To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the new issue of Entertainment Weekly (on newsstands now) counts down what they are calling the "100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years". While the list include a number of well known sci-fi characters, not a single character from the Star Trek franchise made the list.
No Trek for EW
Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top 100 Greatest Characters of the last 20 years covers films, TV, stage, videogames and books. It include many names you would expect like Tony Soprano, Harry Potter, and Rachel from Friends. However, even though there have been four Star Trek TV series and six feature films during the last two decades, not a single Trek character made the list.
EW’s new special double issue is Trek-less
The most obvious omissions from that would be any of the characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. TNG ran on TV for the first five years of the life of the magazine, and then spawned four feature films. With phrases like "make it so" and "resistance is futile" as part of the mainstream of the 1990’s, it is hard to see why Picard or Data were ignored. And EW’s Top 100 list includes many characters created before 1990, such as Elmo from Sesame Street, Roseanne Conner from Roseanne, and Homer Simpson (who is #1) from The Simpsons. And 1990 is when TNG was getting really good, like the cliffhanger “Best of Both Worlds, Part 1”, which TV Guide named one of the Top TV episodes of all time. And it isn’t like EW is not aware of TNG, as just two and a half years ago they ran a special in the magazine for the 20th anniversary of the series, with an oral history and a list of top 10 episodes. Plus, in 1994 EW had a special collectible issue tied into the release of Star Trek Generations that had a guide to every Star Trek episode aired to that point.
EW Star Trek cover from 1994 shows the love in the past – but not for their top 100
While shows like Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise were not as popular in the mainstream as TNG, they did create some great characters. And EW’s list does not shy away from genre characters, with many inclusions, such as Morpheus from the Matrix films, Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mulder and Skully from The X-Files, Sarah Connor from Terminator 2, Kara "Starbuck" Thrace from the new Battlestar Galactica, Wilkus van de Merwe from District 9, and others.
One person that should be pleased with the list is Star Trek producer/director JJ Abrams. Three characters from shows he created made EW’s top 100: Felicity Porter from Felicity, Sydney Bristow from Alias, and John Locke from Lost. Two Star Trek 2009 vets also made the list: Tyler Perry’s Madea, and John Cho’s Harold Lee (who is listed along with Kal Pen’s Kumar Patel for the Harold and Kumar films). And while the characters were created in the 60s, there is no reason why Kirk and Spock from the new Star Trek could not have been included. There were many ‘reimagined’ characters on EW’s list, including Gollum from Lord of the Rings, Tony Stark from the new Iron Man movies, the Joker from The Dark Knight, and the aforementioned Starbuck from BSG.
JJ Abrams version of Kirk and Spock made a EW cover in 2009 – but not their top 100 list in 2010
Does it matter that there are no Trek characters on this list? Perhaps not, but it does show that even with all the great Trek of the last two decades and even with Trek being ‘cool again’, there still is some kind of stigma for some in the so called ‘mainstream’. Of course, it is their magazine and EW can do what they want. If they don’t think any of the Star Trek characters of the last 20 years are worth their top 100 list, well that is their business. But to me, it seems like an oversight. I mean seriously, characters like Tracy Flick from Election, Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights, and Truman from The Truman Show make it, but there isn’t room for Picard, Data, Worf, The Borg Queen, 7 of 9, the Holographic Doctor, Miles O’Brien, The Sisko, Trip & T’pol, or any one of the other Trek characters from 1990-2010? Well at least none of the new characters from the Star Wars prequels merited EW’s Top 100 — there is that, I guess.