Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery and Picard.
Excitement for a series led by Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike had been sky-high since the second season of Discovery was on the air early last year. The series was finally announced a few weeks ago, and if you somehow didn’t know, it’s going to be called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I took a look at a few ideas for the upcoming series shortly after it was announced, but today I wanted to get specific. We’re going to be looking at some characters from past iterations of Star Trek that it could be fun to see return in some way.
Some of the characters on this list could join the main cast – though with three of its main roles taken up with re-cast characters, I feel sure that the creators of the show will want to put in some brand new ones of their own too. Others would make great secondary or recurring characters – if Strange New Worlds is to have a large secondary cast like Deep Space Nine had. And of course, some characters would be interesting to see just as one-offs.
This article shouldn’t be interpreted as me having some kind of “insider information”; I don’t, and quite frankly I doubt anyone else in the blogosphere or on social media does, so you should always take any such claim with a grain of salt! This is pure speculation, as well as a bit of fun.
Number 1: Alternate reality Pike and Spock
In 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, the alternate reality version of Captain Pike (played by Bruce Greenwood) was killed. However, by setting any potential crossover before this event, such as shortly after the events of 2009’s Star Trek, for example, it would be possible for the prime timeline and alternate reality versions of the characters to cross over… somehow.
We know from 2009’s Star Trek that travel to the alternate reality was possible by traversing a black hole, so perhaps something like that could happen. It would definitely be expensive to bring in Bruce Greenwood and Zachary Quinto – as film stars they command a higher salary – but if contracts could be negotiated, and a suitably engaging story written, I think it could be fun to see the two versions of the characters team up.
The kind of story I’m thinking of would follow a similar theme to the classic Mirror, Mirror or Discovery’s first season – the Enterprise, or just Pike and Spock, accidentally cross over to the alternate reality and have to work out how to get back – enlisting their alternate reality counterparts for help.
Number 2: James T. Kirk
In the alternate timeline mentioned above, we saw how Kirk and Spock met at Starfleet Academy. However, in the prime timeline we’ve never seen their first meeting. It could be interesting to see a young Ensign or Lieutenant Kirk meet Spock for the first time, and there are many ways this could be included.
However, the way I think it would work best would be in the series finale. And I know, thinking about the finale of a series that hasn’t even premiered yet is very premature! But hear me out because I like this concept. After what will hopefully be a number of successful seasons of Strange New Worlds, Captain Pike gets promoted and will be leaving the ship. The final moments of the finale could see Captain Kirk coming aboard the Enterprise for the first time – and this could be a great moment to use the CGI seen in films like Rogue One to have the character look like a young William Shatner. Shatner himself could even do Kirk’s voice.
That’s one concept that I really think could be cool. But we could also see a young Kirk as a guest star, perhaps as someone who is a junior officer aboard another ship that the Enterprise works with. We know that Kirk served on a ship called the USS Farragut before becoming captain of the Enterprise, and that name-drop could be a great reference to The Original Series.
Number 3: T’Pol
Aside from one brief reference in Discovery, there hasn’t been much acknowledgement of Enterprise in modern Star Trek, despite the fact that the events of that show are canon in both the alternate reality and Discovery. With Strange New Worlds taking place over a century after Enterprise, most of the human characters will probably no longer be around – though there was a hint in the alternate reality of an “Admiral Archer”. However, Vulcans are very long-lived, and it’s quite possible that T’Pol would still be alive and active in this era.
As the first Vulcan to work extensively with humans and Starfleet, T’Pol could offer invaluable advice to Spock as he joins the crew of the Enterprise. Or she could be a senior figure within the Federation – perhaps at Starfleet, working on research, or even taking on a role similar to Spock’s in The Next Generation era, working as a diplomat.
If T’Pol were a senior diplomat or ambassador, she could join the crew of the Enterprise on a mission of first contact – and this could be a great story to show off first contact between the Federation and one of Star Trek’s established races, like the Cardassians. A story like this would tie all three of Star Trek’s main eras together: the 22nd Century, represented by T’Pol, the 23rd Century, represented by Pike, Spock, Number One, and the Enterprise crew, and the 24th Century, represented by a race like the Cardassians that we got to know in that era.
