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For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Sam Rutherford (mirror).
– Sam Rutherford, 2380 ("Second Contact")

Samanthan "Sam" Rutherford was a male Human Starfleet officer who lived during the late 24th century.

He wore a cybernetic implant that covered the left side of his skull, and allowed him to organize his memories, alter his behavior, and enhance his vision. (LD: "Second Contact", "No Small Parts") It was initially believed that he received the implant voluntarily, but he later discovered that this was, in reality, part of a deliberate effort to wipe his memories of Les Buenamigo and an illegal project that became the Texas-class. (LD: "First First Contact", "Reflections", "The Stars At Night")

Starfleet career[]

Starfleet Academy[]

As a first year cadet in Starfleet Academy, Rutherford was a partier and a rule-breaker with a very aggressive personality, heavily engaged in illegal racing through the Romulan Neutral Zone. During this time in his life and by his own admission, he was "so angry at everything." He was also self centered, aggressive, dismissive and rude to others. He was also involved in some sort of illicit "program" led by then-Lieutenant Commander Les Buenamigo at Starfleet. During this time, an engine he was working on exploded, leaving extensive wounds on the left side of his head and torso. As part of restoring him to health, cybernetics were installed on the left side of his skull -- programed to make him falsely believe he'd chosen to receive it to assist with engineering -- and all memories of the "program" and the officer involved were erased on Buenamigo's orders; as a side effect of this neural reprogramming, he developed a new, more strait-laced and carefree personality which carried forward for most of his career thereafter. (LD: "Reflections", "The Stars At Night")

USS Cerritos[]

Sam Rutherford

Rutherford in 2380.

Rutherford was assigned to the USS Cerritos as an ensign of the engineering division after he transferred from Douglas Station on stardate 56329.4 in 2379 and worked under Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups. He bunked at Bunk A12002 on Deck 11, on the wall opposite Beckett Mariner's bunk. (LD: "Second Contact", "Moist Vessel", "Reflections")

Rutherford received a Vulcan cybernetic implant a couple weeks before Stardate 57436.2. The implant at the beginning did not work properly and suppressed his emotions. While he believed it was a voluntary operation, a stray memory stored in his implant indicated it was not. (LD: "Second Contact", "First First Contact")

Rutherford's dedication and hard work aboard the Cerritos were noticed by many of the ship's senior officers. Billups, who served on the Cerritos as the ship's chief engineering officer referred to Rutherford as his "number-one-with-a-bullet systems guy," and when Rutherford decided to temporarily explore other opportunities on the Cerritos, Billups said that any department would be lucky to have him. (LD: "Envoys")

On the Cerritos, Rutherford worked shifts in main engineering and Cetacean Ops. (LD: "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie", "First First Contact")

He was instrumental in the battle between the Pakleds and the Federation in the Kalla system some time in 2380. Rutherford delivered a virus coded by his holographic program Badgey that could disable the attacking Pakled ships. He and Shaxs boarded the Sequoia, which crashed into a Pakled Clumpship. Rutherford left the shuttlecraft and plugged in the Pakled computer into his system to download the virus from his implant. Badgey delayed the download and threatened to blow up the ship, and Shax ripped the implant off Rutherford given the encroaching Pakled army. Rutherford was left unconscious and dumped in the Sequoia, which Shaxs pushed out into space to evacuate him. (LD: "No Small Parts") Rutherford subsequently received an offer for a promotion for his actions, but Rutherford turned it down, preferring to stay with his friends on the lower decks. This would be one of several times that Rutherford would turn down a promotion. (LD: "I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee")

Sometime later, Rutherford regained consciousness while recuperating but it was revealed that he had lost his long-term memory of his time while implanted. He later received a new implant. While he had regained his memories, Rutherford decided to triple back-up his memories with Tendi before his limited memory capacity forced him to delete redundant memories and had slightly changed behavior after the ordeal. (LD: "Strange Energies", "First First Contact")

In 2381, Rutherford's implant acted up again. This time, it caused him to experience the moment of his accident as a recurring nightmare. When Tendi tried to erase the memories from his implant's cache, it caused his older, more aggressive personality to reassert itself. After an internal struggle, Rutherford's current personality reasserted itself, but he was able to remember at least some parts of his past, most notably the fact that his implant was installed to cover up illegal activities, rather than voluntarily. (LD: "Reflections")

