Building the “ultimate” Star Trek crew… with NO main characters!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the entire Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds.

A little while ago I put together my “ultimate” Star Trek crew – based on a post that the official Star Trek social media team put out. It was a lot of fun to consider which characters to include for the main roles that we’ve seen across the franchise, and I like to think I put together a crew who could work well together.

This time, I thought it could be fun to take the “ultimate crew” concept to a slightly different place – by limiting myself to secondary characters, recurring characters, and even characters who only made one or two appearances. In short, no main characters allowed!

We have quite a selection of officers and crewmates to choose from!

Over the course of more than 850 episodes and 13 films, Star Trek has introduced us to a huge range of characters. Although some were disappointing and others rather forgettable, most Star Trek characters have been fun, interesting, and memorable – so there’s quite a lot to choose from when it comes to putting together a list like this one!

I’m going to follow the same basic rules as last time, and here they are:

  • First of all, I don’t want to pick too many characters from a single series. If you’re just going to pick the entire crew of the Enterprise-D, what’s the point? We might as well just go and watch The Next Generation!
  • Secondly, the fact that characters come from different eras or timelines is entirely irrelevant. This is pure fantasy – though who knows, maybe one day Star Trek will do some kind of massive crossover event featuring characters from all over the place!
  • Third, characters have to occupy a role that we saw them fill on screen; i.e. Captain Picard can’t be a tactical officer, nor could Michael Burnham be assigned as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer!
  • Fourth, I want to include all of the major roles that we’ve seen main characters occupy on Star Trek – something that the social media post that inspired this piece didn’t do!
  • Finally (and most importantly), I want this to be taken light-heartedly and in the spirit of fun!

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Starship Class:
Galor-class Warship

A Galor-class warship as seen in Lower Decks.

I wanted to pick something a little different from the usual Starfleet vessel – though how exactly our crew came to commandeer a Cardassian ship is something you’ll have to imagine for yourself! I put the Galor-class on my list of ten great starship designs a while ago, and I really do find it to be a strangely beautiful vessel.

The semi-circular “saucer” above the deflector at the front gives it a vaguely Federation (or at least Star Trek-inspired) look, but the “wings,” elongated tail section, and yellow-gold colour scheme makes it stand out as clearly being of Cardassian design. Originally described as a “scout ship,” we’d later see the Galor-class as the workhorse of the Cardassian fleet, and Galor-class vessels played a prominent role in the Dominion War.

I’ve always thought the design was a neat one, and with an interior that may be reminiscent of Deep Space Nine, perhaps it won’t be quite as “alien” to our crew as it might initially appear!

Admiral:
Charles Vance

Admiral Vance’s first appearance.

Admiral Vance has been a great addition to Star Trek: Discovery since his Season 3 debut. Despite Starfleet – and the Federation as a whole – being in dire straits due to the lingering aftermath of the Burn, Admiral Vance never lost faith in Starfleet’s ideals. He did everything he could to hold the Federation together through the toughest of times, and was fair and level-headed.

Whether it was a diplomatic negotiation with an adversary or racing to help evacuate a planet before a catastrophe, Admiral Vance had the stomach and the skills for it, and was even willing to put his own life on the line to help others. He’ll be coordinating our mission back at Starfleet Command – and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in that role!

Captain:
Edward Jellico

Captain Jellico.

I have to be honest: I adore Captain Jellico, despite the character only making a single appearance in Star Trek. The two-part episode Chain of Command, from The Next Generation’s sixth season introduced the gruff, standoffish captain. Jellico temporarily assumed command of the Enterprise-D while Captain Picard was on another assignment, and he handled himself well against the Cardassians.

Captain Jellico had a very different style of command to Picard, and upset the apple cart on the Enterprise-D in a pretty significant way. Commander Riker and Deanna Troi were both particularly put out by Jellico’s “take no prisoners” approach, but there’s no denying that he ran a tight ship and got results. Maybe he isn’t the most friendly character, but I’d trust Captain Jellico to handle whatever the galaxy has in store. I’d also be curious to see how he handled a longer assignment – my suspicion is that he’d eventually establish a solid working relationship with his crew, and perhaps even make a few friends.

