince Picard to use Hugh to destroy the Borg, and in some of her confrontations with Q. And, it was in the episode Q Who that Guinan really showed she had much, much more to her story than you could ever assume. But, her character proves that sometimes things are more interesting when they’re left ambiguous.
The Doctor, Voyager’s EMH, initially fulfilled the tried and test archetype of the grumpy, impatient, and rude physician. Befitting of the fact that he was a hologram, the character started off as 2D, and easy to overlook. But slowly, the EMH became one of Star Trek’s best characters, if not Star Trek’s best character. He’s truly that good.
He has one of the most complete, complex, and well-paced arcs in Star Trek history as he gains sentience and awareness, which all began when he got his mobile emitter. This might sound like a rip-off of Data’s story, but it’s not. While Data spent his time trying to emulate and understand humanity and human emotions, the EMH fought to be respected.
This is made all the better by the fact that respecting the EMH isn’t always easy because he’s arrogant, prickly, and smug more often than not. He is, however, also deeply lonely. His journey will brake your heart more than once.
It’s no coincidence that the EMH has some of Voyager’s best ever episodes, and his creation of the ECH (Emergency Command Hologram) is one of the best moments in Star Trek, period. It’s impossible to run out of praise for the character that is the EMH.
Garak is almost the physical embodiment of Deep Space Nine: a Cardassian who claims to be nothing more than a simple tailor, who is actually an ex-Obsidian Order operative. His talents are endless, and he’s a master spy with the ability to manipulate and charm those around him in equal measure.
Garak always bring a compelling sense of mystery and intrigue to proceedings about the space station, as the audience tries to establish whether he really can be trusted, or not. To be honest, we’re not even sure that Garak trusts himself.
For more Star Trek fun, check out our guide to the Star Trek movies ranked. Or, stay up to date with the current crop of releases with our guides to Star Trek 4, Strange New Worlds season 2, Discovery season 5, and Picard season 3. Or, broaden your horizons with our guide to the best TV series of all time.