This Actor Played More Star Trek Doctors On More Series Than Anyone Else
Star Trek star Diana Muldaur has portrayed three different doctors throughout the franchise.
Pop quiz: who do you think the most prolific doctor in all of Star Trek is? Many would guess Dr. McCoy, especially since he appeared in the films and even in The Next Generation, and others might guess Dr. Crusher, especially since the third season of Star Trek: Picard largely revolved around her. But according to StarTrek.com, Star Trek star Diana Muldaur has played more doctors in this venerable franchise than anyone else.
Most Star Trek fans are likely to recognize Diana Muldaur from playing Dr. Katherine Pulaski on The Next Generation. She controversially replaced Gates McFadden’s for that show’s second season before both fan demand and a personal request from Patrick Stewart brought McFadden back. Because of this, Pulaski was only on the show for one of its seven seasons, but it turns out that she had already been part of the franchise for two decades by the time she first replaced Dr. Crusher.
That’s because her Star Trek journey began way back in The Original Series, where she played not one but two different doctors. In the episode “Return to Tomorrow,” she played Dr. Ann Mulhall, and she played an entirely different doctor, Dr. Miranda Jones, in the episode “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” Interestingly, in “Return to Tomorrow,” she also played Thalassa, a 500,000-year-old being that needed to borrow the body of Dr. Mulhall.
At first, you might think Star Trek having someone like Diana Muldaur play different roles so close together was just something they only did back in The Original Series, but this is a franchise tradition that is still alive and well to this day. Fan-favorite actor and genre icon Jeffrey Combs has played at least 10 different Star Trek roles in everything from Deep Space Nine to Lower Decks. And at this point, we’ve lost track of the number of different characters played by Brent Spiner, who has played at least six distinct roles in Star Trek: Picard alone.
One regret that many Star Trek fans have regarding Diana Muldaur is that we didn’t get enough time to really know her Dr. Pulaski character over the course of TNG’s second season. Some fans immediately hated her animosity towards fan-favorite character Data while others enjoyed having a doctor so different than Dr. Crusher. However, Muldaur has been very open about the fact that she only ever intended to do one season of The Next Generation, so she ironically has much fewer regrets about not sticking around than the fans who miss her.
We’re not sure if she’d really be game for it, but if nothing else, we’d love to see Star Trek bring Diana Muldaur back to voice Dr. Pulaski on the show Lower Decks. The character’s crusty, no-nonsense demeanor would provide some humorous friction with boisterous characters like Ensign Mariner, and we’d love to see Pulaski talk shop with Dr. T’Ana, the show’s catty (quite literally) Chief Medical Officer. Just don’t expect her to cross the picket line during the current Hollywood strike because dammit, Jim…she’s a doctor, not a scab.