First Officer:
George Kirk

George Kirk on the bridge of the USS Kelvin.

George Kirk – father to Samuel and James T. – served as the first officer of the USS Kelvin in the early 23rd Century. Although we only saw him in action in the alternate reality, he was clearly an outstanding first officer, an inspiration to his sons, and someone who exemplified the very best of Starfleet.

In the alternate reality, George Kirk saved the lives of the crew of the Kelvin, sacrificing his own life in the process when Nero’s ship attacked. He seems like the ideal candidate to serve on our fantasy crew, and I think he’d work exceptionally well with Captain Jellico.

Helm:
Keyla Detmer

Lieutenant Detmer in Discovery Season 4.

Last time, I said that Tom Paris felt like Star Trek’s first bona fide pilot – and Keyla Detmer is definitely cut from the same cloth! A pilot by vocation, Detmer not only loves her job, but as we’ve seen on multiple occasions, she’s damn good at it too! Detmer guided the experimental USS Discovery during trials on its spore drive, then took the ship into the unknown – saving many lives during the bumpy landing in the 32nd Century.

In Season 4, we saw her navigate the dark matter anomaly and the galactic barrier, occasionally having to set aside her own feelings to focus on her work. Detmer was given a sub-plot of sorts in Season 3, but I would’ve liked to have seen it fleshed out a little more, especially considering the difficulty of dealing with mental health on screen. But regardless, Detmer makes for a great pilot and a fantastic helm officer.

Chief Engineer:
Joe Carey

Carey in Voyager’s first season.

When the USS Voyager’s original chief engineer was killed, Lieutenant Carey should have replaced him. Because Captain Janeway felt that there was a “political” need to have more Maquis in senior positions, however, it was B’Elanna Torres who was elevated to the role. But from what we saw of him in those early Voyager episodes, Carey would have made a perfectly creditable chief engineer in his own right.

Voyager’s writers quickly ran out of ideas for the “one ship, two crews” concept, and with less conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet members of the crew, perhaps there was less of a role for him on the show. But from a strictly in-universe point of view, I think we can trust Carey to head up main engineering on our mission!

Chief Medical Officer:
Dr Pulaski

Dr Pulaski in the episode Up The Long Ladder.

Is this a bit of a cheat? Dr Pulaski was the Enterprise-D’s CMO for all of Season 2 of The Next Generation… but actress Diana Muldaur was only ever credited as a “special guest star,” so I’m choosing to include her!

As you may know if you read my character study of Dr Pulaski, I’m a pretty big fan! Although there were aspects of her characterisation that didn’t work particularly well – such as her conflict with Data – overall I liked what she brought to The Next Generation, and I would have loved to have seen more from her.

Dr Pulaski may not have the friendliest bedside manner, but as she demonstrated on many occasions, she more than makes up for it with her medical expertise. Not only that, but she was absolutely unflappable, taking whatever the galaxy had to throw at the crew in her stride, and coming up with some outside-the-box ideas on more than one occasion. And despite her initial misgivings about Data, over the course of her year aboard the Enterprise-D, we saw her attitude shift. She’s a great doctor and will serve us well on our mission!

Nurse/ Sickbay Assistant:
EMH Mark II

The EMH Mark II in Message in a Bottle.

The idea of an Emergency Medical Hologram is a great one – but it clearly needed refining! We got to know Voyager’s EMH over the course of that show’s run, but a second version was developed in the years after the USS Voyager was lost. A Mark II EMH was installed on the USS Prometheus – an experimental long-range tactical vessel that the Romulans attempted to steal early in the Dominion War.

Hopefully we won’t ever need to activate our EMH Mark II, but if things go bad out there – which they can on dangerous assignments – it’s good to have backup!

Counsellor:
Dr Boyce

Dr Boyce.

