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Star Trek’s best (and worst) characters to return for one final time

If you love Star Trek's infamous animated series, you're in luck. From across the franchise's long timeline some of the best characters are finally coming back.

Star Trek Riker animated series shorts

Star Trek‘s best characters – and one of the worst – are returning for what could be the final time in a series of new animated shorts. Celebrating 50 years since the start of Star Trek: The Animated Series, news was announced at the Star Trek panel in San Diego Comic Con (where The Digital Fix is in attendance) that five shorts are in development, each set to focus on a Star Trek character from the franchise’s past.

Set to release later in 2023, these shorts will see the return of Commander Riker, Quark, Saru, and Neelix, and will be in the style of the famous animated series which continued the adventures of Kirk, Spock, and Bones after the cancellation of TOS.

Jonathan Frakes, Doug Jones, and Armin Shimerman are confirmed to be voicing their characters in the animated shorts, however we’re still waiting on confirmation as to whether Ethan Phillips will be back as Neelix.

While Saru is a character who can currently be seen on screens with the ongoing Star Trek series Discovery (set to end in 2024 with its final season), Riker, Quark, and Neelix will be representing the franchise’s ‘golden era’ which stretched between the ’80s and early 2000s with TNG, DS9, and Voyager. It seems like the return could be inspired by a project from Gazelle Automations, which brought the famous ‘Best of Both Worlds’ episode into the style of TAS.

With these three characters in particular, it’s feasible that it could be the last time we ever see them return to screens. Jonathan Frakes said goodbye as Riker in the recent Star Trek Picard season 3, which was a proper send-off for the Star Trek The Next Generation cast. Meanwhile, Lower Decks recently gave Quark a cameo, which seemed like a recognition that his time was done, too.

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Fans could be slightly less concerned about the final departure of Neelix because, unlike Riker and Quark, Neelix didn’t exactly enjoy the best reputation among audiences. A bit like early Wesley Crusher in TNG, lots of Star Trek fans found Neelix to be an irritating presence aboard Voyager, at odds with the show’s plot and tone. While the rest of the crew were busy trying to find a way back to Earth, he’d be pre-occupied with detours to explore local cuisines.

In truth, Neelix was unfairly maligned and he helped to add a bit of levity to the show, even if that wasn’t always welcome. He eventually left Voyager in its final season prior to the finale, but we’ll be glad to see him back and hope that Ethan Phillips will be there to voice him.

For more on Star Trek, read our Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 review as well as our interview with Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn. See what’s going on with the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date and Star Trek Lower Decks season 4 release date, too.

You can also see our ranking of the Star Trek movies and the Star Trek captains, and keep up with the status of the Star Trek 4 release date before seeing what’s new on Paramount Plus this month, and checking out our picks for the best TV series of all time (Star Trek’s on there twice).