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Shuttle Pod 33: Our Favorite Minor Star Trek Characters

Kevin Riley, Ensign Rivers, K’Ehleyr, Mr. Mot. These are names not heard too often on Star Trek but it doesn’t mean that their characters are unimportant or unappreciated. This week, the Shuttle Pod crew welcome fellow TrekMovie editor Matt Wright to discuss some of our favorite minor characters.

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What makes a minor character?
There are many ways to define this, but we chose to implement the criteria that a character had to appear in three episodes or less to count as minor, but they had to be important enough to have a name (not much point to talking about random guy wearing a skant in the background, although he probably appeared in at least three episodes).

In this podcast, we hit some of our favorites: Harry Mudd, Kevin Riley, Ensign Rivers, Curzon Dax, K’Ehleyr, Vash, and our favorite barber Mr. Mot. It’s worth noting that this episode was recorded before the announcement that Harry Mudd will be involved in Star Trek: Discovery, as we reported last week.

Lots of love for minor characters
This is not the first time TrekMovie staff have spoken about our favorite minor characters. Our list from last September, which was part of our Star Trek 50th anniversary celebration, includes more favorites like Mirasta Yale (TNG: “First Contact”), Captain Styles (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Annorax (VOY: “Year of Hell” Pts 1 & 2), and more. Check it out!

Have a listen, and let us know what you think — does our analysis of these characters sit well with you? Do you have a bone to pick or a name to add to our (non-exhaustive) list? Let us know in the comments!

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39 Comments on "Shuttle Pod 33: Our Favorite Minor Star Trek Characters"

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At one point, Jennifer Hetrick and Patrick Stewart were engaged.

Really?? That’s an interesting little trivia nugget.

My personal mind game , while watching an episode , is watching the background characters and guessing their life stories . Example , 2 outstanding characters whose roles virtually faded into the background in the closing seasons in Deep space 9 – Dr Julian Bashir and Garak the Tailor .

What are you mean that they faded into the background? Garak played a very large and important role in the final story arc.

Other than key moments , not really !

Strange how Riley disappeared. He had two rather sizeable parts in the episodes he appeared in and then like that *poof* he’s gone. Similarly with Grace Lee Whitney, although her story is very sordid and sad, but I wonder if there was a budgetary directive from the studio to keep the recurring cast member count to a minimum.

Bruce Hyde, the actor who played Riley, was hired for two separate episodes, and they weren’t supposed to be the same character. But once he showed up for “Conscience of the King,” the staff said, “Oh, you were in one before, weren’t you? Guess we’d better use the same name, then. What were you called in ‘The Naked Time’?”

So he was never supposed to be a continuing character; he got two roles, and they decided his previous part was memorable enough that they’d better use the same name, or the audience would be confused. :-)

Reading These are the Voyages, I can confirm. This happened to other actors who played background characters with a few lines, and were given different characters in different episodes. But you did not notice because they did not stand out like Kevin Riley did.

I’ve often imagined Helen Noel as Hélène Noël. The way McCoy pronounces her name, she’s French.

As a side note, Marianna Hill, the actress who played her in Dagger of the Mind, played a French girl in a episode of My Three Sons. She could easily have pulled it off, IMHO.

A guess on the character that they did not mention: the Q that gave our Q (John De Lancie) his powers back.

Q2, memorably played by De Lancie’s co-star on LA Law – Corbin Bernsen….

Oh , Seska from Voyager who seemed to have an honorable heart , but fell into treasonous activity and was finally murdered by nausicaan pirates . Or was that true ?!

Fun podcast, guys. Keep up the great work. Have you done a show about favorite starships yet? Might be a good discussion there.

I’ll take a guess with the mystery character: the gambler played by Marc Alaimo in Time’s Arrow.

I enjoy listening to the podcast episodes! As a lead up to the new show, y’all should do an in depth look at all the pilot episodes. You could discuss which ones are the best and which ones are the worst.

it’s on the list! we will move it up for you, Optimist

Good idea for a podcast. I enjoyed it with a beer, as prescribed by Kayla (Genesee, New York’s oldest brewery 1878).

Good to hear Matt Wright’s voice. I’ve been seeing his name here for years, and it’s nice to be introduced to the person behind it.

My guess for Jared’s runner-up minor character is Captain Morgan Bateson, played by Kelsey Grammar in TNG Season 5.18, “Cause and Effect”:

Our sensors detected a temporal distortion. Then your ship appeared. We nearly hit you. …

comment image/revision/latest?cb=20140612014116&path-prefix=en

Not sure what happened to the image in above post. I’ll try another:

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Ah! Beat my guess.

Captain Picard, your vessel is not familiar to us…

For all the chatter about new programming that inevitably falls back to some retelling of brave captain and crew stories, Trek has left enough loose threads out there to explore that doing something fresh shouldn’t be that difficult.

leah brahms.
both versions.

Yes , 2 key intellects , her and La Forge , would have been a wonderfully twisted relationship . But the real Leah couldn’t handle it , such a pity !

I don’t know, the creepy vibe was strong in those episodes….

With a good choice already picked, was the runner up Corbin Bernsen as the other Q in Deja-Q?

Guessing for the final character you didn’t have time to get to…

Bebe Neuwirth, Lanel, First Contact

Terry O’Quinn, Admiral Pressman, Pegasus

I don’t know. It sounded like you guys thought you’d given too many clues, but that’s a crapton of episodes with guest stars galore. I looked at the list of IMDb 1 epesiode appearances for TNG and it was page after page after page. :)

Look forward to finding out who you had in mind and why.

Enjoyed the podcast as always!

I love Bebe Neuworth’s character. And I love the fact that she tries to extort sex from Riker. Call me whatever you wish; I’ll own it.

The most neglected character of Voyager.. Yes , Neelix . Who also seems to be the most despised member of voyager by Trekkies . Behind that easy going jovial exterior was a tormented
alien who knew the dangers of the Quadrant , which Voyager and it’s Crew blundered through . He quietly helped and kept them alive many times .

With Captain Morgan Bateson already picked, I’ll guess Capt. Phillipa Louvo from Measure of a Man as the mystery minor character.

As an alternative alternate guess, I’ll go with Klim Dokachin from Unification.

Sarek was only in 3 episodes and two of those were TNG (unless Mark Leonard reprised him on TAS). Yes he was in the films, but only cameos in III, IV and VI. Striking how much of an impact he has had on Trek lore with so little screen time. All due to Leonard’s performance.

Loved the pod, but another way to have broken it down would be this: most impactful minor characters that appeared more than once but less than 3 or 4 times. Most impactful minor characters that appeared only once.

Apologies for misspelling the great Mark Lenard’s name above.

In fact he did reprise Sarek in TAS. If you haven’t seen it, go watch “Yesteryear” (TAS is on Netflix) its influence has shown up in ENT, TOS-R, and ST ’09.

I’d say there are two possibilities, both already guessed. Safe to say someone from “Cheers”.
I’m glad you remembered Kirk being a part of Seth Macfarlane hosting the Oscars. My partner at the time was in the Gay Men’s Chorus, and they were a part of that bit as well. I was thrilled that my boyfriend was in a sketch with Capt. Kirk/Shatner.

sonya gomez.
thought she would become a recurring member like O’brien and ogawa

I LOVED Sonya!
I still miss her.

I’d like to see a star trek video games episode of the podcast especially discussing Secret of Vulcan Fury so much to talk about that game with history it has.

Great idea! I’ve played many of them over the years. I’ll mention it to my colleagues.

My guess for the mystery character, Vic Fontaine. If not, then Joe Piscapo as himself.

ds9’s primim or eddington

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