Star Trek: Voyager ended 20 years ago with its two-hour finale, Endgame, that many consider a missed opportunity or even a letdown. The Star Trek Voyager ending was a hotly debated issue internally, one that had many finales written up or pitched before the powers that be decided what eventually was seen on the small screen. Oh, so you want to know just what those other endings entailed?
According to Brannon Braga, the former Voyager showrunner, the creative challenge facing all involved was whether or not they bring the crew home to Earth. Braga mentioned this in his 2001 Star Trek Monthly interview, “The biggest decision was whether or not we actually wanted them to get home. That was a decision that really came down to the wire.”
For those who can’t reach back 20 years into their memories, the Star Trek Voyager ending went out on an anti-climactic note. The finale centered on the future Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) who alters the past to ensure that her entire crew makes it home. They have spent the past seven years venturing across the Delta Quadrant, all in hopes of finally making it home. The decision to give the crew a brief, less than three-minute screen time to reflect on finally making it home was nothing short of a travesty.
Star Trek Voyager’s ending went through many lenses. Mulgrew had her opinion on how her character’s fate concluded. Braga, though he was no longer the showrunner but still was an executive producer, had some input as did Rick Berman and co-writer Kenneth Biller, who helped pen the finale. Voyager staff-writer Robert Doherty was also brought on to help with the script. In the end, stakeholders took the time travel creative cues from Berman and Biller along with Mulgrew’s request of Janeway going down with the ship. And a scant few minutes of Earth time.
“We were really struggling with it,” Biller recalls in the 2020 Hero’s Collector book Star Trek: Voyager – A Celebration. “Is the end of the show just that they get home? That’s a bit of an anticlimax. Did we want some people to die?”
If you were to ask Braga, he was most definitely up for someone dying in the Star Trek Voyager ending and, in his mind, he had a perfect choice. “I think Seven of Nine should have bit the dust,” Braga told TrekCore.com back in 2013. “I think there had to be a real sacrifice for this crew getting home; a real blood sacrifice. Seven of Nine was, for me, designed to be a character that was gonna die tragically. I planned that.” Thankfully for Star Trek: Picard fans, Berman overruled Braga by not killing off Jeri Ryan’s popular character.
Another idea that didn’t make the cut for the Star Trek Voyager ending was one that would have started before the final episode, one that would have brought the crew home to Earth an episode or two earlier to allow them to experience life on Earth.
There was another epic plot, that if pulled off, perhaps would have satisfied Voyager fans. This one involved Janeway’s self-sacrifice and her enemy: the Borg. The idea pitched was that Janeway would surrender to the Borg with her battle-damaged ship being assimilated by the Borg cube. In typical Janeway fashion, her ability to outmaneuver would come into play as this was a ruse. Once the Borg had Janeway, the Doctor (played by Robert Picardo) would then activate a reverse assimilation virus.
Bryan Fuller, who was on staff as a Voyager writer, explained to Star Trek Magazine the thought behind this pitch for the Star Trek Voyager ending. “As we were assimilating the Borg ship from the inside, and re-assimilating ourselves, we would use a Borg transwarp conduit to get back home. The idea was this great final image of the Borg armada approaching Earth, and then out of the belly of the beast of the lead ship came Voyager, destroying all of the other Borg in its trail. It felt like an epic conclusion to Janeway’s journey with the Borg, and freeing Seven of Nine. That got abandoned somewhere along the road.” What could have been.
The missed opportunities weren’t lost on the cast, either. Garret Wang, who played Ensign Harry Kim, even exclaimed to StarTrek.com, “We don’t even step foot on Earth!” The one thing, though, that Endgame did get right was allowing Kate Mulgrew an amazing performance. In the Star Trek Voyager ending episode, she played both her older self as Admiral Janeway squaring off against her younger self as she tried to justify everything she had to sacrifice in order to bring her entire crew home safely.
The episode was also noted for the one last battle between Voyager, with all its new trimmings (advanced armor plating and weapons), and the Borg. Full satisfaction?
It’s a shame for those who followed Star Trek: Voyager and the crew’s exploits for seven seasons to go down unsatisfied. Then again, maybe we are wrong here. What do you think, those of you GFR Trekkies who followed Voyager to the bitter end? Was Endgame a satisfying conclusion or would you have liked to see some of the other ideas used? Maybe you have an idea of your own that could have played well. Let us know your thoughts.