A brief review of the more prominent female characters in the Star Trek series…
The Character: Major Kira Nerys (played by Nana Visitor)
Everybody hates her. Why? Probably because, as a character, she’s extremely emotional… she makes poor decisions based on those emotions, and was just an all around violent hot head.
Kira’s answer to everything was violence. And I mean everything. That may have been due to her spending nearly her entire life killing people as a Bajoran resistance fighter… but it’s annoying nonetheless. It’s her weakness as a character I think. She wouldn’t think things through… Thank god Captain Sisko was there.
Her character was somewhat unique though… Kira was a non stereotype of femininity and she wasn’t really ever sexualized. She expressed sexuality however, especially in a couple of episodes with Vedek Bareil.
She was a constant throughout the entire Deep Space 9 series and Kira became a much more well-rounded character as the series went on… eventually becoming a somewhat peaceful person as she and Constable Odo entered into a relationship and the series ended.
The Character: Uhura (played by Nichelle Nichols)
The first lady of Star Trek if you will… Uhura.
The character Uhura was extremely basic… she made an appearance in all three seasons of Star Trek The Original Series.
While Uhura was integral to the functioning of the ship, she was always on the line between a background character and a main character. I only remember maybe… three..? episodes where she had an expanded role.
I believe this was a product of the times in which The Original Series was filmed. Let’s face facts, in the 1960’s society was not exactly fond of either women or black people and Uhura ended up being both.
The actor, Nichelle Nichols, I don’t have much to say about. She was talented and underrated honestly…
The Character: B’Elanna Torres (played by Roxann Dawson)
Her character was actually very similar to Major Kira’s from Deep Space 9. B’Elana was an emotional hot head who resorted to violence way too often.
Oddly, or semi coincidentally, B’Ellana may very well be so similar to Kira because their back stories are similar.
B’Elanna like Kira had issues with her mother, B’Ellana fought as a Maquis against the Cardassian Union and subsequently the Federation, and B’Elana like Major Kira became a much more peaceful character as the seasons went on and they entered into long-term relationships with other characters. Make of that what you will…
B’Elanna was the magic engineer, just like Geordi Laforge, who could fix anything. That was her role through most of Voyager. Eventually her role was expanded to being Tom Paris’ romantic partner. The Voyager series ended with the B’Elanna character being used pretty oddly in my opinion… in the very last episode of Voyager she gives birth right as they make it to earth? And before that her baby was used as some kind of religious figure by a group of wayward Klingons in the Delta Quadrant? It was all very weird…
The Character: Dr. Beverly Crusher (played by Gates McFadden)
Dr. Beverly Crusher has to be THE WORST character in my opinion. She has so little purpose in The Next Generation and the Star Trek movies. Her redeeming qualities? No clue. Her role in the show? Ships doctor and occasional flirtations with Captain Picard.
I once thought Deanna Troi was the worst character because of her lack of depth… But then I realized Beverly Crusher is the real MVP when it comes to being a shallow character. The character’s role is always just one of convenience… She’s there to be Picard’s love interest when it’s convenient, she’s there to be Wesley’s mom when it’s convenient, and she’s there to magically solve any medical problem when the plot line needs it.
Dr. Beverly Crusher sat out the beginning of the second season of Star Trek The Next Generation and Dr Pulaski took her place for 9 episodes. Her son Wesley Crusher became a more infrequent character starting after the middle of the second season.
Her love interest with Captain Picard became blatantly apparent in the seventh season when she and Picard were “linked” together and able to hear each other’s inner thoughts.
The actor, Gates McFadden, always gave me some kind of impression of innate talent. I think perhaps she was limited by her roles.
The Character: Guinan (played by the lovely Whoopi Goldberg)
Guinan was only with us for a short time, appearing in 29 episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation, but she was a great character nonetheless.
Guinan was the no-nonsense bartender of 10 Forward and was frequently worked into the plot line as a capable, almost super natural, leader.
Guinan is not human you see…Her species were nearly wiped out by the Borg during their expansion in the Delta Quadrant and Guinan apparently wanders in the Alpha Quadrant doing as she sees fit… Q once remarked that Guinan was actually an Imp and implied that she had powers that were in someway similar to that of the Q.
She was a very intriguing character who was surprisingly well fleshed out for being with us in the show for such a short amount of time.
This may have to do with Whoopi’s inherent talent as an actor…
Anyways, Guinan is one of the stars of The Next Generation if you ask me.
