Before the start of season 2, the trailers for Star Trek: Lower Decks teased the possibility of a return by Tom Paris, legendary helmsman aboard Voyager.
Before the start of season 2, the trailers for Star Trek: Lower Decks teased the possibility of a return by Tom Paris, legendary helmsman aboard Voyager. They did it in the trailers by showing him to us on a plate, but in Lower Decks season 2 episode 3 series creator and dedicated Star Trek nerd Mike McMahan delivered so much more. They actually brought back Tom Paris. Best of all, he was indeed voiced by Robert Duncan McNeill.
In the episode, appropriately titled “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris”, the Voyager’s legendary helmsman comes aboard the Cerritos for a visit. Boimler is a huge “Voy” fan, so he sets out to get the famous Lieutenant’s autograph on a Tom Paris collector plate. Everything goes horribly wrong, Boimler falls on the bridge in a getup that makes him look exactly like a Kazon. The Kazon were the annoying and generally terrible villains of Star Trek: Voyager’s first season so, of course when he sees one, Tom Paris leaps up and kicks some Kazon ass.
Robert Duncan McNeill hasn’t returned to Star Trek since Voyager aired its finale in 2001. In fact he gave up acting altogether. Instead, he’s gone on to become a fairly successful television director. He’s directed episodes of series such as Resident Alien, Suits, The Orville, The Gifted, and Blue Bloods.
Since Star Trek: Lower Decks is set just a couple of years after Star Trek: Voyager ended, the Tom Paris they delivered in animated form looks exactly like the Tom Paris you remember. For Robert Duncan McNeill though, it’s been twenty-years since he played the character and he looks nothing like that at all anymore. Here’s what Robert Duncan McNeill really looks like now…
And here’s how he looked back in the day on the USS Voyager…
In the end, that’s part of the magic of a show like Star Trek: Lower Decks. They can bring back the characters from Star Trek’s past that we loved, without aging them or changing them. Welcome back to Star Trek Robert Duncan McNeill. Tom Paris has been missed.