In the Next Generation episode "The First Duty" Robert Duncan McNeill plays a character called Nick Lacarno, who as part of Flight Squad caused an accident which resulted in the death of another cadet. He was dishonorably discharged for lying and trying to cover it up.

McNeill then went on to play Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager with a very similar background, but with some very small differences — like Tom was an actual Starfleet officer, whereas Nick was only a Cadet. So was Tom Paris' character based on Nick Locarno?

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    It seems odd that Locarno is considered irredeemable but Paris is not. They both got people killed and chose to lie about it. It seems that they had quite similar moral conundrums, except that Locarno went to prison rather than let his whole team get expelled. The only reasonable explanation listed here is the royalties that would have to be paid. – user54313 Oct 13 '15 at 19:39
  • Agreed number 1 (commenter). He had shown some character. Crusher: "They should have expelled all of us." Picard: "They very nearly did. Mr Locarno made an impassioned plea for the rest of you. He said he used his influence as squadron leader to convince you to attempt the Kolvoord maneuver and then to cover up the truth. He asked to take full responsibility." Crusher: "He did exactly what he said he would. He protected the team." – 1.21 gigawatts Mar 6 '16 at 12:00
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    My mental canon is that Tom wanted to prove himself without his family name due to his father being an admiral so he went by the name Locarno at the academy. – Alonzo Muncy Feb 23 '17 at 20:16
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    @AlonzoMuncy: And he eventually became a StarFleet officer after being dishonorably discharged... how? – Ellesedil Feb 23 '17 at 20:57
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    @AlonzoMuncy: So, you're saying that a Cadet that was thrown out of StarFleet Academy would be given a field commission of lieutenant? Poor Harry Kim. – Ellesedil Feb 23 '17 at 21:24

It is likely that it was originally intended to be Locarno on Voyager, but that once they considered the financial aspect of it, Locarno likely became the prototype for Robert Duncan McNeill's Tom Paris, rather than a direct feed. There has not been a definitive answer on the exact intent, but from the Memory Alpha page:


Nicholas Locarno was played by actor Robert Duncan McNeill. Locarno was the inspiration for Star Trek: Voyager's Tom Paris. When the writers were trying to cast for the part, they could not find anyone that seemed to match McNeill's persona, so they eventually just asked him to read for the role, and he got the part. Reasons for not simply bringing back the Locarno character have varied; it may have been because they would have had to pay royalties to the writers of "The First Duty" during every episode of Voyager where Paris appeared. In interviews, the producers of Voyager claimed Locarno's actions made him irredeemable, making redemption unbelievable for audiences. (TNG Season 5 DVD) McNeill himself has stated that, despite their apparent similarities, Locarno and Paris are two very different characters.

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    Because we all know that Star Trek is all about characters who are irredeemable... – Jeff Mar 8 '12 at 20:03
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    Not to go off on a tangent, but I had no idea that royalties were owed to screenwriters if a one-time character from their work was reused. Very interesting if true. – Matt Peterson Mar 9 '12 at 16:56
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    Seems silly to me but I guess that's what unions are for. – Brian Ortiz Mar 9 '12 at 20:05
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    Cue @tangooversway to talk about his Star Trek writing experiences. – OghmaOsiris Jul 14 '12 at 6:03
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    Even if the royalties are low, they still need to be paid and there could be other contractual responsibilities which might require lawyers. I think it would have been cool to have a character that was in TNG even briefly, but studios might not see the point in having this complication when they could just create a new character. – liquidki Feb 4 '17 at 16:35

While watching “The First Duty” of ST: tNG via Amazon Prime, I noted an X-Ray box opened at 19:14 on the left portion of the video. It was labeled General Trivia and stated “Nick Locarno was supposed to be on Voyager instead (of Tom Paris), but various legal issues, like having to pay royalties to the writers of The First Duty for every single episode of Voyager that Locarno would appear in made the idea unworkable, so they turned him into a different character. Tom Paris’ background and personality were based in part on Locarno.”

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    This seems to just be a paraphrase of the Memory Alpha article cited above. – Valorum Jan 31 '18 at 23:05
  • What's an X-Ray box and why would it randomly open (on its own?!) next to videos? – O. R. Mapper Feb 1 '18 at 15:05
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    Amazon owns IMDB so Amazon Prime Video has a feature called X-Ray that when you pause or open it etc it shows you interesting facts about the show and the names of the actors in the current scene (it's quite useful when you can't remember where someone is from) – shim Feb 2 '18 at 19:13

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