As the self-appointed leader of the Star Trek The Next Generation cast, Patrick Stewart knows just as much as anyone about the inner workings of the legendary sci-fi series. Now, in his recently published memoir Making It So, the veteran actor has given himself the freedom to spill some secrets and address long-discussed rumors.
Chief among these is the assumed-to-be-apocryphal tale about Star Trek‘s number one psychologist, counselor Deanna Troi. The half-Betazoid Starfleet officer served aboard the USS Enterprise with responsibility for the psychological well-being of the crew and acted as Captain Picard’s close confidant and adviser (while also having a complex relationship with her ‘Imzadi’ Will Riker).
And, Stewart reveals that franchise creator Gene Roddenberry almost gave her “three or four breasts”. Yes, confirmed in Stewart’s words, the long-held rumor is true. Unfortunately. Played in the Star Trek The Next Generation cast by Marina Sirtis, Troi still remains one of the most underrated Star Trek characters and this would have made her reputation so much worse.
In an extract from the book, published by Screen Rant, Stewart explains, “Gene, as it is well known, was a fan of cheesecake – he had Marina wear a minidress and go-go boots in the pilot, as if the 1960s had never ended, and he contemplated giving Deanna Troi three or even four breasts.” In the same breath, he also criticized the infamous season one episode ‘The Naked Now’ claiming, “it smacked of desperation, as if we had been on the air for years and the writers had already emptied the cupboard of good ideas.”
So what links Roddenberry’s desire for Troi to have extra breasts with ‘The Naked Now’? It’s simple, actually: ’60s misogyny, exported to the ’80s. A lot of early stories from TNG (especially season 1) were incredibly reminiscent of the type of episodes seen in the first Star Trek series with Kirk and Spock, but TOS’ tone and style just weren’t suited to the sequel show. Aside from something like ‘Code of Honor’ or ‘Haven’, ‘The Naked Now’ stands as the worst example of this.
The plot sees the crew of the ship lose their inhibitions due to a virus that simulates drunkness. Predictably, the women immediately fawn over the men. Crusher tells Picard that she misses the touch of a man, desperate for his attention. Tasha Yar (RIP) lusts for Data. Troi falls at the feet of Riker. In a show so dedicated to progressivism and the principle of equality, it stinks.
Beyond ‘The Naked Now’ there are issues of sexism and over-sexualization in the portrayal of Troi, specifically. Now, Troi is much more than walking sex appeal: to reduce her to that would be to remove her agency as a character, and devalue her complexity and character arcs.
However, she is treated differently from the rest of the crew, and at a fundamental level, her intended purpose is revealed by Roddenberry’s early plans to give her additional breasts: it would have been her defining feature, and that would have destroyed the character. This is exemplified by the fact that she doesn’t wear a Starfleet uniform, with the producers instead opting to dress her in (admittedly comfy looking) proto-Seven of Nine body suits.
It wasn’t until the classic season 6 two-parter ‘Chain of Command’ (the second-best two-parter in the show, behind ‘The Best of Both Worlds’) that Troi was given a permanent Starfleet uniform, thanks to the over-hated Star Trek captain Edward Jellico. Only from then onwards was she seen and respected, both by her crew and the audience, as an equal to her colleagues.
That isn’t to say that Deanna Troi didn’t have great episodes and moments prior to season 6. She did! In the likes of ‘The Nth Degree’, ‘The Offspring’, ‘The Loss’, or ‘Half a Life’ she’s brilliant. But it did take some time for the show to figure out what Deanna Troi could and should be, and we’re eternally grateful that Roddenberry ditched his original plan for the franchise’s best TV series.
For more on Star Trek The Next Generation, learn about Michael Dorn’s two favorite episodes and the one episode Jonathan Frakes wants banned. Or, see our guide to the Star Trek timeline and the best way to watch the Star Trek movies in order before seeing what else is new on Paramount Plus.