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Okay, let’s forget about the backstory of Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager being supposedly more “redeemable” than that of Nick Locarno in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The First Duty” (S05E19). Either that or Tom Paris was created because of behind-the-scenes politics involved a supposed writer/producer dispute for royalties.

Forget about all that!

I accept that Tom Paris and Nick Locarno are two distinct human beings with hopes and dreams of their own!

Why then do the crew of the USS Voyager or the USS Enterprise never seem to acknowledge — or freak out that — both characters are physically the same! Yes, Robert Duncan McNeill plays the same character with not even a change in color to his hair; they literally look the same because it is played by the same exact actor with very little change in appearance.

But how is this all explained in the shared Voyager/Enterprise universe? Nobody noticed? Even in passing? Starfleet computers didn’t even notice the difference?

Pictured: Tom Paris (left) and Nick Locarno (right).

Tom Paris Nick Locarno


In-universe explanation preferred, but any “behind the scenes” discussions like, “Eh… Who cares about Nick Locarno? He’s Tom Paris now!” would be acceptable as well.

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  • 12
    Why should they notice? Locarno incident was not widely known and happened during different time at a different place.
    – jo1storm
    Jan 8 at 22:22
  • 27
    Are you seriously expecting this has been answered in-universe? I mean, no-one in STIII commented on the fact that Saavik had suddenly drastically changed in appearance, either. Jan 8 at 22:35
  • 8
    Nick Locarno was never mentioned on Voyager, so there's no indication that any of the Voyager crew even know who he is. Jan 8 at 22:39
  • 31
    We do not discuss it with outsiders.
    – Spencer
    Jan 8 at 22:53
  • 16
    Oh come on, they are clearly two different people. The first guy (Nick? Tom?) has a blue background and the other guy (Tom? Nick?) has a purple-ish background. There's no way you could mistake one for the other.
    – JK.
    Jan 9 at 2:07

3 Answers 3

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In-universe the resemblance is noticed by some, but not considered particularly remarkable by people very familiar with them. In the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "Old Friends, New Planets" there's this dialogue:

Rutherford: "He looks like Tom Paris"

Boimler: "I don't see it."

And this:

Rutherford: "They have, like, the same face! They're identical!"

Boimler: "No, I just don't see it."

Note that while Rutherford is aware of Paris as a very famous officer, Boimler is an obsessed fan. So apparently to the casual observer, Paris and Locarno look alike, someone who knows them very well sees all the differences and doesn't consider the resemblance to be particularly strong.

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  • 19
    I consider things like this to be an in-joke, an easter egg to long-time fans who know that the same actor played both characters.
    – Barmar
    Jan 9 at 15:38
  • 5
    See also: the "Lampshade Hanging" trope
    – Ed Brannin
    Jan 9 at 21:21
  • 2
    As soon as "Nick Locarno" was mentioned in that episode I started preemptively laughing knowing that someone was going to bring it up at least once.
    – miken32
    Jan 11 at 17:56
  • 1
    Citing Lower Decks for evidence regarding questions about Star Trek is like citing Bill Nye for questions on quantum mechanics or astrophysics. The information is not likely to be the most reliable. As @Barmar said, this is a great easter egg, and not much more. Still, +1. Feb 6 at 23:07
  • 1
    @SovereignInquiry If Wikipedia says it, it must be true: "Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy are both fully accepted as canonical as well." :)
    – Barmar
    Feb 7 at 15:20
32

Okay… This started off as a comment, but I think it's actually an answer.

I once had a girlfriend, and she had mentioned that there was someone in the same town that was her look-alike. Then one day I sat down at restaurant with some other people… And there was her look-alike. I spent a large part evening staring at her because I couldn't believe it.

Because this phenomena does exist we even have a word for it: Doppelgänger

For amusement see: “50 Strangers That Met Their Real-Life Doppelgangers”.

So having two different people (in-universe) who look alike is not impossible even in our current 8.18 billion people on Earth.

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  • 15
    Huh, that happens to me all the time. And would you believe it, my twin brother says the same thing! Jan 9 at 10:35
  • 8
    @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun What? You both have GFs that look like each other? Are you sure you aren't dating twins?
    – Peter M
    Jan 9 at 15:50
  • 2
    @PeterM - No, but wait until she finds out...
    – Vilx-
    Jan 9 at 19:10
  • I had that happen to me once where a person was convinced I was someone else, only to find out years later I have a half-brother who does, in fact, look quite a bit like me. Jan 12 at 0:47
  • @PeterM our partners have partners that look alike. They aren't the twins, we are. Well okay, my spouse is actually a twin too, but her twin looks nothing like her, so I can easily tell them apart, based on her twin being bald and bearded. Jan 12 at 19:54
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Pretend you're a member of Starfleet.

You're familiar with a case of a cadet named Locarno, who killed a member of his squad in an accident, covered it up, and was then expelled by Starfleet. Maybe you've even seen a picture of him at the time in the Starfleet news service.

You're later posted on the Voyager. There's a guy named Paris walking around. He looks a LOT like the photo you say three years earlier. People whisper that this guy Paris killed three members of his crew through pilot error, was caught covering it up, and was dishonorably discharged.

Which of these two explanations would you jump to:

  1. My God, what a bizarre coincidence! Two people, who look exactly the same, and have almost exactly the same biography??

    Or…

  2. I remember that story! Although I guess I misremembered some of the details.

Probably number 2, right?

As for Starfleet computers, unless we're assuming that Paris and Locarno are identical down the cellular and atomic level or something, it'd be a piece of cake for them to distinguish the two. Most humans can spot differences in identical twins, and in-universe these are just two people who look like each other.

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