Wesley Crusher. In the 34 years since his introduction, the name and the character are still controversial. There are throngs of fans who still dislike the character, calling him the “Jar Jar Binks of Star Trek,” while others wonder if he will return in “Star Trek: Picard.”
From the very start, especially while fans were skeptical about the new “Star Trek” series, they voiced their concern about the character. Disliking Wesley became the mark of a real TNG fan. Quite a few opinions are available on this subject, and they primarily can be categorized into the following reasons why fans disliked the character:
He Was Promoted Before Others
From the start, Wesley made his way onto the bridge when he had minimal experience. Even before he was enrolled in Starfleet Academy, Wesley was sitting on the bridge next to Data or Geordi La Forge. Indeed there were other older and better-trained crew members who could have filled this role. But because Wesley was the chief medical officer’s son, and the captain had a sort of crush on her, young Crusher got special treatment.
The TNG episode “Pen Pals” is an excellent example of this — Wesley is given command of a group of older and well-trained Starfleet officers.
Modern Trek fans grumbled in much the same way when Ensign Tilly was promoted to second in command during the third season of “Star Trek: Discovery.”
Wesley Always ‘Saved The Day’
As identified by many fans, Wesley’s habit of figuring things and saving the ship and crew got tiresome. Some called it “Wesley-saves-the-day overdose,” but most call it the “Mary Sue.” This refers to a character who has few flaws and can fix any problem — no matter the odds. This is a charge which is often leveled at Michael Burnham in “Discovery” today.
Because the character was supposed to be a young Gene Roddenberry, there were quite a few episodes in the early seasons which focused on Wesley. StarTrek.com assembled a list of the six very best Wesley episodes.
With all of this supposed dislike, Wesley was a strong presence on the show until Season Five, when actor Wil Wheaton left for new opportunities. After that, he appeared in a few episodes and was in a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” scene at the start of “Star Trek: Nemesis.”
As one might imagine, the dislike of his character by fans was not fun for Wheaton.
“Imagine being a teenager, trying to handle all the things a teenager has to deal with,” Wheaton wrote on the FAQ section of his blog. “Now multiply that times being on a HUGE TV show, and all these people hate you. It was tough.”
Even though the fans disliked Wesley, there was one thing that happened to Wesley which thrilled almost everyone — when someone told him to “shut up.” The “Shut Up, Wesley” moment has grown in popularity since the first time fans heard it, that now one can buy it on mugs, stickers, remixes on YouTube, and many different t-shirts.
How Many Times Did They Say “Shut Up Wesley?”
With the meme-ifying of “The Next Generation,” fans who are unfamiliar with the show might assume that Picard facepalmed every episode or Riker swung one leg over a chair every time he sat down. This is not the case. But like those other examples, some may assume that “Shut Up, Wesley” was said 2-3 times an episode during the first four seasons of TNG. That is false.
Some fans categorize when Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) said: “Shut up, kid,” to Wesley when she was flirting with Riker during “The Dauphin” as one of these “Shut Up, Wesley” moments. This scene was recycled for the notoriously lousy clip show “Shades of Gray.”
Wheaton does not care for the phrase
In 2016, Wheaton said that he was “over” the catchphrase, and if they did say it to them, he would “insta-block” them on social media. Wheaton has reconnected with Trek past and can be seen regularly hosting “The Ready Room” show, which is available on Paramount+.