- Wesley Crusher, the boy genius character from Star Trek: The Next Generation, faced criticism for being a poorly written ‘wunderkind’ who saved the day too often.
- Fans disliked Crusher because they believed he was Gene Roddenberry’s self-insert character and felt that his presence pandered to children in the audience.
- Despite the criticisms, some fans believe that Wesley Crusher’s character and writing improved in later seasons, and the hate towards the character should not be directed at actor Wil Wheaton.
Even the biggest Star Trek fans have their least favorite characters. For many, that character is boy genius Wesley Crusher, whose unpopularity was apparent after Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1.
Since the debut of Star Trek in 1966, it has become immortalized as one of the most popular series in science fiction history, yielding over twenty other shows and films within the franchise to date. Star Trek: TNG was particularly beloved by audiences and critics and featured many fan-favorite characters, like Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan. However, the show faced criticism over Crusher, played by actor Wil Wheaton.
Fans still have issues with Crusher, who has appeared in several other Star Trek titles since his 1987 debut in TNG. A recent Reddit post by @DannyBeech1988 probed fans about the reason for their longstanding hatred. The post spawned a long thread of answers, and the consensus was that Crusher’s character was a poorly written ‘wunderkind’ or ‘Mary Sue/Gary Stu’ who was amazing at everything and seemingly operated without flaws. It was pointed out that Crusher was repeatedly used as a lazy deus ex machina device, saving the day too many times.
Another popular reason for fans disliking the wunderkind was the idea that Crusher was Gene Roddenberry’s self-insert character. It was discovered early on that Roddenberry’s middle name is Wesley, which only created more backlash around Crusher’s heroic role on the show. Many commenters also agreed the character felt pandering to children in the audience. “I was insulted because, if the stories, characters and graphics are good, geeks like me will watch,” one Redditor said, “having a kid on the bridge was way over the top.” Wesley Crusher’s baffling presence on the Starship Enterprise continues to spark debate.
Although many agreed the character was a major low point in The Next Generation season 1, some fans think the overall writing and the use of Crusher improved in season 2 and beyond. One fan claimed it was only after Roddenberry lost influence over the series that Crusher became “fair game,” facing the same odds and hurdles as the other characters without immunity.
Criticisms of the character and writing aside, fans in the thread made one thing clear: Crusher’s irritating nature was not due to Wheaton’s performance. “I feel bad for Wil Wheaton about the amount of hate he got and still does I imagine,” one Redditor added. Wheaton has spoken publicly about the backlash he faced playing Wesley Crusher. In a blog post on his website, the actor wrote, “There was a time in my late teens and early twenties when I resented Star Trek. It felt so unfair that people who had never met me were so cruel and hateful toward me as a person because they didn’t like a character I played on a TV show.”
Whether fans love Crusher or hate him, they can’t deny the staying power of Wheaton’s controversial character in a show that still has people quoting it over three decades after it first aired.
Star Trek: The Next Generation is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.
Star Trek is a space exploration franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The series has spanned shows like The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager. More recently, developer Scopely came out with Star Trek Fleet Command, a mobile title where you can be captain of your own ship.
MORE: Star Trek: 6 Characters That Just Disappeared