TNG Showrunner “Hated Gates”: Dr. Crusher’s Exit Explained By Star Trek Producer

Gates McFadden was asked to leave Star Trek: The Next Generation after season 1, and executive producer Rick Berman offers some insight into her exit.

Dr. Crusher in Star Trek TNG

Summary

  • Gates McFadden was let go from Star Trek: The Next Generation after season 1 due to showrunner Maurice Hurley’s dislike of her character and acting.
  • Executive producer Rick Berman initially disagreed with Hurley’s decision but the decision was ultimately supported by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
  • McFadden later returned to the show after Hurley left and became a fully-realized character in Star Trek: Picard season 3, leaving the possibility open for more stories with the Picard/Crusher family.

Gates McFadden was let go from Star Trek: The Next Generation after season 1, and TNG producer Rick Berman explains why. McFadden played Dr. Beverly Crusher, the Chief Medical Officer on the USS Enterprise-D under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Dr. Crusher was introduced in TNG’s premiere episode with the rest of the main cast, including her teenage son, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). McFadden was not asked to return for TNG‘s second season, and Dr. Crusher was written off to become the head of Starfleet Medical.

Although Gates McFadden was well-liked among the fans and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s cast, season 2’s showrunner, Maurice Hurley, was not a fan of McFadden or her character. Hurley had been recruited by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to help develop TNG, and he served as the show’s first head writer and showrunner. Hurley left TNG after the show’s second season, and executive producer Rick Berman then asked Gates McFadden to return. In the Star Trek oral history, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, Berman talks about the reasons behind McFadden’s exit. Read his full quote below:

Patrick [Stewart] had absolutely nothing to do with [Gates McFadden leaving TNG]. Maurice [Hurley] hated Gates. He disliked the whole character of Dr. Crusher and he wanted to get rid of Gates and replace her. He didn’t like her acting and he didn’t like her. He went to me at the end of season one, and I said I thought it was a bad idea. Then he went to Gene and he managed to convince Gene. It was all part of the fact that he was the last man standing at the end of the first season and he was going to be moving into the second-biggest chair over in the writing area next to Gene. This was a request he was making, and Gene decided he would honor it. So, Gates was let go and we went through a whole casting procedure and ended up with Dr. Pulaski, who was played by Diana Muldaur.

Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher in Star Trek The Next Generation
Star Trek: Why Dr. Crusher Left TNG In Season 2 (& Why She Came Back)

Dr. Beverly Crusher left the Enterprise at the end of Star: Trek The Next Generation season 1 when Gates McFadden was fired, but she later returned.

Picard Season 3 Showrunner Terry Matalas Knew He Wanted Dr. Crusher Back

Will Beverly Crusher return in a future Star Trek project?

Terry Matalas served as showrunner for Star Trek: Picard season 3 and he reassembled the original crew of the USS Enterprise-D for one last adventure to save the galaxy. Matalas, who created the great Syfy show 12 Monkeys, had been a fan of Star Trek since his childhood and he wanted to give the TNG crew a proper send-off. In a February 2023 interview with Syfy, Matalas spoke specifically about Dr. Crusher’s entrance in the first episode of Picard season 3, saying:

It literally was one of the first images I had in my head where the first thing you see in the season was Beverly Crusher popping into frame as alarms are going off, grabbing a phaser and having to defend her ship. It just seemed like the most unexpected way to meet her. And she just looks damn cool doing it. Gates is very excited to be able to do some of that.

Dr. Beverly Crusher became a fully-realized character in Star Trek: Picard season 3, and Gates McFadden got to work with Terry Matalas to develop her character. Dr. Crusher has always been a great character, and Picard gave her more dimension than ever before. Picard season 3 ended with Beverly, Jean-Luc, and their son, Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) together for the first time, leaving the door open for more stories with the Picard/Crusher family. The cast and crew of Picard season 3, as well as the fans, have been campaigning for the Star Trek: Legacy spin-off, but the show has yet to be confirmed. Whether or not Legacy ever gets the green light, we hope Dr. Beverly Crusher gets the chance to return to Star Trek in some capacity.

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