Star Trek’s Most Hated Character Hidden Inside Its Biggest Film

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Most of the characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation quickly established themselves as beloved sci-fi icons, but there was one exception. Wil Wheaton played boy genius Wesley Crusher, and the fact that this precocious teen character alternated between saving the day and blurting out awkward dialogue led many annoyed fans to adopt Captain Picard’s line as a mantra: “Shut up, Wesley.” During the long stretch between his departure from TNG and his appearance on The Ready Room, Lower Decks, and Picard, many thought Wil Wheaton himself had shut up, but it turns out that he secretly voiced some Romulans in Star Trek (2009).

Why Does Everyone Hate Wesley Crusher?

evil wesley crusher

If you’ve been hiding under one of Kirk’s styrofoam rocks, you might be wondering why the fandom hated Wil Wheaton’s character on The Next Generation so much. The short answer is that Wesley Crusher was franchise creator Gene Roddenberry’s self-insert character, which is why he’s always the smartest one in the room and able to solve problems that even a sentient android can’t solve. Crusher’s presence was also a transparent attempt to appeal to younger audiences, which had the side effect of making his scenes feel like they came from an afterschool special (like when Tasha Yar teaches him drugs are bad).

The Boy Genius Disappeared For Quite Some Time

wil wheaton

Obviously, these issues aren’t Wil Wheaton’s fault: he played the character as it was written, and fans who still despise Wesley Crusher would be better off directing their anger at the late, great Gene Roddenberry. Unfortunately, Wheaton’s character retroactively became the mascot for everything that was wrong with the early days of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After he departed the show, he only popped up in one film (a non-speaking part in Nemesis), and we didn’t properly see Wesley Crusher again until a major cameo in Picard and a minor cameo in Lower Decks.

Aside from that, Wil Wheaton’s biggest return to Star Trek has been outside the various series and films. When Discovery first premiered, Paramount+ unveiled a Star Trek aftershow originally called After Trek that was hosted by Naomi Kyle for the first season. The next year, the aftershow was renamed The Ready Room and hosted by Wil Wheaton, allowing the former Star Trek wunderkind to weigh in on all the most recent changes to the franchise. 

Voicework In Star Trek 2009


In short, the collective fandom is very well aware of Wil Wheaton’s unceremonious departure from the Star Trek franchise as well as his glorious return to it. What most don’t know, though, is that he technically returned to Star Trek a full 11 years before he began hosting The Ready Room. That’s because he voiced several characters in the reboot film Star Trek (2009), though his work in that film goes uncredited.

Why You Probably Missed It

Aside from being uncredited, one reason why Wil Wheaton’s voicework in Star Trek (2009) went unnoticed for so long is that it was (mostly) digitally altered. On top of that, he was mostly voicing random lackeys of the Romulan villain Nero, and his voice was digitally altered so that almost nobody but Wheaton could tell who was really doing the talking. There was one exception, however: at one point, a henchman tells Nero “Sir, if we ignite the red matter” and trails off, and this unaltered line is clearly being delivered by the man who brought Wesley Crusher to life.

Wil Wheaton Wanted To Keep It Secret

star trek wil wheaton

If Wil Wheaton and Star Trek (2009) director J.J. Abrams had their way, nobody would have ever learned about this voicework cameo. Once Viacom found out, though, Wheaton belatedly got credit for his work, and the actor used his own blog to tell the world about the voice work. As for Wheaton, you could argue that he got the last laugh: the man who has spent decades hearing “shut up, Wesley” from fans ended up voicing several different characters in Star Trek’s biggest film without his haters even knowing it.

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