Over the years, many TV shows and movies have explored the idea of different universes. It’s a potent idea -- that while many of us spent our days imagining faraway planets, there might actually be an entirely different universe on the other side of our mirrors. The biggest trendsetter for this kind of story was Star Trek. Going as far back as the Original Series, we got to see how our familiar characters would fare in a world where they are forced to confront darker manifestations of themselves and their desires, and the success of that episode effectively opened a floodgate of alternate universe stories. Sometimes, it felt like every other episode involved altered timelines, future visions, or visitors from another universe. Eventually, we had more alternate universe characters than you could shake a tribble at.
This leads to the age-old fan question: which one is the best? Since we’ve had five decades of these kinds of characters, not all of them are going to the same. So, how do you determine which ones are the best of the best so that you can plan your next Trek binge-watching session? With our help, of course! We’d hate to have Trek fans arguing, so we replicated the definitive guide to which “alternate” versions of these characters are the most memorable in the long history of the franchise. Not every character made the list: what you’re about to read represents the best of the best when it comes to our favorite members of Starfleet completely flipped on their heads.
Most of the characters on this list are obviously alternate universe characters as soon as we see them. There are some notable exceptions, though, who manage to “pass” as their primary universe counterpart, and Captain Lorca is by far the very best of them.
We only find out late into the first season of Star Trek: Discovery that the Lorca we know is actually a Mirror Universe refugee. He earned his spot on the list, though, for flawlessly integrating himself into “our” universe... right under the nose of the smartest brains in the galaxy! Here’s hoping we see non-Mirror Lorca sometime soon.
19 MIRROR SPOCK
Mirror Universe Spock has become something of a pop culture icon. Even folks who never watched an episode of Star Trek are familiar with the trope of the “evil” version of a character sporting a goatee, but it turns out this Spock is a bit more complex than just a tuft of facial hair.
He starts out as seemingly evil as everyone else. However, “our” Kirk appeals to his sense of logic and rationality, pointing out that the Terran Empire is doomed to fail. When Spock eventually becomes Emperor, he tries to change their ways, but it's too late -- the Terrans are virtually wiped out by an alliance of aliens they had previously angered.
18 MIRROR KIRA
For better or for worse, Deep Space Nine really leaned into the Mirror Universe stories time and time again. These episodes could be fun because we saw totally different versions of our favorite characters, and none are more famous (or should that be infamous) than Mirror Kira.
Kira is actually The Intendant on Terek Nor, the Mirror Universe version of Deep Space Nine. The character is quite lethal and happy to end others, but she has just as much fun slinking around in a catsuit and flirting with just about everyone. Fun, complex, and more than a bit problematic... that’s this version of Kira in a nutshell.
17 FUTURE CRUSHER
While Star Trek: The Next Generation is a fan-favorite series, it criminally underused its female leads. Awesome and dynamic characters like Dr. Crusher were often left with little or nothing to do. hat’s why we liked the future version of Beverly Crusher.
No longer content to live in Picard’s shadow, this version of Crusher is the captain of her own medical starship. She is cool, calculating, and commanding. She knows how to put everyone in their place, and she still finds time to rock a really cool alternate universe uniform. We love the dynamic Doctor... better late than never!
16 FUTURE RIKER
Part of what made the finale episode “All Good Things” so potent was the specter of unhappy endings for many of our favorite characters. It’s tough to imagine fun and vibrant characters living to be old and miserable -- that’s why we liked Admiral Riker so much.
This is a version of Riker that has grown old and miserable since the passing of Counselor Troi. However, he gets a kind of redemptive arc when he takes command of a modified Enterprise-D and ends up saving Picard and the others. He even makes amends with Worf, showing that the friendship between them is strong enough to cross alternate universes.
15 MIRROR SISKO
The best Mirror Universe episodes are not simply played for laughs or for scares. No, the best episodes hold up...well...a mirror to our favorite characters and make us see just how differently things could have turned out, which is exactly the case with the Mirror Universe Sisko.
