Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Characters Originally Played By Someone Else
Set before the events of the landmark Star Trek: The Original Series, the more current show Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is led by characters originally introduced in the unaired pilot “The Cage.” Even the most casual fans are aware that heroes like Captain Pike, Spock, and Uhura were originally played by different actors, but there are a lot more characters who make their franchise returns in Strange New Worlds with different faces.
From the most well-known to the most obscure, here are all the characters in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds originally played by someone else.
Captain Christopher Pike
Captain Christopher Pike, the captain who precedes the more well known James T. Kirk as commander of the Enterprise, was first played by Jeffrey Hunter in the unaired Star Trek: The Original Series pilot “The Cage.” Footage from the pilot would later be used in the two-parter “The Menagerie,” at which point Pike had been crippled after a terrible accident. The chair-bound Pike was played by Sean Kenney in the two-parter.
Anson Mount took over the role of Pike for the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, which takes place after “The Cage,” but approximately a decade before the rest of The Original Series.
Leonard Nimoy plays Spock not only in The Original Series, but in all of the films featuring the original crew, two of the three Kelvin Timeline films, the two-parter “Unification” in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and voiced his signature character in Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Ethan Peck takes over the role in Season 2 of Discovery, when a conspiracy finds him wrongly accused of murder and on the run. He continues to play the iconic Vulcan in Strange New Worlds.
The late Majel Barrett wore a lot of hats in the world of Star Trek, including playing a character we only ever hear referred to as “Number One” in “The Cage.” After the unaired pilot, Barrett was cast in another role, and we wouldn’t see the character return until Season 2 of Discovery when she was played by Rebecca Romijn. Romijn continues to play her in Strange New Worlds, when we learn her actual name is Una Chin-Riley.
It was Nichelle Nichols who originated the role of Nyota Uhura in The Original Series. She continued to play the character in The Animated Series and all six Star Trek films starring the original crew.
Celia Rose Gooding took over the role for Strange New Worlds, with the prequel series giving a stronger focus to the character and lending some extra dimension.
Sadly, Nichols passed away in July 2022, two months after Strange New Worlds premiered on Paramount+.
Christine Chapel is yet another Star Trek role Majel Barrett originated in The Original Series. She voiced the character in The Animated Series, and returned for 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Jess Bush takes over the role in Strange New Worlds, which gets a lot more mileage out of the attraction between Chapel and Spock. Chapel’s torch for the Vulcan is referred to a number of times in The Original Series, but in the more recent series hardly an episode goes by without at least one or two scenes between the two thick with sexual tension.
Dr. Joseph M'Benga
It wasn’t often that a doctor other than DeForrest Kelley’s Leonard McCoy made an appearance on The Original Series, but Bones needed a break sometimes. One of the only other doctors we meet aboard the iconic ship is Dr. M’Benga, played by the late Booker Bradshaw. He only had two appearances on the series: in Season 2’s “A Private Little War,” and the following season’s “That Which Survives.”
Babs Olusanmokun enjoys a lot more time in the spotlight with his version of M’Benga in Strange New Worlds. Among other new elements to his story, there is a heartbreaking tale about his terminally ill daughter, and it’s made clear the doctor suffers PTSD from his experiences in the Klingon War.
James T. Kirk
Few need to be reminded that it’s William Shatner who originated the role of Captain James T. Kirk on The Original Series. Along with returning to the role for The Animated Series and the six original crew films, Shatner reprised his role one more time fighting alongside The Next Generation‘s Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) in 1994’s Star Trek: Generations.
In Strange New Worlds, Paul Wesley’s version of Kirk has yet to earn the rank of captain. In Season 2’s “Lost in Translation,” we learn he is still a Lieutenant though his career is on an upward trend. He’s still serving aboard the USS Farragut as the youngest first officer in Starfleet‘s history.
Khan Noonien Singh
Ricardo Montalban, best known outside of Star Trek for his seven year run on Fantasy Island, first played the genetically enhanced warlord Khan Noonien Singh in The Original Series first season episode “Space Seed.” He went on to reprise the role in what is still considered by many to be the best film in the franchise, 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Desmond Sivan appears as a much younger version of Khan in the Strange New Worlds time travel episode, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.”
Admiral Robert April
There are plenty of Star Trek characters who first showed up in The Original Series and later appeared in The Animated Series, but Admiral Robert April wound up going in the opposite direction. It’s in fact in the final episode of The Animated Series, “The Counter-Clock Incident,” that we meet April and learn he was the Enterprise captain before Pike. James Doohan, best known for his live-action role as Montgomery Scott, voiced April for the episode.
