Star Trek is one of history’s two most significant science fiction franchises. What began as a campy space western in 1966 has spawned countless adventures in movies, television, novels, comic books, and cartoons. Created by Gene Roddenberry and given life by Lucille Ball, Star Trek has been the stage for some of the finest actors of the last few generations.
Some of the most well-known actors, from Kirsten Dunst to Ashley Judd, got their start as guest stars on Star Trek. Over the last half-century, this franchise has produced seven live-action TV series, three animated series, and thirteen major motion pictures. Everyone from Christopher Lloyd to F. Murray Abraham has appeared in the Star Trek canon. In addition to countless talented actors, Star Trek has been graced with cameos and bit parts by non-actors. From singers to politicians, Let’s look at the ten most obscure Star Trek guest stars.
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10 James Worthy–The Next Generation, “Gambit, Part II”
James Worthy, a former professional basketball player, had a hall-of-fame career. He played with Michael Jordan at the University of North Carolina and, together with Coach Dean Smith, won an NCAA Championship in 1982. Later that year, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. There, he and teammate Magic Johnson won NBA Championships in ’85, ’87, and ’88. Worthy then went on to do something no other NBA player has ever done. He played a Klingon, the tallest (6’9″) and perhaps the most intimidating Klingon in the Star Trek canon.
In the second of a two-part episode, “Gambit, Part II,” finds the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Data due to unforeseen circumstances. In an elaborate plan to rescue the ship’s two senior officers, the crew finds themselves stalling a Klingon shuttle. Enter Koral. Worthy’s character has little to say and prefers to stare people down as an intimidation tactic, and he’s very good at it. Worthy has made several cameos in TV and movies since retiring from Basketball in 1994.
9 Tom Morello–Voyager, “Good Shepherd”
Tom Morello made it big in the 1990s as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter for the politically critical hard rock band Rage Against the Machine and later Audio Slave. Morello spent an extended stint playing with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, and he was a founding member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage between 2016 and 2019. Morello, a long-time Trekkie, reached out through his agent in the late 1990s.
As Voyager was nearing its final season, things had become complacent. Captain Janeway becomes aware of three delinquent officers on her vessel who require a bit of guidance from their captain. While going through deck 15 to visit one of these wayward crewmen, Janeway gets lost on her own ship. She is forced to ask directions from Crewmen Mitchell, played by the talented Tom Morello.
The rock star had a quick back-and-forth with the captain and continued his daily routine. Crewmen Mitchell has not been seen in Star Trek since, but there’s no reason he couldn’t pop up again in another series somewhere down the road.
8 Iggy Pop–Deep Space Nine, “The Magnificent Ferengi”
The bulk of the Deep Space Nine series dealt with the growing threat and the inevitable war with the Dominion, a shapeshifting species from the Delta Quadrant. Known as the Founders, the Dominion had two alien races that acted as their envoys. The Jem’ Hadar (the soldiers) and the Vorta acted as middle management and bureaucrats.
In one of the series’ most beloved episodes, “The Magnificent Ferengi.” DS9 executive producer and writer Ira Steven Behr, a lifelong punk rock fan, had reached out several years earlier, hoping to have Iggy Pop appear in season 3 episode 12, a time travel episode in the early 21st century.
Unfortunately, the rock star was unavailable at the time. However, Behr realized his dream three years later when Pop agreed to play the Vorta, Yelgrun, for a Ferengi-focused episode. Throughout the episode, Yelgrun can be seen nursing his left arm because Pop injured himself the night before filming by stage diving at his show.
7 Mick Fleetwood–The Next Generation, “Manhunt”
Fleetwood Mac is one the most well-known rock bands of all time. Legendary for the interpersonal relationships within the band. Mick Fleetwood, one of the band’s critical components, has been in the spotlight for decades. He and frontwoman Stevie Nicks had a torrid love affair, broke up, and remained bandmates. Mick plays drums while Stevie sings about the heartbreaking love affair they once had. Fleetwood is an accomplished and world-renowned drummer. However, his acting skills are less than legendary.
In the second season of TNG, Mick shows up in full prosthetic costume as an Antedean ambassador. The Antedeans are a tall, lanky, fishlike species, and Mick’s frame was perfect for the role. He had no speaking lines, and the part went primarily unnoticed for decades, but Fleetwood was happy to get in at the ground floor of what would become a Golden Age of Star Trek.
