Strange New Canon

Strange New Worlds rumors: 5 old Star Trek characters that could return

Pike. Spock. Number One. But who else?

When Strange New Worlds debuts, it has the potential to be the most-over-the-top Star Trek project in decades. In the halcyon days of the sixties Star Trek, goofy aliens colored orange, blue and green were a product of budgetary restrictions. But now, the zany aliens of the 2260s are part of the aesthetic sandbox, and inexorably linked to what this pre-Kirk USS Enterprise show is all about. It’s right there in the title: Strange New Worlds is almost certainly going back to what made The Original Series charming — kooky aliens that stretch credulity for the purposes of telling great stories.

But, within all that, there’s also a potential for Strange New Worlds to reboot some forgotten characters from the 1970s Star Trek: The Animated Series and beyond. Recently, rumors have run wild that specific characters from TAS will indeed reappear in Strange New Worlds. Whether or not these rumors are true is unclear, and kind of beside the point. The larger point is because of the timeline and the aesthetic of Strange New Worlds, several forgotten Trek characters could totally be re-canonized, including a few of those zany aliens from The Animated Series.

So, with that in mind, here are five overlooked characters from the TOS-era of Trek who could make a triumphant return to the Final Frontier in Strange New Worlds.

Bones’ daughter, Joanna McCoy

Joanna McCoy, as depicted on the cover of the 1986 Star Trek novel, Crisis on Centaurus, by Brad Ferguson.Art by Boris Vallejo

Okay, so Dr. McCoy’s daughter isn’t exactly a strange alien, but, this character has existed at the very edge of Trek canon for a long time.

During the production of TOS, script editor Dorothy Fontana and Deforest Kelley, cooked-up a backstory for Bones that would have involved an estranged adult daughter. She’s even mentioned outright in The Animated Series episode “The Survivor.” This single reference to Joanna makes her existence in the Trek canon legit, but we’ve never seen her. How old would she be in the timeframe of Strange New Worlds? Well, Memory Alpha and other fandom sources put her birthday roughly in 2249, which would make her barely 10-years-old at the start of Strange New Worlds. Then again, because Joanna has never really been fully developed as a character, we have no idea how old a newly rebooted version of her might be. Her birthday is not canon!

Why would we see Bones’ daughter and not Bones in Strange New Worlds? Well, although there’s no way to know this, one benefit of doing Strange New Worlds is that it also serves as a direct prequel to TOS, which means, we might get low-key origin stories for TOS characters, albeit from slightly different perspectives. Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 did this with the character of Harry Mudd and his wife Stella in the episode “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” a sideways prequel to the TOS episode “I, Mudd.”

Spock’s other sibling, Sybok

Sybok (Laurence Luckinbill) in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.Paramount

When Michael Burnham was introduced as Spock’s previously unknown human sister in Star Trek: Discovery, some fans freaked out. Other fans accepted it, partially because something like it had happened before.

In The Final Frontier, Spock revealed to Kirk and Bones that he had had an older brother, who was the offspring of Sarek and an un-named Vulcan Princess. (We don’t know if Sarek was married to this person or not, but we do know she died when Spock was pretty young.) What we don’t know is how the hell Sybok fits into the newer DISCO timeline in which Spock and Michael Burnham basically grew-up together. Presumably, Sybok was a lot older than Spock and Michael, so it’s possible he was already off becoming a Vulcan teenage drop-out by the time Sarek adopted Michael.

The point is, it’s never been made clear. Because Ethan Peck’s Spock is one of the lead characters on Discovery it seems possible that the origin of Sybok’s estrangement with Spock could be depicted in this series. Sure, Captain Kirk didn’t know Spock had a half-brother (or half-sister) but did Captain Pike know about Sybok?

Sarah April

Sarah April in 2270 in “The Counter-Clock Incident.”CBS/Paramount

In real-deal canon, the first chief medical officer of the USS Enterprise was Sarah April, wife of Captain Robert April. In the TAS episode, “The Counter-Clock Incident,” we were introduced to older versions of Robert April and Sarah April in roughly 2270.

Since then, references to Robert April have been made somewhat overtly in Star Trek: Discovery. In Season 1, Saru read his name off of a list of decorated Starfleet captains. In Season 2, Pike’s service record indicates that he took over command of the Enterprise from Robert April in 2250. But what about Sarah? Other than “The Counter-Clock Incident” there have been zero in-canon references to Sarah April. In theory, around the time of Strange New Worlds, the Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise should be Dr. Boyce, and at some point before 2265, Dr. Piper. (And then, eventually Dr. “Bones” McCoy.)

That said, there’s a tradition in Trek for revolving doctors on starships. In TNG, Dr. Crusher left the Enterprise-D for one full year and was replaced by Dr. Pulaksi, a character who was considerably older than her. Could something similar happen on Strange New Worlds? Could Dr. Sarah April reappear as a more experienced ship’s doctor, who bosses everyone around? Of all forgotten Enterprise crew members, Sarah April could be one of the coolest wild-cards Strange New Worlds could play.

Arex

Arex, the navigator of the Enterprise in The Animated Series.CBS/Paramount

He’s got three legs and three arms and he belongs to a species called Edosians, or sometimes, Triexians. Confused? It’s not your fault.

Early in the development of Arex, his species was made kind of confusing by a combination of promotional material and later, novelizations by Alan Dean Foster. Later, non-canon books by Peter David attempted to say that Edosians and Triexians were closely related, and don’t worry about it so much. (In early TOS, Spock is even called a “Vulcanian,” so factor that in!)

Anyway, the only other Edosian (or Triexian) we’ve ever seen was in the Lower Decks episode, “Much Ado About Boimler.” We have never seen a live-action version of one of these aliens. Could Strange New Worlds change all of that? Could we finally get a live-action Arex? Maybe. But, then again, Arex seems pretty young in The Animated Series, which would mean he’s even younger in Strange New Worlds.

M’Ress

M’Ress in Star Trek: The Animated SeriesCBS/Paramount

Uhura’s relief communications officer in The Animated Series as the cat-person alien known as M’ress. Yes, she had a tail, and she purred when she opened hailing frequencies. Her species was designated as Caitian, which is not to be confused with the other cat-aliens from The Animated Series, the Kzinti. (Who Riker also name-checked in Picard.)

Now, we have seen live-action Catians in Trek canon before, but mostly as background characters. In Star Trek IV, for example, we see a couple of Catians on the Federation council, in Starfleet uniforms. That said, we’ve never actually seen a live-action M’Ress before, and we have no idea really how old she is. All we know is that she served on the Enterprise in 2270. Could she have been on the ship for much longer and we just never saw her in The Original Series?

When you consider that Spock had served on the Enterprise 13 years prior to The Original Series even starting, it’s possible there are actually a ton of crew members who have also been around for the long-haul. Part of the whole point of Strange New Worlds is to highlight the long and interesting history of the classic USS Enterprise. And in filing out that history, it seems likely that Spock can’t be the only familiar face with pointed ears.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will eventually stream on Paramount+.