Marina Sirtis Says Denise Crosby Leaving Star Trek: TNG “Saved My Job”

Summary

  • Deanna Troi owes her job on Star Trek: TNG to Denise Crosby’s departure, saving her from being written out.
  • Troi’s empathic powers made it difficult for writers to incorporate her, leading to reduced appearances.
  • Troi played a vital role in keeping Captain Riker grounded and the Enterprise crew connected throughout the series.



Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) almost didn’t make it to Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2, and Sirtis says it was Denise Crosby’s departure that saved her job. Following the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the USS Enterprise-D, TNG introduced an entirely new Starship crew, including the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi. With a human father and a Betazoid mother, Deanna could sense the emotions of those around her. Although TNG’s writers often did not know how to write for her character, Troi became an invaluable part of the Enterprise crew.

Near the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, Lt. Tasha Yar was killed on an away mission after actress Denise Crosby had asked to leave the show. Soon after, Gates McFadden was not asked to return as Dr. Beverly Crusher for TNG season 2. With the departure of two main female characters, Deanna Troi’s place among the crew was all but assured for future seasons. As Star Trek: The Next Generation progressed, Deanna Troi became the heart of the show, and her on-again-off-again romance with Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) became one of Star Trek’s best romances.


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Deanna Troi Was Almost Written Out of Star Trek: TNG In Season 1

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry felt there were too many women main characters.

Star Trek TNG Counselor Deanna Troi

In a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas in 2018, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis talked about Deanna Troi’s role on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Read their discussion and watch the full panel below:


Marina Sirits: Decorative is the word you’re looking for, just decorative. And when you said they didn’t know how to use my character what sprang to mind was: ‘No sh*t, Sherlock.’ Which is why I got written out of so many episodes in the first season. […] ‘Oh well, if she can sense what’s going on then we have no story. Write her out of the episode.’ And so that was written, and I have to be honest, I had a very insecure first season because they were always writing me out of episodes and I went from being the favorite. Because when I was cast, I knew I was their favorite. Gene [Roddenberry] loved me; it was obvious that he loved me. And then it got to the point where I’d be on set… walking toward craft services or whatever, and if a producer saw me coming, they would literally turn around and walk away. So I knew that my job was on the line, I mean, you didn’t need to be a nuclear physicist to figure it out. I knew that I was likely, I was on the bubble, you know like we say in Hollywood.

Jonathan Frakes: I don’t think you were ever on the bubble.


Sirtis: I was. Majel [Roddenberry] told me. Majel told me for a fact. Years later, I confronted her, because we were very close […] I said to Majel years later, ‘Majel, I was going to get fired, wasn’t I?’ And she said ‘yes, you were. Gene came home one day and said we have one too many women.’ […] You need a doctor, you need a security chief, you really don’t need a psychologist. And it was when Denise [Crosby], Denise had no clue, but when Denise left the show, she saved my job.


Deanna Troi’s stories certainly improved as Star Trek: The Next Generation went on, but she did not star in as many episodes as some of her male counterparts, like Commander Riker and Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Troi’s empathic powers made it difficult for the writers to incorporate her into stories without taking out all of the drama. Because of this, Deanna was often reduced to pointing out the obvious or even written out of episodes entirely. Still, Deanna Troi had some great moments, such as when she had to take command of the Enterprise in TNG season 5, episode 5, “Disaster,” or when she went undercover in TNG season 6, episode 14, “Face of the Enemy.

It was not until
TNG
season 6 that Troi finally got to wear a Starfleet uniform, as she had worn bodysuits, dresses, and other civilian clothes up until that point.


Star Trek (And Riker) Would Have Been Very Different Without Counselor Troi

Deanna Troi saved the day a few times, too.

Troi helped keep Riker grounded and, with her empathic powers and her counseling abilities, she helped keep the

Star Trek: The Next Generation

crew connected.

After seven seasons and four movies with the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast, plus their recent reunion in Star Trek: Picard season 3, it’s difficult to imagine Star Trek without Counselor Deanna Troi. Troi got to be the hero in Star Trek: Picard season 3, but she also helps to curb the more adventurous tendencies of Captain Riker. Throughout his career, Riker got involved in plenty of shenanigans with Troi at his side, making it difficult to imagine the trouble he might have gotten into without her influence. Troi helped keep Riker grounded and, with her empathic powers and her counseling abilities, she helped keep the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew connected.


Star Trek: The Next Generation & Star Trek: Picard
are available to stream on Paramount+.

Star Trek the Next Generation Poster

Seasons
7

Writers
Gene Roddenberry