Darting from planet to planet, discovering the unknown, Star Trek has shown that relationships are a struggle when your main focus is on exploring the unknown. Yet beyond the great adventure, one of the most complex relationships shown on screen have been between parents and their children.
Family drama is one of televisions most loved tropes and Star Trek has mined that particular well more than a few times over the years; particularly with father figures. For every inspiring and supportive Joseph Sisko, there’s a Kyle Riker holding a life long resentment over their children. Occasionally there’s an Enabrin Tain, who’d deny his parentage right until his deathbed.
Not every family relationship in Trek has been antagonistic and some have been inspirational to both characters within the story and the audience at home. Today we’re celebrating Fathers Day by looking back at some of the more inspirational father figures in Star Trek, starting with one of the most relatable faces in the franchises history…
Possibly the most normal and down to Earth character that wore the uniform, Miles O’Brien wasn’t a career officer but an overworked enlisted man who’d do his job, do it very well, then clock off to go back home to what really mattered. His family. Despite his heavy workload, move to DS9 and the eventual war with the Dominion, O’Brien always found the balance of making sure his wife and kids – Molly and Kirayoshi – were his priority no matter what challenges they faced; even ensuring they had a calmer, happier life by leaving the front lines for a quiet job on Earth.
Worf may have been known as the son of Mogh, but for all his Klingon heritage Worf owed a lot to his foster parents Sergey and Helena. When serving on the USS Intrepid, Sergey found the orphaned Worf and took him into his care. Leaving his life in Starfleet behind, he and Helena raised Worf with their own son, taking on the massive responsibility of caring for the troublesome outcast. While Worf was known to be stubborn and himself not the best fatherly role model, the love his human parents gave him ensured he stayed grounded, restrained and gained the courage to become the first Klingon to join Starfleet.
Hikaru Sulu (and Ben!)
Gallivanting through space and rising to the rank of Captain, the audience learned there was more to Sulu’s personal life than met the eye when we wre introduced to his daughter, Demora, who’d follow in his footsteps to become the helmsman of the Enterprise-B. In the Kelvin Timeline we got a little more insight into his family life as he struggled through the days waiting until he could see his daughter again and as Kirk watched on, envying how fulfilled Sulu’s life was, we saw Sulu reunited with his daughter and husband Ben. While it did receive criticism for being all too brief a moment, this was the first indication of both a same-sex couple and same sex parents in Star Trek’s main cast.
In the original ‘Prime’ time-line, George Kirk was an inspiring figure to a young James T and lived long enough to see his son become Captain of the Enterprise. In the Kelvin Timeline, his legacy was a little bit different. Placed in command, George Kirk witnessed his captain’s death from afar before the mysterious Romulan Nero began the attack on the USS Kelvin. Stepping up to save the crew, and his wife who was in the middle of giving birth to their son, George had the ship evacuated and stayed behind to make sure all eight hundred people could escape; sacrificing his own life for that of the crew – and his newborn son. In the new timeline the death of a father he never knew would haunt James Kirk, before being dared by Captain Pike to live up to his memory.
Introduced as a fool and Quark’s whipping boy, Rom would have one of the best character transformations in Deep Space Nine as time showed him to be less of a greedy stereotype and more of a loving father struggling to balance his decency with the Ferengi lifestyle. Rom’s failure to break free of those traditions would inspire his son Nog to join Starfleet; and in turn, seeing his son achieve his best life, as well as fighting for Nog’s future, inspired Rom to distance himself from the lust for money to focus on being a good father, good husband and better person.
Perhaps an odd one to add to the list, Sarek is well known as a notoriously cold and distant parent who struggled to accept his sons ‘flaws’ as a Human-Vulcan hybrid, and who struggled to demonstrate his affection to any of his children. Despite his Vulcan arrogance, and his eventual reconciliation, his failings as a parent haunted himto the end. After his death Captain Picard offered his most famed son, Spock, to mind meld with him; passing on the love and admiration Sarek had for his son; things that Sarek’s Vulcan distance wouldn’t allow him to say in life.
After the loss of his wife Jennifer at the battle of Wolf 359, Benjamin Sisko not only mourned deeply for his wife, but steered their son through the devastating news. Balancing his work alongside being a single father, Sisko’s assignment to Deep Space Nine led them both through a journey of self discovery as Sisko finally learned to move on from his loss and Jake began to grow into his own person. Despite their interests and destinies veering in different directions, the Sisko’s lived in a loving, supporting environment that saw them both grow as characters and ultimately led Sisko to become the best example of a strong father figure in Starfleet.
Happy Fathers Day to those in Star Trek and in reality who inspired us, stood by us, who grew with us and who were gone too soon.
For more lists of inspiring Star Trek characters, you can read more with ‘Bunch of Fives’ regular feature in our Comms Archive. To find out more about Comms and how to read the full issue, visit our Comms Preview or join the conversation on the new era of Trek with the fleet and Enlist Today!