6. Christine Chapel – Majel Barrett/Jess Bush
It would be tempting to say that the original series didn’t contain enough information about Chapel for this list as well, but the truth is that she appeared often enough that there should’ve been plenty of information about her. In all her appearances though, she was just sort of there. So the fully realized three-dimensional character we see in Strange New Worlds is inherently unfaithful to her original iteration.
All I really remember Chapel doing in the original series is mooning over Spock, fretting over characters in peril, looking after children, and having to be rescued. She was precisely the sort of character who made the progressive stance of the original seem like something the fans just imagined. The original series was a product of its time, and it can’t be expected to live up to today’s standard for progressivism, But Gene Roddenberry was remarkably forward-thinking when it came to the role of women on the ship (more on that later), but Chapel’s passivity and marginalization undermine that completely.
Strange New Worlds’ Chapel is not merely a fleshing out of the character, but an essential course correction. Giving her a relationship with Spock means that she wasn’t just mooning over him; for whatever reason, their relationship is over by the time of the original series, so what we’re seeing is bitter-sweet lingering affection, which is a much better character trait than that embarrassing dewy-eyed longing.
In addition to that, Strange New Worlds’ Chapel is sassy, ambitious, intellectually curious, emotionally complex, and a war hero to boot.
This personality retcon isn’t completely out of left field, though. I feel like the Strange New Worlds Chapel is similar to how Majel Barrett would’ve played her had she been given the chance. Barrett went on to play Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, proving that she can do sassy, intellectually curious, and emotionally complex (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lwaxana Troi was a war hero.) She could also handle the whiplash swings between manic comedy and heartfelt drama that have become SNW’s signature.