Star Trek The Next Generation – Surprising Stories

Love The Next Generation? Then you will love this article! I bet you don’t know most of these behind the scenes stories and trivia. Plus there are great photos and a video at the end!

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Picard and Ro Laughing

They Thought the Show Would Fail! Did you know that Patrick Stewart believed that the new Star Trek would be a flop? So much so that he didn’t even unpack his suitcases until six weeks into shooting!

First Convention: Stewart had no idea what to expect at his first Star Trek convention. When waiting to go out on stage, he even approached one of the convention workers and asked if the there was anyone actually out there! When he did finally make his appearance in front of a huge crowd, he says he “felt like sting.”

Did You Know That Picard Was Almost Killed Off? Resistance is Futile

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Locutus Reading Script

The Captain Could Have Died a Borg: In the famous final episode of Season 3, the Captain had been assimilated by the Borg and the writers were prepared to kill him off in the following episode. This was because Patrick Stewart’s contract had ended and they were not sure if a new agreement could be made! 

Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement (V.I.S.O.R.)

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Geordie with Banjo GIF

It Was Made of Scraps: Like many of the props used on the series, Geordie’s visor was thrown together using spare parts on the first day of shooting. It was composed largely of an automotive air filter and a hair band.

He Wasn’t Supposed to Keep the Visor: The studio originally planned to have Geordie gain natural eyesight and lose the visor in Season 3. However, they changed their minds when they realized that he had become such a positive role model for disabled persons.

In fact, Geordie was named after a disabled Star Trek fan, George La Forge!

Lieutenant Wesley Crusher?

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Tasha and Wesley

The Cast Wanted a Pay Increase: When the cast approached the producers asking for better pay, Will Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) was given a different offer. What if they simply raised his character’s rank on the show to Lieutenant instead! Wheaton’s reply was “So what should I tell my landlord when I can’t pay my rent? ‘Don’t worry, I just made Lieutenant’?”

Sense of Humour Meets Set Design

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Data in Baseball Hat

Luke Skywalker’s Room: One of the many sight gags hidden throughout the set was in the visitor’s quarters, where Lieutenant Luke Skywalker’s name was assigned to one of the doors.

Too Small For the Camara to See: Jokes were hidden everywhere on the Enterprise set, including a mouse on a wheel in Engineering and a Porsche in the Main Shuttle Bay.

Worf’s Missing Forehead

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Cast in Makeup Room

It Was Stolen! The prosthetic for Worf’s forehead in Season 1 disappeared, stolen by an unknown miscreant. As a result they had to make a new one, which is why his forehead looks different in season 2.

His Head Was Too Big! When Michael Dorn (Worf) was first put into his klingon makeup, his head looked way too big for his body. This was because, at the time Dorn had an afro, which they had to fit under the prosthetics.

They Didn’t Know Who He Was!

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From Behind the Scenes - Michael Dorn and Worf

He Was the Last One Cast: The other actors had already been cast and had started filming before Michael Dorn (Worf) showed up. In fact, in the beginning he wasn’t even supposed to be a regular cast member.

He Was Always In Makeup: Because Michael Dorn’s makeup took more than three hours to put on and forty five minutes to take off, he was always the first one there and the last to leave. As a result, whenever he showed up on the set without his makeup, none of the other cast members would recognize or talk to him. 

Levar Burton (Geordie) jokes that it was six months before anyone knew what Dorn actually looked like! 

Starfleet Uniforms Are Not Designed For Comfort

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Deanna Reading

One Size Too Small : Did you know that the original Starfleet uniform, used at the beginning of the series, was purposely made one size smaller than what each actor would normally wear? Gene Roddenberry wanted it to fit tight, like a second skin.

Eventually, the design was changed to the two piece uniforms, but even those were uncomfortable and despised by the actors.

Roddenberry’s Clash With the Writers

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales Form the Set - Gene Roddenberry

Not Everyone Loved Gene: Although the actors speak warmly of their experiences with the Star Trek creator, his time on The Next Generation was also filled with drama. The writers were frustrated with him, feeling that he was imposing too strict of standards that would diminish the quality of their stories.

His Lawyer Did His Dirty Work! His health in a steep decline, Roddenberry suffered from increasing mood and memory problems that made him difficult to work with. He would go behind the writer’s backs and rewrite their scripts. Sometimes he would even have his lawyer (with no writing experience) do it for him!

The Three Deaths of Tasha Yar

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Troi Crusher and Yar

The First Time: She was killed by Armis in “Skin of Evil.”

