It’s easy to fall in love with “Star Trek.” The show, and its various film series, display a positive future for humanity. This future is full of hope and signals to the current occupants of Planet Earth that there is a positive tomorrow ahead. Trek is also pretty confident that technology will help us solve many of the problems which we currently face, and one day, all humans will just “get along.”
Behind all of the phasers and warp drives, and beneath the beautiful Federation, is something smaller. That is, a building block that results when two people “hit it off” and enjoy each other’s company. Instead of science fiction technology and pointed eared aliens from the stars, the real story of “Star Trek” is one of friendship.
Kirk, Spock, and McCoy
Other science fiction franchises are obsessed with a single family, and when that one family goes bad. Trek is different. Unlike “Star Wars,” whose story follows the Skywalker family through its ups and downs, Trek features many generations of people working together. And at its core is friendship.
Over the years, many writers have tried to boil these friendships down into their essential parts and calculate them somehow. Collider writer Monita Mohan categorized a few of the more famous Trek friendships — Kirk and Spock, Geordi and Data, Sisko and Jadzia Dax, Janeway and Chakotay, and a few others. Mohan noted that some of the newer entries into the Trek friendship list, like Mariner and Boimler from “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” go together “like chalk and cheese, but apparently, nothing can tear them apart.”
ScreenRant’s Ben Sherlock made a similar list. His list included the duos of Picard and Dr. Crusher, Archer and Shran, Odo and Quark, and a few others. Mary Fan, writing for StarTrek.com, put together a list of female friendships, which had Dr. Crusher and Troi, Kira and Jadzia Dax, Janeway and Seven, and a few others.
Writer Sarah Cooke took a different angle, wondering which Trek characters would be friends, even if they lived centuries apart. In her article, she listed Michael Burnham and Jadzia Dax, Spock and Sisko, and Tilly with Wesley Crusher. Cooke said this last pair would click because they are both “highly intelligent but a little socially awkward.”
Kira and Jadzia Dax
Fans, too, have weighed in on who they think the greatest duo is in the franchise. In a very long Reddit conversation, fans included Kirk and McCoy, Nog and Jake, Harry Kim and Tom Paris, and Garak and Bashir. This last pairing was said to be “deep and complex.”
To understand a little more, Heavy interviewed author Robb Pearlman, who, along with his friend Jordan Hoffman, wrote a book about friendship in “Star Trek.” When asked who he thought the most significant friendships in Trek were, he said he was going “old school.”
“I think Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) are the gold standard for friendships,” said Pearlman. “I think… time and time again, from ‘The Original Series’ through even the last movies, including the reboots, the relationship between those two characters, really exemplifies the complexity of friendship.”
Pearlman cited the stories where Kirk saved Spock, like in “Star Trek III,” or when Spock saved Kirk, as seen in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” as prime examples of the characters sacrificing themselves for one another.
“The care and the love that you feel for someone who may have just been a work friend at the beginning, but who you’ve really come to understand… has become an integral part of your life — and sometimes your death,” said Pearlman.
The author also gave the relationship between Bones (DeForest Kelley) and Spock as the second-place friendship. Pearlman said that they were “frenemies” who came to care deeply about each other. That only grew over time and was enhanced when Kirk was in the mix.
Jake and Nog
Another excellent example of this bond was Jake (Cirroc Lofton) and Nog (Aron Eisenberg). They did not start out as friends.
“One of the things about Jake and Nog is that at the beginning, neither one of them carried the weight of Starfleet responsibility on them,” said Pearlman. “They were just kids. They were able to explore the station, and they were able to explore themselves. And then they grow, and they mature.”
“I think that they are an example of the purity of friendship,” said Pearlman. “And they are a great example of a friendship that evolves over time. They started out as just kids, but as they grew up, even though their paths may have taken them in different directions, they still remained friends and bonded over their experience.”
Picard and Guinan
As Pearlman said, these friendships evolve over time, which sometimes means over centuries. In a recent episode of “Star Trek: Picard,” the old admiral (Patrick Stewart) told Guinan (Ito Aghayere) that she was his “oldest and dearest friend.”
“And I pointed to the screen and said ‘Aha!’” said Pearlman. “There you go!”
Pearlman’s book, “The Star Trek Book of Friendship: You Have Been, And Always Shall Be, My Friend,” will be available for purchase on May 10, 2022. Pearlman wrote the book with Jordan Hoffman, and it was illustrated by J.K. Woodward.