20 Star Trek Women You Should Know

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LOS ANGELES – APRIL 28: Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan in the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION episode, ‘Hollow Pursuits.’ Original air date, April 28, 1990. Season 3, episode 21. Image is a screen grab. (CBS via Getty Images)

2. Guinan (The Next Generation)

While she may appear to be a simple bartender with a taste for dramatic headgear, Guinan is far  more interesting than her initial appearance suggests.

Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan, arrived at the role under unusual circumstances. Goldberg directly approached the producers of the show with her desire to join the cast. Producers initially thought she was joking and didn’t take her request seriously. However, they would soon be convinced otherwise.

She says that her childhood admiration of Uhura, the gifted communications officer on The Original Series, influenced her decision. Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, portrayed her as an independent, dignified black woman. This was, unfortunately, unusual in the television world of the late 1960s. However, it made a distinct impression on young Goldberg.

Like Deanna Troi, Guinan is a gifted empath who, like many classic bartender characters, often lends a sympathetic ear. However, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is on many occasions. She also appears keeps a blaster behind the bar and is not afraid to use it when the situation calls for such action. As peaceful and kind as she is, no one dares mess with Guinan.

Her species, the El-Aurians, are exceptionally long-lived. Guinan herself is somewhere between 500 to 700 years old. In fact, in one of the time travel episodes, the crew of the Enterprise travels back to 19th-century America and meets a younger version of Guinan hobnobbing with Mark Twain.