Did Wesley Crusһer Even Wаnt To Attend Stаrfleet Aсаdemy?

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher seemed destined to become a Starfleet officer, but it didn’t work out that way.

Star Trek TNG Wesley Crusher Captain Picard Starfleet Academy


  • Wesley Crusher’s destiny to join Starfleet was assumed by Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew without considering other possibilities for his future.
  • Wesley’s failure to initially get into Starfleet Academy made him question his path and fear disappointing others, leading him to realize he never questioned his future before.
  • Wesley’s encounter with his father’s vision and the guidance of the Traveler revealed that he was always destined for something greater than Starfleet.

Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) seemed destined to have an accomplished career in Starfleet, but was this truly his dream? Much to the annoyance of some Star Trek fans, Wesley was introduced in early TNG as a child prodigy who regularly found solutions to problems that stumped the adults around him. Wes devoted himself to studying things like science and engineering, and knew almost as much about starship engines and warp drives as the experienced officers on the USS Enterprise-D.

Wesley’s father, Lt. Commander Jack Crusher (Doug Wert), was an accomplished Starfleet officer before his death, and his mother, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) served as the Chief Medical Officer on the Enterprise-D. Although Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) disliked children, he developed a mentor-like relationship with Wesley. The young Crusher came to see Jean-Luc as a father figure, and he wanted more than anything to make Captain Picard proud. Since both his parents and his mentor were career-driven Starfleet officers, Wes seemed destined for a similar path.

Because of Wesley’s intelligence and clear love of starships, Picard indulged him by making Wes an acting ensign before he ever attended Starfleet Academy.

Captain Picard & Enterprise Crew Just Assumed Wesley Crusher Would Join Starfleet

In Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, episode 19, “Coming of Age,” Wesley takes the Starfleet Academy entrance exam for the first time. While he performs admirably, another candidate receives a higher score, meaning Wes will have to retake the exam. Although clearly disappointed by this development, Wesley seems more upset that he will let down Captain Picard than he is about not going to the Academy. No one ever really sits down and asks Wesley what he wants to do with his life, just assuming that he will join Starfleet. Wes, too, assumes that this will be his journey, not necessarily because it is what he wants most, but because he has never considered any other path.

After Wesley fails to get into the Academy, he dramatically tells Picard: “I failed you and I failed the Enterprise.” Picard encourages him by asking: “When you test next year, and you will test next year, do you think your performance will improve?” Wes answers yes, and Picard tells him that he should measure his own success from within and worry less about what others think. Picard never once suggests that Wesley might be destined for a different path. On the contrary, Picard tells Wes that he “will” take the entrance exam again the following year. Neither Picard nor Wesley stop to consider all of the other possibilities that remain open for Wesley’s future.

Wesley Crusher Was Always Destined For A Different Star Trek Path

Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: Picard season 2.

Wesley later passes the Starfleet entrance exam and leaves the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation to attend the Academy. Wes’ brief Starfleet career gets off to a rocky start, as he is involved in an accident with Nova Squadron that results in the death of a fellow classmate. As a result of this tragedy and subsequent attempts to cover it up, Wes receives a reprimand and has to retake a year of classes. When Wesley visits the Enterprise again in TNG season 7, episode 20, “Journey’s End,” he is moody and unhappy. Wesley later realizes that he never questioned his Starfleet future, and he feared disappointing everyone if he chose a different path.

In “Journey’s End,” Wesley encounters a vision of his father, who tells him: “You set out on a journey that wasn’t your own. Now it’s time to find a path that is truly yours. Don’t follow me any further.”

After Wesley’s revelation in “Journey’s End,” one of the tribesmen on the planet reveals himself to be the Traveler (Eric Menyuk) first introduced in TNG season 1, episode 6, “Where No One Has Gone Before.” The Traveler then offers to guide Wesley on his future journey. Years later, Wesley – now a Travler himself – makes this same offer to Kore Soong (Isa Briones) in Star Trek: Picard season 2. Even though Wesley didn’t see it until later in his Star Trek: The Next Generation journey, he was always destined for greater things than Starfleet.

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