In the absence of both Starfleet and, eventually, his wife, Sisko becomes something of a pirate. He initially works for The Intendant, but eventually becomes a rebel fighting against the corrupt alliance of Cardassians and Klingons. This version of Sisko wasn’t always likable, but it was cool to see that he is a passionate leader in any timeline.
14 MIRROR O’BRIEN
Longtime fans of Miles O’Brien had often asked themselves a simple question: could there possibly be a worse fate than being married to Keiko? We eventually find out when we meet the Mirror version of Miles “Smiley” O’Brien, who is forced to toil under The Intendant’s booted heels.
Arguably, he gets the very best Mirror arc, going from meek engineer to saboteur to rebel leader in a breathlessly quick time. It’s not only fun to watch this character grow, but to see that the creative spark that makes O’Brien such a great engineer is shared across dimensional boundaries of time and space.
13 MIRROR BASHIR
If we’re being honest, Doctor Bashir is a complex character. He is not always easy to like: he starts out as an annoying womanizer, and he ends up as a smug, genetic superman. Even though he had his good moments, we kind of prefer his Mirror Universe version!
The Mirror version is everything “our” Bashir is not: reckless, roguish, and relentless. He brings a fun and manic energy to his limited number of scenes, and he even manages to sneak in a Han Solo moment of showing up out of nowhere to save our heroes. Oh bearded and beautiful Mirror Bashir... we salute you!
12 KELVINVERSE PIKE
The rebooted Star Trek movies were a bit controversial because it meant recasting absolutely iconic characters. However, one of the fun side effects of these movies was the chance to explore characters we barely knew before, and our favorite example is Captain Pike.
In the Original Series, Pike was the captain in the unaired pilot of Star Trek. He popped back up as a disabled man in a flashback episode, but we never got the full breadth of his character. However, in the first two Trek reboots, we see a Pike who is dynamic, dashing, and actually funny at times. The Pike we see on Discovery will have a lot to live up to!
11 MIRROR ODO
Like we said before, a big part of the fun of the Mirror Universe is seeing how much differently a character could have turned out. In the case of Mirror Odo, though, we see something complex: we see an Odo that may not be that different from the Odo we know and love!
Sure, this version of Odo is more outwardly cruel and rude, but his primary “crime” is doing security work for the evil Intendant. Considering that “our” Odo worked for the Cardassians for many years, you could argue he is complicit in at least some of their crimes. Thus, Mirror Odo makes us examine our own Odo in a new light.
10 MIRROR WORF
Worf is a fan-favorite character for many reasons. Mostly, he has a really cool backstory: he is torn between human and Klingon worlds, never fully belonging in either. This means that the character must constantly reserve himself and never be a boisterous Klingon.
That’s why we dig Mirror Worf so much. Sure, he didn’t do much beyond laugh, threaten, and choke Garak, but we finally got to see a Worf who was bloodthirsty and absolutely loving it. After years of super-reserved Worf, this was a real treat! One of our only regrets about the end of those Mirror Universe episodes was not seeing more of this character.
9 KELVINVERSE MCCOY
Doctor McCoy is a major icon, this he was one of the characters fans were most concerned about recasting for the rebooted Trek movies. How could anyone replace the original performer? However, Karl Urban managed to give us a take on McCoy that respected the original while doing something fresh.
His accent was spot-on and hilarious, which paired well with the humorous scenes he often dominated. Beyond humor, though, he got to exemplify the quality that the original McCoy (so to speak) did: being the heart and soul or the core trio, a great counterpoint to the cold logic of Spock.
8 FUTURE PICARD
Fans are never completely happy with these lists. After all, how do we determine which alternate universe characters are better than others? While the answer is up to debate, we feel safe in saying that future Picard is one of the best -- after all, he saved all of reality!
