5. Harry Kim
Harry Kim began Voyager as an ensign and ended it as an ensign. This is regarded as symbolic of Voyager’s greatest fault, the complete lack of character development. The writers may not have given Harry KIm any character development, but actor Garret Wang played Kim near the end with the weariness of a young man who’s seen too much.
One of the big differences between modern Star Trek, and the 90s era is that with the serialized format, we see the effect the constant threats to the galaxy have on the character’s nerves, while each episodic adventure had no bearing on the next. No one was ever touched by the PTSD of weekly existential threats. And although it was never addressed in any storyline or dialogue that Kim was changed, he clearly was. Kim was a so-so character elevated by the way he was playing.
The effect was that Kim’s weariness was always tempered with optimism. As the bags under his eyes grew, Kim was the one who never stopped believing they’d get home. This duality is most perfectly seen in one of Voyager’s best episodes, Timeless.
That optimism meant that he sort of symbolized how Voyager was a light in the darkness of the Delta Quadrant. The Federation’s ideals overcoming the cynicism of a harsh galaxy, despite how they may be tested.
Kim was envisioned as the resident naif, a Pollyanna Starfleet counterpoint to the more cynical Maquis crew. So he kinda lost his purpose when the show forgot about its premise of a mixed crew. They considered getting rid of him, to make way for the much-needed new blood of a new character, but Kim was saved when he was named number 18 on People Magazine’s list of the world’s 50 most beautiful people in 1997.