Number One (Star Trek)
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|Star Trek character|
Number One at the Helm
|First appearance||"The Menagerie" (1966) |
(The Original Series)
|Portrayed by||Majel Barrett|
|Position||USS Enterprise executive officer|
Number One is a fictional character who, in "The Cage", the original pilot episode of the science-fiction television series Star Trek, was the unnamed intellectual, problem-solving second-in-command serving under Captain Christopher Pike. She performs the same role for Pike "as Spock later does for Kirk".
The character was played by Majel Barrett, who went on to play Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Star Trek and Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as the computer's voice. Initially the character appeared only in the unaired pilot and in the footage used in "The Menagerie". In 2019, Number One appears in the second season of the prequel series Star Trek: Discovery, played by Rebecca Romijn.
Although not shown on-screen, it is implied that Number One briefly takes command of the Enterprise when Captain Pike and his landing party first beam down to Talos IV. She later beams down to the planet several times herself. During "The Cage", Number One proves to her alien captors that humans would rather die than be slaves.
Her official biography notes that she is secretly attracted to Pike.
During the development of the first pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series ("The Cage"), Roddenberry wrote the part of Number One specifically for Barrett. There was reluctance from the NBC executives to agree to an actress who was almost unknown. Roddenberry did see other actresses for the part, but no one else was considered.
According to Gene Roddenberry and Stephen Whitfield, the prominence of a woman among the crew of a starship was one of the reasons the original Star Trek pilot was rejected by NBC, who, in addition to calling the pilot "too cerebral", felt the alien Spock and a female senior officer would be rejected by audiences, although Roddenberry also related the tale of how women of the era had difficulty accepting her as well. Executive producer Herbert Franklin Solow attempted to sell NBC executives on the idea that a fresh face would bring believability to the part, but they were aware that she was Roddenberry's girlfriend. Despite this they agreed to her casting, not wanting to upset Roddenberry at this point in the production. After the pilot was rejected, a second pilot was produced. While it was generally explained that the network disliked a female character as the second-in-command of the Enterprise, Solow had a different opinion of events. He explained that "No one liked her acting... she was a nice woman, but the reality was, she couldn't act." In his book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, producer Herbert Solow suggested the network was fine with the character, but was infuriated when a relatively unknown actress was cast simply because she was having an affair with Roddenberry. Because of NBC's rare order of a second pilot, Roddenberry compromised by eliminating Number One, but aspects of her character—specifically, her cool demeanor and logical nature—were merged into Spock (who does appear in "The Cage") during the regular run of the series.
On the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Commander William Riker is usually (and informally) called "Number One" by Captain Picard, because of his position as first officer on the USS Enterprise. On the series Star Trek: Discovery, set in 2256 (two years after the events of "The Cage"), female Commander Michael Burnham is referred to as "Number One" by Captain Georgiou, because of her position as first officer on the USS Shenzhou. Series creator Bryan Fuller had intended the character to only be referred to as Number One, in honor of Majel Barrett's character of the same name, but the Burnham name was revealed during the first episode, quickly making "Number One" her informal name.
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