Capt. Sulu (George Takei) meets Ensign Boimler (Jack Quaid) in a scene from “Star Trek: Lower Decks. (Paramount)

George Takei, who first gained fame playing Hikaru Sulu on the original “Star Trek” (1966-1969), has returned to the franchise with an appearance in the animated series “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”

“Lower Decks,” which premiered in 2020, is a comedy set aboard a California-class starship, the USS Cerritos. It was created by Mikc McMahan, former showrunner of “Rick and Morty.”

In Season 3, Episode 8, which aired in October, Ensign Boimler (voiced by Jack Quaid) may or may not be hallucinating when he encounters Capt. Sulu in a horse stable. The scene is reminiscent of the 1994 movie “Star Trek: Generations,” in which Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) meets Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) in a timeless place called the Nexus.

Sulu shares some words of wisdom with Boimler, who has been pondering the meaning of life: “I’ve lost many friends; some heroically, some tragically. The randomness of death is merely a reflection of the unexpected joys we find in life.”

The scene is a reminder that Takei is one of only three surviving cast members of the original series, along with Shatner and Walter Koenig (Chekov). Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) passed away in July.

This is not the first time Sulu has been animated. After the original series was canceled, a Saturday morning cartoon version featuring most of the cast aired on NBC in 1973-74, with Takei voicing Sulu in 22 episodes.

Takei also played Sulu in six feature films from 1979 to 1991, a 1996 episode of “Voyager,” a 2007 episode of a fan-produced series, “Star Trek Phase II,” and various video games.

Takei is the first original series cast member to appear on “Lower Decks.” Characters from other shows in the franchise that have shown up in animated form include William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) and Quark (Armin Shimerman) from “Deep Space Nine,” and Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) from “Voyager.”

“Lower Decks” is available on Paramount+.

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