Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Most Divisive Character Returns… But as a Villain

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Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) has long been one of the most controversial and divisive characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The character was first introduced in season 1 episode “Encounter at Farpoint,” and is the son of Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), the chief medical officer for the Enterprise. Thanks to his mother’s job and his late father’s working relationship with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), Wesley feels destined to lead a life as a Starfleet Officer for a majority of the series until he decides to leave that life behind and join The Traveler (Eric Menyuk).

Longtime Star Trek fans undoubtedly know that much of the controversy surrounding young Wesley stems from how the character is written on the show. Because Wesley spends so much of his time in The Next Generation with the adults on the Enterprise rather than with kids his own age, some Trekkers find his constant involvement in missions despite his lack of experience tedious and don’t see him as much more than an annoying child in most scenarios, believing that he is given too much responsibility on the Enterprise for someone of his age. Although originally written into the show as a way to appeal to younger audiences watching Star Trek for the first time, Wesley ultimately comes off as an arrogant boy genius.

That not to say the character is universally reviled by the fandom. To others, Wesley is still a beloved character whom they relate to because of his curiosity and desire to learn more about the vast universe he lives in. As far as they’re concerned, Wheaton did the best he could as a young actor with the material he was given.

While a Next Generation regular through season 3, Wesley only made a handful of appearances in seasons 4 through 7 while attending Starfleet Academy. Even with later cameos, Wesley has never quite received the redemption some fans feel he deserves. Will his time ever come?

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No matter how you feel about the character, the online multiplayer video game Star Trek: Online has just announced it has something interesting in store for Wesley fans and haters alike. The MMOs upcoming story update, titled “Ascension,” features the return of Wesley Crusher but not in the way you’ve seen him before. He’s back in the Star Trek universe as a tyrannical Terran Emperor from the Mirror Universe, helbent on becoming a God and spreading his rule across his universe and ours. According to developers Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment, “Emperor Crusher is one of the largest threats the galaxy has ever faced.” To complicate matters for Starfleet, Emperor Crusher has merged with The Other, a sentient ship and the Mirror Universe version of V’ger from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to become an unstoppable force.

In the trailer for this Star Trek: Online expansion, we hear Wheaton himself deliver an ominous voiceover hinting at his character’s plan for galactic domination, which is in stark contrast to how fans usually see the character. Fans who hoped to see a more adult Wesley, and not an annoying child, will certainly get it here.

While the hatred toward his character hasn’t yet forced Wheaton to stop attending conventions or interacting with fans, he also hasn’t made many appearances in the Star Trek universe since his departure from The Next Generation, aside from a deleted wedding scene in the film Star Trek: Nemesis and a brief cameo in the season 2 finale of Star Trek: Picard.

Wesley haters may not be so pleased with the character’s return, but at least they’ll finally have a chance to fight a version of the character they loathe so much while feeling justified in doing so (the galaxy is at stake after all).

Star Trek Online: Ascension is out now on PC as well as Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

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