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Star Trek icon explains being kicked off TNG, mocks “sexist” writing

Star Trek legend Gates McFadden was a core member of The Next Generation cast. However, she was fired from the sci fi series at one point, and now she says why.

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Star Trek legend Gates McFadden, who starred as Dr. Beverly Crusher across TNG, four Star Trek movies, and the final season of Star Trek Picard, has explained why she was forced to leave TNG in its second season and criticizes “sexist” writing in early episodes.

Despite being a core member of the Star Trek The Next Generation cast, Gates McFadden was replaced in season 2 of TNG as the ship’s chief medical officer by Diana Muldaur, who played Dr. Pulaski. Reports at the time explained that showrunner Maurice Hurley requested that McFadden be let go because he didn’t like working with her on the Star Trek series.

Now, speaking on the Inside of You podcast, McFadden has given her own explanation as to what, exactly, happened, and why. “I think it is true,” stated McFadden, of the suggestion about Hurley’s decision.

“Many of the things I had done [before TNG] had been collaborations, complete collaborations. We would develop a piece, and I loved that… It was a different time; they wanted women to look pretty and be a certain way but they really didn’t want you to speak up as if you were their equal, I think.”

She continued, “I think I definitely pissed him off, Maurice Hurley, because I kept saying, ‘Why is it that I’ve raised this genius kid, Wil Wheaton’s character Wesley Crusher, and yet any time there’s anything possibly serious it’s only the male characters who talk to him? All you ever have Beverly Crusher doing is [saying], ‘Oh, Wesley!” I thought, wait a minute, she’s a scientist. I’m not buying it… and so I had a pr0blem with it.”

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Going on to point to one episode in particular that she took issue with, McFadden said, “I thought ‘Angel One’ was a really silly sexist script. There’s this planet of women and they’re doing really well, and they all happen to be really good looking, and then all of a sudden Will Riker, Jonathan Frakes, goes down and they lose their mind because it’s a man! Things like that. And I know it pissed [Maurice Hurley] off [that I raised it], and Gene [Roddenberry] didn’t love it either.”

It’s a detailed, fascinating account from McFadden, who was eventually rehired for season 3, after sitting season 2 out, when Hurley’s influence on the show lessened. McFadden’s Dr. Crusher was brought back in off the back of huge demand from fans, who had enjoyed her Star Trek character in season 1 and were upset that she’d been replaced.

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The entire situation left a significant mark on the show, because it led to the creation of Pulaski who was a very different Star Trek character to Crusher. She had one of the best arcs in the series, going from doubting Data to becoming his staunch advocate, and brought an element of contrast to it all with her more rigid personality.

While it’s a shame she had to go (she could have been kept aboard as a dedicated science officer) the return of McFadden ending up being a great move, and Crusher went on to play a major role in later seasons with classic episodes like Remember Me, and of course, Picard season 3.

For more on Star Trek, check out our guide to all TNG Borg episodes, as well as our Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 2 review. Or read our explainers on Lanthanites and Captain Batel, before taking a look at our interview with Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn. You can also find out how we celebrated Captain Picard Day, and see our picks for the best TV series of all time.