When Dr. Beverly Crusher returns in Star Trek: Picard season 3, Gates McFadden’s character could fall closer to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision than she did in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Despite a brief absence during season 2, Beverly Crusher was a vital component of the main Enterprise crew throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation. Serving as the ship’s chief medical officer, Dr. Crusher became known for her deep knowledge, empathetic heart, and wise advice, in addition to raising Wesley as a single parent and sharing a close friendship with Jean-Luc Picard. Dr. Crusher is not, however, remembered for her all-action, ass-kicking heroism.
What happened to Beverly Crusher after her final appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis is largely ambiguous, with deleted scenes suggesting she was promoted to head of Starfleet Medical, but little other information provided. Over 20 years have passed since the failure of the Nemesis movie, and if Star Trek: Picard seasons 1 & 2 give the impression Crusher and Picard are nowhere near as close as they used to be. That huge gap in Beverly’s Star Trek timeline allows for some major character differences in Star Trek: Picard season 3, which reunites the main The Next Generation gang.
Speaking at Star Trek: Picard‘s panel at the Paramount+ TCA presentation, Gates McFadden described how her character felt “matronly” throughout most of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Looking ahead to her return, McFadden promised of Star Trek: Picard season 3, “There’s a much bigger range of Crusher,” while also confirming that the physician would finally get physical, claiming, “I always wanted to do more action.” Most fascinating of all, however, is how Gates McFadden believes the depiction of Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: Picard falls closer to what Gene Roddenberry “told [her] the character is,” with Patrick Stewart adding, “I wish… more of those elements of Beverly could have been touched on [in TNG].”
Gates McFadden’s comments reveal a shift in the development of Dr. Beverly Crusher’s personality and role during Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her words imply that Gene Roddenberry originally promised Dr. Crusher would have a broader character range that incorporated action and grit in addition to supreme medical knowledge and maternal kindness, but The Next Generation season 3 narrowed her down to the role of Enterprise matron. Star Trek: Picard is seemingly drilling back down into what Roddenberry originally wanted Crusher to represent.
If Dr. Beverly Crusher was originally intended as an ass-kicker with a wide tonal range, Star Trek: The Next Generation hid that very well. According to The Next Generation season 1 story editor David Gerrold (via The Fifty Year Mission: The Next 25 Years), Crusher was initially conceived as a schoolteacher, while her first casting call description infamously mentioned having “the natural walk of a striptease queen.” Don’t expect to see either schoolteacher Crusher or “striptease queen” Crusher in Star Trek: Picard season 3.
Having said that, early plans for Star Trek: The Next Generation did show glimmers of a more developed personality for Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher. In a 2016 interview (via CNET), McFadden spoke of how Roddenberry courted her for the role, wanting to bring more substance to a female character than Star Trek: The Original Series did with Uhura. The actress also mentions “authority” as a key tenet of Crusher’s early character, directly challenging Captain Picard in a way few others dared.
An early biography for Beverly Crusher in The Next Generation‘s writer & director’s guide developed these more fiery notes further, describing her resentment toward Picard over Jack Crusher’s death in far stronger terms than actually materialized onscreen. Gene Roddenberry may not have envisioned Beverly Crusher kicking down doors and setting phasers to kill, but there are certainly elements from her development process that did not translate in Star Trek: The Next Generation, especially after Gates McFadden returned in season 3. Star Trek: Picard looks to be reviving Crusher’s missing qualities, and adding a few new ones to boot.
More: Star Trek: Why Dr. Crusher Left TNG In Season 2 (& Why She Came Back)