Number 4: Commodore Decker
William Windom played the role of Commodore Matt Decker in one of the best episodes of The Original Series: The Doomsday Machine. Decker is a broken man in that story, having witnessed the loss of his entire crew. He becomes consumed by revenge and tries to take down the planet-killer himself. But in Strange New Worlds, we could see Decker before that catastrophe, as the level-headed senior officer we know he was.
He could retain the rank of Commodore, perhaps serving as the senior officer for the region of space that the Enterprise is assigned to – making him, in effect, Pike’s boss! Or, as Strange New Worlds is taking place a decade or so earlier, we could see Decker as a captain or even a first officer, making a one-off appearance or even becoming a recurring character.
It would be great to put Decker in a story that pays homage to – and foreshadows – his later role in The Doomsday Machine, but it can’t be something too obvious and overt. So no return of the planet-killer please!
Number 5: Sarek
James Frain put in a creditable performance as Sarek across Discovery’s first two seasons. With that show now leaving the 23rd Century behind, it would be possible to keep Sarek as a recurring character in Strange New Worlds.
We know from Spock’s comments in The Original Series and The Next Generation that he and his father don’t get along particularly well. Yet in Discovery they seemed to be doing okay together – perhaps Strange New Worlds could explore how the relationship between father and son soured and why, as of The Original Series, Sarek and Spock were maintaining a cool, logical distance from one another.
It would also be a way to keep Discovery in the minds of the audience. Strange New Worlds is but one part of an expanding Star Trek franchise, and convincing fans of one show to hop over and try others is arguably the key challenge for the team behind Star Trek. With the franchise split up into different eras and timelines, finding ways to get some consistency is important and recurring characters have the potential to be an important link between shows.
Number 6: Benjamin Sisko
Wait. Stop. Don’t skip ahead! I know this one seems a little “out there”, but bear with me because it could be amazing. I wrote a few weeks ago that Strange New Worlds could potentially encounter the Bajorans, making first contact with them decades before the Cardassian occupation of their world. That alone could be a fascinating story, especially because we know Bajor in that era was very different: a strict, caste-based society.
In What You Leave Behind, the finale of Deep Space Nine, Benjamin Sisko is saved by the Prophets – the noncorporeal aliens who live in the Bajoran wormhole – and disappears from normal spacetime, going to stay with them. He promises to return, and because of the Prophets’ non-linear view of time, he could return anywhere, at any time.
That means he could return from the domain of the Prophets years before he left – such as during the era when Captain Pike commanded the Enterprise! I know this is a bit out of left-field, but Star Trek has shown with Discovery’s second season that bringing characters back and telling stories that tie into much older iterations of the franchise isn’t something it’s frightened of trying. Heck, that’s how we came to have Captain Pike and Strange New Worlds in the first place! With a brief recap of Deep Space Nine, like the recap we saw in the Discovery Season 2 episode If Memory Serves, Sisko could be introduced to the audience and his presence explained.
I’ve long felt that seeing Sisko’s return could make for a fascinating story, and while it would make more sense in many ways to bring him back in Star Trek: Picard or another 24th or 25th Century series, it’s a story that could be made to fit in Strange New Worlds too.
Number 7: Shran
As I mentioned when talking about T’Pol, Enterprise has very few ties to the rest of the Star Trek franchise at the moment. We don’t know exactly how long Andorians live, but Shran was alive at the end of Enterprise, and as a father to a young child, can’t have been especially old by Andorian standards. It’s at least possible that he’s still alive as of the era of Strange New Worlds, though he would be well over 100 by this point.
Similar to T’Pol, we could see Shran taking on an elder statesman kind of role, and we’d perhaps learn that he had been instrumental in convincing the Andorians to ally with humanity and the Vulcans, making him an important founding father of the Federation.
