Gene Roddenberry was a man of strange ideas—he was insistent, for example, that there would be no zippers in the twenty-fourth century. If you were ever wondering why everyone on Star Trek: The Next Generation dressed like that, well, now you know. Famously, though, he also believed that there would be no interpersonal contact then, that it was something we as a species would grow out of. This is definitely his worst idea. However, it arguably gave us the character of Worf because he believed that it would mean we would eventually be allied with all our enemies. That, at least, meant Michael Dorn had a career people noticed.
Oh, don’t get me wrong—his first movie appearance was in Rocky, in the year of my birth. It was an uncredited appearance as Apollo Creed’s bodyguard. He also did sixty episodes of CHiPs, in case anyone still cares about that. (He played Jebediah Turner, who does not, based on a quick skimming of assorted plot summaries, appear to have been all that important most of the time.) So it’s not as though he would be a complete nobody without Worf, and that’s leaving aside that we don’t know where his character might have gone afterward.
Still, there is Worf. The character appeared on 175 out of 178 TNG episodes; Dorn himself is apparently not exactly sad that one of the ones he missed was season one’s “Code of Honor,” the one with the quasi-African society. (An episode bad enough that it actually got its director fired.) Then, when the show wrapped, Worf moved to a certain space station and did 102 episodes of Deep Space Nine. (Yes, I’ve decided we’ll be doing two months of DS9 people, but I’m booked so far in advance that we won’t get there until 2023.) He also did five movies. This means he far and away holds the record for most Star Trek performances as a single character.
This is in no small part because Worf is an easy character to slot into things. He’s big and tough and menacing, and when you want to give him a plot you can talk about either his human or his Klingon heritage. Admittedly you do get into the so-called Worf Effect, where in order to prove how tough your villain is you have them beat up Worf, meaning he gets beat up a lot and it’s hard to see him as tough, but still. Dorn himself thinks that Worf has hidden depths and could stand to be developed better, and he’s not wrong.
Dorn has also, of course, done not-Star Trek stuff even in the post-Worf years. Yes, he ended up on the Old Star Trek People’s Home that was Gargoyles, but it’s hardly the only voicework he’s done. He’s on the underrated Danny Phantom a few times. All sorts of animated superhero stuff, both Marvel and DC. Several of those shows that make you think, “Well, I’m sure he has kids.” (Though he doesn’t seem to, so why did he do two episodes of Clifford the Big Red Dog?) Some live action stuff, of course, including Castle. And, in possibly the best casting in a series full of great casting, he was Rufus 3000 in Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time!