The 7 Most Useless Star Trek Main Characters

By Chris Cummins in Daily Lists, TV
Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 8:00 am
Neelix.jpg
Want to feel old? It's been nearly 50 years since Star Trek originally hit the airwaves back in 1966. By this point, Gene Roddenberry's original space saga and its various spin-off series and films have proven Trek to be the most enduring and popular franchise in entertainment history...even with some notable missteps along the way. Whether you chalk it up to sycophantic fanboys or the allure of a future free from most of the societal ills, Trek has weathered more storms than a Maquis ship hiding in the Badlands during the past five decades.The most unforgivable of these screw-ups are characters that were either misguided ideas from the start or never given the chance to make an impact on their respective shows. So for today's Daily List, Topless Robot will be taking a look at the seven most useless characters in Star Trek's storied history.From annoying curmudgeons to crappy comic relief aliens, these are all folks who could be (and in some cases were) jettisoned from their shows without making any kind of impact on the space/time continuum. As always, your space mileage may vary, so be sure to mention your picks for the most dispensable characters in the comments.

7) Jake Sisko As much as it pains me to say anything negative about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the one character who never quite fulfilled his full potential was Jake Sisko. It would have been easy for the producers to have Jake be nothing more than a Wesley Crusher clone, but instead they chose for him to pursue a writing career instead of being Starfleet's latest boy genius. Unfortunately, when the Dominion War came to dominate the series' storylines, old Jake-O was lost in the shuffle while supporting characters like Nog, Garak, Gul Dukat, Weyoun, Damar and even hologram lounge singer Vic Fontaine found their screen time increasing. Even with Jake covering the war for the Federation's news service, he wasn't given much else to do other than stand around and react to the events surrounding him. Fortunately, the rare Jake-centric episodes -- most notably "The Visitor" -- focused on his relationship with his father. This aspect of the program was a welcome look at how family endures throughout time and space. Although Jake did get the shaft throughout DS9's run, the series ended with him and Kira staring off to the stars in a final shot that is still powerful all these years later.

6) Neelix It's pretty much a Paramount mandate that at least one main character per Star Trek series has to play the role of an outsider who voices their thoughts on the human condition. Thus, the original series gave us Spock, Star Trek: The Next Generation had Data, Deep Space Nine featured Odo and Voyager offered up Neelix. Originally joining up with the ship's crew to help guide them through the Delta Quadrant, he began working as a cook and offering up advice/tiresome comic relief. But all of the leola root jokes in the universe couldn't change the fact that the Talaxian was a thorn in the sides of viewers who kept wondering when the hell Seven of Nine would saunter on screen again. With the Doctor also handling the specifics of someone on the outskirts of humanity looking in, the Neelix character was largely superfluous. Would the series have been dramatically impacted if he left the show when Kes did? I'll leave you to ponder that in the comments. Meanwhile, it should be noted that like most of his fellow cast members on Voyager, Ethan Phillips is a gifted actor who made the best of the uneven material he had to work with.

5) Kes
The main issue with Kes is that she was initially defined by her relationship with Neelix, himself not the most necessary character. When audiences didn't buy that a beautiful Ocampa (portrayed by Jennifer Lien, who deserved better) would shack up with an alien who resembled a ginger Mr. T stricken with chicken pox, it paralleled the concerns the show's producers were having about the romance. The couple was quickly broken up, a move which served to further weaken Kes' identity aboard Voyager. After four seasons, a few vocations and several haircuts that were all aimed at making the rudderless character interesting, Rick Berman and company finally put Kes out of her mystery with a bit of mystical mumbo jumbo that had her telekinetic powers taking her to another plane of existence. Or something. Kes, we hardly knew ye. Also, by watching this clip after the one from the previous entry you'd be forgiven if you thought that every episode of Voyager featured Tuvok nearly getting killed/nearly killing someone. If only the show was that cool...

4) Worf in Star Trek Insurrection Poor Worf. After being transferred to Deep Space Nine and thrust into the excitement of the Dominion War and unprecedented character development he is forced to assist his former shipmates on a lifeless adventure about a bullshit Fountain of Youth planet. There's plenty of indignity to go around in Star Trek Insurrection (a film so atrocious that it makes Star Trek V look like The Wrath of Khan), but it's everyone's favorite Klingon who gets the worst treatment. Following a painful action scene in which he, Data and Picard inexplicably sing Gilbert and Sullivan, he is reduced to being comic relief because, wait for it, HE GETS A ZIT! You'd think an otherwise great character like Worf would have realized that there's no honor in pimple jokes. I hope at least Michael Dorn got one hell of a payday here.

3) Deanna Troi
For some reason the Internet is completely devoid of a supercut in which Deanna Troi says "I sense.." repeatedly. But even without the aid of such a video I'm guessing most of you are aware that a counselor isn't necessary aboard the largely conflict-free Enterprise. Sure, some of the ship's crew may need to talk about their fucked up childhoods or how creepy it was that Barclay made holographic doppelgangers of them. The real deal though? They make appointments with the counselor solely to see her in that jumpsuit. As evolved as folks are in the 24th century, no one is above some good old-fashioned eye candy.

2) Dr. Pulaski
When Gates McFadden left Star Trek: The Next Generation between the series' first and second season, the Enterprise suddenly found itself without a chief medical official. Her replacement was Dr. Katherine Pulaski, a pragmatic doc who was clearly molded after Dr. McCoy. But Diana Muldaur was no DeForest Kelley -- with whom she had worked with on an episode of the original Star Trek -- and Pulaski's personality was a mix of gruffness and sarcasm that never quite gelled. Throw in her weird space racism towards fan favorite Data, and it was clear pretty quickly that the character wasn't working out. Following the second season finale "Shades of Gray" (which had nothing to do with Riker's obvious S&M fetish), Pulaski quietly departed from the show. When the third season premiered, Dr. Crusher had returned and the character was hardly ever mentioned again. Which is exactly how it should be.

1) Everyone on Enterprise
If you count yourself amongst the ranks of the dozen or so fans of Enterprise in existence and consider this entry a cheap shot, remember that even the show's producers thought so little of it that they made the series' finale into a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. If that's not a vote of no confidence in the series and its utterly forgettable crew, I don't know what is. Those with faith of the heart are obviously entitled to disagree.

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