The Star Trek TNG Cameo Character Who Finally Gets A Chance To Shine

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

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Star Trek has had plenty of great celebrity cameos over the years, but none were quite as memorable as Ashley Judd on The Next Generation. She played Ensign Robin Lefler and is remembered best for the episode “The Game” in which she and Wesley Crusher helped to rescue the rest of the crew after a space-age video game put the whammy on them. Lefler only appeared in two episodes and left fans wanting more, but here’s some good news: she got a chance to really shine as a main character in Peter David’s long-running New Frontier series of books.

The Closest Thing To A Girlfriend For Wesley

star trek ashley judd

In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ashley Judd’s character is an engineer who has worked closely with Geordi La Forge. She worked even closer with Wesley Crusher, however, and not just because they did such a great job saving the crew in “The Game.” In that same episode, audiences got to see clear romantic chemistry between herself and a visiting Wesley Crusher, and in retrospect, she’s the closest thing this controversial character ever got to a proper girlfriend.

Only Two Appearances

star trek ashley judd

It’s clear that the Star Trek writers really liked Ashley Judd’s Robin Lefler character: after making a brief appearance in the fan-favorite episode “Darmok,” the show brought her back to effectively serve as a main character in “The Game.” They also made an attempt to bring her back for “The First Duty,” the episode where Wesley gets in trouble for being part of a group of reckless cadets who accidentally gets one of their own killed, but it wasn’t meant to be. Fans obviously loved the character, which helped fuel strong but erroneous rumors she would appear in Star Trek: Nemesis as Wesley Crusher’s wife.

New Frontier

Long story not very short, Star Trek: The Next Generation only gave us two appearances of Ashley Judd’s character, and fans were left wanting more of Ensign Robin Lefler. Fortunately, prolific Star Trek book writer Peter David met fans’ needs on this front in his book series New Frontier. The conceit of that series is that it would follow a completely different crew than in any of the shows, and the crew complement was a mixture of new characters like Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and minor characters from TNG (including Commander Shelby and Dr. Selar as well as Robin Lefler).

A Faithful Adaptation

star trek ashley judd

Star Trek fans tucking into these novels will quickly find that Robin Lefler is much as they remember Ashley Judd’s onscreen character: she is still peppy and optimistic, and she still lives by “Lefler’s Laws,” a seemingly endless list of bromides she has alternately created and borrowed over the years. However, the novels also give Lefler some serious character growth, and we see her fall in love with a charismatic newcomer and even reconnect with her mother (someone with a special connection to both The Original Series and Lwaxana Troi). All told, the New Frontier novels are perfect for those who always wanted more of this beloved officer.

Read The Book

star trek ashley judd

Fortunately, you don’t have to take our word for it: buying an online version of the first Star Trek: New Frontier book is as easy as clicking a button at Simon and Schuster. In addition to being a great series for Robin Lefler fans, these books are a fantastic read for those who don’t love NuTrek and want a return to the halcyon days of The Next Generation. We can’t really say it any better than Ashley Judd did in “The Game:” when it comes to enjoying this franchise on your own terms, “you gotta go with what works.”

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