We can all agree that Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation was a polarizing character, to say the least. Many fans disliked Crusher because of his profoundly annoying and arrogant appearance, prominence within the show, and the fact that he got to pilot the Enterprise despite his limited experience as a Starfleet officer. So, the series’ creative team wrote the character off and gave Wil Wheaton the boot. But that’s not what really happened.
Though the fandom didn’t really appreciate the character, Wil Wheaton’s precocious Wesley Crusher wasn’t actually written off by The Next Generation’s creative team. Instead, the character’s scripted removal from the series was Wheaton’s own decision since he became frustrated with the character’s limitations. However, according to Cinema Blend, Wesley Crusher might still come back to the franchise as a cameo appearance in the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks series.
Paramount+’s Star Trek: Lower Decks surprised fans when Will Riker and Deanna Troi, two main characters from The Next Generation, made a cameo appearance in the animated streaming series, potentially paving the way for other The Next Generation cameos in the future. Lower Decks’ creator Mike McMahan stated that this theoretically includes Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher, one of McMahan’s favorite characters. In one of his interviews, McMahan shared how he’d love to have Wil Wheaton of Lower Decks if the show-writers manage to overcome the conflict between the existing lore and Crusher’s return.
Wesley Crusher’s appearance in Lower Decks could create a narrative problem for the entire Star Trek franchise. Namely, after Wil Wheaton’s decision to leave the show, the creative team behind The Next Generation had his character resign from Starfleet and join The Traveler on a quest to explore his inner powers in The Next Generation Season 7. If that ended up being the case, Wesley Crusher’s innate powers would allow him to manipulate time, space, and warp fields by sheer willpower alone. It remains unclear whether that actually happened, but Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher briefly returned to the franchise, appearing in the wedding scene in Star Trek: Nemesis. And this is where the entire plot gets its twist.
According to the canonical timeline, Lower Decks is set in 2380, one year after the events of Nemesis, which is directly connected to the question of Wil Wheaton’s appearance. In a deleted scene from Star Trek: Nemesis, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) reveals to Jean-Luc Picard that he returned to Starfleet and took a position aboard the USS Titan under Captain Will Riker. However, the closing episode of Lower Decks Season 1 ends with Bradward Boimler aboard the USS Titan, at approximately the same time Wesley Crusher could’ve been there.
Since Crusher and Boimler share the same rank and given Boimler’s establishment as a character within Lower Decks, it’s improbable we’ll see Wil Wheaton return to the franchise, at least as a cameo in Lower Decks. Still, everything’s possible with little creative writing. Wesley Crusher might’ve mastered time and space and might just bend the canon storyline for one appearance in Star Trek: Lower Decks. Wouldn’t that be cool?