Dr Boyce served as the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer under Captain Pike, but in The Cage we saw that he was more than just a doctor. In one of the episode’s most powerful sequences, Dr Boyce listened to and advised Captain Pike as the latter struggled with the weight of command. In that sense, Dr Boyce not only served as a template for the subsequent creation of Dr McCoy, but also as a kind of counsellor.

In the 23rd Century, it doesn’t seem that many Starfleet vessels had dedicated counsellors, so the role would fall to other members of the medical staff. Dr Boyce was clearly experienced at this, as his advice to both Captain Pike and other members of the crew would demonstrate. I wondered whether Strange New Worlds would bring back Dr Boyce, but that position was taken by Dr M’Benga instead!

Tactical:
Major Hayes

Major Hayes in Enterprise Season 3.

Major Hayes was a rare character in Star Trek in some respects. As a bona fide soldier rather than a security officer, Hayes occupied a role that few characters before or since have really aimed to inhabit, and he was the perfect inclusion for Enterprise’s much darker third season. Although we didn’t get to see a lot of Hayes’ strategic planning, what we did see of his work during preparation for away missions and when recommending the crew take part in tactical drills is enough to fill me with confidence that he’s someone who knows what he’s doing!

There’s obviously a difference between combat on the ground and combat in space, and as someone less familiar with ship-to-ship combat, Hayes might need some on-the-job training! But his hardworking attitude more than makes up for any deficiencies, and I’m sure he’d be a quick study, applying his knowledge of ground-based military operations to conflicts in space.

Security Chief:
Michael Eddington

Eddington prior to his defection to the Maquis.

Deep Space Nine’s Lieutenant Commander Eddington was a wonderful addition to the series; a complex, nuanced character whose motivations were understandable and even a little sympathetic – and whose anti-Cardassian stance was, in a roundabout way at least, kind of justified by subsequent events. Eddington would defect from Starfleet to the Maquis after spending time with colonists in the demilitarised zone along the Federation-Cardassian border, but before that, he served as chief of Starfleet security aboard DS9.

In that role, Eddington actually did a pretty good job. We saw Eddington in action on several occasions prior to his defection, and even his defection itself was meticulously planned. He was a good officer and a loss to Starfleet – and he’ll do a great job on our team!

Communications:
M’Ress

M’Ress at her post.

I like the Caitian race, and it’s one I wish we saw more of in Star Trek! M’Ress was the first ever Caitian that we got to know, debuting in The Animated Series, and she served as a kind of deputy or backup communications officer for Uhura on the Enterprise. M’Ress proved herself, though, and would be a perfectly capable comms officer in her own right.

M’Ress was a character who was easy to animate but harder to bring to live-action, and while we did see a couple of Caitians in one of The Original Series films, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about this interesting race. Regardless, M’Ress will make a fine addition to our crew!

Science Officer:
Saavik

Saavik on the Genesis Planet.

Although she initially seemed to be on the command track in The Wrath of Khan, by the time of The Search for Spock Saavik had transferred to become a science officer. In that capacity she served aboard the USS Grissom and worked with Dr David Marcus to investigate the Genesis Planet – and played a key role in saving Spock.

Vulcans tend to make great science officers in Star Trek, and Saavik is no exception! Her fierce devotion to logic doesn’t stop her from developing solid working relationships with her non-Vulcan crewmates, though, and I have no doubt that she’d be a fantastic addition to any crew – particularly one which may be on an exploratory or scientific mission.

Operations:
Nog

Nog aboard the USS Defiant.

Nog has to be one of the best recurring characters in all of Star Trek! His arc took him from a petty thief and troublemaker in his youth through to becoming an upstanding Starfleet officer – and a war hero to boot. As the first Ferengi to serve in Starfleet, Nog was also a pioneer, someone who broke barriers and paved the way for closer cooperation between the Federation and the Ferengi Alliance.

