The upcoming third season of Star Trek: Picard will bring back pretty much the entirety of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation for Patrick Stewart’s swan song for the titular character. But “pretty much” is not entirely, and it turns out that one TNG actor will definitely not be returning, and that is Wil Wheaton. While his character of Wesley Crusher does not have the cultural presence of say, milk-skinned android Data (Brent Spiner) or Starfleet Klingon Word (Michael Dorn), he was a core cast member for the first four seasons of the show and appeared throughout the remainder. However, when the Star Trek franchise’s parent company Paramount recently released an update video on which TNG cast members would appear on season three of Picard, Wil Wheaton was notably not there. The actor/podcaster/raconteur recently posted on his website regarding this. In part, here’s what he said:
I have been reading the Internet, as you do, and I see a lot of my fellow nerds are as excited to see the TNG cast back together as I am.
I’ve also seen a LOT of people — like, way more than I ever would have imagined –expressing dismay that Wesley isn’t part of it.
I share some of your sadness, for my own reasons, but I choose to focus instead on how special it’s going to be to see my family back together again, and how wonderful it’s going to be to talk with them about it in the Ready Room.
You can check out the rest of Wil Wheaton’s writings there, which are basically fan fiction of Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) having a conversation with Wesley Crusher in his role as The Traveler (Wil Wheaton). Although it can be debated if it is really fan fiction if it is written by one of the starring actors rather than a fan, it is a sweet and well-written piece of appreciation. And Wheaton has certainly shown himself to be a fan of the Star Trek franchise as a whole. He currency hosts CBS’ Star Trek aftershow Ready Room, where he interviews other stars in the franchises and debates different storylines, so it is not like he has been exiled from the extended Star Trek family. While it will have to remain to be seen how the various The Next Generation actors fit into the storyline of Picard, it appears that no one could figure out how to fit Wil Wheaton and Wesley Crusher in there as well.
While Wesley Crusher was one of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s favorite characters (and many felt was his own fictionalized stand-in), fandom has had a more complex relationship with him. First appearing in “Encounter at Farpoint,” the pilot episode of The Next Generation, Wil Wheaton’s character was portrayed as a teenage prodigy with mysterious, never-quite-explained potential. In particular, many fans disliked the character being shoehorned into plots and continually saving the Enterprise and her crew despite being little more than a child. Eventually, Picard’s exasperated “shut up, Wesley!” from the episode “Datalore” became something of a meme and a distillation of the general attitude towards the character.
However, Wil Wheaton has become a beloved figure in pop culture figures. After appearing in notable works like Stand by Me and The Last Starfighter as a teen, Wheaton moved more to writing and blogging and is a frequent guest at podcasts and fan conferences. While it seems we will not be seeing Wesley Crusher in season three of Picard (reported to be its last), there is always a chance for him to show up in the rumored movie or some future production. So until then, we must simply have a hearty “shut up, Wesley.”