We round up the best Star Trek: Voyager episodes that showcase the Emergency Medical Hologram Doctor.
If you’re a fan of Star Trek, then you know there is a proud tradition that goes back to The Original Series: each show has a nonhuman character whose adventures help the crew and the audience to discover more about their own humanity. On Star Trek: Voyager, that character was the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) Doctor, played pitch-perfectly by Robert Picardo. And if you’re ready to laugh, cry, and everything in between, we’ve rounded up the best Doctor episodes of Voyager that you can stream today on Paramount Plus.
7. Lifeline – Season 6 Episode 24
While the USS Voyager didn’t actually make it back to Earth until the final episode, the intrepid crew of this Intrepid-class ship did eventually find a way to communicate with Starfleet in the Alpha Quadrant. This gave us wonderful Star Trek episodes like “Lifeline,” in which the Doctor (with the help of Barclay from The Next Generation) is temporarily sent to the Alpha Quadrant to help take care of his dying human creator, Lewis Zimmerman.
This sets off a battle of wits between two very cranky characters as the EMH tries to care for his creator, and if that’s not compelling enough, this episode also features a wonderful cameo by fan-favorite character Deanna Troi.
6. Lifesigns – Season 2 Episode 19
Early on in Star Trek: Voyager, the writers figured out that one of the quickest ways to pull the emotional strings of their audience was finding new ways to break the Doctor’s heart. And that narrative mission is on full display in “Lifesigns,” an episode in which our holographic healer falls in love with a Vidiian woman as he tries to save her from the phage which runs rampant among her people.
It’s a bittersweet romance between two characters who can never really be together, and it’s nearly impossible to watch the Doctor’s emotional journey in this episode without remembering the keen pain of your own doomed relationships.
5. Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy – Season 6 Episode 4
If you’re getting burned out on Star Trek: Voyager episodes where the Doctor makes you cry, you should definitely check out “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy,” an episode that will leave you laughing from beginning to end. Once the Doctor gives himself the ability to daydream, he thinks it’s all harmless fun…at least, until an alien race manages to use his new programming to spy on the ship and plan an ambitious attack.
In addition to being an awesome Doctor episode, this is also a standout ep for Captain Janeway as she finally makes peace with the fact that her Chief Medical Officer is more than the sum of his holographic parts.
4. Latent Image – Season 5 Episode 11
Ok, now that you’ve gotten the laughter out of your system, we have another Star Trek: Voyager episode featuring the Doctor that is sure to make you cry. In “Latent Image,” the Doctor discovers his memory has been erased, but what is more disturbing is the reason why: after he had a mental breakdown when forced to choose which life to save, Janeway had the memory erased to protect him.
Once the Doctor requests his memories be restored, it takes Janeway and the entire crew to help him work through the trauma, underscoring once and for all just how seriously this Starfleet program takes his oath to preserve life.
3. Critical Care – Season 7 Episode 5
Star Trek: Voyager sometimes had trouble deciding on what kind of show it wanted to be, but we were pleased to discover that the Doctor-centric episode “Critical Care” was a welcome return to the storytelling of The Original Series. In the fine TOS tradition of in-your-face themes, this episode has the Doctor get stolen by a society where only the wealthy and powerful receive medical care, leaving everyone else to suffer and die.
The message is quite clear, but we still raised our eyebrows like Spock when the Doctor realized his extreme actions (including infecting corrupt people with fatal diseases to gain leverage over them) did not violate his ethical subroutines.
2. Message in a Bottle – Season 4 Episode 14
“Message In a Bottle” is such a good Star Trek episode that we still recommend it to people even though it has a rival EMH Doctor played by famed Hollywood creep Andy Dick. If you can separate the art from the artist, Dick provides a great comedic foil for the cantankerous Robert Picardo, and it’s fun watching them run around on a different Starfleet ship as they try to fight off Romulans.
Whether you like humor, action, or just fun reminders of The Next Generation, this is an episode that provides all of this while helping to show us Voyager at its best.
1. Real Life- Season 3 Episode 22
Many of the best Star Trek: Voyager episodes showcase the Doctor learning (like Data before him) that becoming more human is often more painful than he ever imagined. For example, the episode “Real Life” begins with a simple premise: the Doctor wants to use the holodeck to simulate having a family and generally experiencing a normal life, but things go sideways when he gets some help making the program more realistic.
It doesn’t take long before he must deal with unexpected pain, suffering, and the prospect of death, and his gut-wrenching reaction to all of this proves he may already be more human than he realizes.