Jennifer Liens Kes was a key member of the Star Trek: Voyager crew, but was released in season 4. That’s why Lien (and Kes) left the series.
The character of Kes Star Trek: Voyager, portrayed by actress Jennifer Lien left the series after season 3, even though she was a central and interesting character. With a premiere in 1995, Star Trek: Voyager hoped to launch a new generation of fans after Jean-Luc Picard’s time on the small screen was over. In a unique twist, Captain Janeway’s Starfleet craft finds itself lost in the Delta Quadrant, and the Voyager crew is not looking for new worlds and new civilizations, but a way home. Among Star Trek: Voyagerstarring Jennifer Lien as Kes. A member of the Ocampa species, Kes possessed telepathic abilities and was romantically involved with Neelix in the beginning, before interrupting the entanglement in season 3. In another alien species, Kes was tragically destined for a life of only nine years.
As a young but amazingly talented member of the Voyager crew, Kes shared certain traits with Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: Next generation, and although fans did not react with the same contempt as they did for poor Wes, Kes was certainly not the most popular of Star Trek: Voyagercrew. Jennifer Lien’s exit came in season 4’s “The Gift”, after Kes’ mental abilities began to spiral out of control after a meeting with Art 8472. Threatening even the crew members she had come to love, Ocampa decides to leave Voyager and evaporate in pure energy, leaving Kes’ fate somewhat ambiguous.
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She may not have been a fan favorite, but Kes’ Star Trek: Voyager exit was not without controversy, as both viewers and co-stars had praised Lien’s ability as an actress, if not necessarily the development of Kes as a character. There are two main reasons why Kes was written off Star Trek: Voyager. First, the authors acknowledged that they had lost the ball with the character. Rick Berman and Jeri Taylor (Star Trek: Voyager showrunners) has admitted in interviews that the Neelix / Kes romance was poorly judged, and despite Lien’s best efforts, Voyager had reached a creative dead end with Kes and her unique biology.
At the same time, Star Trek: Voyager had the design to introduce a new main crew member — a female Borg-in-recovery under the name Seven of Nine. With Lien’s position in Star Trek: Voyager already under control and budgets that do not accommodate a new character without sacrificing another, the decision was made to replace Jennifer Liens Kes with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine. Another name in the firing line between Star Trek: Voyager season 3 and 4 was Garrett Wang playing Harry Kim. In a fateful, Wang was chosen as one of People the magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”, and this exposure saved him from being chopped up instead of Lien.
Given how apologetic writers and producers have talked about Kes’ Star Trek: Voyager departure over the years, it’s not surprising that the character was soon invited back to season 6’s “Fury” episode. In this time-consuming tale, an older Kes attacks Voyager to abandon her and then travels back in time to prevent her younger self from ever becoming a member of the crew. When the elderly Kes was previously killed, her timeline changes, giving Janeway, Tuvok and Neelix an opportunity to peacefully send Kes home to be with his own kind. While not a complete reward for her character’s mismanagement, “Fury” Kes and Jennifer Lien as actress offered a goal of redemption. Although Lien would act as Davina in American History X and agent L i Men in Black: The Animated Series, she stopped trading shortly after she left Star Trek: Voyager, and pursued a completely different career away from the entertainment industry.
To write Kes out of Star Trek: Voyager was very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the character had an enormous potential that went unrealized due to poor creative direction; on the other hand, producers were entitled to rate Kes as one of their less successful creations, whereas Seven of Nine proved to be an inspired addition. The former Borg made a big impression not just in Voyager, men Star Trek as a whole and most recently returned Star Trek: Picard. In an ideal scenario, Star Trek: Voyager would have been able to keep Kes while still introducing Seven of Nine, but then the packed cast might have hampered both.
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