Combs is a prolific actor, having starred in classics like Re-Animator and The Frighteners, plus voice acting roles in comic book television shows like The New Batman Adventures, Spider-Man, and Justice League Unlimited, where he voiced the Vic Sage version of DC Comics’ the Question.
But Combs’ work on Star Trek is in a league of its own. He appeared in over 40 episodes across three series (and several games), as nine different characters. Some of those characters are even the best of their Trek shows! To celebrate the varied talents of Star Trek’s everyman, we’ve ranked his definitive performances.
Okay, it’s slightly cheating to put this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Deep Space Nine’s finale here. Combs wasn’t even actually credited for the performance, even if it is clearly him without his Weyoun makeup waltzing around in the background of the big farewell party. But it’s an appearance that marks an important record for Combs: only three actors in Trek history, Combs included, have played two unrelated roles in the same episode. With this appearance as both the Holo-guest and Weyoun, Combs is the only one to have actually done it twice. Legendary.
Combs’ first-ever DS9 role was definitely a weird one, playing a weird perv with the hots for Kira, consorting with Quark to create an illict holographic recreation of her for him to... well, do what most people do in Quark’s holosuites. A bad time all around! At least Tiron’s creepiness got us one of the most unrelentingly weird shots in the entire Trek franchise though, when Odo and Kira sabotage Tiron’s holoprogram so the sexy femme fatale he encounters is actually Quark himself.
Combs’ second stab at playing at Ferengi—poor, nice-but-dimwitted Krem wasn’t exactly your most traditional Ferengi—was outsmarted by Archer after Krem’s captain seized control of the Enterprise. But after seeing him play one of the most doggedly duplicitous Ferengi around on DS9, it was nice to see Combs have a bit more fun here.
As if appearing in so much Trek TV wasn’t enough, Combs also had quite the little run on Trek games. He voiced Weyoun in the Deep Space Nine Real-Time Strategy title Dominion Wars, and returned as both the Vorta and Brunt for Star Trek Online’s Deep Space Nine themed expansion, Victory is Life. But he lent his performance to another entirely original role in the follow up to the surprisingly excellent shooter Elite Force.
Playing a sinister Romulan commander who was a major antagonist in the sequel—the head of a secret sub-faction of Romulans who wanted to harness the power of a mysterious alien race to restore the Star Empire to its full glory—Combs got to play a slightly less nuanced villain in Suldok compared to his turn as the Weyouns. It’s a role he flourished in nonetheless.
A brief role and a rare chance to see Combs outside of alien makeup, but a heady one to tackle: Mulkahey appears in the incredible, iconic episode “Far Beyond the Stars.” He played the cruel NYPD officer who harasses Avery Brooks’ quiet sci-fi writer Benny Russell, climaxing with a horrifying beating after Russell is racially profiled at a crime scene. A far more blatant villainy than Weyoun’s fervent subservience, it’s a brief but chilling turn.
Sure, “Tsunkatse” might be known for its more famous guest appearance (god bless space-wrestling Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), but do not forget Penk, the seedy proprietor of the titular bloodsport! He’s the one who kidnapped Seven of Nine and Tuvok to do battle against the Rock in the first place. It’s a nice, goofily villainous turn from Combs, even if he’s upstaged by his beefier guest star.
As you might have gathered over the course of this list, Combs was very good at playing Trek baddies. But Brunt—the devastatingly tricksy Ferengi Commerce Authority agent—was one of his best, not because he was brazenly villainous or fascinatingly cruel, but because he served as the perfect foil to Quark on Deep Space Nine. Quark’s whole thing was that his wits and luck could get him out of most tricky situations on the Promenade, but confronting him with his own people—and an exemplary of unstoppable force in Brunt—always made for an incredible time. Combs got to mix antagonism, smarts, and the occasional comedic goofballery with this character and every time he showed up to ruin Quark’s day made ours.
Yes, yes, technically Combs played like, five different Weyouns over the course of Deep Space Nine. That’s what you get for being the face of a cloned race! Weyoun’s fifth clone is the one we saw the most across Deep Space Nine (there were Weyouns 4-8 across the show) that gave us the definitive snivellingly, cruel, and subservient Dominion advisor, a role Combs clearly relished. But the character’s nature as a cloned being who shared memories across his forms meant that every once in awhile the actor got to shake things up in some fascinating ways. Special shoutout to Weyoun 6 in “Treachery, Faith and the Great River,” a defective clone who actually developed a moral core of his own, rejecting the Dominion’s war with the Alpha Quadrant. It was a truly tragic and powerful turn by Combs that got to explore an entirely different approach to Weyoun.
I don’t particularly dislike Enterprise in the way some Star Trek fans do—it’s fine! Messy! But fine. That said, it is definitely elevated whenever Shran, the lovably irascible Andorian captain, shows up on screen. Shran’s inability to just not butt heads with everyone at all times brought a much-needed bit of spice to Enterprise, a catalyst for conflict that could be in equal parts admirable and infuriating. Sometimes, just like Archer, you’d want to smack him clean across that sky-blue face of his. Others, you’d hoot and holler as he came to kick ass and save the day (as long as it means the Andorians were coming out on top, most of the time). Sure, Weyoun is the meatier, more varied role of Combs’ Trek characters. But Shran is where Combs really just got to have some fun, and it’s a delight to watch unfold.
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