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John Harriman is a fictional character in the Star Trek universe, the commanding officer of the starship USS Enterprise-B. Played by actor Alan Ruck, he first appeared in the 1994 film Star Trek Generations, commanding the Enterprise-B on its maiden voyage during which James T. Kirk was apparently killed. Ruck reprised the role in the non-canon fan mini-series Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. Harriman has also appeared in other Star Trek media such as books and video games.

Fictional character history

Star Trek Generations

At the beginning of Generations, the USS Enterprise-B is launched with much fanfare, including a complement of journalists on board, as well as veteran Starfleet officers James T. Kirk, Montgomery Scott, and Pavel Chekov in attendance. Also present is helm officer Demora Sulu, the daughter of Kirk's former navigator Hikaru Sulu.

Although the voyage was intended to be a brief trip for the benefit of the press, the Enterprise receives an emergency distress call from two El-Aurian refugee ships. The Enterprise-B is the only ship in range, so Harriman reluctantly gives the order to go to the rescue. When they get there, Harriman's efforts to rescue the ships are not successful. He asks Kirk for advice, and Kirk immediately takes charge of the situation. When someone has to go down to deflector control to effect a repair, Harriman offers to go, but Kirk opts to go instead and tells Harriman he should remain on the bridge. Some of the El-Aurians die, and Kirk is presumed dead.

Star Trek fans did not respond positively to the character.

In print

The Captain's Daughter

Harriman features prominently in the 1995 novel Star Trek: The Captain's Daughter by Peter David, who wrote the novel in part to rehabilitate Harriman's character.

Harriman is revealed to be the son of John "Blackjack" Harriman, a powerful and legendary Starfleet admiral who sees James T. Kirk as a glorified cowboy whose disrespect for regulations made him a poor officer. Blackjack is largely responsible for his son's captaincy, and his strict expectations that his son not follow in the footsteps of people like Kirk have presented much for Harriman to live up to throughout his life. Pavel Chekov holds Harriman personally responsible for Kirk's apparent death on the Enterprise-B.

In the story, Demora Sulu, helm officer of the Enterprise-B and daughter of Excelsior captain Hikaru Sulu, apparently dies on the planet Askalon V. Harriman quarantines the planet, but a quarantine team may not be dispatched to the planet for months. Refusing to wait for Starfleet to investigate the mystery of his daughter's death, Sulu takes the Excelsior to Askalon V to rescue Demora, in direct violation of Starfleet regulations prohibiting starship contact with quarantined planets. The Enterprise-B is sent after the Excelsior. As Sulu finds Demora very much alive on the planet, the Excelsior is confronted by the Enterprise.

Although Harriman attempts to order the ship to surrender, Blackjack objects to what he perceives as leniency on his son's part and takes over command of the Enterprise-B. Blackjack orders phaser fired at the Excelsior in order to "make an example" of them. Harriman, standing up to his father, belays the order, re-takes command of his ship, and relieves his father of duty. He takes a shuttlecraft down to Askalon V, where he rescues both Sulu and Demora. Later, Blackjack is persuaded not to court-martial his son or the crew of the Excelsior, though he insists to that this is not an endorsement of his actions, but a decision made to make his son look good.


Harriman also appears in "Shakedown", a short story also by Peter David that appears in the 2000 anthology Star Trek: Enterprise Logs. In this story, which David wrote in continuation of his desire to add depth and competence to Harriman's character, Harriman supervises the interrogation of a captured Romulan interrogator named Rokan in a holographic simulation in a prototype holochamber on-board the Enterprise-B. Through a ruse, Harriman gets Rokan to reveal the names of several Starfleet officials who are acting as Romulan sleeper agents.

Serpents Among the Ruins

According to the 2003 non-canon Star Trek: The Lost Era novel Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III, Harriman remains in command of the Enterprise-B for nearly twenty years, and develops a reputation as an excellent and capable officer. He stands down as captain of the Enterprise after the Tomed Incident of 2311, and is succeeded by Demora Sulu.

Other media

The non-canon game Star Trek: Starship Creator by Simon and Schuster Interactive includes Harriman as a character who can be assigned to one of the various positions on players' ships. The game lists Harriman as a native of Chicago, Illinoismarker, with a son named Ferris and an interest in 20th century sports cars, a reference to the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which is set in Chicago, and in which Alan Ruck, who plays the role of Ferris Bueller's best friend, has a father who owns a collection of sports cars.


  1. David, Peter (writer) Greenburg, Carol (editor); Star Trek: Enterprise Logs; Page 206.
  2. Phil Farrand. The Nitpicker's Guide for Next Generation Trekkers Volume II. New York: Dell (1995); Page 83
  3. David, 2000; Page 212.
  4. David, Peter; Star Trek: The Captain's Daughter; 1995

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