10 Historical Figures That Appeared In Star Trek

"Not the apple story again!"

Stephen Hawking Albert Einstein Data Star Trek
CBS Media Ventures

The number of historical figures – that is to say any person who has ever actually existed (and perhaps, arguably, characters of myth) – to have had a mention in Star Trek over the decades lists in the hundreds. In fact, this writer noted well over 200 such name-drops before calling it a day. Some references have left a bad stench in the air, but, to quote Captain Janeway, "maybe we can adjust the environmental controls to filter out the [M]usk". Distinctly more fragrant mentions have included the likes of great composers, prodigious painters, author, authors, pre-eminent politicians, and celebrated scientists.

Those who have made a physical appearance in one form or another, from fleeting image to bust in the background to central-to-the-plot, rank fewer but only about by half. With history stubbornly refusing, as it does, to take place anywhere else than the past, and time being apparently the fire in which we burn, the writers of Star Trek have had to show a degree of sci-fi inventiveness in order for any historical figure to appear 'in person'. Alien illusions, ancient immortals, enraging entities, time travel, and the holodeck to the rescue! And, across the entire franchise, only one person has ever appeared as themself, but that brief cameo was largely great enough for the rest of time. One is everything, in theory!

This list will focus on those historical figures we have seen in physical form, with one or two small, and nonetheless interestingly valid, exceptions.

10. Sigmund Freud

Stephen Hawking Albert Einstein Data Star Trek
CBS Media Ventures / Paramount Pictures

"What did the counsellor say to the hologram? 'You’re projecting!'" ~ Tom Paris, Someone to Watch Over Me

Sigmund 'it's-probably-phallic' Freud has only ever made one physical appearance in Star Trek – in holographic form in The Next Generation episode Phantasms. Data's having some funky dreams (yes, he can do that), and so he does the logical thing and goes to seek advice from the simulation of a psychoanalyst who died over 400 years ago. Of course, Data is polymorphously perverse, sexually frustrated, hates his father, wants to "possess" his mother, and his id is battling it out with his ego. Classic Sigmund! Almost a full house on the Freud bingo.

Turns out it was all interphasic alien organisms which had been sucking the life out of the crew and ship's systems. Data's positronic sub-processor (his unconscious, if you will) detected the "high-frequency interphasic signatures" from the creatures, which his dream program then represented in symbolic form. Clear? The real Freud would have had a field day! Oh, and by the way, anyone for some Troi-shaped cellular peptide cake? Worf says it's delicious!

Aside from these oneiric escapades, Freud only gets a mention by name in two other episodes of Star Trek over the years. Captain Janeway brings him up in Voyager's Concerning Flight, and Doctor Crusher hypothesises about a supposed meeting between Freud and Gertrude Stein on The Orient Express in the TNG episode Emergence. In the Discovery episode Su'Kal, Sylvia Tilly does also quip to Osyraa that "a certain 19th century neurologist would say that you've just proven the idea of projection".

Now, tell me about your mother..

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Jack Kiely is a writer with a PhD in French and almost certainly an unhealthy obsession with Star Trek.