The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation has some serious acting chops. They didn't particularly need guest stars to make episodes stand out. But it certainly did help!
The one-off appearances of guest stars can elevate scenes and compliment the regulars. Admittedly, Wesley needs the help from time to time. Behold, here are some of our favorite guest stars from The Next Generation.
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Suzie Plakson as E'Ehleyr
Suzie Plakson is a stand-out in a sea of Klingon guests. This could be because she is an early example of a Next Gen Klingon. It could also be due to the fact that she was Worf's first serious love interst — not to mention the mother of his son, Alexander. Half-human, half-Klingon, E'Ehleyr combines the best traits of each species. She has the aggression and confidence of a Klingon with the discretion of a human. She's an equal acting conterpart to everyone's favorite Klingon, Worf.
James Doohan as Montgomery Scott
Hey, we know that face! James Doohan is familiar from Star Trek: The Original Series, and he's not the only original cast member to appear in The Next Generation. Leonard Nimoy made an appearance in season five's "Unification" Parts 1 & 2. DeForest Kelley also made an appearance in the pilot episode for Next Gen! Doohan's appearance really stands out though, perhaps because he struggles with themes we can all relate to — the desire to find a place for ourself and facing unfamiliar situations. Not to mention Scotty's painful nostalgia for time gone by.
Bebe Neuwirth as Lanel
Bebe Neuwirth has a small (relatively) insignificant role in this episode. Known for her work as Lilith on Fraiser and Cheers, Neuwirth made the transition to sci-fi to provide some comic relief to Riker. In this episode, Riker finds himself in a pre-warp civilization, where Neuwirth's nerdy character lightens the mood. Over all, this over-the-top, hammed-up performance is one of our go-tos for a laugh.
Saul Rubinek as Kivas Fajo
Another Frasier alum! Although Rubinek came into filming halfway through to replace another actor, his comedic energy makes it hard to believe he wasn't the first choice. He also tames his comedic energy to show a sinister side that we can't get enough of.
Jean Simmons as Admiral Norah Satie
The classic Hollywood glamour of Jean Simmons elevates what plays a little too much like courtroom drama. Simmons' character starts as a rough-and-tough sort of Starfleet Admiral, but we quickly find out that she is out of control and must be stopped. Simmons portrayal of Admiral Satie allows the character, and her flaws, to be unveiled perfectly.
Elizabeth Dennehy as Lt. Cmdr. Shelby
"The Best of Both Worlds" (Parts 1& 2)
Elizabeth Dennehy can really hold her own on screen, even when up against Captain Picard and the commanding, terrifying Borg. Annoying but capable, her portrayal of Shelby gives the audience confidence in her ability as second to Riker. Unfortunately, this character never returned to the Enterprise. We like to think she was promoted to a different ship.
David Ogden Stiers as Timicin
This quietly moving perfomance exemplifies a man torn in several directions. In Timicin's case, he's torn between love and loyalty. In the end, he must make a heartbreaking decision. The way Stiers brings this choice to life is what makes his perfomance so memorable, and what landed him on this list.
Jonathan Del Arco as Third of Five/Hugh
All hail Hugh. Jonahan Del Arco's Hugh was such a stellar performance that he was the inspiration for Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager. That being said, he brings a childlike wonder to Hugh that isn't quite seen in Seven of Nine. Despite being Borg, we can't help but love and empathize with Hugh. Del Arco demonstrates what it's like to lose one's individuality. However, he also shows us what it's like to have hope restored.
David Warner as Gul Madred
"Chain of Command" (Parts 1 & 2)
This episode provides some fantastic acting from Patrick Stewart, as he is tortured by the Cardassions. Stewart's performance is expertly complimented by David Warner as Gul Madred, the Cardassian torturer. Warner executes this role by being measured and calm in his actions, even when they are horrible (like bringing his daughter into the torture chamber).
Mark Lenard as Sarek
After DeForest Kelley's apperance, Mark Lenard was the next TOS actor to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lenard's role carries a much deeper resonance than might appear. Through the magic of heightened science-fiction, the Vulcan's breakdown serves to tell a story of ageing and dementia, something Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was experiencing. Lenard conveys these complex emotions well while also being a nod to The Original Series.