Former Star Trek Actors Who Are Surprisingly Poor

Being in the public eye — for example, as an athlete or an actor — isn't necessarily a path to long-lasting wealth.Some athletes or entertainers make surprisingly little money, particularly in comparison to some of their colleagues, some of whose paychecks can be downright mind-blowing. Others blow all of their money due to lavish spending, bad investments, substance-abuse issues, or legal problems. Others don't make much money and manage to blow what little they make. It seems that no industry is immune, either. Basketball stars have gone broke. So have wrestling stars.

Turning our attention to the Star Trek franchise, you would think that people associated with the cultural juggernaut, whether on TV or in films, would have translated that affiliation into long-lasting riches. As it turns out, not everyone who has passed through the property's film and TV sets has turned that work into phat bank.

Of course, "poor" is a relative term. And with one possible exception, no one on this list is likely living in anything approaching poverty. Indeed, almost all of them live lives that are likely solidly middle class, relative to the extremely high cost of living in the Los Angeles area. Compared to their higher-profile costars — like Patrick Stewart or Jonathan Frakes, who have made millions and managed to hold onto them — these five former Star Trek actors are surprisingly poor.

Jennifer Lien has had repeated brushes with the law, doesn't seem to have a job

Jennifer Lien appeared as Kes on Star Trek:Voyager between 1995-1997, and again in 2000, and then subsequently dropped off the face of the earth in terms of acting gigs. She had a few small roles here and there on TV and in films, including voice work, but hasn't been active since 2001, according to IMDB.

Even as the cameras were rolling while she was a character on the show, producers began to suspect that Lien was bedeviled by emotional and substance abuse issues, according to SyFy. "It's a very sad story ... essentially, she was very troubled and became unreliable, which led to them ending her contract," author Ben Robinson said of her time on the set.

Since her days as an actor, Lien has managed to have some brushes with the law. As Variety reported in September 2015, she was arrested following a disturbing incident in Tennessee during which she allegedly disrobed in front of neighborhood children. In April of that same year, she'd been booked on charges of evading arrest, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault.

Again in 2018, according to WATE, she was arrested twice in a matter of weeks for driving on a revoked driver's license.

Wil Wheaton made tons of money - for other people

For a period of time in the late 1980s and early 1990s, teenage actor Wil Wheaton was chief among the boyish heartthrobs who set teen and tween hearts aflutter. He first made a name for himself in movies, most notably Stand By Me, the film adaptation of a Stephen King novella. And of course, on TV he portrayed love-him-or-hate-him adolescent crew member Wesley Crusher of the Enterprise-D on Star Trek:The Next Generation.

All of that exposure meant that there was no escaping the teen actor. He was on magazine covers, posters hung on lovelorn teens' bedroom walls, on Star Trek merchandise — seemingly everywhere.

And though he was generating millions of dollars, scant little of it wound up in Wheaton's bank account. By the time he was an adult, he'd decided that acting wasn't for him and he wound up taking a desk job in Kansas, according to AV Club.

These days, Wheaton isn't exactly "poor," in the strictest sense. He's parlayed his fame into a variety of small gigs, doing voice work, the odd TV appearance, his social media presence, and so on. Still, Wheaton is far from rich. For example, according to Screen Rant, while his Big Bang Theory co-stars were making hundreds of thousands per episode, the former Crusher himself only made $20,000 per episode.

Star Trek: Voyager didn't enrich Robert Duncan McNeill

In the TV and movie industry, one big payday can set an actor up for life, particularly if they invest their money well and live within their means. Yet for every TV or movie star who makes millions from one project, thousands more are laboring in The Industry, often working on smaller projects for comparatively trifling amounts of money.

Such appears to be the case with Robert Duncan McNeill, who portrayed Lieutenant Tom Paris on Voyager for seven seasons. He was a non-lead character on a show with middling popularity that ran on a second-tier network, and as such, almost certainly didn't make the kind of money that would lead to a lifetime of wealth.

Since Star Trek, McNeill has worked steadily, albeit doing infrequent work on smaller-profile projects, according to IMDB. Further, he put acting behind him in the early 2000s, and has since spent the bulk of his career behind the camera as a director.

Armin Shimerman got a day job

Armin Shimerman brought some levity to the sometimes-serious tone of the Star Trek franchise as Ferengi bartender Quark on Deep Space Nine.

Like many of his colleagues in the Star Trek franchise, Shimerman's IMDB page contains a long list of credits. However, in keeping with what is appearing to be something of a theme among this group, his work, though steady, has been infrequent and often on lower-profile projects.

Further, in 2016 a Quora user claimed, without evidence, that the actor "lives in a condo on Sunset Boulevard in LA." It bears noting that that statement was made by some random user on a message board and is impossible to verify.

Regardless of where he lives, Shimerman has taken a day job, although whether he took it because he needs the money, or simply because he enjoys doing it, is unclear. According to Trek Report, as recently as October 2020 he was teaching Shakespeare to students at the University of Southern California. He told the website he's also published a novel of historical fiction, titled Illyria: Betrayal of Angels, set in the days of England's Queen Elizabeth I, but these days, "I primarily see myself as a teacher."

Marc Alaimo gave up acting and disappeared, before coming back

Unlike other actors on this list, Marc Alaimo didn't appear as just one character in one iteration of the Star Trek franchise: he played multiple characters across multiple entries. Although he made a few appearances as various characters in The Next Generation, Alaimo is likely best remembered for his 33-episode stint as Gul Dukat in Deep Space Nine.

Prior to his association with the popular sci-fi franchise, Alaimo was a respected actor with a lengthy resume, albeit largely in small parts in small-profile roles. Further, after DS9, he effectively dropped off the face of the earth as an actor, earning only a couple of video game voice credits and one voice credit on Family Guy over the course of a decade.

In 2015, as can be seen in a YouTube video from Orville Nation, Alaimo appeared at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. There, he revealed to the audience that he was "out of touch with" the TV industry and didn't have an agent representing him. Nevertheless, he later lined up a role on 2020's Grizzly II: The Revenge.