I adore Nog, and it was so terribly sad that Aron Eisenberg passed away a couple of years ago. However, Nog’s legacy lives on in Star Trek, with the Eisenberg-Class USS Nog being his namesake in the 32nd Century. Nog took on different roles within Starfleet, but it was the operations division where he settled. He was promoted to lieutenant at the end of the Dominion War – and in one alternate future, we even saw him as a captain!

Transporter Chief:
Janice Rand

Rand in The Motion Picture.

The former Yeoman Rand had been promoted to chief petty officer by the time of The Motion Picture, and in one of the film’s most harrowing sequences, she tried to engage the Enterprise’s malfunctioning transporter to save the lives of Sonak and another officer; she would sadly be unsuccessful.

But it isn’t fair to judge Rand’s competency with the transporter by one bad incident! She did her best under difficult circumstances aboard a newly retrofitted ship that was experiencing technical issues, and while the death of Sonak may have contributed to her decision to transfer out of the role, I’m sure that giving her a second chance won’t be a problem. Right?

Cadet:
Peter Preston

Midshipman Preston in the Enterprise’s engine room.

Many Starfleet ships take at least one cadet along for the ride, and I think that Peter Preston from The Wrath of Khan would be a great choice. A line which wasn’t included in the original cut of the film identified Preston as Montgomery Scott’s nephew, and he would serve alongside his uncle in engineering.

Unfortunately, Preston would be killed during Khan’s initial attack on the Enterprise, but stayed at his post in an attempt to save the damaged ship. His death was devastating for Scotty, and made a huge impression on Admiral Kirk, too. If Peter Preston had lived, I’m sure he’d have completed his training and gone on to be a wonderful engineer in his own right.

Bartender:
Vic Fontaine

Vic in It’s Only A Paper Moon.

When our crew needs a break, where could be better to go than Vic’s Lounge? Vic Fontaine was a sentient hologram, and his 1960s-inspired Las Vegas bar and casino was installed at Quark’s on Deep Space Nine. Vic would become a true friend and confidante to the crew, and even helped Nog with his rehabilitation when he suffered a wartime injury.

The whole point of having a bar or recreation area on board our ship is to give the crew a place to relax, and what could be more relaxing than stepping out of the real world into a simulated one? Vic is a great host – and a great singer to boot! James Darren, the actor and singer who played Vic, released an album shortly after appearing Deep Space Nine called This One’s From The Heart, featuring many of the songs from the show. It’s well worth a listen for any Trekkie!

Non-Starfleet crewmate:
Zhaban

Zhaban in Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard.

Because Star Trek: Picard’s production has been somewhat slapdash, Zhaban ended up being written out of the series after the first season. But I think he was an absolutely fascinating character, and someone I’m sad that we didn’t get to spend more time with. A former Tal Shiar operative, Zhaban felt indebted enough to Admiral Picard that he gave up his career to live on Earth at the Picard family vineyard.

For the purposes of our mission, I think having an ex-Tal Shiar on board could be incredibly useful, and Zhaban clearly has a varied set of skills – even if his relocation to Earth might mean he’s a little rusty in some areas! Regardless, I can think of countless ways that a former operative of one of the quadrant’s premiere espionage agencies could prove useful, and it’s primarily for that reason that I’m insisting that we bring Zhaban along for the ride (as Picard should have done in Season 1 of his show!)

Villain:
The Tholians

A 23rd Century Tholian leader.

The Tholians have been part of Star Trek since The Original Series, but in all that time we’ve only seen them on a handful of occasions. The Enterprise two-part episode In A Mirror, Darkly told us a little more about the Tholians, including that they’re native to a planet with extremes of heat and temperature, finding it impossible to tolerate “standard” temperatures that humanoid life can survive in.

I wanted to choose a villain that would be familiar to most Trekkies, but with enough mystery to still be interesting – and to potentially allow a story to unfold in very different ways. The Tholians may not be as iconic as the Klingons or the Borg, but I reckon they’re ripe for a deeper dive and an exploration of their culture and society.

So that’s it!

