Wesley Crusher wasn’t well-liked on Star Trek: TNG
You don’t have to look very hard to find posts devoted to the topic of Wesley Crusher hate. Star Trek: TNG didn’t have the best first season, and a lot of fans put some of the blame (if not a good portion) solely at the boy’s feet. And if you ask them why they dislike Wesley, they immediately start ticking off the reasons: he was annoying, arrogant, he was a “Mary Sue” character, he sulked a lot, and he was always saving the day. And while some of these are viable reasons and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinions, there are other reasons why he should be given a break.
He had a lonely childhood
Wesley lost his father at a young age which is difficult enough on its own. Add in his mother being the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise and always busy, it didn’t give him a lot of family time. So he sought attention from others on the ship. That’s understandable when you’re feeling alone.
He was a genius in a boy’s body
There’s no denying that Wesley was smart, and while in an adult like Geordi LaForge, that’s acceptable and necessary, for that much intelligence to be in a teenager was…well…irritating. But, in all fairness, the son of Jack and Beverly Crusher couldn’t have been anything other than a genius. But Wesley didn’t always know what to do with his smarts, and sometimes, they caused him trouble. Oftentimes, while Wesley was trying to show his intelligence, he knew the adults around him were annoyed as most adults don’t want a child to be smarter than they are. That had to be a painful bit of knowledge as well as being told to “shut up.”
He didn’t really get to be a boy on the Enterprise
Wesley was a young teenager when he came aboard the Enterprise and instead of playing with friends, figuring out ways to avoid doing his homework, and trying to stay up later than he should, he assumed the role of responsible adult because it was expected of him. Perhaps that’s why Dr. Crusher was always so shocked when he challenged her authority.
He wasn’t an extraordinary hero
But he wanted to be. Though Wesley has been accused of “saving the day” too much, in reality, he didn’t save the Enterprise that often. HeroCollector has a great breakdown on all of Wesley’s saves, which extrapolates that he was an average hero. But Wesley wanted to be more than that.
He spent all of his time around officers who were doing what he had dreamed of doing all his life. He knew he could never measure up to people like Captain Picard or Commander Riker. He never saw one of them get in a situation they couldn’t resolve. But he did. Again, it has to sting when your heroes are extraordinary, and you feel like you’re never going to measure up.
Yes, Wesley tried too hard, but he was also a boy desperately trying to be a man in a world he didn’t fully fit in. Instead of being a teenager, he was on the bridge of a star ship with more responsibilities than most will ever have. He may have wanted those challenges, but it also meant a huge sacrifice—that of his childhood.
He certainly wasn’t perfect, and he made some errors in his time aboard the Enterprise, but he wasn’t the way he was because of a sense of self-importance. Wesley Crusher was just trying to live up to everyone’s expectations…including his own.