For all of its strengths, Star Trek: The Next Generation often mistreated its fan-favorite character Deanna Troi.
The Betazed empath often had to be written out of stories where her abilities would break the plot, and in other episodes, she was clearly intended just to be eye candy (as the Greatest Generation podcast puts it, the writers treated her like a “potted plant”).
We were hoping Star Trek: Picard would do her justice, but that show’s awful portrayal managed to do Deanna Troi dirty one more time.
Star Trek: TNG Misused Deanna Troi
Don’t believe that Star Trek: The Next Generation criminally misused Deanna Troi? Let’s recap.
Whenever her ability to sense emotions would end the episode too early, the writers would explain she simply couldn’t read certain aliens’ minds.
It made sense with the godlike being Q, but it was embarrassing when she later couldn’t use her powers (which is what set her apart from other characters) against scrubs like the Ferengi.
Blatant Eye Candy
That would have been insulting enough on its own, but Star Trek also introduced Deanna Troi as blatant eye candy early on with the galaxy’s shortest skirt and continually found excuses to put her in revealing outfits.
Hell, her wardrobe of skimpy costumes even became a plot point when Captain Jellico took command and had to order Troi to put on a proper uniform.
It gets more depressing: when Star Trek gave us Deanna Troi stories that focused on more than her cleavage, they were almost always gross metaphors for rape.
Deanna Troi On Picard
When Star Trek: Picard was announced, we were obviously excited for the return of the title character. We were also hopeful, though, that we’d get to see what happened with beloved characters like Deanna Troi.
However, from the very beginning of the spinoff, Picard continued doing Troi’s character a disservice.
In the first season of Star Trek: Picard episode “Nepenthe,” we meet back up with Deanna Troi and Will Riker. Both of them are raising a daughter and grieving a son, but Riker gets most of the good dialogue and fun character moments alongside his old comrade, Jean-Luc Picard.
Troi is mostly there to look sad and give us depressing dialogue about how she isn’t as brave (we wish we were making this up!) as she once was.
In the third season of Star Trek: Picard, the episode “Seventeen Seconds” shows Riker kibitzing about new fatherhood with Riker over drinks.
We get some fun role reversal here with Riker schooling Picard on a subject the older man knows nothing about, but their fun is interrupted when Troi calls and demands Riker get his ass back home to help with the baby.
It’s meant to be a cute scene, but we were dismayed to see Deanna Troi reduced to some kind of sitcom stereotype: a shrew cutting into her man’s fun…an empathic ball and chain dragging the star-hopping Riker back down to Earth.
Star Trek Picard Season 3
The awful Troi writing continues throughout Star Trek: Picard season three: we find out the source of her marital problems is that Riker was so distraught about the death of their son that he ran back to Starfleet and away from his wife out of grief.
This gives some drama to Riker’s backstory and provides a narrative reason for why Star Trek’s strongest couple is going through a rough patch. But the functional effect of this story is that, as in The Next Generation, Deanna Troi is mostly sidelined while the boys have all the fun.
And before you yell at us about the Star Trek: Picard series finale, we’re willing to admit how cool it was to see Troi take the helm, redeeming her “crashes the ship” reputation by using her empathic abilities to locate Riker and Worf.
Finally, Troi gets to save the day, and we’ll be the first ones to acknowledge it was a crowd-pleasing moment courtesy of everyone’s favorite Betazoid.
However, like Lwaxana Troi reminding you she’s the daughter of the Fifth House, we’re going to keep reminding fans that giving Troi one kickass moment out of decades of storytelling shows just how disposable Star Trek writers have always considered her character.