Star Trek: The Next Generation is a beloved sci-fi series with a beloved cast, but one of those cast members, Marina Sirtis, believes she was nearly fired from the show before the end of the first season.
Speaking at Star Trek Las Vegas, Sirtis explained that if not for Denise Crosby, who played Lt. Tasha Yar, choosing to quit the show after the first season, she believes she would have been fired instead. She noted that her character, ships' counselor Deanna Troi, had empathic abilities that she inherited as part of her half-Betazoid lineage and those abilities were seen as problematic by some of the writers and so they wrote her out of many scenes.
“If she can sense what is going on, we have to write her out,” Sirtis recalled on stage (via Trek Movie). “I was very insecure in the 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. [Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry] loved me, it was obvious I was their favorite - and it got to the point where if a producer saw me coming, they would turn around and walk away. So, I knew my job was on the line…I was on the bubble.”
Sirtis says that Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett - who also played Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana Troi - later confirmed her fears, admitting that Roddenberry felt there was “one too many women” on the show and that “you don’t really need a psychologist,” the latter observation likely borne from Roddenberry’s belief that humans would have evolved beyond most interpersonal conflict by the 24th century.
However, Crosby ultimately chose to leave the show when she felt she wasn’t being given very much to do. Crosby’s departure meant that there was no longer “one too many women” on The Next Generation, and so Sirtis credits Crosby with saving her job. Crosby would later return for special guest appearances, reprising her role as Tasha Yar for the episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and the series finale episode “All Good Things…” and playing Yar’s half-Romulan daughter Sela in the episodes “The Mind’s Eye,” “Redemption,” and “Unification.”
This wasn’t the last time that Sirtis nearly lost her role in Star Trek. During negotiations for one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, Sirtis says Paramount Pictures threatened to write her out of the script and replace her with Seven of Nine, Jeri Ryan’s Borg character from Star Trek: Voyager.1comments
“When I was negotiating for Nemesis they literally threatened to fire me and recast Troi,” Sirtis recalled during a panel at last year’s Star Trek Las Vegas convention. “Well not actually recast, but they said ‘We are going to fire you and hire Jeri Ryan. And I said ‘Well Jeri Ryan won’t do it for that money, that is for sure.’”
What do you think of Siritis nearly losing her role in Star Trek: The Next Generation? Let us know in the comments!