I have to wonder if this has happened to anyone else: You kick back, ready to review some old Star Trek episode, and press play. The story builds, and you’re getting into things occuring on the screen, when…
“No”, you think. “Did I just see that?” You rewind for a few seconds, and squint as the same images flash by. At just the right moment, you pause it. There, suddenly, in a random episode of Trek, is a celebrity (oftentimes in heavy makeup), hidden in plain sight!
It’s not surprising that Star Trek is susceptible to cameos – in such a large, expansive universe, there’s always room for another alien creature, or background crewmember. Its popularity makes it appealing as well; some of the most famous people in the world grew up as massive fans of the franchise. It can be easy to forget just how ubiquitous Star Trek fans are.
Not only are these cameos generally unexpected, they can often bring a whole new level of enjoyment to a given episode. One might remember “Descent, Part I”, from Next Generation’s sixth season. The opening contains perhaps the most famous cameo in Trek history; namely, Professor Stephen Hawking. He portrays a holographic recreation of himself, playing a game of poker with Data, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton. Indeed, Hawking is the only individual in the entirety of Star Trek to appear on screen as himself. Other popular appearances include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the Pendari Champion in the Voyager episode “Tsunkatse,” and King (then Prince) Abdullah bin-al Hussein, who portrayed an unnamed crewmember in the Voyager episode “Investigations.”