I’ve written before about the Planet of Hats trope, that’s the one that’s all over Star Trek, where every alien species has just one defining characteristic that they all adhere to. Most people see it as a plot hole, or as lazy writing, but I defended it. It feels real to me that even though those cultures would be as diverse and three-dimensional as our own, our cultural conditioning would only allow us to see a few key differences.
While the Planet of Hats is a constant of Star Trek, Star Trek also likes to subvert the trope, with characters who have turned their backs on their culture or are outcasts. I always felt that this was an overcorrection. Tuvok was perfectly in the middle, which made not only him, but the Vulcan species, seem more three-dimensional.
Tuvok wasn’t half-human like Spock, or raised by humans like Worf. He wasn’t conflicted about his origin, and he was quintessentially Vulcan. It’s characters like that who make Starfleet feel like a multi-species organization. Yet he wasn’t a scientist or a philosopher (at least not by vocation, anyway). He was a military intelligence guy. Having Vulcans who aren’t the resident science officer, yet are still Vulcan in every way is the sort of thing that makes a bunch of TV shows and movies into a shared universe.
Then there’s the fact that actor Tim Russ somehow managed to act the hell out of playing an emotionless character. There was something extremely watchable about how Russ played him. I guess not having the character who was defined by inner conflict over their alien identity allowed Russ free reign to interpret the character.