I could see Shran in this kind of role, and perhaps a story that included him could see him bringing a wayward group of secessionist or renegade Andorians to heel. He could even be teamed up with T’Pol in some kind of big diplomatic mission which the crew of the Enterprise are roped into.
Number 8: A character played by a cast member from The Original Series
A few weeks ago I wrote an article looking at comments by William Shatner that he’d love to reprise his most famous role and play Captain Kirk again. I doubt that will happen – not least because Kirk died in Star Trek Generations – but it got me thinking about the potential for Shatner, or another main cast member from The Original Series, to play a new role in Star Trek.
At time of writing, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, and George Takei are still alive and thus could potentially return to the franchise in some way. Takei played a role in a horror series called The Terror in 2019, so he’s still active as an actor. And Walter Koenig has recently produced a Star Trek fan film called Star Trek Renegades. Koenig and Takei also played roles in the Star Trek fan series Star Trek New Voyages in the mid-2000s.
All four are in their eighties – Shatner will be 90 next birthday. Sir Patrick Stewart, who is himself almost 80, has shown that older actors can still put in exceptional performances, so it isn’t impossible to think that any of these actors could make a return to the franchise that made them household names. With time marching ever onward, there won’t be many more opportunities. It would require a story that was really crafted to make such a role prominent and wholesome, but I think it could be done – and based on what Shatner had to say only a few weeks ago, at least one of them would be willing to do it.
Number 9: Dr Boyce
This character only appeared in The Cage (and in reused footage in The Menagerie) and was the Enterprise’s doctor during Pike’s tenure in command. While it could be possible to bring in a different ship’s doctor (such as Dr Nambue, who was the USS Shenzhou’s doctor in Discovery’s premiere) I think Dr Boyce is a prime candidate for re-casting.
Strange New Worlds has promised to be a series in the mould of classic Star Trek shows of the past, and if that’s the case a chief medical officer will be essential. Dr Boyce seemed to have a good relationship with Captain Pike in The Cage; the relationship between Dr McCoy and Captain Kirk was foreshadowed here. This could be a great way to give Pike a McCoy-esque older figure to lean on for advice and to serve as the show’s moral compass.
Dr Boyce – and indeed most of the characters from The Cage – are practically blank slates, so while his surname and approximate age would be constraints, the rest of the character could be up to the new show’s creators to explore and expand.
Number 10: José Tyler
Speaking of The Cage, one character it introduced who hasn’t been since since is the young Lieutenant Tyler. Given the first name José in the novelisation of the episode, Tyler is similar to Dr Boyce in being an almost-blank slate for the new show.
However, one thing that is interesting with this character is that he shares a surname with Ash Tyler – the character introduced in Discovery. While Discovery’s version of Tyler is actually a Klingon named Voq, there’s the potential for Strange New Worlds to explore that relationship. Are they brothers? Cousins? What would José make of the revelation that Ash is a Klingon? How would he react to that? There’s a lot of potential for interesting stories, and it would be a way to include Ash Tyler and potentially the Section 31 organisation that he now leads.
If the currently-untitled Section 31 series retains a 23rd Century setting – and isn’t following Discovery into the far future – then Ash Tyler looks almost certain to be a part of that show. Tying it to Strange New Worlds would keep the two 23rd Century shows together, and there’d be great potential for crossovers.
Number 11: Ash Tyler
At the end of Discovery Season 2, Ash Tyler was appointed head of Section 31. The diminished, arguably decimated organisation – in the wake of what happened with the Control AI – will have to be carefully managed, and in addition we really need to see it disappearing and going underground – so that by the time of Deep Space Nine it’s truly in the shadows. But that seems like something to see happen in the upcoming Section 31 series!
If Tyler is included in the Section 31 show, having him appear in Strange New Worlds would be a crossover, tying the two shows together as already mentioned. Something like that makes a lot of sense, and as a character we know Captain Pike knows quite well from his time in the captain’s chair of the USS Discovery, there could be a continuation of that somewhat frosty relationship.