The Second Time: She died again when a version of her from an alternate universe, came to the main Star Trek Universe. We hear the story of how she was captured by Romulans and then killed trying to Escape with her daughter, Sela.

The Third Time: In The Next Generation finale, Yar is killed one last time on the alternate past version of the Enterprise, when it explodes attempting to close the temporal anomaly.

The Pets of The Next Generation

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Data Looks at Spot

Not a Cat Person: Okay, maybe Data doesn’t like or dislike anything, but his actor, Brent Spiner, does. Apparently Spiner is not a cat person and could have done without Data’s feline friend.

Patrick Stewart also Wanted His Pet Gone: Picard’s fish (named Livingstone) was a source of irritation for Stewart as well. Although for different reasons. Stewart felt that since the series stood for the freedom of all species, it was wrong for his character to keep a fish in captivity.

Counselor Troi Almost Had Four Breasts

Star Trek Troi Cleavage

Some fans called her “Counselor Cleavage”. The must-read fan book Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek, states that Lt. Commander Troi was supposed to have a whole lot of cleavage. Originally, creator Gene Roddenberry imagined Troi as “a four-breasted, oversexed hermaphrodite.” Writer Dorothea “DC” Fontana believed that this will offend most women and maybe men, and so she convinced him to change the character.

Fontana also wrote: “… how are you going to arrange those four provocatively shaped breasts? Four in a row? They had better be small. Two banks of two? Do you know how much trouble women have with the normal number—keeping them out of the way of things, I mean. Four straight up and down? Don’t be silly.”

The Studio Didn’t Believe Her

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Guinan

Whoopi Goldberg Wanted to be on Star Trek: She was a big fan of the original series so she approached her friend Levar Burton (Geordie) who was already cast. He took her request to the producers but they didn’t believe him as they thought she was too big of a star for the show. Eventually everything was straightened out and Goldberg took her rightful place as Guinan.

In 2010, Whoopi also confessed that she has never been approached to speak at a Star Trek convention!

I’m a Doctor, Not a…

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Beverly Sucking Straw Riker

She Didn’t Say It! Doctor Crusher and Doctor Pulaski (Crusher’s replacement in season 2) are the only regularly appearing doctors in any of the Star Trek series that never say “I’m a doctor, not a_____.”

Beverly’s Missing Season

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Picard and Beverly

Frustrated With the Producers: Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) was released from the series after clashes with the studio regarding her character’s lack of development. Originally Crusher was supposed to be developed as a romantic interest and contrast to Captain Picard.

The Fans Brought Her Back! When Dr. Pulaski left the show, the studio considered bringing in another new doctor. The fans, however, wouldn’t have it, and demanded to have McFadden rehired.

The Link Between Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Adama and Picard

The Admiral Could Have Been the Captain! Apparently Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama on Battlestar Galactica) was offered the role of Picard. He turned it down because he wasn’t interested in working in television at the time.

Also, a co-producer/writer on Star Trek The Next Generation, Ronald D. Moore, eventually went on to become the Executive Producer as well as a writer on Battlestar Galactica.

The Councillor of Mass Effect

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Marina Sirtis Mass Effect

Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) did a voice for the video game, Mass Effect – and then forgot about it! She refused to believe a fan that told her she was in the game. Since then she has remembered and even looked up her character. She thinks she looks awesome.

Michael Dorn (Worf) voiced a character in the video game, Fallout 2.

Another Star Trek icon turned voice actor: John de Lancie (Q) is the voice of a dragon-like creature called Discord on “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”

Captain Serious

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales Form the Set - Picard with Phaser

He Lectured His Colleagues: Patrick Stewart took the job very seriously and couldn’t stand that his co-actors seemed so light hearted about it. One day he got them all together to tell them that they needed to stop fooling around on set. That “we are not here to have fun!” 

His Co-Actors Didn’t Change But He Did: Over the next six and half years, Stewart learned from them that it was “possible to do great work and to have fun at the same time.”

The Cast Meets the Real Astronauts

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Samantha Cristoforetti

They Wanted Their Autographs! The cast of The Next Generation was invited to an event at the Vice President’s house in Washington where they got to meet all the Mercury astronauts (including Allen Shepherd and John Glenn). They were shocked, however, when the astronauts (the “serious heroes”) lined up to get their autographs!

Marina Sirtis met and got her picture taken with Neil Armstrong at a similar event. Her husband has never fully forgiven her as she was the one who convinced him to not go on the trip.

The above Photo is of Italian astronaut (and Next Generation fan!), Samantha Cristoforetti.

