The Top Ten Characters from Star Trek: The Original Series

The Top Ten Characters from Star Trek: The Original Series

When Star Trek first aired in 1966, Gene Roddenberry and his production team understood that the crew of the Enterprise would make or break the series. Even with the exotic new worlds that the Enterprise would explore during each episode, audiences required characters that they could relate to. Otherwise, the series would fall flat and never garner a viewer base.

With this in mind, Gene Roddenberry and his fellow writers took time to carefully craft fully fleshed-out characters. Rather than be content to create a charming captain, they fleshed out the thoughts, opinions, and backgrounds of every member of the Enterprise crew. Thus, the science officer, Mr. Spock, whose logic ruled his personality, had to struggle with his dual heritage. Likewise, despite coming from a united earth without country divisions, Lt. Uhura still treasured her African heritage.

Decades later, Star Trek fans fondly look back at Captain James T. Kirk and his crew of explorers. Their unique sparks made their journeys memorable. Moreover, the various struggles and trials that they went through held more weight since audiences cared about them. Without strong characters, the legacy of the Enterprise would have died with the original series.

So, join us as we look back on the greatest characters that helped craft the phenomenal first televised voyage of the Enterprise.

Presenting the ten greatest characters from Star Trek: The Original Series

10.  T’Pring


In Vulcan culture, parents often arrange for chosen mates for their children, forming their first bonds well before adulthood. Most Vulcans can feel their future mates through their mental connections as they grow. However, they do not initiate the koon-ut-kal-if-fee ceremony, which is similar to a wedding, until they fall into pon farr. Once pon farr, the Vulcan time of mating, begins, their minds form so much neurochemical imbalance that they may die in eight days if they do not mate.

Unfortunately for the Enterprise’s crew, Spock underwent his pon farr while they were amid their five-year mission. With Spock’s erratic behavior, Captain Kirk and the rest of the crew agreed that they should make an emergency stop at Vulcan. Once they arrived, Spock met up with T’Pring, the woman who was meant to be his mate.

Luckily for T’Pring, Vulcan culture has the means to break away from an arranged wedding, for she preferred Stonn over Spock. Thus, she called for Captain Kirk to champion her as she claimed her right to a Kal-if-fee, a passion fight. She picked Kirk based on the logic that Spock would reject her if he won; likewise, the captain would also reject her. Spock even praised her logic after he defeated the captain.

9. Pavel Chekov

Pavel Chekov

As Star Trek moved into its second season, Gene Roddenberry felt the need to expand the cast to include a younger crew member who would appeal to teenagers. According to some rumors, Pravda, a Russian newspaper, criticized Star Trek because it lacked a Russian character. However, other rumors indicate that the popularity of The Monkees inspired Chekov’s creation. No matter what inspired him, Walter Koenig first appeared as Pavel Chekov in season two’s first episode “Amok Time”.

While Chekov began as a junior officer, he quickly earned his position as a navigator for the Enterprise. Working closely with Lieutenant Sulu, the two easily became good friends. Meanwhile, he proved to have a strong understanding of science, so he manned the science station when Spock was unavailable.

Amongst the Enterprise crew, none were more passionate than Chekov. Unlike the more seasoned crew, Chekov still wore his emotions on his sleeve, so he quickly showed his fears, anger, and other emotions. For instance, he avoided the advanced aging effects of radiation on Gamma Hydra IV because the sight of a dead body frightened him, flooding his system with adrenaline. Likewise, his passion for Starfleet led to him starting a brawl with Klingons at Deep Space station K-7.

8. Kang


Few Klingons, or even any other adversarial race, received the honor of having a name during the original series. Unlike the Romulans, whose most notable member was “Romulan Commander”, the Klingons had Kang to represent their species in “Day of the Dove”. Kang only emerged because the actor who played Kor in “Errand of Mercy” was unavailable for filming.

Like any other Klingon during the original series, Kang held no love for the Federation. Thus, he quickly accused Captain Kirk of having attacked his ship even as the Enterprise was coming to their aid. Thus, he took the captain as his prisoner and staked a claim on the Enterprise for the Klingon Empire.

As Kang overtook the Enterprise, an energy entity also infiltrated the ship. This entity manipulated both Kang’s and Kirk’s crews to heighten the inherent tensions between the two groups. Fortunately, Kang saw reason and agreed to cooperate with Kirk to drive the entity away.

7. Hikaru Sulu

Hikaru Sulu

George Takei took on the role of the Enterprise’s senior helmsman, Hikaru Sulu. Sulu also served under the science division, acting as the head of Astrosceinces. With expertise both on and off the Bridge, Sulu often accompanied the crew on survey missions.

Beyond his scientific skills, Sulu also had many hobbies that popped up throughout the show’s run. Sulu’s love for botany helped identify a shapeshifter amongst their ranks when his carnivorous plant reacted negatively toward a crew member. When Sulu became intoxicated from Psi 2000 polywater, he terrorized the corridors of the ship with his fencing hobby.

If Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock were unavailable on the bridge, Sulu stepped up to command the starship. For instance, Sulu took temporary command of the Enterprise as an unidentified ship attacked near Cestus III. Since they could not beam Captain Kirk back to the ship, the decision fell on Sulu on whether they should leave orbit or engage in maximum warp. Sulu then decided to leave orbit until the enemy ship left so that they could return and retrieve the captain.

6. Leonard McCoy

Leonard McCoy

When it came to the health and wellbeing of the crew, the Enterprise turned to the medical expertise of Leonard McCoy, who DeForest Kelley portrayed. McCoy served under Captain Kirk as the Life Sciences department head and chief medical officer. Amongst the crew, especially Captain Kirk, McCoy gained the nickname Bones, a reference to the civil war term for surgeons, “sawbones”. Unlike the ancient surgeons, McCoy luckily never needed the amputate any crewmember’s limbs.

Tied along with his understanding of the human body, McCoy also understood how the transporters affected human bodies. Thus, he was able to diagnose how the transporter split Captain Kirk into a good and bad side. He also consulted Kirk on how to merge back in with his darker side, for he could not survive for long as two separate beings.

As a medical expert, McCoy played a crucial role in solving many inflictions that threatened the safety of the entire crew. When the Enterprise investigated Psi 2000, several members of the crew became infected with a substance that made them act intoxicated. The lack of inhibitions made several crew members dangerous to themselves and others. Thus, McCoy’s remedy for the affliction saved the Enterprise’s mission.

5. Montgomery Scott

Montgomery Scott

James Doohan brought life to the man who kept the engines of the Enterprise in top shape, Montgomery Scott. In many ways, he may be the one man that is known well by those who have barely heard of Star Trek, thanks to the phrase “beam me up, Scotty”. While this phrase makes it easy to assume that his duties lay only with running the transporter, Lt. Scott played a much more vital role.

Montgomery Scott served as the chief engineer for the Enterprise during their five-year mission. He had three engineers that answered directly to him: Lieutenants Kyle, Leslie, and Gabler. While he and his team maintained and operate the transporters, they also kept the ship’s vital functions, like the engines, running. Scott even claimed that he knew more about the Enterprise’s engines than the people who had designed them. Thus, the crew lovingly referred to him as their “miracle worker”.

As with many of the bridge crewmembers, Montgomery Scott took command of the ship when Captain Kirk and Spock were unavailable as the second officer. Thus, he handled a few diplomatic and military situations as the commander of the Enterprise. While he showed an aptitude toward command, his only passion lay in engineering. So, he never wanted a captain position.

4. Nyota Uhura

Nyota Uhura

Nichelle Nichols made history when she donned the Starfleet uniform to become the Enterprise’s communications officer, Nyota Uhura. She became one of the first black women who hold a prominent role on a network television show. More importantly, Star Trek portrayed Uhura as a confident, educated woman whose skills were essential to the crew. Thus, she was not present only to sit in a miniskirt in the background.

Lt. Uhura was fluent in both English and Swahili from an early age. As a communications officer, she helped translate transmissions from multiple cultures across the galaxy. Furthermore, she had a strong aptitude for mathematics, which helped her decode and encode the Enterprise’s communications. Her technical skills also helped her man her station with ease.

Captain Kirk trusted and believed in Lt. Uhura’s skills. He trusted her skills so much that she helped man other stations, such as the helm, navigation, and science when necessary. She had even taken the command seat when the ship neared the second planet of the Taurean system, whose females had a “siren song” that incapacitated the male crewmembers.

