Star Trek: Voyager’s Kes/Seven Of Nine Swap Was More Unique Than You Know


Although it wasn’t the franchise’s first character swap, Star Trek: Voyager’s Kes (Jennifer Lien) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) switch was more unique than character changes in other Star Trek projects. Voyager’s cast of characters stayed mostly the same throughout the show’s run, except for the departure of Kes and the introduction of Seven at the start of season 4. The swap happened over season 4’s first two episodes, “Scorpion, Part II” and “The Gift,” and was accomplished well, all things considered.

During “The Gift,” Kes’s latent mental abilities began to evolve rapidly thanks to Species 8472, to the point where she was a danger to the USS Voyager and her crew. As a result, Kes voluntarily left the ship and ascended to a higher plane of existence. She left behind Seven, who had just been rescued from the Borg Collective, and was convinced by Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) to embrace her transition back to humanity at the end of the episode. While it may seem surprising, this type of on-screen, narratively accomplished transition was rare for Star Trek TV shows.

Star Trek: Voyager’s Kes/Seven Of Nine Swap Was Different From TNG And DS9

Voyager accomplished its character swap in a unique way

Previous character swaps in other Star Trek projects had either happened off-screen or not been about switching one unique character for another. The two biggest character changes that happened in the franchise before Voyager were Dr. Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) taking over for Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) in season 2 of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer) replacing Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Both of these swaps had some similarities to Voyager’s Kes/Seven swap, but Voyager was distinct from both in a few important ways.

The on-screen, plot-supported switch of two characters hadn’t happened in a Star Trek series before Voyager , and continued to be rare in the 1990s era of the franchise.


Dr. Pulaski’s transition to and from the cast of Star Trek: TNG happened entirely off-screen both times. She was introduced without much fanfare in the first episode of season 2 and was gone by the first episode of season 3 in the same fashion. Likewise, although Ezri Dax was a different character from Jadzia Dax, she was also more of an extension of Jadzia than a completely unique character. The on-screen, plot-supported switch of two characters hadn’t happened in a Star Trek series before Voyager, and continued to be rare in the 1990s era of the franchise.

Why Modern Star Trek Takes A Different Approach To Main Cast Rotation

Modern Star Trek series do things differently

Unlike the classic Star Trek shows, however, newer series take a much different approach to swapping characters in and out of their main casts. Both Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard went through several drastic main cast changes during their respective five and three seasons. While some key members of Discovery’s core cast of characters remained the same, many other members came and went, especially after the show’s time jump to the 32nd century. Similarly, Picard completely overhauled its main cast in season 3 to bring in the former stars of Star Trek: TNG.

This seems to be the result of focusing on a serialized narrative rather than episodic storytelling. If certain New Trek characters were or were not important to the central plot of a season, they would be swapped in or out to accommodate. This is less the case with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but even that show’s more episodic narrative has seen some cast changes, like the death of Hemmer (Bruce Horak) in season 1. Modern Star Trek made a lot of changes to the franchise, and regular cast swapping similar to Star Trek: Voyager is one of them.