The 10 Best Characters in Star Trek: The Original Series, Ranked

Star Trek stands out for many reasons, but mostly for its cast of unforgettable characters. Here are the best from the original run.
The 10 Best Characters in Star Trek: The Original Series, Ranked

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Since the day it aired, Star Trek has endured for generations, appealing to those even beyond the edges of science fiction.

Its impact among fans and non-fans alike made it a touchstone of pop culture and a backer of the scientific community. Truly, it lived out its maxim: "To boldly go where no man has gone before."

One of the major appeals of Star Trek has always been its characters. Starting from the original run, the crew of the USS Enterprise consisted of the most brilliant and diverse members of the Federation.

And through their origins and motivations, they stand out among the rest and remain unforgettable characters that we aspire to follow. Here's our take on the best Star Trek characters from the original series!

10. Saavik

Saavik is unlike any other female subordinate in Starfleet.

As an apprentice of Spock and a female Vulcan, she endured the necessary obstacles (notably the Kobayashi Maru) that prepared her for the toughest skirmishes that the Enterprise would go through. Even during tragedies, Saavik kept her composure as a navigator.

Another aspect that makes Saavik stand out is her unconventional appearance. Saavik doesn't adhere to the conventions of the time for an attractive female character. She's fierce, independent, and loyal to her crew—all things that made us admire her.

As for her movie-only appearances? They showed a lot of potential for future female Star Trek characters to follow in.

9. Pavel Chekov

As the Enterprise's navigator, Pavel Chekov brought a youthful energy that was secretly the spark of life for the crew. Quick-witted and fervent, the young Russian Starfleet officer was always the subject of witty banter amongst his fellow crew members.

Through his intelligence and capability, Chekov progressed from one rank to the next. He was even brought on as executive officer for the USS Reliant. And yet, he remained deeply loyal to his crew, especially under Kirk during their quest to rescue Spock.

Chekov was originally meant to capture a young demographic, but he ended up becoming their best representative.

8. Hikaru Sulu

Hikaru Sulu had an illustrious career, going from physicist to becoming the Enterprise's helm officer. He also became the Excelsior's captain, and he was also gifted in fencing, botany, and martial arts. But beyond all that, he packed a riveting journey that put his skills to the test.

George Takei's signature role was meant to represent people of Asian descent. His backstory honors that, as well as his antiquated attitude and his persistent virtue to serve. With his stern character and set of skills, he proved to be a captivating figure whose loyalty was to his fellow crew.

7. Sarek

The Federation should give credit to the untethered legacy of Sarek. As a Vulcan ambassador, he presented a confident stance that's deeply rooted in his homeland. Likewise, Sarek passed this on to his kin.

But his character went way beyond his reputation. His relationship with his family was the most complex of the series, with him and Spock having huge differences that often put them at odds, especially when talking about Spock's path in Starfleet.

Nonetheless, Sarek ensured he was always on the right track, and his love and affection for his wife Amanda Grayson was a true story highlight.

6. Montgomery Scott

There's no one in the Enterprise to "beam us up" more than the Scotland native Montgomery Scott. As the ship's chief engineer, Scotty made his engineering skills and technical expertise useful, especially during tricky and dangerous situations in which Kirk pulled off his schemes.

Scotty knows the Enterprise from the ground up, treating it like his home and knowing how to take care of the crew from unseen perils. Yet, his loose attitude made him a loyal friend and funny drinking buddy. And with James Doohan on the role, Scotty is one Starfleet's greatest.

5. Nyota Uhura

One of the most groundbreaking characters of the Star Trek lore, Nyota Uhura proved that diversity in the Enterprise was a strength.

As a bridge officer and chief communications officer, she held a peacemaking attitude and a calming presence but never relented in showing fierce defense or opposition.

Aside from her skills in linguistics and communication, Lt. Uhura proved to be more than capable at leadership—and that helped her climb the ranks in Starfleet, solidifying her as a tough-as-nails officer. But most important was her unwavering bond with her fellow crew.

4. Khan Noonien Singh

Of all the villains the Enterprise fought against, Khan Noonien Singh remains the most memorable.

First appearing in the episode "Space Seed," Khan was seen as an ambitious conqueror who controlled a quarter of the Earth. When Kirk and his crew thwarted his plans for domination, he swore revenge over the Enterprise's captain.

What made Khan effective was his presence. He may be a heinous vanquisher, but Ricardo Montalbán gave him an eloquent charm that made him fun to watch. While it was tricky to figure out his next move, Khan subverted our expectations with his clever poise.

3. Leonard "Bones" McCoy

Leonard McCoy—or "Bones"—would always remind you that "he is a doctor." That, among the rest of his quotable lines. But his time in the USS Enterprise proved more than just catchphrases, as he was the chief medical officer who tended to the safety and security of the ship.

He was also a good friend to Captain Kirk, sometimes serving as his moral compass (which put him at odds with the more logic-driven Spock).

Even with his belligerent attitude, Bones found heart and humor in serving his crew, and that helped carry him through perils, such as helping retake the Enterprise and possessing Spock's katra.

2. James T. Kirk

No other captain has boldly gone where no captain had gone before more than Captain James T. Kirk.

He embodied the macho hero archetype most truly in the realm of science fiction: proud, brash, and manic, yet clever, confident, and determined in his ambitions as the strong captain of the USS Enterprise.

But beneath all his action-hero exploits were his diplomatic skills and tactical brilliance in averting harm. He remained constant in achieving harmony with other races while keeping his love for adventure.

That plus William Shatner's unforgettable performance made Kirk a spectacular force of nature to behold in every episode.

1. Spock

Long praise goes to the one character who made Star Trek the great saga that it is. Spock is the revered executive/science officer of the Enterprise, second to Captain Kirk. With his intelligence and intuition, he's seen as a reliable adviser in dealing with other alien races.

Trekkies and casual fans alike admire Spock for his determined spirit that helped him overcome his limits. As a half-Vulcan, he had to deal with prejudice and odds with his crew, especially Kirk and Bones.

Yet, amazingly, in spite of all that, with his wit and agility, he found a way to be relatable. Truly a fan favorite for the ages!