The Memory Beta Wiki says Tom Paris was born in 2346. Knowing that Season 1 of VOY starts in 2371, that would make Tom 25 years old at the time. I'd like to know how that conclusion was drawn because I'm skeptical.

My Thoughts:

Based on rough estimates that assume the minimal required time for all tasks, it is possible to fit all of the above into the 7 years after graduating high school at ~18 years old... if he takes 4 years to graduate from Starfleet Academy and then 3 years for everything else. However, it seems awfully young when you consider everything that needed to happen:

  1. Graduation from Starfleet Academy (4 years)
  2. Service on the USS Exeter, probably long enough to be promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade (based on Janeway field-promoting him to this rank instead of Ensign)
  3. The incident that killed three officers which would require investigation, information gathering, questioning, arraignment, and motions in the case of a misdemeanor. If the plea isn't accepted or if they choose to prosecute as a felony, there's the additional trial(s), judgement, and sentencing.
  4. He starts heavily drinking (heavily enough that Chakotay knew about it and accused Tom of being a mercenary willing to fight for anyone who paid his bar bills) and "looking for fights", and he eventually ends up in the Demilitarized Zone
  5. Finding and eventually working for the Maquis (which we know was short-lived)
  6. His capture and arrest by the Federation that was likely under the charge of treason or terrorism, requiring another investigation, information gathering, arraignment, motions, trial(s), judgement, and sentencing.
  7. The initial time served in his 18 month sentence in the penal colony before Janeway recruits him
  8. Not to mention the travel time: to/from the USS Exeter, to/around the Demilitarized Zone, to/from Earth, etc.

Then on the official Star Trek website, I noticed what appears to be a log entry made by the Doctor during the events of VOY:"Threshold":

In the euphoria of the moment before his first test flight, Paris remarked that it was the first time in 10 years (or since 2362) that he felt his self-esteem was capable of taking risks; I am unsure to what life event he is referring.

Of course this reflects Tom's words in the episode:

Captain, this is the first time in 10 years I feel I have a life to risk.

Which he says after explaining that everyone used to think he'd do something important when he grows up but that "obviously that didn't happen".

We (the audience) don't know which life event that Tom is referring to either. If Tom were indeed 25 years old in Season 1 (making him 26 when the Doctor recorded that log entry), then the "life event" would be sometime in high school at ~16 years of age. That's possible but, in my opinion, unlikely. It seems more likely that he's referring to the incident that killed the three officers. He could have been as young as ~22 years old when that happened, making him 32 in Season 2 of VOY, which corresponds correctly to the actual age of the actor, Robert Duncan McNeill, at the time.

So, what is the supporting evidence for Memory Beta's claim that he is born in 2346?

  • 2
    Welcome to the site, and good first question. – LogicDictates Jan 4 at 1:55
  • having a life to risk might indicate someone close to him died and he doesn't care about his own. I don't recall any mention of his mom - and would certainly explain the drinking. – lucasbachmann Jan 4 at 4:24
  • @Heather Sawatsky In my opinion the official dates can be incorrect since they are not canon, and often are wrong. It is quite possible that Tom Paris could have graduated from Starfleet Academy younger than 22. See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/240810/… In real history a relative of mine graduated from West Point and was commissioned aged 20 years and three weeks during the 20th century, and was not the youngest person to do so. – M. A. Golding Jan 4 at 17:00
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    @M.A.Golding We do know that Tom spent 4 years in Starfleet Academy, but whether or not he joined the academy before 18 is unknown. – Heather Sawatsky Jan 11 at 2:05

Looking at Tom's Memory Beta page, his year of birth is apparently sourced from the novels Pathways and Mosaic, however, Star Trek novels are generally considered non-canon. Tom's Memory Alpha page doesn't list a year of birth for him, which suggests that none has been given within canon.

Apparently, the only indication we have of Tom's intended age within canon is this brief, textual introduction to the character, from the original script for the Voyager pilot episode, "Caretaker":

Starting closeup on an electronic anklet with blinking lights... moving up the leg to find an athletic human in his late twenties, lying on his back on the ground, in a twisted position, his shirt off, wearing a mini-visor and using a 24th century laser tool to meld part of a house frame together. This is TOM PARIS.

Note however that this statement is also non-canon, since it didn't make it into the completed episode. Therefore, we can't be sure quite how old Tom was within canon.

For what's it worth though, the year of birth listed on Tom's Memory Beta page would be a good fit for Nick Locarno, the disgraced Starfleet cadet (also played by McNeill) from the TNG episode, "The First Duty", who served as the original inspiration for Tom. Locarno was expelled from Starfleet Academy in 2368, at which point he would've been 22, if we go with 2346 as his year of birth.

  • I thought of Nick Locarno too, Yes, he was the inspiration for Tom and was played by the same actor, but he was still a different character. So I disregarded him. That script snippet is interesting though: "late twenties"; I hadn't seen that before. So the options are: 22 based on Nick Locarno; 25 based on two novels, 27-29 based on "late twenties", and 31 based on actor's age. Glad that's cleared up :P – Heather Sawatsky Jan 8 at 3:42
  • I was suggesting that Locarno could well have been 22 in 2368, when he was expelled from Starfleet Academy -- which, if true, would make him 25 in 2371, the year the Voyager pilot episode was set in. So the likely options are 25, based on the novels (and Locarno's likely age), or late twenties, based on the original script. I wouldn't assume Tom was likely to be in his early thirties based on the actor's age, as actors are often a few years older than the characters they play (especially when the characters are on the younger side). – LogicDictates Jan 9 at 2:03
  • Ahh, you're right, my apologies; I misread the sentence where you mentioned 22 years old. That means the novels probably got Tom's age based on Locarno's age. Okay. So the most likely answers are: 25 based on Locarno, or 27-29 based on the original script. – Heather Sawatsky Jan 11 at 2:01

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