This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
back to Character Insight! This week, our subject is Reginald Endicott Barclay III, the recurring character from TNG and Voyager.
Barclay is a highly-talented systems diagnostic engineer who works his way onto the Starfleet flagship thanks to his technical skills. His people skills leave a lot to be desired though, which leads him to have trouble fitting into the Enterprise crew.
Barclay's personality problems also drive him to holodeck addiction, which is an interesting take on a new type of substance abuse. Still, he overcomes this addiction with the help of his coworkers both on the Enterprise and again after succeeding in contacting the Voyager crew in the Delta Quadrant. Indeed, Reg's successes are what gives him the small amount of confidence he needs to overcome most of his problems, which is a strong lesson for all viewers.
Barclay ends up playing a critical role in fashioning strategies to save the Enterprise from the Borg as well as from the Moriarty program from the holodeck. His intuition and rigid focus also lead to the success of The Pathfinder Project in communicating with and helping Voyager in the quest to return home to the Alpha Quadrant. He also helps save Zefram Cochrane's warp flight in the movie First Contact, a rare movie appearance for a recurring character.
Reg is a cat lover, and he is the only person other than Data who Spot the cat will find acceptable to take care of her. Although his mix of ridiculously high intelligence and sorely lacking social skills is a stereotypical mix of traits for a character, his struggles and stories make him very relatable to viewers. Which is exactly what Gene Roddenberry had in mind when he requested such a character be added as a recurring TNG character.
Barclay appears in 11 episodes, which makes him the most prevalent recurring character features in two different series behind only Q, who starred in 12 episodes of three different series. Barclay does show up in a movie though, which is something the Q character cannot claim!
Our notable quote this week comes from the episode Hollow Pursuits:
Barclay - "You know, the people that I create in there are m... more real to me
than anyone I meet out here. Except... maybe you, Commander."
La Forge - "I need you out here, Reg – now more than ever.
Actor: Dwight Schultz played Barclay, and he is best known outside Star Trek as Howling Mad Murdock on The A-Team [insert theme].
Until next time, live long and prosper...