Nyota Uhura remains a groundbreaking character even to this day. Originated by Nichelle Nichols, the communications officer of the starship Enterprise was not only a courageous and clever addition to the crew, but represented a better future for viewers. Nichols herself was asked to remain on the show by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he said it was one of the few shows he allowed his children to watch due to its depiction of Black characters as an equal leading character. Nichols also inspired legions of others, such as Sonequa Martin-Green, who blazed a trail as Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery.
In 2009, Zoe Saldana stepped into the role in Star Trek (2009). She delivered an equally powerful performance, setting the stage for Celia Rose Gooding to play the role in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. While Gooding’s Uhura is a cadet, she is ready to prove herself and find her place among the cosmos.
To celebrate the beginnings of Uhura’s journey, we collected a few of Uhura’s most iconic moments from across the franchise to highlight her courage, her cleverness, and her leadership.
While this episode is full of dated views on gender, it does feature a scene highlighting Uhura’s friendship with the crew, particularly Spock. In the recreation room, Spock plays the Vulcan lute as Uhura sings “Oh, On the Starship Enterprise” for the delight of the crew. While their performance ends abruptly due to Charlie’s powers, it’s a sweet scene that not only highlights Nichols’ gifted voice but shows that Uhura is a character with multiple sides to her beyond being a gifted officer.
What do you do when trapped in an alternate universe? Uhura, along with Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy, finds the answer to that question in “Mirror, Mirror.” Uhura plays a key role in getting everyone home by distracting Sulu long enough for Scotty to divert warp power to the transporters. Even though she’s nervous, Uhura still proves herself to be as capable as the other officers on the mission, and without her bravery, Kirk and his crew would still be trapped in the Mirror Universe.
“The Lorelei Signal”
When Kirk and several male officers have their life forces drained on a planet full of siren-like women, Uhura steps up to take charge. Leading an all-women landing party, she convinces the women to free her captain and crew and to stop luring men to their deaths every 27 years. She even arranges for a ship — crewed only by women Starfleet officers — to come to pick up the women and take them to a more habitable planet. This is one of the few original episodes to allow Uhura to take full command, and of course she more than rises to the occasion, resolving the problem peacefully and without losing a single crewmember.
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
When she has the opportunity to help Spock come back to life, Uhura joins the rest of the crew in taking action. While her role is smaller in the film compared to her colleagues, she still gets one key and memorable scene. Uhura easily disarms and stops a young, brash Starfleet officer who’s guarding the Transporter room. “I’m glad you’re on our side,” McCoy says, and he’s right. Any side with Uhura on it? That’s clearly the winning team.
Star Trek Beyond
In the Kelvin universe, Uhura gets many opportunities to shine, but one key moment is her face-off with Krall in Star Trek Beyond. Uhura never gives up the faith that Kirk and her fellow crew members will save the day, and never displays fear or worry when Krall is threatening her. Once rescued and aboard the Franklin, it’s Uhura who is able to figure out that Krall is actually Captain Edison via the video logs left on the ship. Without her, the mystery behind Krall would have never been solved. She showcases her quick thinking to help save the day.
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This article was originally published on May 16, 2022.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia & the Nordics. The series will air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel & stream on Crave in Canada with additional international availability to be announced at a later date. The series is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.