Star Trek: So Why Do We Still Not Have a Live-Action Alien Lead?

A franchise like Star Trek should always get its respect when it comes to inclusion on television since the premiere of The Original Series in 1966. In fact, one of the most endearing characters of not just science fiction, but all of television history is Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. While Spock achieved the title of captain (I don't know why not admiral) and later, ambassador of Vulcan in the franchise, the actor's charismatic and stalwart performance has stood the test of time and remains important even to this day. Without Nimoy's Spock appearing in J.J. Abrams' Kelvin Universe reboot in 2009's Star Trek, would the franchise revival have even been possible without the passing of the torch? That being said, we have eight live-action Star Trek shows and countless films… and zero alien characters as Starfleet main leads holding command?

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ronald Moore on Fighting for Worf Arc
Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Image courtesy of Paramount

In TOS William Shatner's James T. Kirk is the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise; The Next Generation and Picard lead is Sir Patrick Stewart as Capt./Adm Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S Enterprise-D; Avery Brooks plays Capt/Cmdr Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine; Kate Mulgrew is Capt/Adm Kathryn Janeway in Voyager; Scott Bakula is Capt. Jonathan Archer in Enterprise; Sonequa Martin-Green is Cmdr/Capt Michael Burnham in Discovery, and Anson Mount is Capt. Christopher Pike in Strange New Worlds. The animated shows like Star Trek: The Animated Series are an extension of TOS; Lower Decks lead is Ensign Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), and even Prodigy's only Starfleet officer is Mulgrew's Janeway with an alien crew flying the U.S.S. Protostar rank-free. What do they all have in common? All of them are human characters (even the AI ones)!

Star Trek: Why Do We Not Have a Live-Action Alien Character Lead?
Aron Eisenberg in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Image courtesy of Paramount

So for all the talk of inclusion, you can't have a narrative like the first Klingon captain in Starfleet?! I mean the Picard prequel book established that Worf, the first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E gets to be captain after Picard leaves the ship. The character was originally played by Michael Dorn with the actor and fans endorsing a Capt. Worf series for some time now. Klingons were not only Kirk's greatest adversaries but also established a long history in the franchise and had come full circle with Worf being Starfleet's first Klingon officer. Even when revisiting them in future canon, they have been regulated to the background until Discovery season one as they returned as adversaries again given the pre-Kirk timeline. If you took out Burnham from Discovery or put her in a lesser role, Doug Jones's Saru is perfectly capable of leading as the character is a captain.

Star Trek: Why Do We Not Have a Live-Action Alien Character Lead?
Jolene Blalock and John Billingsley in Star Trek: Enterprise. Image courtesy of Paramount

It's a travesty how as inclusive as the franchise is that we can't see some real progress in having an alien character lead to represent Starfleet's ideals. It's not just Worf deserving of this, but also we could continue the adventures of Starfleet's first Ferengi officer Nog, originally played by the late Aron Eisenberg, rising up the ranks after the Dominion War via a recast. We're so used to humans getting into intergalactic problems on "Star Trek" that it's just mind-boggling, especially considering the storyline possibilities. Like the way that TNG had Worf struggle between his loyalties to the Klingon Empire and the Federation. I know there are still other shows in the works and among them being a Michelle Yeoh-fronted Section 31 series, but I think we're long overdue for the face of a series to not be human for once.

Star Trek: So Why Do We Still Not Have a Live-Action Alien Lead?
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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