In Strange New Worlds, Admiral April is Adrian Holmes. If a Starfleet bigwig is giving Pike an earful of regulations, nine times out of ten, it will be April.
John Winston might not have been the most visible actor in Star Trek, but in his recurring role on The Original Series he appeared in some of the landmark episodes including “Space Seed,” “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and “Mirror, Mirror.” Kyle shows up in The Animated Series — inexplicably balding and sporting a waxed mustache — but instead of Winston it was James Doohan voicing him.
In Strange New Worlds, where he’s played by André Dae Kim, we find out Kyle served aboard the Enterprise even before James Kirk.
The late Jane Wyatt played Spock’s human mother only twice — in the Season 2 The Original Series episode “Journey to Babel,” and briefly in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — yet it remains the role for which she’s best remembered. Majel Barrett voiced her in The Animated Series, and Cynthia Blaise plays her in a flashback to Spock’s birth in 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
The latest actress to take up the role is Mia Kirshner in the Season 2 Strange New Worlds episode “Charades.”
Considering what we know about her future, the Vulcan T’Pring is one of the most tragic figures in Strange New Worlds. In the landmark The Original Series episode “Amok Time,” Arlene Martel plays Spock’s betrothed, whose pronouncement of dissatisfaction with Spock forces the Vulcan officer and James T. Kirk into a death match against one another.
Gia Sandhu plays a T’Pring still deeply in love with Spock in Strange New Worlds, rendering it that much more heartbreaking to know how her Star Trek story ends.
In “Amok Time,” when T’Pring rejects her betrothed Spock, we learn the man she’s chosen to replace him is Stonn — a Vulcan who masters the skill of looking full of nothing but disapproval. The actor playing him in “Amok Time,” Lawrence Montaigne, actually makes his Star Trek debut as a different kind of pointy-eared villain in Season 1 of The Original Series. Montaigne plays Decius, the young and ambitious Romulan, in “Balance of Terror.”
Stonn is played by Roderick McNeill in Strange New Worlds, and so far has only appeared in a single Season 1 episode — “The Serene Squall.”
Lieutenant George Samuel Kirk
Before the debut of Strange New Worlds, James T. Kirk’s older brother George Samuel Kirk lived and died in a single episode — “Operation — Annihilate!” in Season 1 of The Original Series. He, or rather his corpse, is played by William Shatner, with some hair and makeup work done to make him look older.
A much more vibrant and likable version of Sam has a recurring role in Strange New Worlds, played by Dan Jeannotte. Because of both Jeannotte’s casting and Paul Wesley taking up the role of James Kirk, for the first time in Star Trek, Strange New Worlds lets us see these two brothers interact.
The Romulan Commander
The late Mark Lenard plays the unnamed Romulan Commander in “The Balance of Terror,” the very first episode to feature the Vulcan off-shoots as villains. While that was where he made his Star Trek debut, Lenard would become much better known as Sarek, the father of Spock. He appeared as the esteemed Starfleet ambassador in The Original Series, The Next Generation, a number of movies, and voiced him in The Animated Series.
In “A Quality of Mercy,” the Strange New Worlds Season 1 finale that offers a kind of “what if” look at “The Balance of Terror,” the Romulan Commander is instead played by Matthew MacFadzean.
In what many consider one of the least of Star Trek’s cinematic offerings, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, it’s revealed that Spock has an outcast older half-brother named Sybok who rejected the Vulcan teachings of logic and emotion suppression. Sybok was played by Laurence Luckinbill, and the Vulcan remains his most well-remembered role.
We actually don’t know who played Sybok in the Strange New Worlds episode “The Serene Squall.” We only see the actor from behind for a moment, as he turns his head to hint at a more consequential return.
It was of course James Doohan who played Montgomery Scott — aka Scotty — in The Original Series, The Animated Series, the six original crew films, an episode of The Next Generation, and enjoyed a cameo in Generations.
So far, Scotty has not been fully seen in Strange New Worlds, but we got to hear him. In “A Quality of Mercy,” we learn what would’ve happened if it was Pike instead of Kirk who was captain during the events of The Original Series“Balance of Terror.” One scene gives us a chance to hear Scotty — voiced by English Actor Matthew Wolf — but we never see him. We only see one red-clad arm.