Characters from Discovery seem far more likely than any others to crop up in Strange New Worlds, and though the main crew have left this time period, Tyler and others who remain could be interesting to see return.
Number 12: The prime timeline version of Captain Lorca
I mentioned this when I looked at some story ideas for Strange New Worlds a few weeks ago, but just to recap: the version of Captain Gabriel Lorca that we got to know in Discovery’s first season was in fact from the Mirror Universe. He was killed there while attempting to seize power, so he obviously won’t be coming back. But the prime timeline version of the character still exists – most likely trapped in the Mirror Universe.
While it was suggested in Discovery that Lorca would have been killed shortly after the accident which sent him to the Mirror Universe, that was purely speculation, and as he was known to be a fairly rough character, it’s at least possible he would have survived – even if he ended up incarcerated.
If it were demonstrated to Captain Pike that Lorca is alive, surely he’d want to launch a mission to rescue him! This would make for a great two-part story, and after Lorca has been retrieved he could even go on to be a recurring character in later episodes and seasons of Strange New Worlds.
Number 13: Dr Richard Daystrom
In The Original Series Season 2 episode The Ultimate Computer, Dr Daystrom is the computer scientist who has developed an AI capable of running an entire starship. We’ve seen the Daystrom Institute – which was named in his honour – appear prominently in Star Trek: Picard, so bringing the man himself into Strange New Worlds would be a neat little connection – one of those threads running through the franchise.
While I don’t expect Strange New Worlds to spend much time dealing with the fallout from Discovery’s second season storyline, we could find out that Dr Daystrom was one of the scientists who had worked on the Control AI. His new work on shipboard computers – which will culminate in the M-5 computer seen in The Original Series – could even be a result of seeing how Control went wrong.
Dr Daystrom was a great character in The Original Series. In the 1960s, seeing a black man as a senior scientist was something genuinely different and pioneering, and actor William Marshall played the role expertly. I would love to see a role for him in some way in Strange New Worlds.
Number 14: Arex
This one is a complete long-shot, but we’ve never seen Arex – or indeed any Edosian characters – outside of The Animated Series. The Edosians were a race which had three legs and three arms, and Arex was an Edosian officer who served on the USS Enterprise when it was under Kirk’s command. James Doohan – better known as Scotty – provided the character’s voice. While animating a “tripedal” character was easy, it was prohibitively expensive to try to recreate Arex when Star Trek returned to live-action in the late 1970s, and his character was never mentioned.
Interestingly, Nepenthe – the seventh episode of Star Trek: Picard – mentioned the Kzinti, who were a race only ever seen in The Animated Series. As I wrote when I picked out a couple of episodes from The Animated Series as part of my Ten Great Episodes articles, the show is considered a full part of the Star Trek canon, which means Arex is too.
Today’s special effects – both physical and digital – are much better than they were in the 1970s, and having a character like Arex in a live-action show no longer faces the obstacles it once did.
Number 15: Samuel T Cogley
First encountered by Captain Kirk in The Original Series first season episode Court Martial, the old-fashioned lawyer – based on famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow – is a fascinating character, and one who has seen homage paid to him in the show Futurama. Cogley was based at Starbase 11, where he successfully defended Kirk against an accusation of murder in his court-martial.
Court Martial was the first of a number of Star Trek episodes across multiple series which showed that the franchise can do courtroom drama incredibly well. While I hope Captain Pike won’t need Cogley’s services, someone might – and the result could be another great piece of drama.
Number 16: Colonel Worf
As we saw with returning characters in Deep Space Nine, Klingons are almost as long-lived as Vulcans. Colonel Worf – played by Michael Dorn – was intended to be the grandfather of the Worf we’re most familiar with from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The character played a role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where he served as the defence attorney for Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy during their rigged trial on Qo’nos.
Discovery’s first season brought back the concept of Klingon Great Houses – and the House of Mogh, to which the more familiar Worf belonged, was certainly among them as of the mid-24th Century. Colonel Worf could have played a role in the Klingon-Federation war, and even if he isn’t the head of his house in this era, he could still have a role in a Klingon-focused episode.
