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6 Reasons Star Trek: Voyager Never Really Worked

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The next Star Trek movie is about to begin filming, and all indications are that it’s probably going to be a reboot of the classic Khan storyline. That makes it the perfect time to take a step back, and examine just how we got here, to a place where a franchise which used to be all about going forward is now suddenly throwing it in reverse and instead revisiting the past. Pinpointing the place where Star Trek first started to go wrong is easy, as any serious Trek fan will tell you, things began to go south with Voyager.

Voyager was the fourth Star Trek series to arrive on television. The three which preceded it were all, in their own way, resoundingly successful. Even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, though it never quite got the ratings of Next Generation, proved to be a solid critical, award winning success. Then came Voyager

It’s not that Star Trek: Voyager was a disaster. The show lasted the Star Trek requisite seven seasons and among those seasons had a few truly inspired moments. Voyager didn’t kill Star Trek but it was the beginning of a trend which would kill it. It was in Voyager that we all started to sense something might be going wrong with Gene Rodenberry’s vision, and it only got worse after Voyager went off the air. The next Trek series was cancelled early in its run. Almost none of the Next Generation movies were any good and what’s worse, by the end no one was even showing up to see them. Voyager didn’t kill Star Trek but it signified the beginning of the end. The things which did kill the franchise, putting it in a tailspin which could only be solved with the current reboot, all started here.

Here are the six biggest reasons Voyager never truly lived up to its Star Trek potential.

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Comments

  • Michael Rose

    This article was obviously written by someone that only watched about 10 episodes from the whole show. The whole first 2 to 3 seasons was about a possible uprising with the maquis. The best episode was when they found the other Starfleet ship that was going rogue and doing things their own way. They did a show in which the maquis fictionally took over the ship. B’elana torres was a thoughtful character that grew. I know what it’s like to be of a different culture and trying my best to assimilate to another culture and failing as she did. What’s the point of watching a show and the protagonists are the bad guys? The next show killed the series. Name another ship enterprise, with less technology, less races of people and forgettable characters and wonder what you get? Star trek enterprise. The next show should’ve been Starfleet academy. Take the fav character of ds9 tng and voyager and put them as professors to a new class of cadets and follow them through their training missions as we watch 4-6 new Starfleet officers get created.

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      The first 2-3 seasons were not about a possible Maquis uprising…what show were you watching?

      • Michael Rose

        They had episodes where people like ceska and others brought it up. There was also an episode where tuvok made a holodeck program playing out the possibility that had the whole ship hooked.

        • SimpsonsGoldenAge

          Um yeah that Tuvok episode was in season 7 episode. The fact of the matter is there was no clear progression of the Maquis coming to terms with having to follow Starfleet rules besides “Learning Curve”, this was due in part to the writers putting them in Starfleet uniforms at the end of the pilot and the fact that Voyager had so few secondary characters it could never really explore the whole concept very well.

  • 7of mine

    Gosh, I’ve watched most of the episodes on voyager and I actually think they are better many other episodes. What I’ve noticed with most of the star trek I’ve watched, is that the frame for the storyline tends to cycle, and it ends there. I like voyager better because of its slight uniqueness and how they have more of a purpose than just exploration.

  • bitter_trekkie

    Forget the characters, it’s all about #6 and #7 – it takes all the oomph out of the premise for these characters to be on Starship Cornucopia, with all conflicts quickly swept away. Janeway should not have been Kirk or Picard, she should have been SANE. The writers forgot what she did from one week to the next. One week, she’s endangering her crew to protect Starfleet principles and the next week, it’s the reverse. The crew never noticed their captain was schizo.

  • Misty Sman-Esay

    I only disagree about the Doctor and maybe it is because I can’t stand his character.

  • grant ellsworth

    I disagree with the author’s characterization o mulgrew’s Janeway as PicArd in skirts. I always thought of her as “Kirkerine T, Jamesway” — clearly Kirk in Skirts.

  • sdfsdf

    the helll…Voyager is one of the best series ever

  • snake

    I liked voyager, and I find it more watchable now than STTNG which is somehow more dated than STOS, which is still watchable also. But I do have to agree with what has been said, even though I have never really thought about it before. The Doctor is also my favorite character, and they really could have done a lot with him. The “emergency command hologram” story was great, and they could have done so much more with that idea, such as giving him the ability to download different skills and personas, essentially making him a super hologram, would have been awesome and could have given some really way out stories.

