As a child in grade school, Harriman read about the legendary missions of the crew of the original Federation Starship Enterprise, a fact which he related to James T. Kirk, Montgomery Scott, and Pavel Chekov during the Enterprise-B's christening ceremony in 2293, at which the three were guests of honor.
During the Enterprise-B's shakedown cruise, the crew received a distress call from the transport vessel Lakul, which was carrying El-Aurian refugees to Earth. Responding, the crew discovered the Lakul and another vessel trapped in a severe gravimetric distortion which was threatening to destroy the ships. As the Enterprise crew could not move into transporter range without becoming trapped in the distortion itself, Harriman suggested a number of courses of action, including generating a subspace field around the ships, and venting plasma from the warp nacelles in an attempt to break them free. These efforts met with failure, however, and it was not until Kirk suggested moving the ship into transporter range that they were able to rescue the surviving passengers. Harriman was initially skeptical of this plan, observing that the gravimetric distortions had the potential to destroy the ship, a claim to which Kirk simply responded, "risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair."
Although the effort was successful, and the El-Aurians were beamed aboard, the Enterprise did indeed become caught in a gravimetric field. Attempting to break free, Scott suggested that a resonance burst from the main deflector might disrupt the field's hold on the ship long enough to break away. As performing this procedure required a modification to the ship's deflector relays, Harriman granted command to Kirk as he prepared to leave the bridge and perform the modifications. Kirk, however, maintained that Harriman's place was on the bridge of his ship, and left to perform the modifications himself. It was during his efforts to modify the relays that an immense energy surge struck the ship, causing a hull breach on deck fifteen, where Kirk was working. Having broken free of the field due to Kirk's actions, Harriman, Scott, and Chekov traveled to deck fifteen, where they discovered that the room in which Kirk was working had been completely destroyed, apparently resulting in Kirk's death. (Star Trek Generations)
|Commanding officers of the starships Enterprise|
|Enterprise NX-01:||Archer • T'Pol • Tucker • Lorian|
|USS Enterprise:||April • Pike • Kirk • Decker • Spock|
|USS Enterprise-D:||Picard • Riker • Jellico • Halloway|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||Forrest|
|ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701):||Pike • Kirk|
|USS Enterprise (alternate reality):||Pike • Kirk|
Captain Harriman and the Enterprise-B are featured in the 1995 novel The Captain's Daughter, in "Shakedown", a short story in the 2000 anthology Enterprise Logs (both of which were written by Peter David), and in the 2003 novel Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III. He makes an appearance early in the first issue of the Star Trek: Spock: Reflections comic, showing Spock the place, now adorned with a plaque, where Kirk was pulled into the Nexus - Harriman was distraught that he'd lost James T. Kirk on his first command, but Spock, reminding him of the 47 El-Aurians saved by the Enterprise, insists that he had nothing to be ashamed of.
Serpents Among the Ruins indicates that Harriman, working with Starfleet Intelligence, was the main architect of what became the Tomed Incident; the effort was intended to diffuse tensions with the Romulan Star Empire by forcing them to stand down when the Klingons sided with the Federation after the Romulans destroyed a series of Federation border outposts. The outposts were revealed to be completely empty, with false sensor readings indicating lifesigns. After the signing of the Treaty of Algeron, Harriman steps down as captain of the Enterprise-B, and turns it over to his first officer, Demora Sulu.
The short story "Full Circle" in Strange New Worlds VII shows Harriman at the rank of admiral and serving as Starfleet Command's liaison to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers in 2371 - the year Kirk emerged from the Nexus and was killed on Veridian III. He turns the job over to Montgomery Scott, remarking that a real engineer could make something of the job - setting the stage for the Star Trek: SCE series. The Star Trek: Typhon Pact novel Raise the Dawn mentions that Harriman is still alive in the 2380s.
In early drafts of Star Trek Generations and various merchandise released before the movie, the commanding officer of the Enterprise-B was called "Harry Johnson". In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual, the computer refers to him as "James Harriman."
The personnel file created by Michael Okuda for the video game Star Trek: Starship Creator, includes several connections to Ruck's role as Cameron Fry in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, including a wife named Sloane and a son named Ferris who both live in Chicago, as well as an interest in 20th century Italian sports automobiles.