Star Trek: Lower Decks Features The Best New Star Trek Characters In Years

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" may not carry the same level of gravitas as many other current genre shows, especially given a fanbase initially wary of its "Rick and Morty" influences and the general stigma that sometimes comes with animated storytelling. That said, the broadly self-parodying and comedic show has still managed to win over hearts and minds thanks to a mix of sharp humor, clever writing, and a seemingly endless volume of deep-cut references, Easter eggs, and expansions on lore that only the most dedicated "Trek" super-fans would appreciate.

But even beyond those obvious selling points, "Lower Decks" boasts another effective weapon that plays an even bigger factor in its success. No "Trek" series can thrive without a cast of characters worth following — just look at the almost universally well-received "Strange New Worlds," after all — and "Lower Decks" more than meets that criteria with its motley crew, made up of Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid), Samanthan Rutherford (Eugene Cordero), and D'Vana Tendi (Noël Wells). But we would be remiss not to point out that two characters in particular stand apart from all the rest.

That's right, consider this an ode to two of the funniest, most wholesome, and genuinely good characters in all of "Lower Decks," if not the entire "Star Trek" franchise: Tendi and Rutherford.

The heart and soul of Lower Decks

Some new shows can run into trouble figuring out their precise character dynamics in the early going. Even "Star Trek" itself hasn't been immune to these growing pains, from "The Original Series" scrapping its original pilot (along with its initial and startlingly emotional conception of Leonard Nimoy's Spock) to "Deep Space Nine" famously taking some time in the early going to win over skeptical audiences with a rich bench of supporting characters.

Almost immediately, however, "Lower Decks" premiered with a simple, yet compelling and fully-formed group dynamic with its four co-leads. Boimler's the neurotic overachiever, while Beckett plays the role of the laid-back rebel. But Tendi and Rutherford in particular injected a fresh sense of sincerity and earnest fun into the proceedings, in a way that few other "Trek" characters ever have.

Right from the premiere of season 1, Tendi's infectious enthusiasm won over viewers through sheer strength of charm. When paired with the equally as nerdy Rutherford, the writers soon tapped into something special. An early episode sees Rutherford changing careers multiple times to avoid letting Tendi down, while a later subplot features Rutherford loses his memories and has to rebuild his bond with Tendi from scratch, providing unexpectedly touching moments. Though initially set up as potential love interests, their fast friendship has provided many of the show's absolute highlights, with both taking a genuine pleasure out of their respective jobs and essentially serving as the audience stand-ins. After all, who among this fanbase wouldn't find themselves in a constant state of awe and excitement over the chance to serve in the Federation and explore parts unknown?

There isn't a weak link in the "Lower Decks" roster, but Tendi and Rutherford prove just how far two fan-favorites can carry an entire show.