Odd couples are people who, despite their many personality differences and clashes, form friendships, and many such relationships develop in the Star Trek universe. Here are 10 of the most memorable odd couples of Star Trek, ranked.
10. The Entire Crew on La Sirena
"What's your book about?"
"The existential pain of living with the consciousness of death and how it defines us as Human beings."
"Well, that's not a conversation killer at all. I totally want to talk about the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death."
—Agnes Jurati and Cristóbal Rios, “Absolute Candor,” S1, E4
While generally speaking Star Trek crews are amicable, so far the crew on the La Sirena are constantly clashing. Raffi’s hostility, Rios’ existential ambivalence, Dr. Jurati’s naive eagerness, and Elnor’s honesty create the ultimate odd couple dynamic, with Picard pulling them together with a single cause. It will be interesting to see these relationships form deeper ties as Star Trek: Picard continues.
9. Picard and Lwaxana Troi
"Betazoid women are full of surprises."
—Lwaxana Troi, “Manhunt,” S2, E19
The dynamic between Picard, as a model captain and gentleman, and Lwaxana Troi, as the charismatic and flirtatious ambassador and mother of one of his crew, is hilarious. This is especially so in Season 2’s episode “Manhunt,” when Lwaxana singles Picard out during The Phase, when Betazoid women’s sex-drives are at their highest. While the two maintain an awkward friendship onscreen, one can only hope that Picard did eventually show Lwaxana those fine legs of his.
8. Tilly and Stamets
"You guys, this is so fucking cool!"
"...I'm so sorry."
"No, Cadet. It is fucking cool."
—Tilly and Stamets, “Choose Your Pain,” S1, E5
While Tilly and Stamets are both scientific geniuses, Tilly’s exuberance and Stamets’ incessant malcontent at the beginning of Discovery are the cause of a lot of onscreen clashes. As the two work together more, they learn to respect one another’s personalities and become best friends and able to seamlessly work off of one another’s thoughts.
7. Neelix and Tuvok
"... If I stay here and try to talk to Tuvok, I may be able to provoke some sort of response?"
"If anyone can provoke Tuvok, Mr. Neelix, it's you."
—Neelix and The Doctor, “Riddles,” S6, E6
Tuvok and Neelix’s personalities are at such odds. Where Neelix is demonstrative and compulsive, Tuvok is controlled and precise. While both are kind and care for the Voyager crew, they show it in very different ways. Though Tuvok is consistently dismissive of Neelix, when Tuvok becomes ill and loses his memory in Season 6’s episode “Riddles,” Neelix cares for him and helps him regain it. Afterward, Tuvok becomes more empathetic to Neelix, though you would think the two would be closer after being merged into Tuvix due to a transporter accident in season two. I guess the two are just too different.
6. Garak and Bashir
"Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?"
"My dear Doctor, they're all true."
"Even the lies?"
"Especially the lies."
—Garak and Bashir, “The Wire,” S2, E22
Ah, Garak and Bashir, the odd couple we most wish had formed a romantic relationship. From the first episode they meet — “Past Prologue” — Bashir is intrigued by the mysterious Garak. They form a friendship and eat lunch together regularly, yet the two are still mistrustful of one another. Their uneasy friendship shifts when Garak becomes ill in “The Wire” after his brain implant malfunctions, yet he refuses to allow Bashir to give him medical care. The two have to confront their suspicions of one another in order to save Garak’s life.
5. Odo and Quark
"Well, I guess you're not as successful a businessman as you think you are."
"Which means you spent the last ten years of your life trying to catch a nobody — with little success, I might add. So you tell me, which one of us is the bigger failure?"
— Odo and Quark, “The Ascent,” S5, E9
While Quark and Odo are set up as antagonists from the beginning of DS9 and can say nothing nice to one another, their relationship deepens as the series continues into a sincere friendship steeped in sarcasm. When Odo has something to celebrate, he tells Quark fist. When Odo’s changeling child dies, Quark is one of the first to offer condolences. In Season 5’s episode “The Ascent,” Odo and Quark become stranded on a planet together, and when Odo breaks his leg, Quark attempts to carry him up a mountain. The episode marks a turning point in their relationship.
4. Spock and McCoy
"Mr. Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known."
"Why, thank you, doctor."
— McCoy and Spock, “Court Martial,” S1, E20
McCoy’s acerbic temper teamed with Spock’s stoic responses create some of the funniest moments in Star Trek history. If I were to recast The Odd Couple Star Trek-style, these two would be my leads. The way they play off of each other is a joy to watch. One of the best moments between Spock, McCoy, and Kirk is the camping scene at the beginning of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, when the three bond over a campfire and McCoy and Kirk try to induce Spock to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat.” “God, I liked him better before he died,” McCoy tells Kirk.
3. Picard and Q
“Because in all the universe, you’re the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean Luc.”
—Q, “Déjà Q,” S3, E13
Despite being constantly at odds, there’s a playfulness in Q and Picard’s interactions, and the joy in a good challenge. This can be clearly seen in one of the most memorable episodes with Q, “Déjà Q,” where the Continuum punishes Q by making him mortal, and he turns to Picard for lessons on mortality. Meanwhile, the two must work together to save the people of planet Bre'el IV. It’s a delight to watch Picard’s irritation with Q’s incessant antics.
2. Janeway and Seven of Nine
"It is puzzling."
"You made me into an individual. You encouraged me to stop thinking like a member of the collective… to cultivate my independence… my Humanity. But when I try to assert that independence, I am punished."
"Individuality has its limits. Especially on a starship, where there's a command structure."
"I believe that you are punishing me because I don't think the way that you do… because I'm not becoming more like you. You claim to respect my individuality… but in fact, you are frightened by it."
"As you were."
—Seven of Nine and Janeway, “Prey,” S4, E16
Janeway and Seven’s relationship is one of the more complex in the show’s history. Janeway serves as a mentor for Seven, encouraging her more human traits of individualism and creativity, but that backfires when Seven begins to question Janeway’s authority. In the episode “Prey,” for example, Seven’s refusal of Janeway’s orders leads to a sentient creature’s death, albeit one that meant to massacre the entire Voyager crew. While their relationship begins as mentor/mentee, it turns rocky when Seven embraces her independence, but it’s only because of her independence that the two can form a friendship of true equals.
1. Spock and Kirk
McCoy: "There's just one thing, Mr. Spock. You can't tell me that when you first saw Jim alive that you weren't on the verge of giving us an emotional scene that would have brought the house down!"
Spock: "Merely my quite logical relief that Starfleet had not lost a highly proficient captain."
Kirk: "Yes, Mr. Spock. I understand."
Spock: "Thank you, Captain."
McCoy: "Of course, Mr. Spock, your reaction was quite logical…"
Spock: "Thank you, doctor."
McCoy: "…in a pig's eye!"
—Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, “Amok Time,” S2, E1
The dichotomy between Spock’s logic and lack of emotion and Kirk’s passion and compulsiveness has become iconic, and the impetus for some of the best moments from the series. It’s fascinating and endearing to see how these two become the dearest of friends. My favorite episode is “Amok Time” when Spock undergoes pon farr and must travel to Vulcan to either mate or die. There, he and Captain Kirk must duel to the death for T'Pring, the Vulcan woman Spock has been promised since childhood. Spock believes he killed Kirk, but when Kirk revives, he displays emotion in a rare moment of vulnerability.
Margaret Kingsbury (she/her) is a contributing writer at Book Riot, where she raves about the SFF books she loves. She writes about children's books at Baby Librarians, a website she co-founded, and you can find her on Twitter @areaderlymom and on Instagram @babylibrarians