While Michael Dorn wouldn’t be suitable for the role of a much younger Colonel Worf, he could perhaps play his father – our Worf’s great-grandfather. Are you confused yet?
Number 17: Montgomery “Scotty” Scott
There’s a case to be made for practically all of The Original Series main cast having roles in Strange New Worlds. But one character who could be included in some capacity is Scotty. He could be an assistant engineer under Pike’s command – such a long record of service aboard the Enterprise could explain why he was so knowledgeable about the ship and its systems by the time Kirk took over.
The Enterprise needs a chief engineer if Strange New Worlds is to have a similar setup to Star Trek shows of the past. While I wouldn’t necessarily place Scotty in that role, he could certainly be working in engineering in some capacity while Pike was in command. Even if he wasn’t a main character, Scotty could be there in a recurring role; a nice little nod to returning fans, but without doing anything quite as dramatic as has been done with Spock.
Number 18: John Gill
The Original Series had a number of episodes with premises that modern Star Trek almost certainly wouldn’t touch. One of these was Patterns of Force, an episode in which John Gill – a Federation historian and anthropologist – introduces Nazism to a developing planet. At the time Patterns of Force premiered, the prevailing theory that John Gill was said to have been inspired by was that Nazi Germany was a very efficient state – a claim challenged by more recent historical analysis.
While I don’t want to see Gill arguing in favour of Nazism in Strange New Worlds, we could see him engaged in other historical or anthropological research – he was, at the time, one of the Federation’s leading experts in those fields. Pike and the Enterprise could even convey him to Ekos – the planet he’d become führer of.
Number 19: Cadet Sidhu
Cadet Sidhu appeared in the Short Treks episode Ask Not, where she was subjected to an intense test by Captain Pike. After passing the test, she was assigned to a role in engineering aboard the Enterprise.
Ask Not was partly a vehicle for Anson Mount to reprise his popular role as Pike. But almost any story could have been written for that purpose – bringing in a new cadet and assigning her to the Enterprise feels like a deliberate character introduction, and we could certainly see Sidhu return.
Number 20: Admiral Anderson
If you read my write-up of Discovery’s premiere, you’ll know I felt Admiral Anderson’s main scene – in which he makes a charged racial comment to Michael Burnham – was one of the story’s weakest points. However, I’d like to give the character a second chance – not because I like him, but because I think there’s great potential to have an Admiral who’s kind of a jerk.
That character archetype – the self-centred, egotistical power-abuser – is one which practically all of can relate to having had a boss, manager, or teacher like that at some point in our lives. If Anderson had been handled better – and Discovery’s premiere as a whole had been a better story – we could have got that from him then. As it is, maybe we could have another chance.
While Anderson’s ship was destroyed, many escape pods evacuated beforehand so I’d say there’s a better than average chance Anderson was among the survivors. Every Star Trek show has used admirals to great effect in a select number of episodes, and Strange New Worlds will need a senior flag officer at some point in its run. Why not Anderson?
So that’s it. A few characters from past iterations of Star Trek who could – but most likely won’t – appear in Strange New Worlds. There are others, of course, including some I would probably never expect! Star Trek: Picard caught me off-guard by bringing back Seven of Nine and Hugh, two characters I would never have thought the producers of the show would seek to include. Some of the team who worked on Picard are also taking senior roles behind the scenes of Strange New Worlds, which I honestly just think is great. Picard did a great job of walking the line between being something new and bringing back characters and story elements from Star Trek’s past – something I hope Strange New Worlds will do too.
On the whole, I’d say some of Discovery’s characters – like Ash Tyler – are probably more likely than some of the others mentioned on the list to make a return in the new series. But as with Seven of Nine and Hugh in Picard, the producers sometimes like to be unpredictable, and we could see any one of a hundred or more characters make some kind of return – or have no returning characters at all!
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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is currently in early production and will premiere on CBS All Access in the United States in the future. Plans for international distribution have not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.