Sir Patrick Stewart

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Picard Knighted

He Was Knighted With a Regular Sword: There are photos floating around the web of the Queen of England knighting Patrick Stewart with a Bat’leth. Perhaps this is how it should have been done but unfortunately it was photoshopped.

Patrick Stewart jokes that if he could be anything other than an actor, he would be “a concert pianist…who got knighted.”

Season 8 Abandoned

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Data and Geordie Playing Sherlock

There Was Supposed to be Eight Seasons: In fact, the Season 7 ending was a surprise to the cast members, as they were signed on for one more year. However, the producers decided to cancel. They claimed that the series was starting to suffer from “franchise fatigue.”

A Character Inspired by Aliens

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Troi Crusher Yar on Bridge

They Switched Roles! Originally Marina Sirtis was cast to play the Security Chief, Tasha Yar (although she wasn’t called Yar at the time). The character was based off of Vasquez, the tough marine woman in Aliens and was supposed to be Latina.

Denise Crosby, on the other hand, was supposed to play the Councillor.

Maybe That’s Why Geordie Had Such Rotten Luck With Women…

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Saucy Picard GIF

Gene Roddenberry Wanted Geordie to be Gay: In fact, Roddenberry wanted to add several gay characters, but when Rick Berman took charge of the show, he made sure that didn’t happen.

Buddies on the Bridge

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales Form the Set - Cast on Bridge

Rocky Start: As was mentioned previously, Patrick Stewart wasn’t a lot of fun for his fellow actors in the beginning. There was, however, also animosity between Dorn (Worf) and both Levar (Geordie) and Marina (Troi).

They Became Best Friends: But before long, the cast became the closest of friends. They not only worked together, but spent their off time with each other as well. Among other things, they wrote a play, and sang together. Brent Spiner was even the best man at Levar’s wedding, while Stewart, Frakes, and Dorn were all ushers.

A Bunch of Comedians

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Riker and Picard

They constantly joked around and laughed on set. Examples of their shenanigans: When Patrick Stewart was first hired, the others hung a poster on his door reading “Beware! Unknown British Shakespearean Actor!”

Brent Spiner would make faces at Will Wheaton right before the call to action, getting the teen in trouble when he couldn’t stop laughing.

When an earthquake struck, Gates McFadden was in her trailer and she just assumed that the others were outside shaking it! Cause that’s the kind of things they did!

Gates Was Pregnant

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales Form the Set - Beverly and Baby

But Beverly Was Not: The studio decided not to have Gate’s character, Beverly Crusher, pregnant as well, so they had to hide her growing belly as well as they could throughout season 4.

Casting Picard

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Picard

He Wanted Someone Younger: Originally Roddenberry wanted a younger (full haired) captain. He only decided to cast Stewart because he couldn’t find anyone else that would work for the part.

Patrick Stewart even wore a hairpiece for his auditions! Apparently it looked awful.

The Glamorous Life of a Star Trek Actor

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Worf's Birthday Party

Crawling Through Cat Crap: There is a scene in which Gates, Dorn, and Patrick Stewart had to crawl through caves–caves filled with dirt. Not so bad except that there were a lot of stray cats at the Paramount Studio… They got covered in feces. At one point they looked at each other and just couldn’t stop laughing.

Don’t Stop Now! We’ve Almost Made it to the Video!

The Makeup of The Next Generation

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Data Makeup Test

Brent Spiner Also Spent a Lot of Time in the Makeup Chair: It took an hour and fifteen minutes for him to become Data every day. And he’s not so sure how good it was for his skin. He joked that “roaches and my organs will be the only thing left after a holocaust!”   

But Worf Did Have it Worse: Even though Dorn’s three hours of makeup was eventually shortened to one and a half, he had other problems. The substance used to glue on his prosthetic nose was a medical adhesive that burned and blistered his skin. Eventually Marina Sirtis made him go to the producers and demand a different glue!

Levar Burton laughs that his makeup took only thirty seconds. He just had to put on the visor!

The Best Star Trek Series of All Time?

Star Trek the Next Generation Tales From the Set - Cast

The Most Awards: There may never be consensus on which was the best Star Trek Series, as it really comes down to personal taste. However, if you judge by only looking at the awards, The Next Generation blows the other series away. It has received 33 awards and 87 nominations, more than a dozen more than the next highest contender!

Did you know that the cast of The Next Generation also had a musical group called the Sunspots? Brent Spiner sings, while the rest of the boys do backup! Enjoy!

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