The main crew members of the Enterprise-D.

Did we manage to put together a crew that will become as renowned and as iconic as any other in Star Trek? Well… maybe not quite! But I think all of the characters above are fun in their own way, and I’d definitely welcome back any and all of them to the franchise in future.

For our purposes, though, our crew is complete and it’s time to start our mission! I hope everything goes according to plan…

As I said last time, there are hundreds of wonderful characters that the Star Trek franchise has created over the span of more than fifty years. I picked out a few examples here, but there’s really no right answer to the question of who should be part of the “ultimate” Star Trek crew. Such decisions are entirely subjective, so if you didn’t like any of the characters I included, or I excluded someone that you think should be incredibly obvious, well that’s okay! There’s plenty of room in the Star Trek fan community for discussions like these!

A few weeks ago I was inspired by a social media post that the official Star Trek marketing team put out. That post led me to create my earlier list, and putting that list together led me to think about some of the secondary and recurring characters who I could’ve also included – which is how we ended up here! I hope this was a bit of fun; I certainly had fun writing it up and looking back at older episodes of Star Trek to pick out some of my favourite characters.

The Star Trek franchise – including all characters, television series, and films mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Dr Pulaski – a character study

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Minor spoilers may also be present for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

For reasons that still aren’t crystal clear over thirty years later, Gates McFadden was dropped after Season 1 of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dr Crusher had been a mainstay of the show’s first season, going a long way to humanising the otherwise stoic Captain Picard, as well as bringing a family dynamic to the series. Her absence in Season 2 was an obstacle for the show to overcome, and to replace her, Gene Roddenberry and the creative team introduced a new character: Dr Katherine Pulaski.

I have to hold up my hands and admit to being a fan of Dr Pulaski. There are certainly elements to her characterisation that worked less well, and we’ll look at those in a moment, but on the whole I felt her inclusion in the series took The Next Generation to different places, places it wouldn’t have been able to reach without her. That’s my own bias coming into play as we delve into her character today.

The intention behind Dr Pulaski’s introduction was to shake up The Next Generation. Across the show’s first season there hadn’t been much interpersonal drama between the main characters – something that was a marked change from The Original Series. In Star Trek’s first incarnation, the “frenemy” relationship between Dr McCoy and Spock in particular was a source of both drama and humour, and it seems clear to me that The Next Generation lacked that in Season 1, and that Dr Pulaski was created to try to bring that element back to Star Trek.

When I think about Dr Crusher, with the possible exception of her role in the two-part episode Descent, I wouldn’t use the terms “strong” or “forceful” to describe her personality. She’s a reasonably quiet, slightly soft-spoken character, clearly very compassionate but also quite agreeable, especially when pressed by Captain Picard. To call her “bland” might be unkind, but she was never meant to be the standout character among the cast of The Next Generation.

Dr Pulaski is the polar opposite. She’s opinionated, outspoken, and occasionally brash. Though she does form firm friendships with other members of the senior staff, she’s much more of a standalone, individualist character. These are all traits that she inherited from The Original Series’ Dr McCoy, and we can see a very definite McCoy influence for practically her entire run on the series.

The role of a doctor in Star Trek is naturally a limited one, and that was especially true when the franchise was primarily interested in episodic storytelling. Dr Pulaski’s scenes are largely limited to Sickbay or dealing with medical-themed stories and events, and this naturally puts constraints on what she – and other doctors in the franchise too – can do. In episodes with a strong medical storyline, I’d argue that Dr Pulaski shines, and aspects of her personality that might otherwise come across as abrasive can instead feel determined and driven. In stories without much going on in Sickbay she’s naturally of less use to the writers, and it shows.

One of the main areas of criticism when Dr Pulaski came aboard was her relationship with Data. Designed to mimic the Spock-McCoy dynamic from The Original Series, some of Dr Pulaski’s early scenes and episodes with Data did not work as intended. She came across as patronising and looking down at Data – and that’s putting the most positive spin possible on it! At worst, Dr Pulaski was actively degrading and dehumanising in the way she spoke to and about Data, and that’s something that many fans found hard to take.

Though we’re more aware in 2021 of the need to be inclusive and attentive to the needs of neurodivergent people, non-binary folks, and other marginalised groups, even in 1988 many fans were uncomfortable at seeing Data dehumanised and talked about in the abstract. Fans had had a whole year to get to know Data, and just like we balked at Dr Bruce Maddox’s treatment of him in the episode The Measure of a Man, so too fans felt Dr Pulaski was treating Data unfairly. This is legitimate criticism, and soured many fans on Dr Pulaski almost from her first moment on the series.

Though I was perhaps a little unkind in my characterisation of Dr Crusher earlier, there were many fans of The Next Generation who liked the character and wanted her back. A letter-writing campaign began almost from the moment Season 2 premiered – supposedly with some involvement from Patrick Stewart – to convince the producers to bring back Gates McFadden and dump Dr Pulaski. Though I daresay this would’ve happened regardless of how well Dr Pulaski’s character had been received, the fact that those early episodes featured a conflict with Data that certainly went too far and crossed a line didn’t help her cause.

Despite all of that, by the time Season 2 was finding its feet, Dr Pulaski had become established as a regular member of the crew of the Enterprise-D, and had settled into her role in Sickbay about as well as she could. The fact that she was a strong and decisive personality may have been divisive among fans, but in my opinion she elevated the role of the ship’s medical officer, taking what had been a secondary position with Dr Crusher in Season 1 and transforming it into a more important role, especially in medical storylines. Even when Dr Crusher returned in Season 3, this aspect of the show continued to an extent; Dr Pulaski’s legacy on the show, despite the character being dropped with little fanfare, may be that Dr Crusher found more prominent storylines.

The comparisons with Dr Crusher are inescapable, and one other aspect that viewers felt was missing after Dr Crusher departed the series was a relationship with Picard. Dr Crusher and Picard had history as well as more than a little romantic tension, whereas Dr Pulaski didn’t have that connection with Picard – or with anyone else. Though there was a storyline in the episode The Icarus Factor involving a past relationship with Commander Riker’s father, this didn’t become a major aspect of her character, and she remained romantically un-attached for the rest of her tenure.

Though the episode Unnatural Selection is perhaps the story where she was given the most to do, where I felt we saw Dr Pulaski at her best was in episodes like Time Squared, where she tended to a second Captain Picard from several hours in the future, Up The Long Ladder, in which she takes part in a traditional Klingon ceremony with Worf, and though there are two sides to her relationship with Data on display in Peak Performance, the way she consoled him after his defeat at Strategema was sweet. In these moments we see different aspects of her character – her medical expertise, her embrace of different cultures, and through her evolving relationship with Data, her ability to overcome her own prejudice.

Perhaps the fact that Dr Pulaski had anti-android prejudice to begin with made her too unpopular with fans to be redeemable. Her occasionally blunt persona didn’t help her in that regard either. But had we met Dr Pulaski in Season 1 not Season 2, I think it’s possible for her evolving relationship with Data to have provided a deeply satisfying character arc.

The problem Dr Pulaski faced was that she joined a series that already had a full season – 25 episodes – under its belt. The characters had grown together and been through some major events in Season 1, particularly the death of their friend and colleague Tasha Yar. Yar’s own deep relationship with Data, which was jump-started by the events of The Naked Now, had gone a long way to humanising him across Season 1, and there was something charming in the “android who longs to be human” story. In Encounter At Farpoint, Riker called Data “Pinocchio,” and across Season 1 that’s how viewers came to know Data. Dropping in Dr Pulaski at the beginning of Season 2 and giving her a very prejudiced way of looking at this character we’d come to know and love was a bridge too far for many viewers, and although the relationship improved dramatically over the course of the season, her early interactions with Data remained a sore spot.

