Gates McFadden wasn’t asked back for season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation
When the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, fans were surprised and confused to discover not only was Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) gone but she’d been replaced by Dr. Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur). Yet, Dr. Crusher’s son, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) remained aboard the Enterprise because Wheaton hadn’t been fired.
Over the years McFadden has spoken about the issues that existed between her and Maurice Hurley, the showrunner for the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Hurley didn’t like that McFadden was so outspoken, and she didn’t like how her character was treated on the series, specifically when it came to her son.
Gates McFadden spoke up about the treatment of her character.
In a podcast interview with Michael Rosenbaum of Inside of You, McFadden said she “definitely pissed him off,” referring to Hurley. One of McFadden’s main problems was when it came to her character’s interaction with Wheaton’s.
"“I definitely pissed him off [Maurice Hurley] because I kept saying why is it I’ve raised this genius kid, Wil Wheaton’s character, Wesley Crusher, I mean the guy has saved the ship so many times, right? And audiences didn’t like that in the beginning, but clearly I had something to do with it. It wasn’t just this dead husband. And yet every time there’s anything even possibily serious, it’s only the male characters that talk to him, and I know he doesn’t have a dad, but all you ever have Beverly Crusher doing is “Oh, Wesley! Why didn’t you do that?” I was like wait a minute, she’s a scientist. I’m not buying this. This is like Leave it to Beaver kind of mother thing. And so I had a problem with it.”"
Looking back on just the first season of The Next Generation, there wasn’t a lot of substantial interaction between mother and son. So it’s understandable why McFadden would be questioning the relationship Hurley and his team had created between the two of them. Unfortunately, questioning led to McFadden being replaced in the second season, but her departure didn’t last long.
While Dr. Pulaski was a good doctor, she came across as brass and almost unfeeling aboard the ship. Her character just didn’t gel with the other characters, and it showed. After season two of The Next Generation, Maurice Hurley left, Patrick Stewart himself reached out to McFadden and asked her if she’d consider returning. Thousands of letters from fans and the blessings of her colleagues helped make her decision easier.