On Star Trek: The Next Generation, android Data aspired to be more human. Star Trek: Voyager featured three characters who wrestled with their humanity: B’Elanna Torres, Seven of Nine, and the Doctor. Let’s examine each of those characters in order to analyze how they explored their humanity.
B’Elanna was half-human and half-Klingon, but resented her Klingon side. She often expressed frustration with her own temper and disdain for Klingon traditions, such as the rituals in “Day of Honor”.
When B’Elanna had a near-death experience, she found herself on the Barge of the Dead, where she faced the consequences of rejecting her Klingon nature. This helped her resolve her troubled relationship with her Klingon mother.
In “Faces”, she was split into two beings, one fully Klingon and the other fully human. Her human self was forced to directly confront the part of herself that she hated, and ultimately acknowledge that her Klingon side gave her courage and strength.
B’Elanna’s relationship with Tom Paris also helped her accept both parts of her nature. In “Blood Fever”, he told her that he had gotten a close-up view of her Klingon side and that it hadn’t been so scary.
Her struggle with her own divided heritage came to a head in “Lineage”, when she was presented with the option of altering the genes of her own unborn child to eliminate all Klingon DNA. Despite her fears, B’Elanna decided not to tamper with the baby’s genes, thus accepting her own Klingon bloodline as well as her daughter’s.
Seven of Nine
Seven of Nine had a very different attitude toward her humanity, at least at first. When she was separated from the Borg Collective, all she wanted to do was to go back. She believed that humans were weak and inferior to the Borg. With Captain Janeway’s encouragement, she gradually explored and eventually embraced her individual identity.
In “The Raven”, Seven came face-to-face with her past when she was drawn to the ship she once shared with her human parents.
By the time she encountered a group of children who were also separated from the Borg, in “Collective”, she became a kind of surrogate mother and guided them as they became individuals.
The Doctor also helped Seven of Nine explore her humanity by giving her a series of lessons in the social graces, such as how to make small talk with fellow crewmembers and even how to date. Seven initially resisted these lessons, calling them irrelevant, but ultimately came to see the value in improved relationships with others. She formed a real friendship with the Doctor, as well as several other members of the crew. She eventually became romantically involved with Chakotay, which allowed her to experience love.
Like Seven, the Doctor regarded himself as superior to humans. However, he did try to expand his programming by incorporating characteristics and hobbies that were very human.
In “Real Life”, he created a holographic wife and children to see what it was like to have a family. The program was shallow at first, only gaining depth when B’Elanna adjusted it to make his family less than perfect. When his holographic child died, the Doctor experienced loss.
He had romantic feelings for the Vidiian doctor Danara Pel in “Lifesigns”, and dealt with heartbreak when she returned to her planet. While helping Seven master the skill of dating in “Someone to Watch Over Me”, he found himself romantically attracted to her as well. He had to cope with disappointment when it became clear that she didn’t return his feelings.
The Doctor continued to become more human during his years on Voyager. With his mobile emitter, he was able to explore the ship and form relationships with the crew. He found out what it was like to have a physical body when he downloaded himself into Seven’s cranial implants in “Body and Soul”.
The Doctor’s creativity was also explored. He developed an affection for opera, which nearly led him to leave Voyager and pursue a career as a singer in “Virtuoso”. He wrote stories about the crew in “Author, Author”.
In that episode, the Doctor’s humanity was vigorously debated. While he wasn’t officially designated a “person,” it was clear he had become a conscious individual with certain rights.
While B’Elanna tried to suppress her Klingon side in favor of her humanity, Seven and the Doctor took a more gradual route to becoming more human. Ultimately, all three found their places in the world, and among the Voyager crew.
A staff writer on Star Trek: Voyager, Lisa Klink worked on that series for three years. She has also worked on several other shows, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Roswell, and Pandora. Lisa has written or co-written four novels, as well as short stories, graphic novels and screenplays.