“Shut up, Wesley!” is one of the most common beloved phrases used in Star Trek meme-making, but what is truly so wrong about Wesley Crusher? Most people who don’t like him either say it’s because he’s “annoyingly smart” – something that can be a likable trait about a character when utilized judiciously – or that they just can’t explain why he gets on their nerves. Most people who do like him were 12 in 1990 and either thought he was oh so dreamy or the one character on the ship they could relate kind of to.
On the surface, Wesley makes perfect sense: the son of a single mother and doctor, he’s a young prodigy poised to run the ship someday. That’s not how he turns out, however, and somewhere along the line he ends up being one of the most loathed characters in the history of Star Trek. His attitude comes off smug when he only means to be confident.
In another movie, on another character, Wheaton pulls it off as charming, but for some reason in Star Trek, among the adult cast and futuristic setting, he sends eyes rolling when he’s onscreen.
From his smarmy attitude to his ridiculously superior intellect, here are 15 Things About Wesley Crusher That Make No Sense.
15. He’s A Perfect Wunderkind
Wesley Crusher is the Hermione Granger of the Starship Enterprise, and let’s face it, as awesome as the smart kid is, he can also be annoying. Being able to answer every question correctly has its merits, but it gets on people’s nerves, particularly when you’re a kid.
Perfection is boring in a character, rendering him dreadful in the eyes of his audience – no matter his merits.
Give the kid a few mistakes to make; no matter how much of a genius a person is, he still needs to get into some scraps or engage in other strange eccentricities once in a while.
14. His Intellectual Prowess Is Both Overrated And Underrated
Yes, he’s a kid genius, but Wesley’s abilities are often wasted. There are countless moments when he could have easily saved the crew from some misadventure or another if he had only been consulted. The fact that his brain is off the charts should mean that he’s consulted as often as, say, Data.
Falling asleep while doing his homework? That’s pretty typical for an over-worked teenager but it doesn’t make sense for Wesley Crusher.
While his mental capabilities are underrated and underused, at the same time they are overrated; made into this big deal that proves the lad has big things in his future. Wesley himself may not even be as annoying to viewers as are his story arcs that frame him as an intellectual giant one day and a Starship peon the next.
13. None Of His Problem-Solving Is Explained
It’s like your algebra teacher always said: show your work or you won’t get full credit.
Most of the problems associated with Wesley Crusher’s mind revolve around us never knowing how he reached his conclusions. “Here’s the solution!” young Crusher beams, saving the day once again while a bunch of seasoned scientists scratch their heads. Even when someone as obscure as Doctor Who’s The Doctor or The Dresden Files‘ Harry Dresden comes up with some hair-brained scheme to settle all problems in existence, they at least offer clues to explain why they do what they do.
12. His Clothes Are The Worst
We get that LeVar Burton is the host of Reading Rainbow, but his TNG counterpart, Geordi LaForge, seems to have inspired young Wesley’s wardrobe with the show. Between rainbow stripes on gray, bulky brown Padawan-like sweaters and orange librarian turtlenecks, Wesley would be a walking clash of fandoms if he were to wear his clothing in 2018.
In the 1990s, they were cringe-worthy at best, causing him to stick out like a sore thumb among the rest of the crew.
Even the grimace he’s wearing over these pink pants demonstrates how much he’d rather enjoy a pair of Hammer pants. He’s much better suited to his Starfleet uniforms. Does anyone else feel like Anakin Skywalker could have been a nod to angsty Wesley in this picture?
11. He’s Used As A Mary Sue/Plot Device
Need something to happen quickly, change the route of a plot, or generally dump something weird on a character? The Next Generation team had just the teen to take care of such necessities.
In this light, Wesley is the Bella Swan of the TNG series, only instead of being strangely attractive, he is strangely smart. Wesley wraps up problems in neat little packages to help move the show forward without substance, making him seem generic. This doesn’t make sense in terms of story development, since a boy genius could be of much more use.
A rebooted Wesley in today’s world full of anti-hero love would be quite interesting.
Some fans even blamed the late 1980s writers’ strike for the poor characterization and development of Crusher, who was used as a plot device afterward. These fans are the same ones who refer to Crusher as the show’s Mary Sue character.
10. He Displays No Growth Or Learning
When you’re in a multi-season series for years, your character needs to either grow or get out. Wesley Crusher’s lack of growth makes no sense, given that as the youngest member of the team he should constantly be growing and changing.
Even in episodes where his character should be learning and growing, he strangely backtracks, such as in “Pen Pals”, when he was left in command of the science team. Instead of rising to the challenge, he fretted like a hen in a foxhole, clucking after every officer to ask an opinion on what should have been an easy task.
9. He’s Designed For Younger Viewers… But Totally Unrelateable To Them
It’s one thing to craft a new character in an attempt to connect with a younger crowd, but you’re not going to wrangle in new youthful viewers if they can’t even relate to your character. Wesley Crusher’s personality renders him out of touch with most youth his own age, as is demonstrated repeatedly in the series.
His awkwardness isn’t any usual youthful naivete, but rather due to his wunderkind status.
It would have made much more sense to develop a more typical teen aboard the Enterprise for both audience enjoyment as well as making connections with younger viewers.
