It takes a lot for a guest star to stand out. Take Khan, a one time villain who everyone remembers. But I give credit to the movie for that. Another example I already discussed was in the episode “The Lights of Zetar”, and the cool Mira Romaine. Here are five guest stars who appeared one time but managed to steal the show, and in my opinion were so badass they deserved to be seen more than once!
Couple rules. No gimmicks (like a character is “possessed” and is really someone else), they have to have appeared ONCE so some obvious choices like Q, Harry Mudd, and Cyrano Jones aren’t here. And the character had to have a role in the story and not just be a glorified cameo.
Dr.Helen Noel (TOS)
I haven’t talked much about “Dagger of the Mind” because the episode is mostly a bore. Yeah it gave us the first Vulcan mind meld, but that’s about all. The saving grace is the character Helen Noel, played by Marianna Hill. Yes she was a stand in for Janice Rand who had been written out by then, but damn this character rocked. She was beautiful but strong and smart. She steals her scenes and even has some pretty decent action. Looking at the fan art online I can’t be alone on this one. It’s to bad we didn’t see more of her. A bad-ass female in classic Trek is not the easiest to come by.
This was a tall order, playing Data’s android daughter. Lal was created by Data as his offspring and Hallie Todd was just fantastic. She played the character with such an innocence and charm that it was hard to not like her. She was smart and eager to learn. “The Offspring” could be considered a boring bottle show but Todd’s performance elevates it enough that the episode is great.
Aamin Marritza (DS9)
Picking one from DS9 is very hard because there weren’t to many characters who didn’t appear more than once. That show had a bigger roster of recurring characters than Seinfeld! But I remember the episode “Duet” and it made sense. This could be considered a cheat since he’s the “villain” of the episode. But truth is he was no villain, he was a coward. A clerk who didn’t have the spine to stand up and defend the Bajorans he heard being tortured every day. Harris Yulin is a great actor who sold ever moment he appeared and his performance (and the amazing writing) once again turned a bottle show into something very special.
Lyndsay Ballard (VOY)
“Ashes to Ashes” is one of my favorite episodes of Voyager. And it’s all thanks to Kim Rhodes who played the character Lyndsay Ballard so well. The plot is that after being killed Ballard was brought back to life as an alien species. But she remembers her old life and wants to get back to it. But she finds rejoining that old life a lot harder than she expected. I guess the moral is “you can’t go home again” but it’s a very well done episode. It sort of reminds of “Fury” but in that one they insulted the returning character. Here they give the character a proper send off. To bad she never appeared before, or since.
And since I got nothing for Enterprise, here is one more from a series already mentioned :
Berlinghoff Rasmussen (TNG)
I’ve talked about this episode before but how could I not count Matt Frewer’s fantastic performance here? He plays a time traveler who claims to be from the future. And it would have been so easy for this guy to be an obnoxious jerk we all hated. But the actor’s charm wins out and we enjoy his antics. I guess technically he is a villain but what else do you remember from “A Matter of Time” aside from that awesome Picard speech in act 4?
The thing in common here is that all five were very solid actors who knew how to take a guest role and make it memorable. That isn’t easy. And I know I missed more so comment and let me know who you think deserves to mentioned here. If I come with five more I’ll be back with that.