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Star Trek's Strongest Supporting Women Characters

Beyond the Captain Janeways, Dr. Crushers, and Major Kiras, there has always been strong women in Star Trek.

Illustrated collage featuring Star Trek's Number One, Kasidy Yates, Carol Marcus, Ro Laren, Lursa, Edith Keeler, Rachel Garrett, and Lily Sloane

While the Star Trek franchise reached its pinnacle with Kate Mulgrew's fantastic portrayal of Captain Janeway, it began earlier with the truly revolutionary casting of Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura. While one can nitpick and say she was subservient to the boys (and there's definitely an argument to be made), the very fact that an African American woman was seen on the Bridge had a direct impact on the viewing public. (Just ask Whoopi Goldberg!)

As Women's History Month comes to a close, let's take a look back — beyond the Dr. Crushers and Major Kiras — to some of the less-obvious strong women characters in the history of Star Trek.

10. Captain Kasidy Yates

Close-up of Kasidy Yates as she smiles over at Ben Sisko in 'The Way of the Warrior'

"The Way of the Warrior"

It takes a special kind of woman to win the heart of a space station commander, military leader, and Emissary to the Prophets. Kasidy Yates is that women.

She's a hardworking cargo ship captain (engaging in some light and mostly benign smuggling on the side) who refuses special treatment when caught or when it’s time to pitch in against the Dominion. Plus, she likes baseball. Yeah, Kasidy is awesome — let Sisko do the cooking!

9. Yeoman Leslie Thompson

Yeoman Leslie Thompson beams down to a planet's surface with the away team in 'By Any Other Name'

"By Any Other Name"

Okay, an odd pick, sure, but hear me out 'cause this is important.

How much was The Original Series in the vanguard? They were willing to have women beam down to planets as part of armed away teams. And sometimes (okay, once) they were willing to kill them off. Pretty radical!

Yeoman Thompson was the redshirt who was turned into the giant chalk Dungeons & Dragons cube and then crushed to death by that jerk from the Andromeda Galaxy in "By Any Other Name."

8. Romulan Commander

The Romulan commander sits comfortably in her seat in 'The Enterprise Incident'

"The Enterprise Incident"

Nobody said they all had to be good guys!

While ultimately unsuccessful, the unnamed Romulan Commander from The Original Series' "The Enterprise Incident" was cunning enough that it took the wits of both Kirk and Spock to take her down.

She had ambition and drive, as well as the courage to sacrifice herself for the good of the Romulan Empire. And did she actually get under Spock's Vulcan skin a little bit? That's up to your interpretation.

7. Lily Sloane

Close-up of Lily Sloane on the surface of Earth in Bozeman as she looks up to the sky in Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

Blow up the damn ship!

Lily Sloane, Star Trek: First Contact

It takes a lot of sand to say — to SHOUT — something like that to Jean-Luc Picard, as Lily Sloane does in Star Trek: First Contact. And to kinda be right? Even more so.

Most civilians from a pre-Warp era would just be freaking out that time traveling humans and aliens are bombarding Earth, but this sharp engineer keeps her head enough to offer military advice.

6. Lursa

Close-up of Lursa as she holds a cup in 'Redemption'


The true mastermind of the Klingon Civil War, the machinations of Lursa of the House of Duras left the galaxy quaking for whole seasons. Even with all this going on, she found time to be a mother. Awww, right?

Also, her death in Star Trek Generations was cooler than Kirk's. Sadly, it was WAY cooler.

(Feel free to argue with me that Kai Winn shoulda got the "political puppet master" slot. It was a close call.)

5. Captain Rachel Garrett

Captain Rachel Garrett looks up while on the bridge of the Enterprise-C in 'Yesterday's Enterprise'

"Yesterday's Enterprise"

From Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Yesterday's Enterprise," a serious contender for best single episode ever in any series, we meet the captain of the Enterprise-C, Rachel Garrett. And we don't even KNOW that it is due to her bravery and sacrifice that the current timeline is as breezy and upbeat as it is today. (Guinan kinda knows, but that's complicated.)

Tricia O'Neal's strong-yet-still-feminine portrayal of a starship captain no doubt paved the way toward Captain Janeway, another reason to offer her a hero's salute.

4. Dr. Carol Marcus

Carol Marcus pensively glances over in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The woman who held, at least for a time, the heart of James Tiberius Kirk. But Dr. Marcus is no mere Captain's squeeze. She is an independent woman and a brilliant scientist whose Genesis Device is so powerful it was the focus of two movies!!

She also represents one of the very few times you'll see someone have a bone of contention with Starfleet prior to the creation of the Maquis.

(Again, here's your opportunity to scream at me for leaving a different brilliant scientist, Dr. Leah Brahms, off the list. This is hard work, people! And thankless, too. I felt the heat the other day for not including the Salt Vampire from TOS or the corpses from TNG’s “Night Terrors” in my column about Trek’s freakiest moments.)

3. Number One

Number One sits at her station on the bridge of the Enterprise in 'The Cage'

"The Cage"

Captain Pike's steady-as-a-rock first officer, Number One, was a brilliant tactician who wasn't afraid to bring out the laser cannons, or to sacrifice herself with an overloaded phaser rather than suffer indignities at the hands of the Talosians.

If you think her story ended with "The Cage," oh, how wrong you are. Drop everything and read John Byrne's fantastic comic series Star Trek: Crew to see Number One's really whacked-out adventures both pre- and post- her time on the Enterprise. Then pick up some of Peter David's New Frontier novels and focus on the Morgana Prime character. (I was there at New York Comic-Con a few years ago when David basically admitted that Morgana - Robin Lefler's mother - was actually Number One!)

In addition, Number One's adventure continues aboard Pike's Enterprise on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

2. Ro Laren

Close-up of Ro Laren in Star Trek: The Next Generation - Preemptive Strike

"Preemptive Strike"

[RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Ro Laren]

One of the richest figures in Star Trek, the Bajoran nationalist was the first character we ever met whose antipathy toward Starfleet ever seemed justified. Still, her loyalty to Captain Picard kept her in line... most of the time.

Ro Laren was such a badass that even the woman who played her, Michelle Forbes, had to swim upstream. She rejected the offer to be a lead on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, causing the show's producers to create the (at first) somewhat similar character of Kira Nerys. Ultimately, it worked out for the best, but, oh, if only we could glimpse into that alternate timeline!

But to hold that desire ever, don't miss Ro Laren's confrontation with Picard 30+ years after the fact in Star Trek: Picard.

1. Edith Keeler

Close-up of Edith Keeler with a street light shining on her at night in 'The City on the Edge of Forever'

"The City on the Edge of Forever"

Imagine a woman whose soup is so powerful it could change the course of World War II.

In "The City on the Edge of Forever," it is this loving, warm, and caring pacifist who must be silenced for evil not to conquer the world. (Blame Harlan Ellison; he's the sicko that thought of it!) Edith Keeler isn't just a character; she's a philosophical construct, a topic worthy of intellectual debate that the finest scholars could argue about for ages. And just thinking about her (and the phrase "He knows, Doctor. He knows.") is enough to send an army of Star Trek fans blubbering.