Every so often, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: Thomas Eugene Paris. This character was portrayed by actor Robert Duncan McNeill.
Tom was a recurring character on Star Trek: Voyager and, during a fairly sanitized period of Trek history, was the closest thing to a “bad boy” that they had going for them. In the first episode, Tom’s actually in prison — a situation from which he is rescued by Captain Janeway, who needs him to pilot the Voyager through a dangerous region of space known as the Badlands. Though Tom was one of — if not the very best — pilot in Starfleet, his career had been derailed after an incident in which he had covered up his piloting error which had led to the death of three fellow officers. Despite later telling the truth, he was discharged from Starfleet following the incident. He once remarked that “the ghosts of those three dead officers came to me in the middle of the night and taught me the true meaning of Christmas” when asked why he finally confessed.
From the first moment he stepped aboard the ship, Tom was an outsider, regarded with suspicion by his fellow crew members. He forged a quick bond with young Harry Kim and the two eventually became the best of friends, engaging in many entertaining adventures together. I really liked Tom a lot, though I felt his relationship with B’Elanna Torres ruined a lot of what had made him so cool in the first place. Taking the bad boy and giving him a strong love interest is a storyline fraught with peril because you run the risk of domesticating the character… and that definitely happened with Tom.
Still, he was a fun, flirty character with a penchant for breaking the rules. He was a lot of fun!
In the Voyager novels set after the end of the show, he eventually became first officer on Voyager, showing how far he had come from the disgraced figure at the start of the series.
A few other nice images of Tom: