Star Trek has had many unique guest stars over the years.
In over 800 episodes of television and thirteen movies, Star Trek has featured a truly massive number of guest stars. In fact, I have it on good authority that there’s only one episode in the entire franchise that features no guest stars, background cast, or stunt performers. (That would be the Enterprise season 1 highlight Shuttlepod One).
Often Star Trek’s best characters are guest stars, any fan could rattle off a list of fantastic unforgettable characters who only appeared in one episode. I personally will never forget Ch’Pok, the Klingon Lawyer from Deep Space Nine’s Rules of Engagement, or Kevis Fajo, the “collector” from The Next Generation’s The Most Toys.
Then there are those recurring guest stars who with only a handful of appearances became almost as integral to Trek lore as the members of the main cast, such as John de Lancie’s Q, or Robert O’Reilly’s Gowron. The best example of this is the deliciously evil Kai Win, played by Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher. The duplicity and condescension that Win oozes is palpable in every scene she’s in, which is a testament to Fletcher’s talent. In all those examples of unforgettable one-shot characters, it was the magnetism of the guest stars that brought them to life.
Star Trek is such a beloved franchise that many of those guest stars are fans who jumped at the chance to be involved. Other guests were headhunted by the production because of some significance, infamy, or simply because they’re people of note. But almost always when they’re sought out, they’re fans too.
That’s the great thing about Star Trek having the passionate fandom that it does is that so many people just want to be involved. This gives the writers and producers a massive and infinitely varied talent pool to work with.