This is the future version, of course, of timeline-hopping Picard. Eventually, he realized his time-hopping was an opportunity to destroy the very spatial anomaly he had accidentally created. This kept the anomaly from growing into the past and wiping out all life, so we have to tilt our straw hats to Picard in respect.
7 FUTURE: DATA
In “All Good Things,” some “future” versions of characters had better future endings than others. We were particularly impressed by the Data of the future. It seems as if in the intervening years, this version of Data achieved more than he would have previously thought possible.
For instance, he becomes so good at interacting with humans that he becomes a professor at Cambridge, and he seemingly masters emotions, casually mentioning that his maid makes him laugh. Beyond all of that, though, he is still super-dependable when the odds are low and everything is at stake, which Picard is happy to discover.
6 FUTURE JANEWAY
To put it mildly, Captain Janeway is a controversial character. For every awesome accomplishment, there is a baffling decision -- things like ending Tuvix comes to mind. However, Future Janeway manages to be an even bigger mixture of “awesome” and “controversial.”
Future Janeway comes from a timeline where Voyager arrived home after many years and many ends. She decides to go back in time and change history, getting “our” Janeway and crew back much sooner. Along the way, she helps take on the Borg in a bold and crazy way. This pretty much sums up who this version of the character is -- she's the bold and crazy captain that we need.
5 KELVINVERSE SPOCK
The Kelvinverse Spock is a great character because he walks a very fine line. We are seeing a Spock who is both younger than we’ve really known and a bit traumatized by the loss of his planet. This allows us to see the kinds of raw emotions and fury that the cold and logical Vulcan is holding back at all times.
However, at his best, Quinto’s Spock helps channel Leonard Nimoy in both voice and appearance. In this way, his performance manages to give us something old and something new, and we’ll just go ahead and count the updated version of his classic uniform as something borrowed, something blue!
4 MIRROR TILLY
Like we said before, part of the fun of a good Mirror Universe story is seeing a familiar character in a completely unfamiliar way. This is the case with Mirror Tilly. While “our” Tilly is a meek cadet trying to break out of her shell, her Mirror counterpart is ruthless and bloodthirsty and has risen to the rank of captain.
As purists know, we don’t actually see this Tilly so much as we see our Tilly imitate her. However, the imitation is apparently spot on enough to fool some of her old colleagues. It will be interesting to see if any of these ruthless traits start to surface in our friendly Tilly as time goes on.
3 MIRROR ARCHER
We hate to give backhanded compliments to Trek characters, but arguably, the biggest problem with Captain Archer is how nice he is. Fueled by Scott Bakula’s innate charm, this captain often seemed to lack the intensity of those who came before and after. That’s why we like his Mirror version so much.
Mirror Archer is someone who has been passed over for command and is utterly pissed about it. To this end, he’s willing to take out superiors and hijack his ship. His boldness pays off, as he ultimately discovers an advanced starship from our universe that fell through both time and space into his universe.
2 MIRROR HOSHI
One bad thing about Mirror Universe characters is that they rarely get much of an arc. Most of the time, they are there to twirl their mustaches (or goatees) and be an over-the-top menace. However, Hoshi Sato managed to buck this trend and get a pretty cool arc.
At first, her role seems to be of a thankless throwback kind: she is seemingly there only to be Captain Archer’s bedroom buddy. However, we see that she is able to effortlessly play her rivals off of each other, and when the smoke clears, she has actually become the Empress of the Terran Empire!
1 KELVINVERSE KIRK
It’s a bit of a trope that all of the classic Trek episodes come down to Captain Kirk doing something heroic. It was a bit ironic, then, that the success of the rebooted Trek movies came down to the success (or failure) of Chris Pine as the new Captain Kirk.
Fortunately for all of us, he managed to knock it out of the park, all while enjoying some vintage Beastie Boys music. This version of Kirk is still bold and daring, but he is also less seasoned. This means we get a lot of both humor and introspection regarding who Kirk is, and this character exploration alone makes him one of our favorites.