Published Apr 27, 2023
Star Trek's Most Successful Imposters, Ranked
Mirror Universe baddies, possessions, 'Thomas' Riker, and more!
By Jennifer Boudinot
What’s the penalty for impersonating an officer?
Take a look at these 13 times a Star Trek character had a doppelgänger.
13. An Out-of-Body Vacation
“But he likes it!” is a rare defense when an energy lifeform is possessing a crew member’s body, but that’s basically what Captain Archer gets in return when he asks an ephemeral species to leave Commander Tucker alone. Even more surprising, it's not lying — when the possession ends, Tucker recounts the beautiful memories he was just reliving. The altered, oddly behaving crew members aboard the Enterprise are pretty easy to spot, but the real trouble comes when the "wisps" possessing them decide they’d rather keep the bodies than go back to their original forms.
12. Captain Kirk’s Evil Side
Star Trek: The Original Series — Kirk is Split into Two
When Kirk is split into two different beings in one of the most horrific transporter accidents in Star Trek history (and that’s saying a lot), one Kirk comes out evil and one, only good. The Original Series loved exploring philosophical issues, and in “The Enemy Within,” we find out that Kirk needs his evil side to successfully command. Thanks to Yeoman Rand scratching him in the face during an attack, the Evil Kirk is easily identified. And thanks to Scotty’s mechanical genius, the transporter is able to reunite the two sides of the captain. But first, the ragey Kirk stages a memorable showdown on the Bridge, bellowing “I’m the real Kirk!”
11. The Doctor Tries Acting
You’d think that knowing the people you’re impersonating would give someone an advantage, but when The Doctor takes the form of Captain Janeway in the penultimate episode of Voyager, it doesn’t take Chakotay long to catch on. The Doctor’s trying to free the captain, who’s been held hostage, by rendezvousing with her captors and meeting their demands — but Chakotay knows Janeway always seeks his counsel on major decisions, unlike her double. The Doctor’s impersonations of Chakotay and a pregnant Torres last even less time. Although he considers himself a keen observer of humanity, perhaps he’s simply not a good actor?
10. Kira, Not in Love
If there's one thing the Female Changeling on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine likes to do more than talk trash about “solids,” it’s prod Odo about his crush on Major Kira. True to form (literally), she never would have gotten that information if she hadn’t taken the shape of the major. Pretending to be Kira trapped in a rapidly growing rock structure, the Changeling gets Odo to admit he’s in love with her. But he realizes it can’t be the real Kira when she says she’s in love with too.
9. A Salty Saboteur
Sometimes people won’t suspect you’re an imposter if you just keep your mouth shut. Such was the strategy of the shape-shifting imposter known as the salt vampire, who appeared on the first episode of Star Trek that ever aired. By impersonating a crewman named Green, it’s able to gain access to the Enterprise. It then takes on the form of Dr. McCoy, and makes it through an entire meeting by simply staying silent.
8. Picard Gone Wild
Riker, Troi, and La Forge look on, perturbed. “That’s not the captain I know,” Riker says somberly. Picard isn’t making a command decision that they disagree with — he’s leading 10 Forward in song! For those that know him, this is a dead giveaway that he’s not himself. But the Imposter Picard gets pretty far before the crew ultimately takes back the ship. He even works in a dance with Dr. Crusher.
7 . Beware the Evil Twin
If you have a brother who’s a) evil and b) looks identical to you, chances are, he’s going to try to take your place at some point. Data’s brother Lore doesn’t waste any time in “Datalore,” his first appearance on The Next Generation. Wesley Crusher catches on pretty fast, but no one will listen to him, and Lore almost turns everyone on the ship over to the Crystalline Entity before he’s found out.
6. A Will Riker Crossover that Wasn’t
The two Kirks were able to successfully rejoin after their transporter accident, but what if the halves were separated for a decade? That’s what happens to Will Riker when he comes across — well, himself — on a mission to a planet he almost didn’t make it off of years before.
This version of Riker, who calls himself by his middle name, isn’t evil per se, but he’s had a much harder life. So it’s no surprise when Thomas Riker joins the rebel faction known as the Maquis. What is a surprise is when he impersonates Will aboard Deep Space 9. Like a true Riker, he charms his way all the way aboard a ship that he easily steals.
5. When a Possession Can’t Stop a Party
Chief O’Brien is excited to see Keiko when she gets back from a work trip... until she matter-of-factly tells him she’s not actually Keiko, but a being who’s sharing her body. Afraid for his wife’s life, O’Brien goes along with Fake Keiko’s plans to destroy the wormhole. Meanwhile, he’s horrified that she insists on going ahead with his birthday party (she says the real Keiko spent too long planning). The guests don’t notice a thing, but luckily they begin to suspect sabotage before the plan can be completed.
4. Lorca Loves Sunglasses
A long con so effective it even had us, the viewers, fooled, the Captain Lorca from the Mirror Universe took the place of the “real” Lorca and command of the starship Discovery. When he goes back with Commander Burnham, she thinks they’re both playing roles. But when she realizes that people from the Mirror Universe can’t handle bright light, it suddenly comes together for her — and for us.
3. An Easy Con
Streaming through the Delta Quadrant headed straight for home, the crew of the starship Voyager became minor celebrities in some of the systems they passed. Two con artists use this to their advantage to make deals they don’t deliver on — one with a commitment to his character that even Tuvok could appreciate. They do such a good job that even when faced with the video, some aliens can’t tell the real Janeway apart from her wigged doppelgänger.
2. The Changeling Infiltration
Two of the Federation's greatest threats — the Changelings and the Borg — re-emerge and conspire together resulting in the most insidious conspiracy Starfleet has ever witnessed. A rogue faction of Changelings, prisoners of war weaponized by Starfleet itself during Project Proteus, saw their biology evolved after experimentation allowing them to mimic humanoid blood, hold their form, and pass every test implemented in the wake of the Dominion War.
As such, the Changelings were able to impersonate high ranking Starfleet officials, including Captain Tuvok. Upon passing the initial test, Commander Seven of Nine approaches her dear friend "Tuvok" with knowledge of the conspiracy. With traditional testing like vocal pattern recognition and biological scans no longer effective, Seven relies on old-school detective work asking them questions they should know the answer to. When "Tuvok" agrees to meet on Aklion 7 and fails to recall that it was Seven's Vulcan friend himself who stabilized her neural pattern, the shapeshifter ends the ruse. Unfortunately, the Titan learns how far up the conspiracy goes. Hidden in plain sight, undetected for so long, they manage to launch their true attack on Frontier Day by assimilating all of Starfleet.
1. The GOAT
When a person has been pretending to be someone for so long that the imposter themselves becomes the “real” character, that’s a queen of imposters — or shall we say, an emperor. Brought over from the Mirror Universe by Michael Burnham, Emperor Georgiou fools just about everyone, and actually becomes a trusted (by some) member of Starfleet. It seems fitting, then, when she finds out she’s more than just an imposter and is worthy of given a second chance at life by the Guardian of Forever.