Kes Aсtress Jennifer Lien’s Stаr Trek: Voyаɡer Exit “A Mystery,” Sаys Exeсutive Produсer

Star Trek: Voyager executive producer Jeri Taylor explains the mystery surrounding the departure of Kes actress Jennifer Lien.



  • Jennifer Lien’s departure from Star Trek: Voyager was due to unknown mental health concerns that affected her performance both on and off set. She struggled to communicate about her issues and did not seek help.
  • Executive producer Jeri Taylor and others tried to reach out and offer assistance, but Lien would not open up or consider getting help. Her emotional struggles ultimately became more powerful than her and she was unable to continue.
  • The original explanation for Lien’s departure as a result of limited potential and underdeveloped characterization was a cover story crafted to protect the vulnerable actress. Kes’ replacement with the more exciting character Seven of Nine seemed to support this explanation, but the real reason remains a mystery.

Star Trek: Voyager executive producer Jeri Taylor explains what she knows about the “mystery” departure of Kes actress Jennifer Lien. As the young, short-lived Ocampa, Kes was a series regular in Star Trek: Voyager’s first 3 seasons. She as a wide-eyed explorer with empathy and heart who had important relationships with Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and The Doctor (Robert Picardo) before Lien left the show at the beginning of Voyager season 4. At the time, Taylor and executive producer Rick Berman explained the reason for Lien’s removal was that Kes was an underdeveloped character with limited story potential.

In “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” by Peter Holmstrom, Jeri Taylor puts Jennifer Lien’s departure from Star Trek: Voyager in a new light. While praising Lien’s talent, Taylor described the “demons” the actress faced that she didn’t want to communicate about or get help for. Read Taylor’s quote below:

I think the reason people don’t talk to you about it is, they don’t know what to say. It was a mystery to everyone. Jennifer Lien, who played Kes in Voyager – a very, very good actor and the relationship between her and Neelix was working wonderfully. She began to become distracted, inattentive, there was just something off. I asked her to come into my office and probed gently to see if there was something going on in her life, something I could help her with, and she simply wouldn’t speak at all. This is what happened to everyone who tried to reach out and help her, including her agent. To this day, I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on, but clearly, there was something emotionally upset about her. She would not open up about it, she would not consider getting help about it, but clearly, it was more powerful than she was. And she was incapable of continuing. It’s such a loss when someone with that kind of talent who could have gone on to such heights was unable to overcome her demons.

What We Know About Why Jennifer Lien Left Star Trek: Voyager

Jennifer Lien Struggled with Unknown Mental Health Concerns

Executive producer Jeri Taylor’s statements in “The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek” center on the problems that Jennifer Lien began to experience while working on Star Trek: Voyager. Lien’s mental health took a turn for the worse, which affected her performance on and off set, and though Taylor and other people close to Lien offered help, Lien was unable to articulate what was happening in her life or define the ways that anyone could help her. With Jennifer Lien’s mental and emotional health in decline and no apparent improvement on the horizon, the best course of action for the future of Star Trek: Voyager was to write Kes off of the show.

Note: Star Trek: Voyager replacing Kes with Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) worked as it created renewed interest in the show.

Jeri Taylor’s new explanation for why Jennifer Lien left Star Trek: Voyager, due to her struggles with mental health, indicates Taylor and Berman’s willingness to protect Lien as an already vulnerable young actress by crafting a believable cover story. Kes leaving because of limited potential and underdeveloped characterization made sense, particularly since episodes that centered Kes were generally among the series’ weakest. The replacement of Kes with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine as a more exciting character in Voyager season 4 seemed to corroborate the old explanation for Jennifer Lien leaving Star Trek: Voyager. However, as Taylor reveals, the real reason for Jennifer Lien’s exit from Voyager remains a mystery.

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