Which Star Trek Actor Appeared In The Most Episodes?

This is something of a bar trivia question, but which actor would you suspect has appeared in "Star Trek" the most? 

Thanks to the franchise's longevity, and long-held, bloody-minded insistence toward continuity, an actor can return to multiple "Trek" shows over the course of many decades. As such, some actors who signed on to play certain roles in their teen years (like, say, Wil Wheaton) may still be making appearances on "Star Trek: Picard" 35 years later. The makers of "Trek" also tends to be very loyal to its actors, often bringing back performers to fill central roles years after they showed up as a background character. Armin Shimerman, for instance, appeared as a talking treasure chest and as a random Ferengi character on "Next Generation" years before being cast as Quark on "Deep Space Nine." And Tim Russ was once a terrorist on the Enterprise prior to playing Tuvok on "Voyager."

Some actors, while never becoming central characters, still come back time and time again. One might immediately think of Jeffrey Combs, who — if one counts clones of the same person as separate characters — has played 14 different characters in "Star Trek," including an Andorian, a Founder, and a Ferengi. If you don't count clones, then the record for the greatest number of "Star Trek" roles played by one actor handily belongs to Vaughn Armstrong, who has played 12 characters across various "Trek" shows.

But the hardest working performer in "Trek" history will, for the purposes of this article, be relegated to the number of TV shows and movies that they appeared in. And combing over various filmographies reveals a few unexpected winners.

The runners-up

One might immediately assume that William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy would be the reigning champions, but, perhaps surprisingly, it's not even close for them. 

Shatner only appeared in seven movies and in every episode of the post-pilot Trek throughout the 1970s, leaving him with a paltry score of 106. No, for the true record-holders, we need to look to the longer-running "Trek" shows. Keep in mind that "The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine," and "Voyager" all ran for seven seasons, while the original series only ran three.

Nimoy has — across eight feature films, the original series, its pilot, the animated series, a two-part episode of "TNG," and archive footage cameos on "DS9," "Discovery," and "Prodigy" — only appeared in 114 iterations of Trek. 

Kate Mulgrew, who played Capt. Janeway on "Voyager" and then again on "Prodigy" put in a great deal more work than the old-school actors, appearing in 181 episodes. She will continue to appear in "Prodigy," so her number will only increase. 

Jonathan Frakes has appeared on more shows than Stewart, but has a slightly lower score. Between "TNG," its movies, "Picard," "Lower Decks," DS9, "Voyager," and "Enterprise," Frakes has appeared in a nice round 200 episodes. When he appeared as the transporter clone Thomas Riker, that counted twice, just for fun.

Assuming he will appear in some capacity in all ten episodes of the third season of "Picard," Brent Spiner — who has played numerous members of the Soong family and their android progeny over several generations and TV shows — will have acted in 205 Treks.

The champions

Patrick Stewart, now with his own series in "Star Trek: Picard" seems a logical guess. Between "The Next Generation" and its movies, "Picard" (including its unaired third season), and a single cameo on DS9, Stewart has appeared in 213 "Trek" instalments.

Colm Meaney appeared as Chief O'Brien on 52 episodes of "TNG," and then went on to be a series regular on "DS9." Between those two shows, Meany appeared in 225 episodes.

The clear champion is Michael Dorn who played Worf. Dorn was a series regular on "TNG," and then a series regular again on "DS9," beginning in its fourth season, and staying through to its end. Also, he was in five "Trek" movies and will play Worf in 10 upcoming episodes of "Picard." Between them all, that's 292 appearances. Dorn handily holds the record for the greatest number of on-screen Treks.

But Dorn is not the overall champion of "Trek" appearances. If one also includes voice acting, then Majel Barrett has been present in more of "Trek" than any other actor. 

Barrett not only played Number One on the original "Star Trek" pilot, but would be hired to play Nurse Chapel when the show went to series. Throughout, Barrett also provided the voice of the ship's computer. She voiced the regular character M'Ress in the animated series. When "TNG" came around in 1987, Barrett was hired to play the gloriously outspoken Lwaxana Troi, mother to series regular Deanna Troi, as well as voicing the ship's computer once again. Her voice would also be heard on "DS9" and "Voyager" computers. This was all in addition to appearances as Nurse Chapel and as computers in five "Trek" movies (including posthumous releases). 

All told, Barrett has made 309 Trek appearances. 

Well done.