Star Trek took many characters on a journey of self-discovery but none so much as these three.
Many Star Trek characters have grown and evolved over the years since they began, but some really stood out more than others. These three came from the bottom and worked their way to the top. They experienced devastation and hardships, struggled to be seen as more than what they were, and overcame their past to become shining beacons of Starfleet.
Seven of Nine/Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Picard
Initially rejected by Starfleet, she became a Fenris Ranger to help right the wrongs of society, but it’s her connection with Admiral Jean-Luc Picard that began her journey back to Starfleet, and at the beginning of the final season of Star Trek: Picard, Seven is not only in Starfleet, she is second in command of the Titan. And by the end of the series, she was promoted to Captain of the newly-minted Enterprise. She grew up in the Borg, functioned as member of the hive, and now, she’s a high-ranking member of Starfleet. How’s that for a character arc?
Rom/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
A Ferengi with “no lobes for business,” Rom starts out at Deep Space Nine as someone who was just there to be belittled by his older brother, Quark. With a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem after his first wife left him, Rom kept to himself and tried not to make waves. But he had an aptitude for fixing things and that finally led him to leave Quark’s bar and join the Bajoran Militia as an engineer. But he didn’t stop there.
Rom played a vital role in the Dominion War as he designed a self-replicating minefield that blocked any access to the wormhome and kept Dominion forces from entering the Alpha Quadrant. Along the way, he finds love with Leeta, a Dabo girl for Quark’s bar and is chosen to become the next Grand Nagus when Grand Nagus Zek stepped down. He proved that he was capable of being more than Quark’s inept little brother.
Tom Paris/Star Trek: Voyager
When we first meet Tom Paris, he’s in a Starfleet penal colony, having been captured by the Federation and tried for treason after he’d joined the Maquis. Prior to that, Tom had been a gifted pilot in Starfleet but crashed a shuttle that killed three Starfleet officers. He didn’t want to lose his commission so he falsified records, and though that succeeded, guilt kept him from remaining silent. He confessed and was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from Starfleet. This led to a split between Tom and his father.
When Tom first starts aboard Voyager, he’s still his usual “devil-may-care” self who does things his own way and gets in trouble for it, even being demoted by Captain Janeway and sent to the brig. Overall, he’s seen as a screw-up that can’t really be trusted.
But as Voyager progressed, Tom grew as a person and a Starfleet officer, having been given a field commission by Captain Janeway. Though he still had his wild moments, he became someone Janeway depended on and a valued member of the crew.
He fell in love with Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres, and the couple married. At the end of the series, B’Elanna gave birth to their daughter and Tom had earned his father’s respect.
Star Trek had plenty of other great character arcs, but these three really stand out as they showcase three who could have been pushed aside or left to their own devices. Instead, they were changed into heroes.