20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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Michael Dorn

It’s a little strange that we’ve gotten this far and mentioned very few people who’ve played an alien. When you think about it, aliens are kind of the bread and butter of science fiction. In many stories, that encounter between the familiar and the unknown makes for powerful stuff. For quite a few actors, for a variety of reasons, that tension can be rich ground for their work.

For Michael Dorn, playing an alien has made his career. For the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation, he filled the role of Worf. As the USS Enterprise’s security chief and resident grump, Worf was a sometimes funny, sometimes serious part of the main cast.

As a Klingon raised by adoptive human parents on Earth, Worf had a lot of issues. Those parents, the Rozhenkos, took Worf in as their own son after he was found as an infant in the rubble of a massacre. Growing up amongst humans, he convinced himself that everyone was safe from his natural strength and aggression if he remained as reserved as possible.

Yet, as separated as he was from his own Klingon people, Worf felt that he had to cling to his ancestral culture. That led to a lot of rigid notions about honor and strength, so much so that other Klingons often told him to loosen up. Also, Worf once claimed that prune juice was “a warrior’s drink,” so he’s got a lot of work to do on himself.

Thankfully, he’s got the screen time to really grow as a character. Michael Dorn has appeared more times as a regular cast member than anyone else in Star Trek history. That comes out to 272 television episodes and five separate movies.