With new shows like Strange New Worlds proving that the Star Trek franchise still has staying power, many actors from the franchise are returning to reprise their famous roles. Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced fans to an entirely new cast of characters, and those actors had strong careers before and after the show.
Whether it’s veteran actors like Patrick Stewart, or reliable character actors like Brent Spiner, the TNG cast has a collective resume that is impressively vast. Though they’ve all had their fair share of successes, some movies and TV roles gained much higher scores on IMDb.
10 Gates McFadden – The Hunt For Red October (1990) 7.6
During her stint as Dr. Beverly Crusher on TNGGates McFadden briefly appeared on the big screen in a big-budget blockbuster. The Hunt For Red October follows a Soviet submarine captain who attempts to defect from the USSR with the newest technology to stop an all-out nuclear war.
McFadden appears as Caroline Ryan, the wife of lead character Jack Ryan, and shines in her small moment. Most known as one of Sean Connery’s best movies, The Hunt For Red October is a tense political thriller that uses its cramped setting to tell a story with global implications.
9 Marina Sirtis – Crash (2005) 7.8
Marina Sirtis had appeared in several independent films before she landed the role of Counselor Deanna Troi on TNGand afterward, she returned to the small character parts that got her noticed in the first place. Crash is a sweeping drama about several Los Angeles residents whose disparate lives interweave in a complicated story of class and race.
Sirtis is practically unrecognizable as Shereen, a Persian shopkeeper who finds her business trashed by hooligans, and she makes the most of her brief moments onscreen. While the film hasn’t stood the test of time, the performances in Crash are nevertheless still strong. It was ambitious to interweave so many narrative threads, but unfortunately, a lot of the story was lost in translation.
8 Michael Dorn – Rocky (1976) 8.1
Typecasting can sometimes land actors in the same parts over and over, and Michael Dorn’s early role in Rocky is no exception. The film tells the story of an up-and-coming boxer from the streets of Philadelphia who challenges the heavyweight champion to a match.
As Worf on TNGDorn let his stern demeanor and intimidating frame tell the story, and in Rocky his part is very similar. Appearing as one of Apollo Creed’s bodyguards, Dorn’s babyface is far cry from his time aboard the Enterprise, but the seeds of Worf are nonetheless visible. While it was only an uncredited role, Dorn’s appearance in one of the best sports movies of all time was a big addition to his resume.
7 Wil Wheaton – Stand By Me (1986) 8.1
Becoming a child star is tough, and Wil Wheaton had already established himself in Stand By Me before he was even cast in Star Trek. The film tells the story of a group of children who journey deep into the woods in order to catch a glimpse of a dead body.
Wheaton shoulders the bulk of the film as Gordie, and his ” average kid “persona is the quintessential foil to the over-the-top personalities of the other characters. The film is memorable for its dark tone and child-like sense of adventure. , and a big part of its success is the perfect casting. Though Wheaton would draw the ire of many Trek fans as Wesley Crusher, his turn in Stand By Me allowed him to show his terrific abilities as an actor.
6 Patrick Stewart – Logan (2017) 8.1
Though he is a classically trained actor with years of Shakespeare under his belt, Patrick Stewart has nevertheless found himself anchoring several Sci-Fi franchises. Logan follows an aged Wolverine who lives as a recluse taking care of a dying Professor X. When he rescues a young mutant, Logan is pressed back into service to protect the girl from her pursuers.
Considered by many to be the best X-Men film, Logan took the franchise in a darker direction, and the rest of the cast followed suit. Having played Professor X for nearly two decades by that point, Patrick Stewart slips back into the role magnificently, and shows growth as well. Totally separate from Captain Picard, Stewart as Xavier is just as authoritative, but with a cleverness that Picard did not possess.
5 Colm Meaney – Hell On Wheels (2011-2016) 8.3
Appearing rather unassuming in TNG as Miles O’Brien, Colm Meaney got to flex his acting muscles as a villain in Hell On Wheels. The series follows a former Confederate soldier who sets out into the Wild West in order to get revenge against the Union soldiers who murdered his wife.
“Doc” Durant is nothing like Miles O’Brien, and yet Meaney seems to inhabit the character with the same ease as the Starfleet officer. Conniving and clever, the character carries a sinister edge just below the surface and allows it to come out on frequent occasions. While the show focuses on Bohanan and his revenge mission, Durant manages to steal the show thanks to Meaney’s transformative performance.
4 LeVar Burton – Reading Rainbow (1983-2006) 8.4
When joining the cast of TNGLeVar Burton was perhaps one of the most recognizable actors on the fledgling show thanks to his roles on TV shows like Reading Rainbow. The children’s series introduces stories and relates them to the real world for entertainment and educational purposes.
Burton hosts the series and essentially plays himself. While the part may not be as challenging as Geordie LaForge, hosting a children’s television show is no small feat. What made the show so great was the creative and simple way it presented its materials, and the naturalistic performance from Burton set himself apart from other children’s show hosts.
3 Whoopi Goldberg – The Lion King (1995) 8.5
Although she was a guest star as Guinan on TNGWhoopi Goldberg lent a fair amount of credibility to the show because she was the frequent star of many hit films. The Lion King is an animated film that tells the story of Simba, a young lion who returns to reclaim his father’s kingdom from the clutches of the evil Scar.
While subdued on Star Trek, Goldberg’s performance as Shenzi the hyena is appropriately over-the-top for the family film. Lending her voice to the cackling henchman also lent her weight to a cast that was already stuffed to the brim with amazing actors. Perhaps the biggest reason that The Lion King is considered one of the best animated Disney films is that every major role is filled with an iconic actor.
2 Jonathan Frakes – Adventure Time (2010-2018) 8.6
His time as the dashing first officer William Riker launched Jonathan Frakes into the spotlight, and he has frequently appeared in small TV roles ever since. Adventure Time recounts the strange adventures of Finn, a young boy, and his dog Jake as they explore the universe in the distant future.
While Frakes has mostly stayed behind the camera since his departure from TNG, his occasional vocal performances are always strong. Appearing in two episodes as an older version of Finn, Frakes’ distinctive baritone voice is hilarious compared to the character that fans are used to seeing and hearing.
1 Brent Spiner – Friends (1994-2004) 8.9
Vastly underrated as a character actor, Brent Spiner is best remembered as the android Data, but his small roles in shows like Friends show that there is very little he can not do. The series follows the hectic lives of a group of young people who all live in the same apparent building in New York City.
Showing up in the final season of the legendary sitcom, Spiner plays an executive at a fashion brand that Rachel interviews with for a job. Unshackled from the restrictive boundaries of characters like Data, Spiner brings a comic edge to his performance. Though the part was small, he impressed enough to be brought back to revive his role in the failed follow-up series. Joey.
NEXT: 10 Best Patrick Stewart Performances, According To IMDb
Avatar The Last Airbender: 8 Unpopular Opinions About Toph, According To Reddit
About The Author