The Star Trek TNG Romance That Caused A Writer To Quit

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

The early days of Star Trek: The Next Generation were tumultuous for the writing staff, many of whom left the show for different reasons. Robert Lewin, for example, left because of changes to his script for “The Arsenal of Freedom.” Like many of us, this Star Trek writer wanted to see a romance between Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher, and he exited the show in part because of a romantic scene being cut from the episode.

Everyone Wanted Crusher And Picard To Be A Couple

To unpack the full context of the Star Trek romance that wasn’t meant to be, we must first unpack what “The Arsenal of Freedom” is about. In short, the crew ends up on a planet full of deadly weapons that learn from every encounter. They must find answers to the planet’s mysteries before anything happens to either the Away Team or the Enterprise, left in command of Geordi LaForge.

Given the description of this unconventional Star Trek episode, you may be wondering where the romance is. In truth, there isn’t any, and that’s the problem. Episode writer Robert Lewin originally had a scene addressing the romantic tension between Picard and Crusher, but that scene got drastically changed and (in our eyes) ruined.

Editorial Oversight Killed The Romance

Originally, the fates of Picard and Crusher were going to be reversed: he was going to be the one who got critically injured instead of her. The early vision of the scene had Crusher pour her heart out to an injured Picard, but in the scene as filmed, they are interrupted before she can talk about her feelings. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry personally quashed the romance in this ep, and Lewin took that decision personally.

Another Writer Blaming Gene Roddenberry’s Bizarre Rules

When Robert Lewin left Star Trek: The Next Generation, he claimed it was due to Roddenberry’s disinterest in character-building. Certainly, a relationship between Picard and Crusher would have developed both characters nicely while enriching those early seasons. Regardless of whether you ship these characters or not, it’s hard to dispute that the altered scene in the final episode is a disappointing mess and that Lewin’s planned scene would have been better.

Picard Season 3 Made It Official

Had this early Star Trek romance scene gotten greenlit, it would have also made the plot of Star Trek: Picard make more sense. That was a show in which we found out Picard had a secret child courtesy of an attempt to make a relationship work with Dr. Crusher. Obviously, it was disappointing to have the entirety of their relationship take place offscreen, but if The Next Generation had more open romance between these characters, the whole secret child revelation in Picard would have had more impact.

Star Trek Got Better Without Roddenberry

This is one of the more extreme tales of Gene Roddenberry pushing away The Next Generation writers because of his tendency to kill storylines and change scripts. Writers like Robert Lewin had to work with very restrictive rules, such as characters never having any interpersonal conflict, and he found the further restrictions against character development ultimately too stifling to stick around.

You could say he got the last laugh though: as Gene Roddenberry relaxed these rules and ultimately ceded more control to others, The Next Generation gained the conflict, romance, and character development that transformed it into one of the best shows ever made.

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