  • waybec

    For the most part, the chemistry between the actors and the stories worked. Where it didn’t, is when they tried to sex it up with a Baywatch mentality, piss away great new villains like Species 8472 or create romance between characters where the emotional dynamic was all wrong. If anything – it was actually Enterprise – where the franchise became tedious, dull, anti-climatic and full of bland characters apart from the doctor that largely killed off the ratings. You watch – the later Blu-ray releases of Voyager will prove to be very strong and popular!

  • epoxinator

    Good points (though I personally HATED the Neelix character.) You missed the primary problem: really horrible writing. The show rehashed episodes from TNG, and then later on rehashed previous season rehashed episodes.

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      I kinda disagree, there was some reptition (Seven discovering her humanity stories) but in general, Voyager explored a lot of really great high concept sci-fi stories, it’s one of the more impressive things about the show.

  • Felix Arenas

    I agree wholeheartedly! This show should have been somewhere between a Battlestar Galactica (2004), and Andromeda…

  • Rickster Rickster

    what a load of crap

  • MostlyDisagree

    This analysis is a joke. Voyager was significantly better than Deep Space 9. Janeway was awesome — perhaps you just aren’t emotionally mature enough for a female captain with intelligence and sensitivity. All of the series have had under developed characters, of course …almost all fictional stories ever written have multiple supporting characters.

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      Janeway as a character was a mess, she was inconsistent and never really developed in any meaningful way. Her personality was never clearly defined because the writers had no idea what they actually wanted to do with her and obviously never communicated any image of what Janeway was to Mulgrew who was left flailing.

  • Wonkaman0

    Loved Voyager myself, my favorite season of Star Trek.
    The whole one ship, in an seemingly endless space, was a total Robinson Crusoe, survivor type thing.

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      Yeah it was a “Robinson Crusoe survivor type thing” if Robinson Crusoe had been shipwrecked on an island with a 5 star hotel. See season 3 of Enterprise for what really happens when Star Trek dedicates itself to that premise.

  • Ed

    DS9 is and will probably always be my fave Star Trek, due to the serial nature of the show (instead of being episodic), the focus on dark, military storylines, and the fact that the Federation was finally portrayed as essentially a Fascist regime (originally explored somewhat in TOS, but portrayed much more benevolently). To the peeps who hated DS9, tell me with a straight face that you didn’t like William Sadler and Section 31!

    Finally, while I disliked Voyager the show, anyone here ever play Elite Force? To this day that is one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played, and beyond being a great game it is probably the best Star Trek game and also a huge nerdgasm in terms of exploring the ship and Star Trek universe (the portion set aboard the TOS Mirror Universe ship had me grinning like an idiot for the hour or two it lasted). Great game play (and I don’t even like FPS games much) that I still enjoy to this day more than garbage like Call of Duty. Easily the best thing to ever come from Voyager. I highly recommend grabbing the game (it’s cheap as heck now, and comes with the free patch adding Jeri Ryan to the voice cast) to any Star Trek or video game fan.

  • Paris&TorresFTW

    Wow, you actually got every single point wrong. One of the most stupid articles I’ve ever read.

  • rjschwarz

    The basic faults with Voyager is that they took decades worth of backstory, and incredibly rich tapestry (Federation, Klingons, etc) and more or less dumped it and reinvented the wheel every week. Kind of the way the reboot did. It’s insulting to fans and basically lazy because they couldn’t keep up with continuity.

    Everything interesting about the premise of 70 years from Earth could have been handled by them running into Captain Sulu who had just returned from such a voyage. Two-part episode and done.

  • Jimmy Humphries

    Um… Voyager is my favorite…

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      You need to go watch Deep Space Nine and see what a trek show can do when the writing staff has a clear sense of direction.

  • Elim Garak

    The only part of the article I disagree with is the authors seeming approval of the Ensign Kim character. I hated that totally insecure “mama’s boy” and felt he was the worst part of the show. Almost every Voyager episode had the obligatory B-story line where Harry was either whining to someone about not being taken seriously about some perceived slight in regards to promotions, duty assignments, or bathroom privileges, or he was constantly overly emotional about wanting to get back home and his mommy I assume. He reminded me of some small child who has become separated from his mother at the mall and roams the mall . . I mean ship . . . almost on the verge of tears calling out for his mommie!

    • The Plothole

      Indeed. They should have just let the character die in Scorpion.

  • whatever

    this is a joke … right ?

    • SimpsonsGoldenAge

      No? Why would it be a joke? Some of the reasons are pretty dumb (Roxann Dawson was one of the best actors on the show) but Voyager just didn’t live up to it’s premise at all an had a weak captain, can’t argue them facts away.

  • Marion

    I especially agree with point nulmber 6. Voyager could have been the new Battlestar Galactica. A crew that can’t fully trust eachother alone against an entire galaxy of undiscovered enemies running low on supplies, scrounging to stay alive. Reveling in the brief moments of safety and comfort only for danger and desperation to come crashing down again as the next plot twist unravels.

  • https://duckduckgo.com/ sounder

    Voyager could have been better if they had the ship destroyed by the second season. The crew could have stolen a borg ship and made it there’s. Reprogram the borg crew and opened up a lot of possibility.

  • Kay Mann

    voyager was without a doubt my favorite of all the star trek series. while it started out lame, with the addition of seven of nine it jumped into prominence as a winner. i also thought that tuvok made a better vulcan than any other vulcan, including spock. yes i said it, better than spock (of course i realize that spock was only a half breed).

  • PaddyD

    I actually liked this show – thought Janeway was closer to Kirk than the boring and indecisive Bloward. The ship would have been destroyed before he ever decided what action to take!

  • Inveterate Trek FAN

    Voyager was and is a classic. No amount of criticism by an armchair critic like you can detract from the greatness of the series. Get a life.

  • Jeff Coil

    I cared not one whit for “Star Trek” until Voyager. It is still the only series I watch.

  • Roks

    Crazy, I disagree with every single point on this article. Voyager was my favorite out of all the series… I LOVED that Janeway stuck to her guns when it came to protocol. Would you rather have her go rogue like the pilot of the other starship did and start capturing aliens and using them as fuel? She had integrity and held fast to the prime directive even when it would have been easier to just say eh fuck it and they succeeded because of it. B’Elanna also had a moody half human side don’t forget, she wasn’t full klingon. Combine human traits and the temper of a klingon and I think they made her character pretty spot on. Yes the maquis “behaved” straight out the gate, what was their other option? Revolt and get thrown in the brig? for 75 years? LOL. I think they touched on that just the right amount of times, any more and it would have gotten old. Of COURSE you’re gonna have lots of episodes within the holodec, these guys are on the move 24/7, most of the people pulling double shifts, they needed to unwind… The ship wasn’t designed for long distance travel like that so of course there are gonna be malfunctions. We’re giving janeway crap for having one of the most stressful jobs any captain could have? SPECIALLY since it was her very FIRST voyage as captain? She’s a woman, of course she wants to wear a dress, paris built the delta flyer partially to satisfy his need for speed and no one flipped shit there… Chakotay was an amazing character to me, all the things they touched on were huge to his ancestry, sure they were convenient most of the time, but he’s a maquis so you really aren’t supposed to know much about him besides what he decides to share. They didnt fully use their own premise? What else could they have done? They discovered borg space, found more new species than I’d care to count, experienced things that NO ONE they knew had ever experienced and brought back SOOOOO much information. Don’t forget the omega directive… They followed up with meeting the second caretaker, they rehabilitated a handful of borg drones, gained new crew members from brand new species, fought their way out of NUMEROUS sticky situations, made it to warp 10, evolved and even had offspring! I think the main reason people hate on voyager is because they were forced to try something new in order for star trek not to become stagnant. Rehashing the same shit over and over. Yes they replicated a lot of stuff, did we forget they have little to NO resources? Most of the time when they found a place that had materials they needed, it was heavily guarded, sacred ground they couldn’t disgrace or what have you. Of course the doc is gonna be a big deal, something like that had never been done, he had AMAZING character development, how is that a negative thing? 7 wasn’t a minor character in my opinion, she became a main character very quickly.

  • WhatStarTrekCouldBe

    I think you mentioned probably the largest issue that I had with star trek voyager, and that is the over-use of technology, technology with out limits, making the series more drama opera based and less scientific adventurous base. I would love to see a star trek reboot series that places limits on technology. Transporters for example, where’s the limits, even in some episodes they can transport through shields. Why not place limits, like you can transport through glass, but not dense metals. Transport must be within line of site of transporter targeting scanners. Also you only can transport to or from transporter rooms, so that it gives transporter rooms meaning.. I would say have a star trek series that meets more in between star trek and battlestar gallactica. I think nelix was a joke. All those highly trained starfleet officers taking orders from Nelix. I liked the tess role, she always tried finding her nitch and learning from more knowledgeable star-fleet officers where nelix was just a pain in the butt know it all. Writers need to be more constructive. Like for example when they discovered that demon planet with the metallic liquid. A good episode with that would have been that they discovered a way to create regenerative armor, and have a episode based around the scientific research for that, rather than having another episode of trying to figure out who is who.

  • Mikal

    I liked Voyager, and don’t think it’s fair they take the hit for The Next Generation movies not bringing in the ratings..The last episode of Voyager was great! The series had some awesome moments not ever explored in the other shows, like the 7 0f 9 and the Doctor’s technology merging to form a new borg, or how the other crew lost in the delta quadrant, took an unethical approach to staying alive..Speaking of unethical, remember when the Doctors subroutine was altered and he began performing unethical, and morbid operations on the crew? That was extremely creepy and disturbing..

  • Mikal

    remember when the Doctor had to make a decision of who should live and who should die? That was another great episode, because he had to grow and evolve or risk being shut down permanently

  • Irish Sweetness

    The premise that Voyager didn’t work is a false one.

  • Stiles

    i guess im not a true “trekkie”. i love all three of the main trek series, but this one is and always will be my favorite. as for the characters? for me they are more real. more like people we all know; friends, family, and co-workers. and the comment on the technology. i remember, and it wasnt that long ago, when cell phones were “magic”. now we barely think about it. so is it really that hard to imagine these people using what they grew up with and know as if its no big deal. we do that. everyone of us, everyday. do i think the show was perfect? of course not. no show in the history of tv has, is, or ever will be

  • JP

    Actually, I can not blame one show or any small number of crew members. There is ONE person we can blame for Star Trek’s downfall and that is Gene Rodenberry’s wife, Majel, who seemed to take over most of the development from STNG onward. Her insistence on feminist thinking and an apparent loss of too much time on a psychologist’s couch was very apparent. Including a “ship’s counselor” as the Captain’s top adviser sitting next to the Captain in equal position to the 2nd in command … well, that is just plain ridiculous ! Facing two heavily armed Romulan ships and Picard calls for a touchy-feely discussion OFF of the bridge is insane !!! Majel Barret turned Star Trek into a socialized utopian view of the future as much as she could. It was all too noticable when someone else won out on a plot line to do some ass-kicking instead of discussing how everyone FEELS about repressing an alien race.

  • PAUL FOREL

    Tuvok was a politically correct addition to the cast., He was not credible as a Vulcan and his superior tone was offensive.

  • ingabinga

    The only thing I liked about Voyager is that they beam down to new plants an explored new plants. The never was afraid to fight anyone. This is the only Star Trek that reminded me of Captain Kirk and crew. Start over again an it can work. Voyager was really good writing with BAD ACTORS.

  • Siobhan Elizabeth

    While Chakotay could be annoying, and Beltran is a jerk, (in fact, I think I like Chakotay less now that the series is over because Beltran’s complaining about the show every chance he gets comes to mind when I watch him on Voyager) not all eps were about his being Native American. Two of my fav eps of Voyager are Chakotay eps. In one, Nemesis, he crash lands on a planet and gets brainwashed into joining one side of a war on the planet. In Distant Origin, they focus on Chakotay’s being a paleoanthropologist (what he studied at Starfleet Academy) when he helps a distant relation of the dinosaurs that evolved and got of Earth before the extinction of the dinosaurs. And his training as an anthropologist is mentioned a few times throughout the series, people who watched should know this about him. LIke I said, Chakotay could be annoying at times, but his character definitely had some great moments too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xxSHREDMANxx Tony Thigpen

    I Liked Voyager alot, Much better than DS9 imo, If you guys have a Problem with Janeway as a Captain, you must have hated Sisko , altho you do have some Valid pts about B’lanna and Chiqoute being sub par Characters for their Positions as part of the Crew, and you are Completely Right about the 3 under used crew members, all 3 made my all star Crew List . 7 of 9 astrometrics/ Intelligence officer, The Dr as Medical Officer and Nelix as my Moral Officer, they are the Only Officers from Voyager to make my all star Crew altho Kess was on my all star ship as Eye Candy lol, and oh yea that all star ship, it was Voyager after Borg and Temporal Upgrades, DS9 had only 1 crew member to make the All Star Officer Line up and that was Quark as my Requisitions Officer altho again Dax was on the Ship as eye candy lol

  • planetcrap

    Compared to enterprise voyager was a treat.

  • The Plothole

    Another major problem with Voyager is that it completely twisted the concept of the “Prime Directive”. The original series envisioned it as a protocol meant to protect primitive races from cultural contamination, not a rule prohibiting the crew from helping those on the verge of extinction!

  • Kavassa Wilson

    Voyeger was actually ok it was enterprise that sucked hard. They
    basically used a BSG model for the layout of shows for enterprise, were
    the previous star trek genre had the same look and feel (excluding TOS obviously). Like
    the first 4 had random episodes were enterprise had a ongoing story
    which was not something star trek fans were accustom to. Second
    Enterprise had the bare-bones look like all the technology had been
    striped away and they were down in the dirt playing with mud feel that
    BSG had and that actually was the one thing that made Enterprise not
    star trek for me.

  • Israel Contreras

    blasphemy!

  • loubertvsqbert

    Eh, good points, I suppose, but still I really liked Voyager,

  • Steve Bodiford

    Had 7 of 9 continued to shed clothing..it had a least 2 more seasons ;-)

  • John Taylor

    Yeah? Well, I liked it. I’d rate it higher the ST:TNG. Of course, each Trek had episodes that just reminded me of vacuum cleaners they sucked that much. Others rate being watched over and over.

  • Harvey Smith

    All the episodes were good. Some better than others but none of them sucked as much as today’s reality TV shows. At least Voyager was not filmed like the show “The Office” . Could you imagine each cast member being interviewed by an unseen interviewer, and speaking out what they think is wrong during the show?

  • Matthew

    Actually, this might be my favorite series and I’ve watched it from start to finish, but I agree with #4. Super undeveloped characters.

  • ChargerX

    Josh Tyler is an idiot supreme! I disagree with almost every word in this article.After TOS, Voyager was the best series out of all of them. I quit watching TNG before its final two seasons as I just couldn’t take Piccard anymore. From the very first episode he made me want to puke. It was mainly his making decisions by committee etc. We wanted Kirk after what, waiting 20 yrs or so and they give us an old man who worries about the opinions of a large panel of underlings before deciding to take action. And his first choice is always a meek diplomatic one.

    Does anyone remember how they teased us every so often about Piccard being killed off? I wonder why that was…

    DS9 was good. I watched every episode but they were stuck on a space station so the shows potential run was limited.

    I was initially disappointed with the first episode of Voyager because I had imagined a much better show and premise (such as Ryker being the “Kirk” captain we all wanted and somehow getting control of the advanced warship “Defiant” and him maybe joining the rebels and etc) but I agree that after the 2nd episode of Voyager the Maquis was indistinguishable etc from the starfleet crew.

    The writers could of made it much more interesting. I thought Janeway was HOT! I liked her femininity and her unique portrayal of a woman captain. One who handled things in a womanly or feminine manner as opposed to what a strong Kirk type may of done. Of course I do and always have wanted Kirk but I was very happy with Janeway most of the time.

    I didn’t care for Neelix and I think they over did the Doc. I liked Paris and Torres also. Tuvok was ok for a while but they should of killed him off in ratings week. 7 of 9 was my favorite char once she came aboard. It’s always about the technology!

    I know I said a lot of bad things about Patrick Stewart but I think he was perfect in a lot of his other roles: Captain Ahab and Professor X in which he was outstanding. He just wasn’t what I wanted for StarTrek. (I know a couple of women though that watched trek just bc of him so he did bring new trekkies into the fold of Sci-fi but still, it’s about me and what I like:)

  • Falcon D. Stormvoice

    I love all Star Trek, except TOS (I’m just not into vintage camp). All of the shows are filled to the brim with production quality, fun stories, and memorable characters. Shame that so many people hate enjoying themselves over minor flaws.

  • Jimmy Johnson

    Star Trek died because they decided to flood the air waves with 50 versions. We got bored. The culture moved on. Not sure where though.

    I did enjoy meeting Seven in a night club one time.