Beloved Star Trek Actor Stole Acting Job From Herself

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Sadly, the acting world is full of cases where one talented actor effectively steals a role from someone equally talented. For example, Stephen Macht very nearly played Captain Picard, but Patrick Stewart beat him out, ultimately becoming the franchise’s most iconic captain (sorry, Shatner). Speaking of Star Trek: The Next Generation, that show’s guest star Suzie Plakson effectively stole a job from herself: her Vulcan Dr. Selar was originally going to have a relationship with Worf, but when that plan was dropped because the writers wanted Worf to hook up with K’Ehleyr, Plakson stopped playing Selar and instead started playing the security chief’s Klingon lover.

Dr. Selar In The Next Generation

Star Trek The Next Generation Suzie plakson

While Suzie Plakson isn’t exactly a household name among Star Trek fans, she has played memorable supporting roles in The Next Generation, Voyager, and Enterprise. Her Trek tenure began with her playing Dr. Selar in the TNG episode “The Schizoid Man,” and fans responded very positively despite her relative lack of screen time. And Selar will always have a place in certain Star Trek fans’ hearts after she became a main character in Peter David’s excellent New Frontier series of books.

A Minor But Memorable Role

Star Trek The Next Generation Suzie plakson

One of the quirkier things about Selar’s time on the Enterprise is that she was rarely seen but often heard about. Her Vulcan doctor never appeared again after “The Schizoid Man,” but the writers never forgot about her. She was mentioned in very prominent episodes like “Tapestry,” and as late as the final season, Selar was getting name-dropped in episodes such as “Sub Rosa” and “Genesis.”

The Klingon Conversion

Star Trek The Next Generation

Originally, Suzie Plakson’s Selar was going to physically appear in more than one episode. Early show writer Tracy Tormé wanted to have Selar get into a relationship with Worf, which would have officially made this Klingon/Vulcan pairing the oddest couple on the Enterprise. He had to drop these plans, however, when the writers created K’Ehleyr, the half-human, half-Klingon woman who would become Worf’s lover and the mother of his child.

A True Suzie Switcheroo

Star Trek The Next Generation Suzie plakson

Normally, it would be bad news for an actor to discover that a major romantic plot-line for her character had been suddenly dropped and that relationship given to another character. However, things more than worked out for Suzie Plakson: she got the role of K’Ehleyr, meaning that she effectively stole the role from herself.

As K’Ehleyr, she appeared in three memorable episodes of The Next Generation before her character was tragically killed. Still, Plakson continued to leave a mark on the franchise and went on to play a female Q in Voyager as well as the Andorian Imperial Guard member Tarah in Enterprise.

Selar, We Hardly Knew Ye

When it comes to Suzie Plakson’s impact on the franchise, we can’t help but have mixed feelings: on one hand, her additional Star Trek roles were all amazing, and she’s a bit like Jeffrey Combs in that her appearance makes any given episode better. On the other hand, her Selar was a wonderful character, and more appearances on TNG would have made that show even stronger. But Plakson had to give up a role in one episode to get a role in several more, and if there’s one thing a Vulcan actor understands, it’s that the needs of the many paychecks outweigh the needs of the one paycheck.