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Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, from Star Trek (1966).
|Affiliation||United Federation of Planets
|Position||USS Enterprise helmsman
USS Enterprise-A helmsman
USS Excelsior commanding officer
Commander In Chief
|Portrayed by||George Takei
John Cho (2009)
Hikaru Sulu is a character in the Star Trek media franchise. Portrayed by George Takei in the original Star Trek series, Sulu also appears in the animated Star Trek series, the first six Star Trek movies, one episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and in numerous books, comics, and video games. John Cho assumed the role of the character in the 2009 film Star Trek.
Development and portrayals 
Takei recalled Gene Roddenberry wanted the character to represent all of Asia, which symbolized the peace of the Trek universe in spite of the numerous wars in the continent. Roddenberry did not want a nationally specific surname, so he looked at a map and saw the Sulu Sea. "He thought, 'Ah, the waters of that sea touch all shores'," the actor recalled, "and that's how my character came to have the name Sulu."
In the book Inside Star Trek The Real Story, the character's name is noted as a pun on the name of vice president of Desilu Studios, Herb Solow.
Novelist Vonda McIntyre first presents 'Hikaru' as the character's first name in the novel The Entropy Effect. McIntyre derived the character's first name from The Tale of Genji. Although McIntyre was unaware at the time of any controversy surrounding her giving Sulu a first name, editor David Hartwell had to clear the name with Gene Roddenberry and Takei in order to supersede Paramount's objections. However, the name did not become canon until its mention in Star Trek VI, and it was included only after Peter David, who authored the film's comic book adaptation, visited the set and persuaded director Nicholas Meyer to insert it.
Robert Justman, co-producer of the original Star Trek series, noted that Takei had previously played bad guys, but through Star Trek had become one of the first Asian actors to portray an Asian character in a positive light. Justman described him as "the antithesis of the so-called expressionless-unemotional-inscrutable Asian".
The fictional character Hikaru Sulu is born on June 24, 2230 in San Francisco, and is of Japanese heritage. He was shown as the USS Enterprise's staff physicist in the pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", but served as third officer and senior helmsman throughout the rest of the series, during which he held the rank of lieutenant.
Throughout the series, Sulu is shown having many interests and hobbies, including gymnastics, botany, fencing, and ancient weaponry. In the episode "The Naked Time", Spock observes that Sulu "is at heart a swashbuckler out of the 18th century".
The character is promoted to lieutenant commander some time before Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and to full commander by the time of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. During the first five Star Trek movies, he serves as helmsman aboard both the USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A. He is promoted to captain and given command of the USS Excelsior three years before the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
2009 film 
John Cho portrays a young Sulu for the 2009 film Star Trek. Abrams was concerned about casting a Korean-American as the character, but Takei explained to the director that Sulu was meant to represent all of Asia on the Enterprise, so Abrams went ahead with Cho. Cho acknowledged being an Asian-American, "there are certain acting roles that you are never going to get, and one of them is playing a cowboy. Playing Sulu is a realization of that dream — going into space." He cited the masculinity of the character as being important to him, and spent two weeks fight training. Cho suffered an injury to his wrist during filming, although a representative assured it was "no big deal". James Kyson Lee was interested in the part, but because Zachary Quinto was cast as Spock, the producers of the TV show Heroes did not want to lose another cast member for three months.
Cho portrays a younger Sulu in the 2009 film, though he is actually older than Takei was when he portrayed the role in the original series; Cho was 36 while Takei was 29.
Cho also portrays Sulu in the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness, briefly holding the rank of Captain on the USS Enterprise when Kirk was absent.
Guest appearances 
Takei reprised the role of Sulu, as part of Star Trek 's 30th anniversary, in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback" aired in 1996. In the episode, Captain Sulu appears in Tuvok's flashbacks of his time serving aboard the USS Excelsior, during events depicted in Star Trek VI. Sulu is also responsible for another future USS Voyager crew member (Chakotay) joining Starfleet.
The non-canon fan production Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time" starred Takei as Captain Sulu on the Excelsior recalling a time on the original Enterprise when a transporter accident caused him to come back thirty years older and with a daughter, Alana. Demora also appears in this episode, as well as Hikaru's granddaughter.
Other media 
The novel Forged in Fire depicts an earlier USS Excelsior mission prior to Sulu's assuming command of the ship.
The fictional reference/history book Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years, by David A Goodman, contains an audio introduction by Admiral Hikaru Sulu, indicating that at some point Sulu is promoted to admiral, although this is non-canonical.
Takei reprised the role of Captain Sulu in the PC game Starfleet Command 2, released in December 2000. The introduction video features Takei, as Captain Sulu on board the U.S.S. Excelsior, describing the outbreak of an interstellar war between several galactic powers as part of his Captain's Log. Later updates to the game also included several bonus voice-scripted missions, that again featured Takei as Sulu.
- Asherman, Alan (1993-05-01). The Star Trek Compendium. ISBN 978-0-671-79612-9 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Okuda, Mike and Denise Okuda, with Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Borys Kit (2007-10-12). "Final frontier for Cho, Pegg". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-10-12.
- Michael Simpson (2008-04-30). "John Cho Will Be a Great Sulu In 'Star Trek XI', Says George Takei". Cinema Spy. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
- George Takei, Mr. Sulu of Star Trek, Comes Out and Speaks Out
- Solow, Herbert; Robert Justman (06 1997). Inside Star Trek The Real Story. Simon & Schuster. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0-671-00974-5 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- McIntyre, Vonda N. (06 1981). The Entropy Effect. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-83692-7 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- McIntyre, Vonda (2010-07-02). "How One of the First Star Trek Novels Was Written". io9 (Gawker Media). Retrieved 2 July 2010.
- Comics Buyer's Guide (1614). March 2006. p. 10.
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- Steve Fritz (2009-01-21). "From 'Trek' to 'Wars', Part 2: George Takei on Star Trek". Newsarama. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- "John Cho: Sulu Is A Badass". TrekMovie. 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2008-02-16.
- Anthony Pascale (2008-03-17). "Cho Injured On Trek Set". TrekMovie. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
- Ileane Rudolph (2007-10-29). "Heroes Preview: Ando's Secret Superpower Desire". TV Guide. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
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- Star Trek: Phase II Downloads
- Martin, Michael A. and Andy Mangels (2003-08-01). The Sundered. Star Trek: The Lost Era. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-6401-X [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Martin, Michael A. and Andy Mangels (2008-01-01). Forged in Fire. Star Trek: Excelsior. Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1416547167 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Stern, Dave (1994-02-01). Transformations. A Captain Sulu Adventure. Simon & Schuster Audioworks. ISBN 0-671-88624-X [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Malloy, J.J. (1994-09-01). Cacophany. A Captain Sulu Adventure. Simon & Schuster Audioworks. ISBN 0-671-52286-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Graf, L.A. (1995-04-01). Envoy. A Captain Sulu Adventure. Simon & Schuster Audioworks. ISBN 0-671-52286-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Goodman, David (2012-11-20). Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years. 47North. ISBN 978-1612184173 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Shatner, William. Star Trek: the Ashes of Eden. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-52036-9 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]