Star Trek: Nichelle Nichols’ Best Uhura Moments

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Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Lorelei Signal"

“The Lorelei Signal” (The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 4)

Although Uhura was supposed to be fourth in command of the Enterpriseafter Kirk, Spock, and Scotty, she was never shown doing so in the live-action show (indeed, Sulu and recurring redshirt Lt. Leslie even got to sit in the chair, but not Uhura!). That changed, however, in this animated series episode, in which a race of beautiful alien women lures the male members of the Enterprise crew to their planet, in order to drain their life force.

With the entire male crew incapacitated by the alien women, Uhura assumes command of the ship for the first time in its televised history as she and Nurse Chapel search for a way to free the men. According to Andy Mangels’ Star Trek: The Animated SeriesNichols reportedly exclaimed during the script’s table read, “What, you’re kidding? I actually get to run the Enterprise? Really?” Long overdue, madam.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Once Upon A Planet"

“Once Upon a Planet” (The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 9)

The animated series returns to the “amusement park” planet from the classic TOS entry “Shore Leave,” in which anything you desire can be made real for your entertainment. This time, however, the planet’s alien caretaker has died, and the planet’s massive computer is running things – and not doing a good job of it.

Uhura gets kidnapped by the computer at one point, and it’s up to her to try and talk some sense into it, albeit unsuccessfully. Not a great episode overall, but hey! It gets Nyota off the bridge again.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Star Trek: The Motion Pictures

In keeping with the TV series, Nichelle Nichols didn’t get a whole lot to do in the first three Star Trek feature films (she was even insultingly left behind as the others took off to save Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). But things got a little better in the back three of the original cast’s six films.

In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Homeshe and Chekov must go on a mission to covertly board an aircraft carrier parked in San Francisco (and also called Enterprise) and borrow some energy from its nuclear reactor to recharge their stolen Klingon ship. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier finds Uhura – Nichelle Nichols not giving a shit and still bringing it in her mid-50s – doing a fan dance to distract some local morons on a backwater planet. That makes Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – Nichols’ final appearance as Uhura – a bit of a letdown, since she’s back at mostly communications, although she has a generally more primary presence on the bridge (and is at the awkward dinner with the Klingons).

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