In its seventh season, Star Trek: Voyager had The West Wing in its sights.
As Star Trek: Voyager was starting its final season, The West Wing was starting its second. There wouldn’t appear to be any connection between the science fiction drama and the political drama. But on the seventh season episode of Voyager “Imperfection,” the cast of The West Wing played a minor role as Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is seen scrolling through a list of officers from Voyager who had died. And the names on the list are familiar to those of us who are fans of the Aaron Sorkin series.
Some of the names on the screen are J. Bartlett, L. McGarry, T. Ziegler, J. Lyman, S. Seaborn, Claudia J. Craig, and Charles Young. And all of them were characters on The West Wing. In an article he wrote for Slate (where you can also see the screen capture), Phil Platt said he had the opportunity to speak to the graphic art supervisor, Mike Okuda, about how the names came to be used.
The Star Trek: Voyager art department were fans of The West Wing
Okuda said that some of the people in the art department were big fans of The West Wing, including himself, his wife, Denise, and one of the graphic artists, James Van Over. He said they would joke about how the political series should have been a Star Trek spinoff as it, too, had a close-knit family of characters on an idealistic mission.
"Yes, some of us in the art department were big West Wing fans, including [Mike’s wife] Denise, myself, and graphic artist James Van Over. We used to joke that The West Wing—with its close-knit family of characters on an idealistic mission—should have been a Star Trek spinoff. However, one of my rules regarding jokes was that they should never be apparent to the casual viewer. If they were, they would yank the viewer out of the story, and that would be a serious disservice to both. For this reason, I generally tried to keep the text on such gags at the ragged edge of legibility. That text went by on the screen pretty quickly and was thus unlikely to catch the viewer’s eye."
Though the text did go by quickly, that didn’t stop some fans from catching it. A few screen captures later, and we have several members of Jed Bartlet’s administration on Voyager’s death list. The names weren’t spelled exactly the same, but any fan of The West Wing would recognize them anyway. It was a great little nod to another fandom.