Robert Picardo brilliantly played the Emergency Medical Hologram on Star Trek: Voyager for seven seasons.
At first, The Doctor, as he was never given a name, was confined solely to sickbay as he was a hologram. Robert Picardo, in an interview with Startrek.com, said he thought the EMH’s inability to move outside the confines of sickbay benefited him. It made the character unique, and that helped to capture the audience’s imagination. He went on to say the character’s limitations also benefited him as an actor because The Doctor was set apart in the audience’s mind.
But once his popularity took off, the producers wanted to do more with The Doctor. HIs confinement lessened the ability to use him in other scenes so they came up with the idea of outfitting the EMH with a mobile emitter which would allow him to traverse the ship at will and even leave it for away missions. So what was Picardo’s take on the idea? He wasn’t a fan…at first.
Robert Picardo was concerned about messing with a winning formula.
When producer Brannon Braga told PIcard they needed to be able to put him in more scripts, situations, and settings because of the character’s popularity, Picardo responded with “I think it’s a bad idea.” He told Braga that the character’s differences defined him and if he wasn’t confined to sickbay or the holodeck, he would be like any other character.
Despite PIcardo’s hesitancy, a mobile emitter was written in the third season episode “Future’s End.” And The Doctor was off and running, and we were treated to some fairly amazing episodes like “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy.” Seriously, the song he sings to help Tuvok is hilarious. So, fortunately, The Doctor remained mobile, and Picardo admits he was wrong, and the producers were 100% right. Sometimes, that happens.