Recently we used Valentine's Day as an excuse to think about Star Trek's greatest romances -- click HERE -- oh, as if we weren't drawing hearts around pictures of Worf and Dax all day anyway. But what about Star Trek's greatest bromances?
A bromance is more than just being friends. It is a deep kinship, a non-physical love, where two individuals recognize something of themselves in the other and can speak volumes in a glance. Working (and adventuring!) in the close confines of a starship will undoubtedly cause friction, but the bonds it forms will also be strong enough to withstand any phaser blast. Here, then, are the top bromances in Trek.
Trip Tucker and Captain Archer -
No matter what obstacles Captain Archer faced leading Earth's first foray into uncharted space, he knew he could rely on his old buddy Trip to keep the engines running and to keep him laughing during dinner.
There isn't much “good ol boy” macho behavior in the Star Trek universe, but a tiny and wholly agreeable dash of it exists when these two chums get together. Their hearty attitudes were frequently a source of confusion to mess hall companion T'Pol, though even she recognized the loyalty the two had for one another. When Trip's fears about the Xindi attack on Florida were confirmed – that his sister was among the casualties – the swiftness with which Archer had his buddy's back (“Whatever it takes”) is simultaneously enthralling and chilling.
Scotty and Keenser -
What's wrong with you? You don't like the little Green guy from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (2009)? He's terrific! Just imagine if Scotty had a pal in The Original Series to frown at him when he was doing something foolish. Maybe all the unfortunate business from “Wolf in the Fold” could have been avoided.
Even if you are one of the people who like to pretend that Keenser isn't awesome, this absolutely counts because somehow they're able to communicate even though Keenser doesn't appear to speak. This is true bromance territory.
Tuvok and Captain Janeway -
If you thought bromances could only be between men, you clearly need to get out of the Alpha Quadrant once in a while.
Captain Janeway was among the finest of all captains because she had a unique relationship with each member of her crew. It was with Tuvok, however, that she was most able to let down her (frequently changing) hair.
Though Tuvok was, indeed, an emotions-denying Vulcan, he seemed very much at ease with being Janeway's Rock of Gibraltar (or Vulcan's Forge, if you will.) While Tuvok did keep his feelings close to his uniform, he did have a wife and family back home, and the long-term nature of his closeness with the Captain did help him deal with his separation.
Commander/Captain Sisko and Dax
Well into the sixth season of Deep Space Nine, Captain Sisko would still call Dax “old man.”
There was nothing old mannish about the way Jadzia looked, but the Dax symbiote containing the memories of Curzon (and others) lived within her, and was woven into her own personality. As such, Dax was more privy than others to Sisko's rakish side as well as stories from the past. (No version of Dax had any qualms about exposing that side of his/herself.)
Kirk and Bones
There's only one person Captain Kirk would ever let shush him, and that was Dr. McCoy.
A friend, a colleague and someone to crack wise with at Starfleet functions, Kirk relied on McCoy to keep him in line when his thinking got overly analytical. As an advisor, his voice was equal to that of Spock's, but as a fellow man he maybe had the one-up on reaching the Captain on a gut level. This isn't to say that Kirk considered him a better friend than Spock, but they certainly had the Vulcan's more troubling attributes as a bonding topic. What percentage of TOS episodes ended with Kirk and Bones sharing a knowing wink over Spock's behavior? I'd have to consult the library computer tapes, but I imagine it is a very high number.
Jake Sisko and Nog
It's cool enough to grow up in the future but . . . I guess if you are there, you don't recognize it. (Heck, I grew up in the future to people much older than me, but I didn't know!) Young Jake Sisko and Nog the Ferengi may not have thought much about their time, but they had to have been aware of their place. Growing up on a space station adjacent to the galaxy's first known stable wormhole, as well as a planet undergoing an inchoate independence, just as a major interstellar war breaks out is certainly one that's going to leave you with stories to tell the grandkids. (Luckily, Jake's got a head start with his journalism career.)
But beyond the factions and the scheming there is getting into good natured trouble, be it with a cache of self-sealing stem bolts or just hanging out on the upper floor of the Promenade and checking out the ladies. Jake and Nog are our Tom and Huck.
Dr. Bashir and Elim Garak
Dr. Bashir came to Deep Space Nine to practice “frontier medicine,” so he had to have had befriending someone like Garak in mind. Furthermore, Garak, a former agent of the Cardassians’ ruthless intelligence agency known as the Obsidian Order, condemned to live out his days as a “simple tailor” on the station, absolutely needs someone to enthrall with his mysterious stories to keep his mind alive. Hence, the frequent Replimat meetings of two men who grow a true friendship after finding something in the other they need to keep their imaginations buzzing.
Did they ever become real friends? That's hard to say, but they recognized a special camaraderie, an understanding that they each served a function for one another, which is a not insignificant aspect of a bromance.
Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge and Lt. Commander Data
Even on a science fiction show, these guys were nerds.
Jabbering in rapid-fire technobabble, but making it sound like a Bach cantata, La Forge and Data bonded over the love of science's gadgets and gizmos and could busy themselves for hours tinkering and theorizing. Geordi's VISOR and Data's positronic brain were just the entry points for these two analytical minds. Geordi's firsthand knowledge of human feeling often made Data something of the pupil, a position someone who can make sixty trillion calculations in a second wasn't frequently in.
Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir
Hey, wait, you say. Can Dr. Bashir be in two bromances? I say, have you met the guy? When you are as gregarious and naturally charming as he is (not to mention dashing), the answer is yes.
Bashir and O'Brien, quick to connect over their shared heritage which pointed, in part, to the British Isles, may have done more goofing off together on Deep Space Nine than Jake and Nog. When not playing darts they were gallivanting in the Holosuites, recreating battles from history and playing dress-up. In Bashir, O'Brien saw a young bachelor in the farthest reaches of space, and in O'Brien Bashir saw the joys of a family life. Bashir was always there to lend O'Brien a hand after an episode where the Chief would get kicked around (which was frequently) and when the doctor finally hooked up with Ezri Dax, he joked that he actually liked O'Brien a little bit more.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
No, not Kirk and Spock: Shatner and Nimoy.
The friendship between Kirk and Spock (I have been, and always shall be!) isn't a really a bromance. So much of it is based on bridging their differences. Oh, it is a closeness and a destiny that exists in all timelines, don't get me wrong. . . but a bromance it ain't.
But I'll tell you what is: Octogenarian buddies William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Have you seen the two of them together on a convention stage? Have you watched that video of them going to one another's house? Do you follow the two of them on Twitter? Heck, even that Priceline ad is fantastic. Are you aware that they truly are best buds – and not just for show or for the cameras? (I have firsthand knowledge of this – one of the times I interviewed Mr. Shatner I asked if he'd heard from Leonard recently. His response was a quick, “we're going to his place for dinner in a few hours” and expressed that this was not an uncommon experience.)
Here are two men who share a remarkable personal history, similar backgrounds and a journey through pop culture history that is almost unequaled. There's a lot about Star Trek that is science fiction, but the bromance between Shatner and Nimoy is science fact.
Surely I left out your favorite bromance – let me know who it was in the comments so I can hang my head in shame.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, ScreenCrush and Badass Digest. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels.