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|Star Trek character|
|First appearance||"Caretaker" (1995)|
|Last appearance||"Endgame" (2001)|
|Portrayed by||Robert Duncan McNeill|
|Family||Owen Paris (father)|
Julia Paris (mother)
Thomas Eugene "Tom" Paris, played by Robert Duncan McNeill, is a character in the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager. In that show, which aired on UPN between 1995 and 2001, Paris serves as the chief helmsman and an auxiliary medic aboard the United Federation of Planets starship USS Voyager, which must make its way home after being stranded on the opposite of the Galaxy as Earth with a motley collection of Starfleet, Maquis, and aliens as crew. The character's middle name, "Eugene", is a tribute to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Tom Paris is the son of Starfleet Admiral Owen Paris and a scion of a family with a long history of illustrious service in Starfleet. Following in his family's tradition, Paris attended Starfleet Academy sometime in the 2350s and majored in astrophysics. A gifted pilot, Paris earned an assignment to the Academy's honor squadron.
His relationship with his father was not a good one; while Tom wanted to join the Federation Naval Patrol, Owen wanted him to enlist at Starfleet Academy. Admiral Paris often disapproved of his son's tendency to get into fights and his resulting punishments.
Soon after his graduation from Starfleet Academy, Tom crashed a shuttle he was piloting near Caldik Prime, killing three other Starfleet officers. Afraid he would lose his commission, Paris falsified records that would later reveal the cause of the accident as pilot error. His efforts to cover up the error succeeded, yet still, overwhelmed by guilt and regret, he confessed. He was court martialed for his actions and was dishonorably discharged from Starfleet. This caused a major rift between Paris and his father.
Following his discharge, Paris left San Francisco for Marseille, where he started spending his time drinking and playing pool in Sandrine's, a waterfront bar. There, Chakotay, a former Starfleet officer now serving with the Maquis, recruited him to serve as a mercenary pilot for the Maquis Rebellion against the Federation. This adventure went no better than his earlier stint in Starfleet as Paris was captured by Starfleet while piloting his first mission for the Maquis.
Tried and convicted of treason for aiding the Maquis Rebellion, Paris was sentenced to serve time in the Federation penal settlement near Auckland, New Zealand. Kathryn Janeway, captain of the starship USS Voyager, obtained Paris' temporary release from the penal colony. Janeway, charged with finding and capturing the Maquis ship commanded by Chakotay, offered Paris early parole in exchange for serving as her informant on Chakotay and the Maquis.
Janeway and the crew of Voyager, while searching for the Maquis ship, were thrown into the Delta Quadrant by a massive energy wave created by an alien known as the Caretaker. Once there, they successfully located the Maquis ship docked at the Caretaker's array. The survivors of the incident became stranded about 70,000 light-years away from Earth. The Maquis ship was destroyed and its crew joined the Federation crew on Voyager.
The marooning of Voyager in the Delta Quadrant provided Paris with a new beginning. Janeway gave Paris a field commission as a Starfleet lieutenant and made him chief helmsman of Voyager. He had a rough start, however, as Starfleet and Maquis alike viewed Paris with suspicion. Paris worked hard to earn his crewmates' respect. During this time, he became best friends with Ensign Harry Kim, a young officer on his first mission who defied his crewmates to befriend Paris. Eventually, Paris was accepted by the crew and became one of Janeway's valued officers.
Paris' duties were not limited to piloting Voyager. On Janeway's orders, he trained as a field medic and assisted The Doctor until the Doctor recruited Kes as his primary assistant. Following Kes's departure ("The Gift") Paris once again served regular duty shifts in sickbay.
In the episode "Thirty Days", while disobeying direct orders in order to do what he felt was morally right, he was reduced to ensign and thrown in Voyager's brig for a period of 30 days. About a year later, after working diligently at his duties, he regained his former rank. This occurred just before the events of "Unimatrix Zero", during which it is revealed that he is fourth in the chain of command.
While serving on Voyager, Paris nurtured a long-hidden talent for holo-programming, devising several programs for the entertainment of his fellow crewmembers. His most popular programs included a re-creation of Sandrine's bar, an Irish town called Fair Haven, and a 1930s-era sci-fi movie serial entitled Captain Proton.
Paris married Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, Voyager's half-Klingon/half-Human chief engineer, in 2377. Torres gave birth to their daughter Miral Paris during the events that led to Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant and Earth.
Tom Paris at times displayed resentment toward his father, Owen Paris. This situation improved substantially over the course of the journey, due to Janeway's willingness to offer him redemption, and later to his relationship with B'Elanna Torres.
Paris also has a deep interest in 20th-century Earth pop culture, often utilizing such in his holo-programs. The knowledge helped the crew during time-travel incidents.
He became good friends with Harry Kim from the start and at times displayed protectiveness in the face of Harry's customary naiveté. In the first episode he rescues the ensign from Quark, a manipulative Ferengi. The only member of the crew with whom Paris initially had a somewhat difficult relationship was Chakotay because of their history in the Maquis. However, throughout Voyager's seven-year journey home, Paris and Chakotay reconciled (in part due to Paris having earned Chakotay's trust) and became good friends.
Paris was a full lieutenant at the very beginning of the series, then a lieutenant junior grade in the first-season episode "Faces".
The writers planned to use the character of Nicolas Locarno as a template for Tom Paris, who was played by McNeill in the Next Generation episode "The First Duty". As a result, Voyager's writers created an entirely new character sharing many of Locarno's attributes.
The Tom Paris character has two backstories. The original backstory, and the only one acknowledged onscreen, cast Paris as a disgraced officer dishonorably discharged from Starfleet for covering up pilot error following a shuttle accident on Caldik Prime. In her published novel, Pathways, Voyager producer Jeri Taylor provided an alternative story much more similar to Locarno's, moving the accident to Paris' Starfleet Academy years and making his fellow cadets the victims of his recklessness.
An unproduced Voyager script was to have had a flashback to his time attending Starfleet Academy, and shown that Ro Laren, the Bajoran character from Star Trek: The Next Generation was among his classmates.
Voyager relaunch novels
In the non-canonical Voyager relaunch novels, written by Christie Golden, Paris was promoted two steps in rank, like many of the Voyager crew, and is now a lieutenant commander. He serves as First Officer of Voyager, under the command of now-Captain Chakotay.
In 2018, CBR ranked Tom Paris the 19th best Starfleet character of Star Trek. In 2016, Tom Paris was ranked as the 26th most important character of Starfleet within the Star Trek science fiction universe by Wired magazine.
- Okuda, M., & Okuda, D. (1997). The star trek encyclopedia: A reference guide to the future (Updat and expand ed.). New York: Pocket Books. P.374
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set Season 5, Disk 7, "Memorable Missions" featurette
- "Star Trek: The 25 Best Members Of Starfleet, Ranked". CBR. 2018-10-27. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
- McMillan, Graeme (2016-09-05). "Star Trek's 100 Most Important Crew Members, Ranked". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-03-20.