The Character: Doctor Pulaski (played by Diana Muldaur)
The character of Dr Pulaski took over for Dr Beverly Crusher at the beginning of the second season of Star Trek The Next Generation.
The actress who played Dr Pulaski, Diana Muldaur, actually appeared in The Original Series as Dr Miranda Jones and Ann Mulhall.
Dr. Pulaski was only around for 20 episodes and wasn’t ever really fleshed out as a character.
Dr Pulaski however was used comparatively in the plot line. She stood up to Captain Picard and often caused friction… She also had run ins with Data. She had issues with Data because she initially was not used to dealing with a sentient android. Dr Pulaski is actually one of my favorite characters from the early season because of the episode Elementary, Dear Data (Season 2, Episode 3) where Data and Geordie play Sherlock Holmes and Watson in the holodeck. It was a fun episode and she did a really fine job acting.
The Character: Ezri Dax (played by Nicole de Boer)
Our time with Ezri Dax was brief (She only replaced Jadzia in the last season of Deep Space 9) but she was a mildly interesting character. Ezri was the latest incarnation of the Dax symbiant and as such had the memories of the previous character Jadzia. This formed the entire basis of Ezri’s role in Deep Space 9. Everything concerning the character Ezri, really was based on one of the Dax’s.
Ezri did cause some interesting and mildly comedic interplay with Worf in the ending episode of Deep Space 9.. so that’s nice.
Ultimately Ezri was a small time character in the very big stable of characters that made up Deep Space 9.
The Character: Keiko O’Brien (played by Rosalind Chao)
Keiko! Our beloved Keiko! Keiko O’Brien of course was the wife of Chief O’Brien… and without Keiko and the Chief we may not have had the Deep Space 9 series at all. Chief O’Brien acted as an anchor for the new series you see… a bridge so viewers of Star Trek The Next Generation would have something familiar to latch onto as they entered a whole new world of Star Trek.
Keiko was always secondary character, playing the role of Cheif O’Briens wife when the plot line called for it in both Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space 9. We don’t actually know that much about her… she was never really fleshed out as a character.
Keiko did get a lot of screen time in some of the later episodes of DS9 as she got pregnant and was possessed by ~ the evil spirit ~. But that’s pretty much it for Keiko…
The Character: Kasidy Yates (played by Penny Johnson Jerald )
Kassidy Yates was similar to Keiko in her role on Star Trek Deep Space 9.
Her character was not very fleshed out and she really only acted as Benjamin Sisko’s love interest when the plot line suited.
Our first experience with Kassidy was when she was introduced to Benjamin by Benjamin’s son Jake as a possible romantic partner and then ohhh nooo… later we discover she’s been smuggling supplies to the Maquis. She was subsequently arrested and was imprisoned. Kassidy’s and Benjamin’s relationship resumed when she was release from prison in a later season.
That’s about it for Kassidy Yates. She was a secondary character, a love interest, and not much more.
The Women of the Star Trek Universe in Numbers
Honestly it’s a little surprising that there aren’t actually more women in the two later Star Trek series (Voyager and Deep Space 9) than were in the first two (Star Trek The Original Series and The Next Generation). Like you don’t even notice just how few women there were… until you dig into the cast list for each show on IMDB. It’s all a little surprising.
On The Original Series, only 2 of the top billed cast of 9 were women (22%).
On The Next Generation, 3 of the top billed cast of 9 were women (33%).
On Deep Space 9, only 2 of the top billed cast of 9 were women (22%).
On Voyager, an amazing 5 out of the top billed cast of 12 were women (41%).
On Deep Space 9, out of 41 recurring roles with 10 episodes or more 13 of them were female actors (31%).
On Voyager, out of 16 recurring roles with 10 episodes or more 8 of them were female actors (50%).
On The Next Generation, out of 17 recurring roles with 10 episodes or more 8 of them were female actors (47%).
I bet you didn’t think Deep Space 9 would come in dead last on female roles compared to The Next Generation and Voyager!
But it did… I believe this is because Deep Space 9 had a much more diverse set of characters due to the fact that it took place mostly on a space station.
Voyager did exceptionally well concerning female actors which I honestly hadn’t really noticed until now.
The Original Series is a joke while The Next Generation came in with an okay showing on female diversity.
Make of this what you will.
Anyways, times have changed… we can only hope that the new Star Trek series will include more recurring female actors than the previous series.
The Women of Star Trek – Part 2 by Jordan Wunderlich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.