Since The Orville premiered this fall, Star Trek fans have ecstatically embraced Seth McFarlane’s thinly veiled Next Generation homage. While critics remain fairly divided on the quality of the show, there’s a hugely vocal portion of the Star Trek fandom that openly prefers it to Star Trek: Discovery and consider it part of the Trek family. So, naturally, given Star Trek’s boundless group of former cast members, fans are already salivating to see some of their favorites guest on McFarlane’s show.
Robert Picardo, the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager became the first Trek series regular to grace the Orville’s bridge, and hopefully he won’t be the last. His turn as was enormously well-received (duh), and given Seth McFarlane’s close relationship with several former TNG cast members, it stands to reason we could see a few more Trek alums appear on The Orville. To add to the speculation already taking the internet by storm, here are Geek’s Top Five picks for which Star Trek actors we want to see most.
JOHN DE LANCIE
The character of Q is a perennial fan favorite and arguably the most popular recurring character in the entire franchise — and he only appeared in NINE episodes. The omniscient misanthrope toyed with, terrorized and generally made intellectual mincemeat of the Enterprise crew, much to the delight of audiences the world over. As representative of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of God, Q plays a critical role in TNG’s overall ethos — God, if he exists, is not a benevolent father figure, but more of an adversary who treats humanity like a plaything. It’s when humanity pushes back against said god that it stretches the possibilities of its existence and evolution.
John de Lancie breathed life into that idea brilliantly, and while he obviously couldn’t appear as Q on The Orville, it almost feels like the show would be betraying its roots not to have some kind of God-like jerk appear just to mess with Mercer & Co. It might be a little on the nose to have de Lancie play something like that, but we think it’s just on-the-nose enough. Also, it’s kind of a backdoor way into an unspoken universe blend.
This is a little Reddit of us, but if John de Lancie appears as an omnipotent being on The Orville, there’s literally no narrative reason that character couldn’t also be Q, visiting from a neighboring alternate universe. Omnipotence packages come fully-loaded — a few subtle nods to TNG in the dialogue, and we’d have all the canon-confirmation we needed that The Orville is part of the Star Trek family, albeit a very distant cousin.
JONATHAN FRAKES AND MARINA SIRTIS
One of the more fun aspects of The Orville is the deeply (and hilariously) intimate look we get at each character. While the first few seasons of TNG only scratched the surface of the crew’s personal lives, The Orville dove right in, featuring a former married couple as the ship’s captain and first officer. The relationship hearkens back to the maddeningly undefined romance between the Enterprise-D’s first officer, Will Riker and the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi.
Their history was pieced together throughout TNG’s seven-year run, but only sparingly. We knew they dated quite seriously and broke up before their mutual assignment to the Federation flagship, as well as the fact that Troi insisted they remain, platonic friends while serving on the same ship (at least until she got the hots for Worf and that logic went right out the airlock). Maybe they could play Kelly Grayson’s disapproving parents and provide some more insight into why her marriage to Mercer failed. Or maybe they could run a nudist resort that winds up needing the Orville’s assistance. The possibilities are pretty endless, but bringing back these two as a couple would be terrifically satisfying since the Triker ship was kind of underserved on TNG.
The character of Isaac (Mark Jackson) is a clear tribute to Star Trek’s classic, unencumbered-by-emotion officers Spock and Data. Frankly, if you listen closely, Isaac even seems to mimic Brent Spiner’s (Data) diction and cadence (seriously, it’s kind of eerie). It would be utterly poetic if Star Trek’s OG android were able to somehow find his way to The Orville. And considering that we know very little of Isaac’s homeworld, Kaylon 1, the opportunity for a guest star to illuminate what things are like is pretty ripe. After all, any time we met someone from Data’s “past,” things got pretty juicy. Remember Lore?
Data’s (literal) evil twin was the fourth android created by cyberneticist, Dr. Noonian Soong, with Data being the fifth. When it became clear Lore couldn’t manage his emotions or the ethical subroutines necessary for interacting with humans, Soong deactivated him and created Data, the emotionless sweetie-pie we all know and love. It’d be interesting to see if the Kaylons encountered similar problems with emotional experimentation in their own culture, and it’d be even more interesting if Spiner was a part of that story.
PATRICK STEWART — ON ONE CONDITION
Given The Orville’s roots in TNG’s style and infrastructure, obviously, we’d step over a few crippled grandmas to see him do anything on Seth MacFarlane’s hit. An appearance by Stewart isn’t actually that huge a reach given that he’s worked with MacFarlane before on American Dad and Blunt Talk, and the two are friends. However, the idea of some kind of variation of Picard (noble, diplomatic, always right) appearing on the show, doesn’t fit with The Orville’s light, occasionally iconoclastic tone. Picard, for all his wonderful qualities, could be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, so instead of having Stewart come on and play someone who’d look stuffy next to the rest of the crew, we think it’d be funny if they had him play against type a little.
Throw Picard and Professor X out the window, and let Stewart come on as something totally unexpected. Maybe he’s the ship’s flamboyant hairdresser or Mercer’s perpetually drunk uncle. Working with someone like Stewart — a man known for his more righteous, honorable characters — the comedic possibilities are virtually endless if he’s allowed to do something unexpected.
ALL THE CAPTAINS
This one’s a bit pie-in-the-sky, but considering every Star Trek captain is alive, well, and still working, why not go for the gold and have all them on at once? Can you imagine the cultural impact of William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula appearing simultaneously on The Orville? It’s stunt casting at its finest, but considering we’re not getting the characters in the same room, just the actors, there are plenty of possibilities.
They could form a legal body tasked with sitting in judgment of the Orville crew or her captain, or they could go someplace way out of left field and be an Ocean’s 11 type team of professional thieves. But, to be perfectly honest, if The Orville managed to get these folks together at the same time, we’d probably watch them sip tea and read phone books. #DreamBig
Disagree with our choices? Think of anyone we missed? Let us know in the comments!
The Orville airs Thursday nights at 9 pm on Fox.
Photos: Paramount, NBC, Fox