Gates McFadden didn’t always have the right scripts
When season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, fans were dismayed to learn that Dr. Beverly Crusher (played by Gates McFadden) had been replaced by Dr. Katherine Pulaski (played by Diana Muldaur). The character was harsher than Crusher had ever been and wasn’t as warm and caring. But, in an interview with IGN, McFadden says it was clear to her that the producers wanted Muldaur because they wanted to “sort of go back to Bones [The Original Series’ Dr. Leonard McCoy].”
When McFadden returned in season three of the series, the scripts she received were geared more toward Muldaur’s character, which made it a struggle. She said she wasn’t happy with Dr. Crusher’s overall arc because there were “vast tundras” left unexplored, and the fact that she wasn’t there for the second season made it problematic for her character.
A few scripts stood out for Gates McFadden
There were occasional episodes that focused more on Dr. Crusher like “Remember Me.” And McFadden says by the end of the series, she was “getting some beautiful Crusher scripts.” She even thinks the series finale was better than some of their movies as it was very moving and every person had an arc.
Dr. Crusher was an underused character aboard the Enterprise, and while some of that is understandable considering the size of the crew, there were plenty of missed opportunities for the doctor, times when she could have been utilized beyond the limits of her profession. The episode “Attached” stands out as one, where the relationship between her and Captain Picard is explored far too late.
It was well-established that Crusher and Picard had a connection and a continuing attraction, but the writers chose to wait until seventh season to address it. Had that episode been used earlier, it could have set the tone for so much more drama and character interaction than what was used. And McFadden and Stewart worked so well together onscreen that it was a shame they weren’t given more time.
While there are no plans for McFadden to appear on Star Trek: PIcard at the moment, she doesn’t rule out a return. Hopefully, if the producers do bring her character to the series, they will plan for some deeper moments between the two as well as some major character growth for Dr. Crusher.