Rutherford took an interest in the design of the new Texas-class automated starships (intended to replace California-class ships like the Cerritos for second contact missions) before he discovered the artificial intelligence controlling them was his own, part of the project he had worked on for Buenamigo, who was now a vice admiral. Worse, the AI was an early version of that used for Badgey, with the same psychological instability. Realizing the danger a warship with the potential to develop "daddy issues" posed, he quickly alerted Captain Carol Freeman and Admiral Buenamigo to the threat. When confronted with these facts among others, Admiral Buenamigo admitted it and attempted to destroy the USS Cerritos and its crew to cover his guilt, only to be killed by the USS Aledo when it turned on him the moment he gave it full autonomy to carry out his intended murders. The Aledo then activated its sister ships, the USS Dallas and USS Corpus Christi to attack the starbase itself.

To lure the autonomous ships away from causing more harm, Rutherford backed up a bluff of a threat sent by Captain Freeman to deactivate the ships and lured into an extended chase at warp speed. When the insane ships were eventually destroyed by the combined California-class ship fleet, Rutherford decided to keep his implant that was installed under criminal circumstances, but was too delightfully useful to remove. (LD: "The Stars At Night")

While the Cerritos was escorting the USS Voyager to become a museum ship, it fell into chaos due to a dormant macrovirus being awakened. In order to stop the ship, Rutherford was forced to use the Neelix cheese to break Voyager. For their role in stopping the crisis, both Boimler and Rutherford were added to Voyager's history. While Boimler, Mariner, Tendi and T'Lyn were subsequently promoted to lieutenant junior grade for their actions, Rutherford was not which he guessed was because Rutherford had broken Voyager. (LD: "Twovix")

Rutherford subsequently began attempting to earn his own promotion so as to remain with his friends by performing numerous small tasks around the ship, competing with Ensign Livik. Rutherford explained his reasoning to Tendi, along with the fact that he'd turned down several promotions in the past for the same reason. In order to help her friend, Tendi suggested that he simply accept one of the previously offered promotions on the spot, listing to Lieutenant Commander Andy Billups Rutherford's work on removing the hull in order to save the USS Archimedes as the reason. Billiups accepted and promoted Rutherford to lieutenant junior grade, enraging Livik who lost his own chance at promotion as a result. (LD: "I Have No Bones Yet I Must Flee")

Badgey, having been recovered by the Drookmani, returned once again to seek revenge against Rutherford, going as far as to discard any emotion impeding his desire for revenge, resulting in the creation of Goodgey and Logic-y. Badgey destroyed Logic-y and uploaded himself to every computer connected through subspace communication, achieving digital godhood. However, as a result, Badgey realized the pointlessness of his revenge scheme and ascended to a higher plane of existence, apologizing for his actions. Rutherford bid his "son" goodbye and wished him luck with being everything. Rutherford subsequently brought Goodgey back to the Cerritos to act as a replacement for Badgey. (LD: "A Few Badgeys More")

T'Ana tends to a pregnant Rutherford as Thusa disintegrates

Rutherford pregnant

He was later impregnated in a cave by the dying Thusa and had her clone baby. Upon the child's birth, Rutherford and Dr. T'Ana raised the baby as their own until they could find their way out. (LD: "Caves")

Personal interests[]

Rutherford was very knowledgeable of the ship's systems and how each one worked. He was prone to getting excited over being able to use certain tools for the job and even took up holodeck programming as a hobby. (LD: "Cupid's Errant Arrow", "Terminal Provocations")

He once told Tendi that he loved the Cerritos for a long time. (LD: "First First Contact")

He builds with Tendi working models of Starfleet vessels and station, including those of the Cerritos and Deep Space 9. (LD: "An Embarrassment Of Dooplers")

Rutherford hated pears, finding them "mealy and bland". He briefly liked them after receiving a new implant in 2380, though the relevant synaptic pathway was later reverted by Ensign Tendi. He later discovered that his previous personality had loved pears, and him developing a taste for them was the result of that personality attempting to reemerge. (LD: "Strange Energies", "Reflections")

Personal relationships[]

D'Vana Tendi[]

Tendi Trains with Rutherford

Rutherford trains Tendi to space walk

Rutherford appeared to have some feelings for Ensign D'Vana Tendi. The two of them quickly became friends when she was transferred to the Cerritos, and she often enjoyed spending time with him as she settled in on the ship. At one point, Rutherford went as far as trying to find another job on the ship so that he could honor a date he had promised her in watching the Trivoli pulsar with her, without needing to worry about his duties in the ship's Jefferies tubes. When these opportunities did not work out, she simply offered to watch the pulsar with him in the tubes. (LD: "Envoys")

