Entertainment Weekly Picks ‘Top 100 Characters of Last 20 Years’ – No Star Trek Names On The List

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.

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Shame Trek is not on the list.

First ?

Roseanne??? Come on, the only thing I can remember her for is singing the national anthem, horroribly, Homer I can understand.

“but Picard, Data, Worf, The Borg Queen, 7 of 9, the Holographic Doctor, Miles O’Brien and The Sisko, Trip & T’pol ”

Only Picard and Data deserve to be on a top 100 list, and maybe Worf as a longshot.

Why should Star Trek be in EW?

TNG is still a product of the 80’s, not the 90’s. It doesn’t matter when certain episodes aired, it just doesn’t resonate with the time period the way their other choices did.

Star Trek, just in case anyone has forgotten, was made in the 60’s, and that’s more than 20 years ago. Very simple.

Anything since then has been too pasteurised to be a poll-winner. Characters from every series (bar Enterprise) have had great moments, but that’s all.

#5 well that still would allow for all listed in #3’s list except for Picard and Data (especially Sisko, since he was the first African American to ever be portrayed as a religious icon on TV while being the lead of the show…)

Is Darth Vader in that list?

As far as I can see, Star Wars is ignored too. IMO that Entertainment Weekley guys are insane to ignore Star Trek (and maybe Star Wars) completely but include such stuipid characters like Buffy the vampire slayer!

A true oversight. EW is quite pro-Trek, too.

Really….from 1990-2010, there really hasn’t been any major Trek characters that have resonated with society in a way that the original Trek characters have. Maybe Picard, but I’m not sure if he fits within their time framework.

#8 Buffy is an amazing character and probably one of the most fleshed-out characters in recent television history. Vader wasn’t mentioned because he wasn’t really in anything from 1990-2010 except for a quick scene where he screamed like a little bit*! at the end of ROTS.

Actually just read the list, and besides the truly obvious ones, this list is utter garbage…

KIrk, Picard, or Spock should have been on that list. As far as Trek goes though, that’s it. I love the character of Data, but he wasn’t quite as iconic as those 3 were.

43. Cal Stephanides – Middlesex
47. Corky St. Clair – Waiting for Guffman
56. Barney Stinson – How I Met Your Mother
59. Master Chief – Halo
78. Patty Hewes – Damages
79. Elphaba – Wicked


I love these lists that they come up with or, as I like to call them, the “Our attention span is too short to really put any thought into what we’re writing” list.

Trust me, they’ll come up with another similar list next year and it will be completely different. And equally as meaningless.

I don’t know why you are even giving this list any credence. All of these types of lists are subjective BS, more a list of the personal preferences of the article writers and editors than anything drawn from empirical data. There was probably no attempt to even poll their readership. In fact, if Entertainment Weekly has one consistent characteristic, it is that they make no pretense at objectivity of any sort.

boooo, Ewwwwww

I agree that these lists are silly, but also agree that it IS strange they didn’t give props to TNG, & namely Picard, considering their near-obsession with it in the 90’s. There were points where they got behind TNG as hardcore as they’ve been getting behind ‘Lost’ in the past few years (and lest we forget, they’ve given a cover to every Trek series,,, even ‘Enterprise’).

TNG showed at number twenty-four on their ‘New Classics’ TV list in 2008 – not bad, but was still outranked by ‘Freak and Geeks’ and… ‘The Real World’.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the article, but was the criteria “Characters in the last 20 years” or “Characters who ORIGINATED in the last 20 years”? The latter would certainly exclude Picard, Kirk, Vader, Skywalker, etc…

I think EW is not really the most dependable source for character analysis.

Anyways, do i need EW to really dictate whats better ?


But… It does show how naive EW can be.

Oh, come on, people… this list will be utterly forgotten in about 2 weeks, replaced by next “hot list of something or other.”

EW does these stupid things all the time. These lists are never definitive or set in stone. STAR TREK isn’t on it? Accept and move on.

I would’ve expected Spock.
If 1990 was the drop-off date, you still have Undiscovered Country, the Unification episodes, and Star Trek 09′ (Quinto and Nimoy).
Plus the abundance of references from South Park to Big Bang, the homage to his Khan death in X-Files, and the Simpons, etc.

Again the criteria for the list was NOT characters created after 1990, just characters SEEN from 1990-2010. MOST of TNG on TV, plus four TNG films were in that period. As noted in the article (i wonder sometimes if people comment w/o bothering to read beyond headline) there are multiple examples on the EW list of characters created before 1990, including their number one character, Homer Simpson. And Roseanne was a show created in the late 80s that overlapped 1990, just like TNG.

As to the notion that TNG is more associated with the 80s, that is pretty absurd. TNG is very much part of the 90s, especially in the mainstream. TNG ratings were much higher in its sixth season than in its first season. The show really began its push into the mainstream in 1990 with Piller coming on board and episodes like Best of Both Worlds. I think some people forget how big star trek was in the 1990s. There were two TV shows on, a film constantly in production, tons of video games and products, conventions every weekend. Trek was big. Even the 1994 EW cover above calls Star Trek “Scifi’s greatest hit”

Question – If Entertainment Weekly made a list of the 100 greatest magazines of the last 20 years, would Entertainment Weekly make the list?

I think Data would have been a good choice from the Trek universe.

“Made ya look!”

–Entertainment Weakly

They did their job. The fact that you’re arguing over a stupid list means these guys can throw extra steaks on the grill this weekend.

I hear you, Anthony; the exclusion of at least one Trek character is a major omission, given the number of pre-1990 characters in that list. Picard, Data or even Q would have been a great choice. I would have been happy with nuKirk or nuSpock! It could have been an innocent oversight, but more than likely Trek was too “nerdy” or cult-ish to make that list. Now I’m curious—did any character from “Twin Peaks” make the list?

Who gives a flying f_<k about what EW publishes?

#21- I agree definitely!

#23. The thing is that it doesn’t seem like anything from Star Trek has really resonated with the common man in the last 20 years. Granted Trek XI was an awesome and popular movie, but beyond that it’s not instantly quotable and I would argue are great acting performances, but not necessarily great characters that stand out beyond that. More people have said Chris Pine or Zachary Quinto did great jobs in their role rather than saying that Kirk/Spock were awesome.

Also, unlike TOS which gave widely recognizable characters and catchphrase (“Beam me up Scotty”), nothing from TNG forward has done so, at least not to the same extent. While “Make it so” and “resistance is futile” are big for Trek fans, I don’t think if you walked up to someone and said that, they’d know what you were talking about.

Would I have liked Trek characters on the list? Sure. But looking at the big picture, I can also see why none were included.

first, these type editors decide on the article idea, then they go to google or where ever and probably see who’s name has had the most hits the past few months or something, then compile there list and from that list pick the photos that will catch peoples eye at their grocery check-out line

Trek will endure on or off any so called “most popular” list..hell, it survived from 68 to 79 with no new series or movie (i know, the animated series in 73)

funny, i still have the “Generations” cast cover issue…of course back then i was collecting almost anything Trek

Never mind STAR TREK, EW put “Woody” from TOY STORY on this list. Everyone knows they should have added “Buzz Lightyear” before any other character from the TOY STORY films…!

Again, the list is garbage to begin with, so no need to be upset about TREK’s exclusion.

Ron Burgundy????? Should have just nominated WIll Ferrell.

I read the list and had only two words in response – DENNY CRANE

Well, technically most people are going to think of Kirk and Spock, and neither character was invented in the last twenty years. Heck, even the TNG characters are older than twenty years old at this point.

I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find people who think that the Voyager and Enterprise characters are some of the best in the last twenty years and DS9 greats like Odo, Kira, Garak, or Quark are largely unknown outside of the fandom.

…not surprising, now if they had been listing the top 100 of the last FOURTY-FOUR years…well…just sayin’. ;)

Tracy Flick is a great character and Election is a great movie.

Utter snobbery that Picard doesn’t make that list!

