20 Star Trek Women You Should Know

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Kate Mulgrew (as Captain Kathryn Janeway) in a scene from an episode of the television series ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

8. Kathryn Janeway (Voyager)

Sadly, it took nearly 30 years for Star Trek to feature a female captain as the central character of a series. When they finally got to Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, many fans were more than ready to see it.

Even before Voyager aired, showrunners had problems with the character. Genevieve Bujold was originally cast as Captain Janeway. However, she was unprepared to deal with the demanding production schedule, and so dropped out on only the second day of filming. Kate Mulgrew, who had previously auditioned for the role, stepped in to take her place.

In the show, Janeway is in command of the USS Voyager, a vessel tasked with located and capturing a Maquis rebel ship. However, a massive displacement wave pushes both the Maquis and Voyager 70,000 light years away – a staggering distance from home. The rest of the series then focuses on their attempts to reach Federation space.

Already, Janeway is in a tough situation. She must integrate the surviving Starfleet and Maquis crews into one. Also, as captain, Janeway must uphold structure and morale in a discouraged crew. She must also help find a way home from a nearly unspeakable distance and against sometimes staggering odds.

Though Voyager is not exactly well known for its good writing, there’s a lot to admire about Janeway. She must consistently make difficult decisions and resolve tense conflicts, both within and without her ship. She does so with great grace and determination, not to mention a substantial amount of intelligence. Janeway is also a rare action heroine in a series that often gives such roles to men.