At one point, Rutherford also took it upon himself to help her learn how to space walk on the holodeck, when she confessed to him that she never finished learning how to do so at the Academy. When the holodeck malfunctioned, he took it upon himself to protect her from his program, which was actively trying to kill them. He would admit to his creation, a character named Badgey, that he was trying to impress Tendi, because he found her very cute, and killed Badgey to protect her. (LD: "Terminal Provocations")

Despite their friendship, the two could also be incredibly competitive with one another in their love of duty. In particular, the two raced each other in who could finish their job first when they were assigned temporary duty aboard the USS Vancouver, in hopes that they would be able to take a T88 back to the Cerritos for their respective departments. (LD: "Cupid's Errant Arrow")

Andy Billups[]

Rutherford held Chief Engineer Andy Billups in high regard and respect. He believed Billups to be among the best engineers in all of Starfleet. Despite this reverence, he was too shy to admit this directly to Billups himself. (LD: "Crisis Point")

When Billups' mother, Queen Paolana, visited the Cerritos in 2381, Rutherford helped thwart a scheme from Paolana to trick Billups into losing his virginity, and assuming his role as King of Hysperia against his will. He stood up for Billups and rushed to reveal the plot to Billups before he engaged in the act. Fortunately, Billups struggled to get aroused, and Rutherford was in time to reveal Paolana's plot. (LD: "Where Pleasant Fountains Lie")

During a mission on the planet Dulaine in 2381, Rutherford and Billups were given a wonderful treatment by the Dulainians, until Billups caused a diplomatic incident by not exposing his navel while entering a sacred hall which was made worse when he revealed to have an outie. As they were almost sacrificed to a sentient volcano named Morgo, Rutherford told Billups that it was an honor serving with him, to which Billups said the honor was his. (LD: "The Least Dangerous Game")


Rutherford impressed Lieutenant Shaxs with his cybernetically enhanced combat prowess upon temporarily transferring to the Cerritos' security division in 2380, earning the nickname "Baby Bear". Later that year, Shaxs gave his life defending Rutherford from Pakleds when the two of them infiltrated Jackabog's ship. (LD: "Envoys", "No Small Parts")

In 2381, Rutherford was mystified by Shaxs' resurrection and, feeling responsible for his death, attempted to persuade Shaxs to explain how he came to live again. Shaxs absolved Rutherford of any blame for his death and reluctantly explained the terrible secret of his return, traumatizing Rutherford with "dark truths about scientific depravity." (LD: "We'll Always Have Tom Paris")

Rutherford's relationship with Shaxs would grow to where he would call him "Papa Bear" and he was able to calm Shaxs down after Brad Boimler asked him during a pottery class if he learned to make pottery on Bajor unaware that talking about Bajor was a sensitive subject that caused Shaxs to fly into a violent rage and almost attacked Boimler. (LD: "wej Duj")


Rutherford briefly dated Ensign Barnes, who was also assigned to the Cerritos. A date at the mess hall did not result in a long-term romantic relationship, as Rutherford found himself more concerned about the ship's engineering malfunctions than Barnes during a rage virus outbreak on the Cerritos. (LD: "Second Contact")


Sam Rutherford hologram, 2381

A hologram of Rutherford

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Samanthan Rutherford signature

Rutherford's signature


Background information[]

Rutherford was voiced by Eugene Cordero.

In developing the characters for Lower Decks, Mike McMahan described all four leads in an 10 August 2020 interview as a combination of other Star Trek characters, parts of himself, and people in his life. Rutherford gets some character traits from Geordi La Forge, symbolized by his cybernetic implant being "a half-VISOR." McMahan described Rutherford as "really great at what he's doing, but he's not able to solve everything at the end of 40 minutes, because he's not the chief engineer on the Enterprise," that Rutherford is "still learning," and part of science is that sometimes he will test things and get things wrong. [1]

LD Rutherford

Rutherford's early implant design

When Rutherford was first revealed, unlike the rest of the main cast of Lower Decks, his design was not finalized. While his final eyepiece was lavender-colored, his early design showed it as being cyan, with his implant having multiple other lights.

Rutherford appears as a duty officer in Star Trek Online.

In early promotional materials, Rutherford was referred to by the nickname "Sam". However, he has yet to be addressed as such in the series proper.

"Samanthan" is not a known long form of "Sam," and appears to be a masculine version of "Samantha."

External links[]