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|Star Trek character|
|First appearance||"Hollow Pursuits" (TNG)|
|Last appearance||"Endgame" (VOY)|
|Portrayed by||Dwight Schultz|
|Affiliation||United Federation of Planets|
|Posting||Starfleet Command (VOY)|
USS Enterprise-E (FCT)
USS Enterprise-D (TNG)
USS Zhukov (Backstory)
|Position||Pathfinder Project (VOY)|
Engineering Officer (TNG, FCT)
|Rank||Commander on the VOY episode "Endgame"|
Lieutenant Commander (VOY)
Lieutenant (Junior Grade) (TNG, FCT)
Reginald Barclay, portrayed by Dwight Schultz, is a fictional character from both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, in the latter of which he plays a vital role in re-establishing regular contact between the starship and Starfleet. The character also appears in the 1996 feature film Star Trek: First Contact. The character is portrayed as coming up with innovative solutions to technical problems, but struggles with holodeck addiction and some social issues with anxiety. A common plot theme is that others overlook his brilliance because they evaluate his abilities based on his conversational and emotional demeanor.
University of Rochester professor Sarah Higley created Reginald Barclay in her script for the Star Trek: The Next Generation third-season episode "Hollow Pursuits". According to Higley, Barclay is a satirical depiction of Trekkies and their excessive obsession with imaginary characters. He has characteristics some might associate with many negative nerd and geek stereotypes. While possessing great technical skill and sincere enthusiasm, Barclay seems anxiety-ridden, socially awkward, and self-conscious. He has a stutter, which can make him nervous or anxious. However on the holodeck many of these issues vanish and he acts confident. He has an obsessive interest in fantasy, which seems to serve as an escape from personal interactions, especially those where he is being mistreated by others. Barclay's anxieties extend to idiosyncratic fears (such as fear of being transported) and hypochondriasis. The overcoming of his fears and social anxieties became a running plot point across many seasons in multiple Star Trek series.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Barclay was an occasional character in The Next Generation as an engineer, often being used as comic relief. His addiction to the holodeck is first seen in the episode "Hollow Pursuits", in which he creates holographic reproductions of the ship's bridge officers, who are completely responsive to Barclay's every whim. Being totally unlike their ship-board counterparts, they serve to bolster his self-esteem. With encouragement from Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge, however, Barclay redeems himself and helps to uncover the cause of a critical multi-system failure on the Enterprise in time to avert the ship's destruction. Also in this episode, Captain Picard mispronounces Barclay's name as "Broccoli".
In the episode "The Nth Degree", Barclay's brain is mutated by an ancient race from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, the Cytherians, radically increasing his intellect. Under this influence, Barclay seizes control of the Enterprise and brings the ship into contact with the Cytherians. Barclay explains to Picard that they only desire an exchange of information with the Federation. After the exchange, the Cytherians return the Enterprise to Federation space, restoring Barclay to normal and leaving him with only the memory of his actions and an enhanced ability at chess. This episode also sees Barclay try his hand at acting, performing the title role in Dr. Crusher's production of Cyrano de Bergerac. While his unaided performance was poor, his enhanced performance riveted the onlookers and greatly impressed Dr. Crusher.
In the episode "Realm of Fear", Barclay deals with his transporter phobia when assigned to an away team. Though he becomes capable of allowing himself to be transported, he believes that he sees large worm-like creatures while in transit. When no evidence of a problem is found, Barclay believes himself to be going mad. However, he later discovers that these are actually human survivors trapped inside the transporter beam. With Barclay's help, these people are successfully rescued.
In "Ship in a Bottle", Barclay unwittingly revives a sentient holo-simulation of Sherlock Holmes' arch-foe, Professor James Moriarty (previously seen in "Elementary, Dear Data") while performing holodeck maintenance. This results in Picard, Data, and Barclay unknowingly becoming trapped in a Moriarty-created simulation of the Enterprise, and forced to research a method of making holo-simulations "real" outside of the holodeck through Moriarty's manipulations. When the ruse is discovered, Moriarty and a holographic companion are tricked into a simulation within the simulation, and stored in a computer where they will continue to exist, believing that they have gained freedom from the holodeck.
In "Genesis", Barclay's T-cells have a bizarre reaction to a medicine, creating an airborne virus that causes Barclay to de-evolve into a spider-like ancestral form, and causes its other victims to revert to their various evolutionary forms, after multiple dormant introns in his body are accidentally activated. Upon recovery, the disease is named after him as he was the first to have had contracted it: Barclay's Protomorphosis Syndrome.
Star Trek: First Contact
During First Contact, Barclay remains under Picard's command after the destruction of the Enterprise in the previous film. He has also received a promotion to full Lieutenant. When the ship travels back in time to 2063, Barclay accomplishes one of his lifelong dreams by shaking hands and speaking with Zefram Cochrane.
Star Trek: Voyager
Barclay appears as a guest character in Voyager. His first appearance is in the third episode of the second season, "Projections", although this is as a holographic character. In this episode, it is claimed that Barclay worked with Dr. Lewis Zimmerman to develop the EMH doctor program, although since Barclay's appearance is actually caused by a holographic breakdown this may not actually be the case.
Working on Starfleet's "Pathfinder" project, Barclay becomes obsessed with the crew of the lost USS Voyager, which has been stranded in the Delta Quadrant for over five years. He once again creates simulacra on a holodeck, this time of the Voyager crew, but based on facts available to him about their true personalities (for the most part; because he named his cat Neelix, he makes the holodeck Neelix purr). With the help of these holograms and Deanna Troi—with whom he has developed a close friendship—he devises a method to use a micro-wormhole to establish two-way communication with Voyager. This plan is initially shot down, but Barclay defies direct orders and breaks into the laboratories, ultimately making successful contact with the real Voyager. During this incident, Barclay also works through his relapse into holo-addiction; as he reveals to Deanna, he'd lost his "family" after leaving the Enterprise and did not know how to cope except with fake people.
Barclay's work on the Pathfinder project earns him a promotion to full lieutenant (previously he had been a lieutenant junior grade). In the episode Life Line, it is also revealed the Barclay has made a further breakthrough that uses the monthly rotation of a Cyclic Pulsar Amplifier to establish Starfleet-Voyager communication. This is very fortuitous as we learn that Lewis Zimmerman, the creator of the Doctor's Emergency Medical Hologram program, is dying and no Starfleet medical personnel can determine the reason. Next month, the Voyager's EMH Doctor is sent to Zimmerman's Laboratory using Pathfinder, and with some scheming by Barclay, Deanna and Zimmerman's holographic female servant, Haley, the Doctor cures his creator after some earlier difficulties. Weirdly in the intro Zimmerman says that this will be the "First Intergalactic Phone Call" revealing he is not aware of the previous successful contact.
During this period ("Inside Man"), a hologram of him is sent to Voyager to help them find a way home, but the hologram was altered by Ferengi trying to acquire Seven of Nine's Borg nanoprobes by convincing the crew to attempt a method of return that would have destroyed all organic matter on the ship. Barclay and Troi manage to work out what is happening, and Barclay is then able to dupe the Ferengi into abandoning their plan by posing as the hologram and claiming that Voyager was equipped to survive the trip and was more heavily armed than they actually were.
An alternate future in the Voyager series finale "Endgame" shows an older Barclay teaching at Starfleet Academy, with the rank of Commander. By this point, Barclay has long since conquered his negative personal habits and is much more confident and secure with himself. The proper timeline's version of him is present when a transwarp aperture opens near Earth. Correctly deducing that it has been opened by Voyager, he witnesses the battle that follows with the Borg sphere and Voyager's return to the Alpha Quadrant.
In other media
Barclay appears in the first-person shooter video game Star Trek: Elite Force II, where he fills in as Chief Engineer for Geordi La Forge, when La Forge is away on another assignment. Barclay is confident in the game, and even helps the player fight off an attack on the ship's engine room. Dwight Schultz provides the voice. Barclay is also the first password given after completing the initial level for the Game Boy game Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In the Mirror Universe novel Dark Mirror by Diane Duane, Barclay is Captain Picard's personal guard. While on duty (and not knowing that his version of Picard had briefly been replaced by the one from the 'normal' Trek universe), mirror Barclay is murdered by that universe's counterpart of Deanna Troi. In David Mack's short story "For Want of a Nail" (part of the Shards and Shadows anthology, which takes place in a different Mirror Universe continuity than Dark Mirror), the mirror counterpart of Barclay is a technician working for the Terran Rebellion. He serves as a 'tech-controller' working with his partner, K'Ehleyr, who carries out covert missions for the Rebellion.
In the John Vornholt duology Gemworld Barclay becomes, through a series of incidents involving the planet's native species, the senior engineer on the ancient and crumbling planet of Gemworld. In the regular universe Trek novels, Barclay appears in the relaunch storyline of Star Trek: Voyager. He is an engineer assigned to the USS Galen, an emergency medical support vessel. The Galen is one of the ships assigned to the new fleet of which Voyager is a part.
Star Trek Klingon
Other popular culture
Barclay has also appeared across several non-Star Trek media. The 2010 film The A-Team contains a reference to Barclay as a fictional cast member of a fake movie created by the team during one of their plans. This is an in-joke used to refer to Schultz, who played Murdock in the original television series and did a cameo in the scene. The 2011 video game L.A. Noire also contains a reference to Barclay in a piece of evidence in one of the later cases.
Episodes and Movies with Barclay
Barclay, as played by Schultz appeared between 1990 and 2001 in various Star Trek television show episodes. In addition, the character had a role in the film Star Trek: First Contact; he appears in following television episodes (examples only):
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Voyager
He is also mentioned in the Deep Space Nine episode "Image in the Sand". In Voyager episodes, Schultz also plays Barclay's hologram.
In 2017, IndieWire ranked Barclay as the 16th best character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In 2016, the character of Barclay was ranked as the 55th most important character of Starfleet within the Star Trek science fiction universe by Wired.
- Howling Mad Murdock (another famous Dwight Schultz acting role)
- Joyrich, Lynne (Winter 1996). "Feminist Enterprise? "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the Occupation of Femininity". Cinema Journal. 35 (2): 61–84. doi:10.2307/1225756. JSTOR 1225756.
- The Star Trek Encyclopedia By Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, Debbie Mirek
- Granshaw, Lisa (2015-05-08). "The 21 most interesting Star Trek supporting characters". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved 2019-06-26.
- Miller, Liz Shannon; Miller, Liz Shannon (2017-09-30). "'Star Trek: The Next Generation': Ranking the Crew, From Picard to Pulaski". IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
- McMillan, Graeme (2016-09-05). "Star Trek's 100 Most Important Crew Members, Ranked". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- "Star Trek: Ranking the 20 Best Recurring Characters". CBR. 2018-12-28. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
- "Star Trek: The 10 Smartest Characters, Ranked". ScreenRant. 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-07-24.