Yeah Picard and Data should have been up on there, but Jack Sparrow?! I guess its what their readers want to see, not what’s actually legit.

Data and Picard definitely should’ve made that list, but what about characters from Fringe? I think characters like Walter or Peter definitely should’ve made that list.

I have not seen the list, but does anyone know if Doctor Who is on this list? With how popular the character has gotten the last few years I am just curious if he got on there. Or even any character from BSG got on there. I usually ignore list like this. No one is really happy these things, they are interesting to talk and debate about. But they just don’t have any weight on how I think of think of things.

#8: I disagree, I think Buffy is very deserving of being on this list.

All 100 best characters should be Star Trek.

Will Farrell’s Ron Burgandy? Chaz Michael Michaels from “Blades Of Glory” would have been better. I do definately think Spock, Picard and Guinan should have been on the list. And Captain Sisko as well.

But they chose to ignore Trek characters. I’m secure enough with myself as a die hard Trekkie to not let it bother me. I don’t need some magazine to” validate” which characters I think are cool.

I get the vacuous EW. It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s stored in the bathroom, under the NewsMax, which I get so guests will think I’m smart.

Well, EW doesn’t have much credibility in my books. I mean, they DID praise that “Dukes of Hazzard” movie back in 2005 (which got the piss-over by many critics), as well as that Britney Spears movie “Crossroads,” which was also not a well-received movie by critics either.

This is truly bullshit. I remember how EW was so trek-centric in the mid-nineties, and now its like Trek didn’t even exist! WTF? I mean, at the very least Captain Picard should have been on the list.

Wow, just wow.

@Anthony Pascale

It is indeed sad that they do not agree with you. Maybe they did it on purpose just to piss you off. That seems like the reasonable explanation.


I haven’t been able to see this list, but: Elmo is probably on there because the character has a 10 min. segment in each 1 hour episode. Millions of Tickle-me Elmos are sold each year and EVERY man, woman and child in America can instantly recognize that character.
Out of character, Roseanne welcomed and included gay characters towards the last few seasons of her show; something still rare in today’s network programming. Her character was actually good friends with the gay characters; they were treated the same as and straight character, not just as a punch line or comic relief. She also played a huge part in breaking down the television stereotype of the “perfect mother.”
Finally, Homer Simpson is probably #1 because he’s the television’s greatest father. He loves his family unconditionally. Sometimes he’s self centered, but in the end he does what’s best for his family. Remember that episode when Bart wanted to skateboard off the cliff? Homer accidentally does the jump himself and ends up proving how dangerous it is? Or the very first episode of The Simpsons? Homer doesn’t get his Christmas bonus and ends up working as a mall Santa to get money for gifts. He only gets a few dollars so he goes to the dog track and gambles it away in hopes of getting more money for gifts. In the end they get the family dog and realize that Christmas is more than just commercialism.
Many of the other characters may or may not be deserving of being on a list made by Entertainment Weekly. However if you want to convince readers that Star Trek characters deserve to be on that list then you need to justify why with their actions and character traits. Saying that EW has featured Star Trek in past issues, some characters had semi-popular catchphrases and that “1990 is when TNG was getting really good” then citing an episode doesn’t really show us anything about the characters. TNG focused mainly on using technology to get in and out of situations with only a few standout episodes about relatable issues (i.e. human rights, environmentalism, and you mentioned reunification). If any Star Trek characters are qualified for this list, based on actual importance to culture and society not popularity, then Spock and DS9 characters are more justifiable since they strongly dealt with many of the social issues of the time and even brought some to light.


You could just create the TrekMovie.com list of 100 Most Important Characters of the Last 20 years featuring only Star Trek characters. However, keep in mind that Entertainment Weekly probably only spent about a week choosing 100 characters out of hundreds of thousands across two decades of movies and television and caters to a wide audience with many different tastes. Also, you can always choose to skip articles that don’t interest you or you don’t agree with. That’s a little piece of advice from you to me and now back to you.

Why was my comment deledted?

Go Starbuck!
Spock should’ve been on there without a doubt.