Published Apr 20, 2023
Hikaru Sulu's Top Moments
For George Takei's birthday, let's look back at his barrier-breaking role!
By Christine Dinh
One of the first significant casting and depiction on Star Trek was that of Hikaru Sulu, the Starfleet officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, as portrayed by Japanese-American actor George Takei. His presence on the Bridge, alongside the likes of Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Uhura, "helped to positively shape Western views of Asian Americans."
In honor of Takei's birthday, we're shining a light on the captivating swordsman, helmsman, and eventual commanding officer!
The Swashbuckling Musketeer
In "The Naked Time," as the Enterprise descends into mayhem following a contagion ravishing the crew and affecting their inhibitions, Sulu shows off the virtues of fencing as well as his skills as a swordsman as he stalks around the ship shirtless.
While this isn't our Prime Sulu, we get to set George Takei show his range in "Mirror, Mirror," when we see the Mirror Universe's Sulu, who chews up the scenes as the leering, cutthroat, evil version of himself.
Officer "Don't Call Me Tiny" Sulu
When you serve alongside the likes of Kirk, you often find yourself in some sort of scrap. In Star Trek: The Search for Spock, Kirk and Sulu attempt to spring McCoy from a Starfleet holding cell. While Kirk grabs the doctor, Sulu dispatches two guards, while letting them know name-calling is not appropriate here.
Captain Sulu, the U.S.S. Excelsior, and Loyalty to the Crew vs. Loyalty to Starfleet
In Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, while commanding the U.S.S. Excelsior, Captain Sulu proves himself to be loyal to both his new crew and old. Violating Starfleet orders, Sulu mounted a rescue of Kirk and McCoy.
Despite this, the Excelsior was vital at the Khitomer Conference, the peace negotiations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, where the Excelsior along with the Enterprise-A battled General Chang's prototype Bird-of-Prey, prevented an assassination attempt on the Federation President and exposed the Khitomer conspiracy.
In Star Trek: Voyager's "Flashback," Tuvok ends up taking Captain Janeway back to his experience aboard the Excelsior 80 years prior, where he was serving as a junior officer under Sulu's command, revisiting the moment Sulu ordered his crew to violate orders, which Tuvok opposes. With only two months of active duty, Sulu explains to the young Tuvok why he violated Starfleet officers, stressing the strong bond and sense of family that comes from serving with your crewmates long enough. After all, there's more that happens on a ship than just "carrying out orders and observing regulations."
HONORABLE MENTION: Captain Sulu and the Horsey
In Star Trek: Lower Decks' "Crisis Point 2: Paradoxus," after learning his double, William Boimler, died suddenly, Ensign Brad Boimler spirals and embarks on a spiritual quest that brings him face to face the "even better" Captain Sulu in a hallucinatory dream.
On the randomness of death, Sulu offered the sagely perspective to his fellow Starfleet officer, "I've lost many friends. Some heroically, some tragically. The randomness of death is merely a reflection of the unexpected joys we find in life."
Christine Dinh (she/her) is the managing editor for StarTrek.com. She’s traded the Multiverse for helming this Federation Starship.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States and Latin America on Paramount+, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India and more, and in Canada on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. The series will also be available to stream on Paramount+ in the UK, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and South Korea later this year.