Perhaps Wheaton’s costar in Stand by Me, the brilliant River Phoenix, could’ve been brought in a time or two as a bad boy bestie for the character. Imagine the fan squeeing had those two been on screen together…
8. He Only Hangs With Grown-Ups
While it’s pretty common for an only child to prefer adult company to the presence of other children, at some point they do become interested in their peers– particularly during adolescence. It seems as though the opposite is true for Wesley Crusher, who is always with the grown-ups. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to show him with teens his own age more often?
Wesley shouldn’t be all work and no play, no matter how intellectual he is.
He deserves to skip school, make out with his peers, and find a dead body beneath a blueberry patch like other normal teenagers! Okay, maybe he did some of that on the show, and Ashley Judd is a very cool girlfriend, but none of it was nearly as often nor as dramatic as it should have been.
7. He’s Given More Importance Than He Deserves
There are other children and teens about the Enterprise. Why is Wesley Crusher so important? Sure, he’s smart, but there is an android aboard the ship who is literally a walking computer, among dozens of other geniuses who have both knowledge and experience. Even if he’s been added to add youthful interest to the show, it makes zero sense to put so much on Wesley’s shoulders– nor is it truly fair to his character.
Teens may want power over their own lives, but they’re rarely ready for such authority.
Writers may have given Wesley a more fighting chance of being well-liked by both his peers as well as his viewers had they backed off a bit and allowed him to truly develop into a character to take seriously, rather than practically giving him adult authority right away.
6. His Story Lines Are Contradictory
He’s responsibly saving the entire crew of the Enterprise in one moment, but then he’s falling asleep and letting nanites roam freely all over the ship the next. He’s leaving to join Starfleet, then bailing at the last minute. He falls in love with Salia, then breaks her heart after she turns into sasquatch and he decides that their worlds are just too different for them to ever make it as a couple.
He’s this important, intellectual wunderkind who has to be nurtured into greatness–but he’s so annoying and whiny that people love to tell him to shut up. He’s also on the same career path as anyone else in Starfleet (is there no college prep course for the advanced students?), yet he achieves Ensign status by pretty much just being himself.
5. His Powers Are Totally Ignored And Forgotten
Speaking of disregarding previously discovered information about Wesley Crusher, let’s highlight one of the biggest, glaring tidbits that everyone tends to ignore about him: the fact that he has incredible abilities with time, propulsion, and energy. He even assisted the Traveler with opening a doorway.
Wesley may be the next step in human evolution with the same abilities as The Traveler, and in one episode he demonstrates as much.
Then this is all pretty much forgotten and never used as a plot device again.
It’s true that this all came to a head when Wheaton left the show, so it may have been a moot point, but to have something that incredible revealed as a departure point makes absolutely no sense. This could’ve been behind his character development all along for a much more interesting result.
4. He Achieved Acting Ensign Through Nepotism
We all know that Wesley should’ve gone through years of training before achieving his Ensign status so early, and we all know why he achieved it. It wasn’t due to his super smart status or problem solving skills but his family ties. Not only was Wesley’s father the best friend of Captain Picard’s before he passed away, but Jean-Luc is also very sweet on Beverly Crusher, whom he even married in an alternate universe.
Yes, it was in name only, but would Picard have really given the status to anyone else purely out of service?
How many other people “acted in the true spirit and traditions of Starfleet” without being awarded the honor? Wesley still retained all rights and privileges, including wearing that coveted uniform, and those should only be earned by a qualified candidate.
3. He Rejected Starfleet
All of that buildup of the boy wonder into the ultimate genius commander and… he rejects Starfleet? Wesley turned down the entire career that had always been in his future to leave with someone that he barely knows. While Wesley had a good reason to become a Starfleet dropout (see #2), it really makes no sense for him to suddenly do so.
He abandoned not only his dreams, but all of the training he completed leading up to this moment.
Wesley’s life has done nothing but indicate that he will be a competent, capable Starfleet officer, and likely a captain or even commander, someday, yet the writers threw in this wrench. Of course, we all know it was a quick and easy way to get rid of his character, since Wheaton was leaving the role.
2. He Left With The Traveler
“Wesley, don’t talk to strangers.” Okay mom, I’ll just run away with one because my dead dad told me to do it.
Flattery will get you anywhere, as The Traveler must’ve known when he called Wesley “Mozart.”
In all seriousness, it’s really the most insane thing Wesley has done because he does it at the end of his career! This could have been the beginning of a new, interesting Wesley instead of the end of his character. Rejecting Starfleet is completely out of character for Wesley, but leaving to study with The Traveler on the advice of his dead father could have been an interesting divergent from his story had it been explored.
1. He Solves Things The Grown-Ups Can’t
Perhaps the most annoying thing about Wesley Crusher that makes absolutely no sense is the fact that he solves problems that adults in the crew can only scratch their heads over. In the episode “The Battle”, how could anyone (most notably La Forge) have missed the Ferengi signal that was supposedly so distinctive? Wesley caught it with flying colors.
There are multiple examples where some grown-up (any grown-up, really; these aren’t always rocket science moments) could easily to solve the issue at hand but everyone stands around in befuddlement while young Crusher steps in to save everyone.
He even saw through Lore when no one else could, which is utterly ridiculous.
He can’t clean up his own messes (the nanites were a prime example of this) but simultaneously outshines the adults is what makes him more despised than the word “millennial.”
What else doesn’t make sense about Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Wesley Crusher? Let us know in the comments!
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