Dr Pulaski was present for all but two episodes of Season 2. However, most episodes didn’t have a major medical focus, and thus she was really a secondary character much of the time. Even so, I’d argue that she brought a lot to the show, and despite the introduction of her character not really succeeding in the way the creative team intended, Dr Pulaski certainly achieved her objective of shaking up the crew. Though she was never a villain, the introduction of Dr Pulaski showed that there can still be disagreements and interpersonal drama among Starfleet officers in the 24th Century, and that not everyone has to agree all the time. The Next Generation could, at times, fall into the trap of being too idealistic in its portrayal of characters in particular, and while there were adversaries and antagonists in Season 1 – including some from the Federation – Dr Pulaski was the first main character on the show to pull in a different direction. In that sense she arguably laid the groundwork for storylines we’d see from Season 4 onwards with characters like Ro Laren, and in particular the non-Starfleet crews we’d meet in Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

The fact that Dr Pulaski was never shy and didn’t pull her punches is something I found charming and appealing about her, particularly when compared to Dr Crusher’s Season 1 persona. She could be opinionated and even pushy at times, but she always did her best to help those in her care and didn’t bat an eyelid at the wacky situations the Enterprise-D would find itself in. Not only that, but she grew as a character across her single season on the show, particularly in terms of her relationship with Data and her understanding of different kinds of life. The Next Generation set out to seek out new life, and while Dr Pulaski’s old fashioned idea of what “life” is may have held her back at first, over time she came to recognise that Data was a valuable colleague and even a friend, even if she didn’t understand everything about him.

Had she been kept around and spent more time on the show, perhaps we would have seen those themes continue to play out. There was scope for her relationship with Worf to develop, not romantically necessarily but certainly putting them in more stories that would have allowed their friendship to grow and for both characters to learn more about the other’s culture. Her relationship with Kyle Riker could have been revisited, allowing for a more complex and nuanced relationship with William Riker on the Enterprise-D. And though she could never replace Dr Crusher in terms of having a close relationship with Captain Picard, the dynamic between the two – particularly the power play between a man who’s used to being the sole commanding officer of his ship and the doctor who’s the unquestioned master of Sickbay – would have been interesting to explore. There was scope for her to occasionally push back against Picard and other main characters, asserting herself more strongly than Dr Crusher usually would.

All of that and more would have been interesting to see, and while Dr Crusher had some great stories from Season 3 onwards, I’ve always felt at least a little sad that we didn’t get more from Dr Pulaski. At the very least it would have been nice to know how she came to depart the Enterprise-D and what her next role was going to be. Did she transfer to a different starship, return to Earth, retire? We don’t know, and I think it’s highly unlikely we will ever get any kind of solid confirmation of Dr Pulaski’s post-Season 2 life.

I found Dr Pulaski an interesting character and a welcome addition to The Next Generation, even though not every aspect of her characterisation succeeded or achieved its intended objectives. She remains an interesting character in Star Trek, particularly within the 24th Century, and I’ve always been fascinated by this single-season character. Season 2 of The Next Generation marked a change and uptick in the show’s quality – whence comes the expression “growing the beard,” a reference to Commander Riker’s facial hair! Though she wasn’t front-and-centre at every moment, Dr Pulaski played a significant role in the evolving series, helping it grow and become better than it had been in its first season. We can’t argue that the introduction of her character is somehow responsible for The Next Generation’s increasing success in that era, but we can’t dismiss it as mere coincidence either.

And perhaps that’s Dr Pulaski’s real legacy. She was a part of The Next Generation at a key moment – its powerful second season. Season 2 provided much more of a blueprint for the show’s future success – and for the successful development of Deep Space Nine and other parts of the franchise – than The Original Series-inspired first season had. Dr Pulaski, though originally intended to be a throwback to Star Trek’s first series, played a role in the franchise’s evolution as a character who wasn’t afraid to shake things up, stand up to her commander, and hold her ground. We can see elements of her personality in a number of Star Trek characters who came later, even continuing to the modern day.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including all characters and 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.