We look back at the last time Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura appeared in Star Trek.
Star Trek lost one of its biggest pioneers this weekend, as Nichelle Nichols passed away at the age of 89. The iconic actress made her name off the back of her portrayal of Uhura, the comms officer on the original USS Enterprise from the 1960s. She stayed with the franchise for nearly 30 years, acting in all six of the original films.
Despite attempts to get her to do some work with the franchise after the films ended, Nichols never did again return to the franchise for new content for one reason or another. Her last official appearance in the franchise was in the video game Star Trek: Judgment Rites
That didn’t sit well with a lot of people. Plans were constantly being pitched but falling through, like her appearing as the grandmother to Zoe Saldana’s grandmother in Star Trek 2009. When her dementia became too much and she stopped acting, everyone thought that was it. She’d never again be part of a new Trek property.
Star Trek: Prodigy brought back Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura
Enter Kevin and Dan Hageman. The Hageman siblings are the co-creators of Star Trek: Prodigy, the wildly fun animated, all-ages Star Trek series. Wanting to pay tribute to Star Trek of yesteryear, they created the episode “Kobayashi”, where the young Dal has to command the U.S.S. Enterprise-D in the Kobayashi Maru test.
As Dal only had one other crewmate, Jankom Pog, the simulation gave him several others. They were Spock, Odo, Scotty, Beverly Crusher, and Uhura. They were all voiced by their original voice actors, with only Crusher’s actress, Gates McFadden, being able to record new dialogue.
Leonard Nimoy (Spock), James Doohan (Scotty), and Rene Auberjonois (Odo) had already passed away at the time of recording, and Nichols was no longer able to do so; so all three had iconic dialogue taken from past episodes that were reused for their lines. The entire scene was written around what dialogue would make sense for the scenario. It was quite impressive.
So while Nichols couldn’t record the lines herself, it did mark the last time her version of Uhura had ever appeared in a proper Trek property.
While Nichols would never record any new Star Trek lines for a film or show after The Undiscovered Country, she did go on to play Uhura in several unlicensed Star Trek properties. While this may not seem like a big deal to many new Trek fans, fan-made Star Trek properties, especially good ones, are a big part of the fandom.
So for her to lend herself to these unlicensed, non-canon outings is a huge testament to her love of her character and the impact the brand has had on so many.