One big strength of Lower Decks is its cast, who manage to succeed as both canonical members of the “real-life” Star Trek universe, and also successful as comedic animated characters! On the fourth episode of the official Star Trek podcast, The Pod Directive, Lower Decks showrunner Mike McMahan explained how the show’s comedic approach fits perfectly into the Star Trek ethos. The crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos don’t get into trouble because they’re terrible, dumb people, but because they’re very good people with very human(oid) flaws
When Riker joined them in the Season 1 finale, he didn’t have to act much differently than he does in his live-action role. With just a few 2D tweaks, Riker’s big personality fit right in on an animated show — as did Troi as his droll right hand. So it got me to thinking: what other characters in the franchise are ready-made for cartoon adventures?
1. TOS: Pavel Chekov
Being the youngest of the crew, Chekov had the most animated expressions and mannerisms, and was most likely to suffer the kinds of relatable frustrations and foibles faced by the Lower Decks cast. His famous hijinks on board the nuclear ‘wessel’ —“Name?” “My name?” “No, my name!” “I do not know your name!”—already sound like a Lower Decks episode. Also, poor Pavel got left out of The Animated Series, so this would be long overdue justice.
Runner up – Scotty
Scotty’s already a spirited and iconic character perfect for animating, affable enough to be fast friends with Lower Decks’ eager beavers. Like them, he’s more keen on the hands-on job of engineering than on command, even when he attains the rank of Captain. And if we go with the Simon Pegg version, we could even have cartoon Keenser!
2. DS9: Rom
With his big heart, awkward manner, and galaxy-brained genius, Rom plays just like a character written for Lower Decks. He starts out as a lowly, unappreciated waiter, then gradually finds his confidence until he earns a commission as an engineer — still lowly in the chain of command, but able and eager to lend a hand and make a difference. When we last saw him, he’d accepted the mantle of Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance, but I bet he’d love to get his hands dirty in the Jefferies tubes of a starship again.
Runners up – Nog and Odo
The shapeshifting Odo would be great to see in animated form, and the overachieving young captain-to-be Nog surely has lessons both to teach and to learn from the Cerritos’ junior officers. If there were worthy sound-alike voice actors able to step in for the dearly departed Aron and René, these two could easily take to the stars again.
3. VOY: Doctor (EMH)
Need a snarky, put-upon character with relatable delusions of grandeur? Just state the nature of the medical emergency, and step back for Voyager’s holographic Doctor. The lovable and cranky EMH struggled to find his place and earn respect among the crew, a common theme on Lower Decks. At heart, he’s as earnest as the rest of the team, but he comes with a side of sass that would really spice things up.
Runner up – Neelix
It almost seems too obvious to cast our intrepid Morale Officer as a cartoon, because he’s already so exaggerated a character. He’d be fun though, wouldn’t he? And I feel like the Cerritos crew would give him less grief than Voyager.
4. ENT: Phlox
First of all, Phlox’s menagerie would make for delightful animated shenanigans. Secondly, his eagerness to make friends with every new person he meets would endear him to the likes of Tendi and Rutherford, not to mention coming in handy on Second Contact missions. And finally, his big smile would maybe be a little less disconcerting in animated form?
Runners up – Hoshi, Porthos
Hoshi definitely has that neurotic-yet-persevering junior officer part down, and who wouldn’t want more dogs on the Cerritos?
5. DISCO: Jett Reno
Tilly seems like the obvious first choice to join the Lower Decks gang, but may I suggest that the sharp-tongued Jett Reno would absolutely thrive if given free rein as an animated character? Sure, she’s a Commander, not an Ensign, but her blunt sarcasm and general disdain for authority would instantly make her a hero to Mariner. Just don’t put her in the same room as the Doctor, or the sass might reach critical levels.
Runner up – Tilly
She’s the epitome of a bright-eyed junior officer trying to get out of her own way while reaching for greatness. She and Boimler should really have a heart-to-heart.
David L. Strugar (he/they) is a writer and VO artist living in Los Angeles, transplanted from the Midwest, and having a gay old time. Follow them on Twitter @davidstroogie.
Star Trek: Lower Decks streams exclusively in the United States on CBS All Access and in Canada, on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Japan, India, and more and in Canada, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on CBS All Access in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.
Star Trek: The Pod Directive is the official Star Trek podcast. Subscribe to Star Trek: The Pod Directive on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms.