Star Trek TNG’s Saddest Scene Features Real Tears From Multiple Actors

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Early on in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the most shocking moment was definitely the sudden death of Tasha Yar. She died pretty meaninglessly like countless security officers before her, but nobody was expecting a main character to get killed before the first season was even over. This led to a kind of Tasha Yar funeral scene for the character in which the grief was very genuine, as Deanna Troi actor Marina Sirtis couldn’t stop crying during filming, which made Riker actor Jonathan Frakes and others tear up as well.

Skin Of Evil

Before we can discuss the sad details of Tasha Yar’s funeral, we need to briefly review the circumstances of her death. In “Skin of Evil,” she is one of several Away Team members who encounter Armus, a living pile of goo that delights in hurting others. He proves himself to be the titular skin of evil when he kills Tasha Yar, instantly murdering her and ensuring that the character doesn’t even get the dignity of a cool death.

This isn’t the last we see of Tasha Yar, however, because the episode ends with a kind of funeral scene in which the bridge crew witness a pre-recorded hologram. The whole thing is rather emotional for audiences: she mentions each member of the bridge crew by name, telling them how much they meant to her.

If you’re not already crying, the episode ends with Data confessing to Picard that he keeps ”thinking how empty it will feel without her presence,” worrying that he might have missed the point of the funeral; Picard reassures him that he got the point entirely.

Not A Dry Eye In The Room

While Tasha Yar’s funeral might have made audiences feel emotional, our reaction paled compared to the reaction of Marina Sirtis. She called it “one of the most moving things we’ve ever shot” and said that her own sadness started having an effect on Jonathan Frakes, somebody she was standing right next to. “Unfortunately, I started sobbing which got Jonathan very teary-eyed and set the tone,” she said.

Things got bad enough that the tears threatened the filming of the scene. According to Sirtis, “Every time Denise [Crosby] looked at me, she just walled up because I was so sad that this was happening…No matter how many times I heard Denise do [the lines], no matter how many takes, it still made me cry.”

The Crew Fell Apart

Later, Jonathan Frakes confirmed her account, saying “That’s an episode where we were all crying as our characters and ourselves.” If you go back and rewatch the scene, Deanna Troi clearly has tears running down her cheeks, and you can see Jonathan Frakes trying to swallow down his rising emotions during Tasha Yar’s funeral. In one particularly touching moment, Troi clutches Riker’s hand that he has placed over his shoulder, and it’s clear that Sirtis herself is drawing emotional support from her onscreen Imzadi.

Patrick Stewart To The Rescue

Nobody understood how much the Tasha Yar funeral scene was hurting actor morale more than Patrick Stewart. A captain onscreen and off, he decided that the best thing he could do to lift everyone’s spirits was to begin singing “The Hills Are Alive” from The Sound of Music. This was in reference to the grassy knoll that served as the tranquil setting for everyone’s farewell to Denise Crosby.

Still A Weird Episode

In retrospect, these details about Tasha Yar’s funeral don’t exactly make “Skin of Evil” a great episode…it remains very hoky and weird, and most fans agree with Crosby that her character should have gone out in a cooler or more dramatic way. However, we do have a new appreciation for the raw emotion on display during the funeral. Marina Sirtis may play an empath on the show, but neither she nor the audience need any special Betazoid abilities to sense the sadness radiating off the entire cast during this scene.