Gates McFadden Wanted To Make Dr. Crusher More Physical In Star Trek: The Next Generation

McFadden was not shy, saying: “I love kicking ass, first of all,” and that she “had a fantastic time working on this show.” 

McFadden got her start in dance, and enjoyed an extensive career on the stage prior to first appearing on “Star Trek” in 1987. McFadden felt that, with her stage training and dance experience, she would be able to contribute to the show’s action scenes more. As the chief medical officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise, however, she was mostly relegated to sickbay, rarely getting into scrapes or being present during firefights. The episode “Higher Ground” (January 29, 1990) had Dr. Crusher butting heads with a group of alien terrorists, but that was, sadly, only one episode. McFadden wanted Dr. Crusher to be more active, saying: 

“As a choreographer, I’ve done dance, combat, I really did want to not have a makeup kit on me while on the away team. I wanted to actually have some things I could use to be helpful.”

It seems that Dr. Crusher was pitched to McFadden — by “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, of all people — as being more active in the series. McFadden was infamously fired at the end of the first season of “Next Generation,” largely due to bitter conflicts with one of the show’s producers, Maurice Hurley. After Hurley left, McFadden was re-hired for the third season and continued as Dr. Crusher through to the show’s conclusion (as well as in four feature films). 

When she returned, however, she felt that the show’s writers transformed her from being an “action doctor” into a warmer, calmer, more caring figure. Not a bad character development, by any means, but certainly different from what Roddenberry had initially said. 

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