How One ‘Star Trek’ Icon Nearly Got Cut From the ‘Next Generation’ Roster

Marina Sirtis as Troi

CBS Marina Sirtis as Troi

The story of how the team at Paramount cast “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is the stuff of legend. As many fans know, the pressure on John Pike, who was in charge of rebooting “Star Trek” for the 1980s, was immense. Pike was the president of Paramount Television and was the person who began the process of restarting Trek — not Gene Roddenberry. The “Great Bird” eventually did return to helm the new show, but not before many of the decisions were well underway.

The various casting choices — which after ultimately decided, history was made — can be seen in this famous internal document (as seen below). Sent to Pike from John Ferraro, a Paramount executive involved in the development of TNG, fans can see for themselves who was in the running for the various roles. 

Casting ‘The Next Generation’

The famous “what might have been” casting document.

ParamountThe famous “what might have been” casting document.

Among the most interesting “what ifs” from this list were that actor Kevin Peter Hall was up for Geordi and Data roles. Although Hall did not get either part, he did find his way to fame as the alien hunter in the first two “Predator” films. 

Wesley Snipes was also considered for Geordi and went on to worldwide stardom in movies such as the “Blade” trilogy, “Demolition Man,” and “Coming2America.” The late Yaphet Kotto, known for his role in “Alien,” famously turned down the role of Captain Picard. He also decided against playing Lando Calrissian in “Empire Strikes Back.”

Patrick Stewart was almost fired by Pike, after Roddenberry made it known that he didn’t want a bald captain replacing William Shatner’s Kirk. 

Another interesting choice was for the parts Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher. Initially, the role of Crusher was offered to Marina Sirtis, while Yar was supposed to be played by Gates McFadden. In real life, these two actresses flipped parts and are recognized by Trek fans everywhere. 

Tasha Yar Exits

Star Trek Moments TNG – Episode. – 23. Skin of Evil.IF YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT PLEASE HIT THE LIKE BUTTON, LEAVE A COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE TO THE CHANNEL OR JOIN IN ON FACEBOOK Join Me On PATREON Or Buy me a Coffee on PayPal. Please. This is taken from my Star Trek The Next Generation Moments project that I'm working on. The project…2012-01-07T14:12:11Z

One of the original TNG actors, Denise Crosby, left before the end of Season One, killed in the episode “Skin of Evil.”

“It was Gene’s idea to have the character die,” said Crosby in an interview with “He thought it would be so shocking. I was struggling with not being able to do much with the character. I had all these ideas and couldn’t do them. I was just stage dressing. I chose to leave instead of just being satisfied with that.”

Deanna Troi Almost Written out of TNG

"This is Commander Deanna Troi" – Star Trek Picard [HD] Episode 72020-03-05T13:04:26Z

The character of Troi, played by Sirtis, almost did not make it past Season One as well. Thanks to reporting by author and Trek expert Larry Nemecek, we now know that those who were writing these early episodes struggled with her character. 

In his book, “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Companion,” Nemecek shared that the writers toned down Troi’s powers. 

“Troi’s telepathic abilities were softened to mere empathy with most — a lessening blamed on her half-human genes — to avoid emotional soliloquies even the actress cringed over in ‘Farpoint,’” Nemecek wrote. 

They also didn’t like Troi’s look saying that her appearance resembled a cheerleader in her “skant.” Sirtis told Nemecek that her character was almost “dropped” after Troi was unused in four episodes — “Hide and Q,” “Datalore,” “11001001,” and “Heart of Glory.” 

Luckily for Sirtis and her fans, Troi did survive that volatile first season and went on to become a valuable member of the crew for the six years which followed. She also appeared in the four TNG-era films and was featured on both “Star Trek: Lower Decks” and “Star Trek: Picard.”

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