Where Nichelle Nichols originally felt tempted to leave the Star Trek cast, she remained thanks to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. He told her that she should not give up since she was playing a role model for young black women. This came true as NASA astronaut Mae Jemison and comedian Whoopi Goldberg both cited Nichols and her role as Uhura as their inspiration.

3. Khan Noonien Singh

Khan Noonien Singh

When Ricardo Montalban guest-starred as Khan Noonien Singh in the season one episode, “Space Seed”, the role appeared to be a villain of the week. However, the suave cunning of Khan made him stand out as a character who would later make large waves in the Stark Trek mythos.

The Enterprise first discovered Khan and his group of augmented humans from the Eugenics Wars when they discovered the Botany Bay floating in space. Originally, this ship housed 86 augmented individuals from Earth’s darker times, though no one on the Enterprise knew what they found. So, they decided to revive the sleepers after they discovered that 12 had already perished thanks to the ship’s failing systems.

As Kahn woke up and regained his strength, his ruthless nature began to shine through his charisma. Initially, he took advantage of Captain Kirk’s goodwill to learn about the history that he had slept through. Once he felt confident with the new time that he woke in, he made moves to take over the ship. So, he woke his followers that were still asleep on the Botany Bay before returning to the Enterprise.

While Captain Kirk eventually subdued the augmented men with anesthetic gas, Khan still made one last move of defiance, trying to set off a warp core overload. Luckily, Captain Kirk subdued Khan and reclaimed command of his ship. However, rather than sending Khan and his men to the Federation as prisoners, Kirk left Khan to colonize the dangerous world, Ceti Alpha V. Later, Khan resurfaced to enact his revenge against Captain Kirk.

2. James T. Kirk

James T. Kirk

When it comes to the great captains of Star Trek’s legacy, William Shatner made his mark as the first televised captain, James T. Kirk. This man held the respect and admiration of the Enterprise’s crew. Additionally, Captain Kirk had his way with the women, easily wooing multiple from the various planets that his mission took him to. Above all, Captain Kirk dedicated himself to upholding the Federation’s principles of peace and prosperity.

So, when Captain Kirk found himself in situations where war could break out, he carefully guided his crew to keep the peace. Captain Kirk carefully maneuvered around the Romulan Neutral Zone, even becoming the first Federation crew to lay eyes on a Romulan ship. He also carefully negotiated with the Klingons on several occasions, often uncovering their plots. While he acknowledged these groups as threats, he treated them with respect and attempted to bridge peace with them.

Sadly, not every action that Captain Kirk remained beneficial to all. His worst decision may have been when he decided to leave Khan Noonien Singh and his augmented men to colonize a planet of their own. This planet proved to be undesirable to the group, and they later returned to enact revenge on Kirk. In the end, this decision led to the near destruction of the original Enterprise and the apparent death of his best friend, Spock.

1. Spock


No other crew member of the original Enterprise can hold a torch to the legacy that Leonard Nimoy’s character, Mr. Spock, held. Spock always had a special position in the Federation, for he was the child of both a Vulcan and a human. While he embraced Vulcan culture and traditions, he could not turn his back on his human heritage. Thus, he joined Starfleet to help bridge further understanding between the two groups.

As a Starfleet officer, Spock fell back on his logic to decide the best course of action. In many ways, Spock’s logical ways countered Captain Kirk’s passionate energy. Even though the two would clash on ideas from time to time, they trusted each other explicitly. Spock also had full faith in the abilities of his Captain, so he respected and deferred to the man’s leadership.

Spock also understood that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. This understanding led to his self-sacrifice to repair the Enterprise’s warp drive.

Past his time on the Enterprise, Spock continued to make a significant impact on Star Trek’s mythos. In his elder years, Spock dedicated himself to forging peace between Vulcan and Romulans, who had the same origins. As he worked at the reunification of these two species, he remained in Starfleet as an honored ambassador. Eventually, he even seemingly once again sacrificed himself as he attempted to save Romulus from its sun.

Who were your favorite characters from Star Trek: The Original Series?

We have shared with you our picks for the best characters that came from Star Trek’s original run from 1966-1969. Each of these characters has a legacy that expanded well past their roles in the original series. However, we would love to hear from you. Do you agree with our list? Comment below and let us know who your favorite Star Trek characters are.

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Made in Collaboration with:

Chris Ingledue 


Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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