6 Jeff Bezos–Star Trek Beyond
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has multiple connections to the Star Trek franchise. On October 13, 2021, Bezos put none other than William Shatner on his Blue Origin spacecraft and shot Captain Kirk into space. Before that, however, back in 2016, he made his first cameo appearance.
The 2010s saw the birth of JJ Abrams’s “Kelvin-Verse,” an alternate timeline within the Star Trek universe where things are slightly different than the main timeline started with TOS.
In the third installment of this movie series, Jeff Bezos dons full prosthetic makeup to appear as an alien member of Starfleet. His character is stationed on the Yorktown Starbase, which is about to be attacked. Bezos’s role became central to the plot. The cameo lasted for only eight seconds, in which he advised a rescued spacefarer to “speak normally” before her translated interview with Chris Pine’s Kirk. After saying his line, Bezos proceeded to walk off-screen.
5 Melvin Belli—Star Trek TOS, “And the Children Will Lead”
Known as a lawyer to the stars in the 1960s, Melvin Belli was involved in one of the most famous murder trials in U.S. history. He defended Jack Ruby for the murder of presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Belli was already well respected in his field before that case and earned the nickname “The King of Torts.”
In the third and final season of The Original Series, this lawyer plays Gorgan, the evil embodiment of an ancient group of space-warring marauders released by a recent archeological survey. Belli, an accomplished negotiator, got the studio to allow his son, Caesar, to play one of the children in the episode. Belli may be the only career lawyer to appear on the show, and certainly one of the most obscure guest spots in TV history.
4 Stacey Abrams—Discovery, “Coming Home”
For those that don’t know, Star Trek has always been politically conscious. So whether you agree with her politics or not, there’s no denying Abrams is a force to be reckoned with. Discovery season four sees Michael Burnham begin her reign as captain of the titular ship as they lead the federation into a post-Burn era.
The season starts with the introduction of Federation President Laira Rillak, a Human, Bajoran, and Cardassian female hybrid. Earth is not a Federation member planet during this time, and it’s not until the season finale that Earth’s president appears. Albeit in a small role, Abrams delivers her lines with the calm yet convincing demeanor that can only come with years of genuine political work.
Abrams is the only active state representative to appear in the science fiction drama. While she was only given the character name “Madame President,” many Trekkies felt she was the perfect person to fill this role.
3 Mae Jemison–The Next Generation, “Second Chances”
The first African American woman in space, Mae Carol Jemison, was the first actual astronaut to appear on Star Trek. Jemison is a Star Trek fan and specifically cited Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, who was on set for the shoot) as a role model and why she became an astronaut. Jemison got the cameo role after LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) learned that she was a fan and asked if she would like to guest star in an episode. She agreed.
Jensen has just a couple of lines, and the episode focuses on Commander Riker’s transporter accident clone, aka Thomas Riker. While Mae won’t go down in history for her acting skills, she will go down in history and forever be one of Star Trek’s most obscure guest stars.
2 Abdullah bin al-Hussein–Voyager, “Investigations”
Prince Abdullah bin al-Hussein is now king of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He is an admitted Trekkie, and in early 1996, he had planned to visit the set of Voyager. As a surprise, his U.S. advisor arranged for him to appear as a background character. He appears at the start of the episode as a lieutenant science officer.
He’s seen speaking to Harry Kim, but no words are audible (at 2:00 in the above clip). He wasn’t given any speaking lines as he is not a member of SAG-AFTRA. After his scene, Robert Picardo (the Doctor) gifted the prince with an autographed picture of the Voyager’s crew. Abdullah returned the favor by throwing a party for everyone on set that day. He is still the king of Jordan and the only real-life prince ever to appear on the show.
1 Stephen Hawking–The Next Generation, “Descent”
Stephen Hawking was, far and away, the brightest mind of his generation, which makes his Star Trek appearance perfectly appropriate. When Data decides to make use of the holodeck and play poker against the brightest scientific minds in human history, his opponents are Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Hawking.
In this scene, Hawking becomes the first and still the only person to play themselves in an episode of Star Trek (Einstein and Newton were unavailable at the time). It is revealed in season 4, episode 23, that one of the USS Enterprise’s shuttles was named Hawking in honor of him. Still, this episode officially made Hawking part of Star Trek canon and the most obscure cameo in Star Trek history.