Garrett Wang and his beautiful face saved his Star Trek career

The cast of "Star Trek Voyager," in its 6th year. CBS Photo Archive
The cast of "Star Trek Voyager," in its 6th year. CBS Photo Archive /

Star Trek: Voyager continues to be a show that, alongside Enterprise, keeps getting more and more respect the longer it’s been off the air. Part of that may be due to nostalgia, or perhaps people are turning away from the Nu Trek and giving older shows another shake to fill that void. Perhaps it’s an unappreciated brilliance that is finally being seen. Maybe it’s Jeri Ryan in a tight bodysuit, who knows? Yet, had things shaken out differently, the Voyager we all knew and loved may not have had Garrett Wang for very long.

Starting with season four, the decision was made to introduce Ryan as Seven of Nine, raising the core-cast list to 10 main characters. That was not something people wanted to accommodate for, so someone had to go. The decision eventually came down to Wang, who played Engisn Harry Kim, or Jennifer Lien, who played the Ocampa named Kes.

Kes, for those new to Voyager, was a combination of Spock and Deanna Troi, only two years old. Seriously.

At the time, the decision was hard. Lien had gotten momentum around this time and was a major player in the Men In Black cartoon series, while Wang was a rising television star in his own right. Things seemed to be shifting to cutting Wang until the summer before season four began filming when Wang was named one of People’s Magainze 50 Most Beautiful People.

The positive press and wide-reaching potential appeal of Kim for female viewers made keeping him that much easier and the decision to cut Lien was made.

Wang and Kim have both become huge parts of the Star Trek fandom with Kim becoming sort of a comical meme, with fans often joking that he’ll be 70 years old and still an ensign. Wang, the actor who portrayed Kim is also enjoying a renaissance in Star Trek as well, as the host of a fun and successful Star Trek podcast called The Delta Flyers; which he hosts with Voyager castmate Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris).

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