Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, A New Crew Went Boldly, Where No One Had Gone Before.

In place of the post I’d write if I wasn’t on vacation, I offer the following:

Today, Star Trek: The Next Generation turns 25 years-old.

When the show started, I looked like this:

and I couldn’t find a warp core with both hands.

Today, I look like this:

And I got a course you can plot.

Star Trek has been a huge part of my life, and a huge part of who I am, over the last 25 years, and it wasn’t always awesome.

But you know what is awesome? Talking to my friends and family from the cast today, celebrating not only that it’s been twenty-five years since we first Boldly Went When No One Had Gone Before, but that we still love each other, and still care about the time we spent together exploring the galaxy on the best starship to ever carry the name.

I know that Star Trek: The Next Generation has meant a lot to more than one generation since we debuted a quarter century ago today, and it means a lot to me in a lot of ways … but the thing that means the most to me, the thing that I cherish the most, is my family from the Enterprise D.

Happy Birthday, Next Generation. I’m proud and honored to be part of you.

52 thoughts on “Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, A New Crew Went Boldly, Where No One Had Gone Before.”

  1. ‘Means a lot to us too, Wil.
    My buddy Matt and I would get a Boboli Pizza crust and every possible food you can pile onto it and make the most EPIC pizza while watching our weekly ‘fix’. The Pizza stood something like four inches tall in the center with all the toppings.

    …how I miss that metabolism….

    Happy Birthday to TNG!

  2. It meant a lot to me as an awkward kid, a little too mature for his peers, trying to figure out how to fit in among adults, to watch an awesome science fiction show featuring an awkward kid, a little too mature for his peers, trying to figure out how to fit in among adults.

    It would not be a stretch to say that TNG was formative in making me who I am today. Thank you for your part in that.

    1. +1
      TNG had a major impact on who I am today and how I live my life. My favorite episodes were the ones where Wesley did things that no kid would normally be able or allowed to do, demonstrating to youths everywhere that the only limits are those we put on ourselves. A huge thanks to Wil and the rest of the cast and crew for showing us what would be possible if people would stop the inane fighting and work together. Let’s hope we get there one day.

  3. My first day as a Police Academy Trainee, I turned in an essay on how “Star Trek: TNG” led me to want to be a police officer. Kinda set the tone for the following year. My last name is Kirk, and soon, I had trainees and officers calling me “Captain”. Thank you, Wil. Everything you all did had such a lasting effect.

    1. My husbamd was in the Marine Corps for 13 years until he was forced out on a medical discharge. During those 13 years we spent a lot of time apart; but when we were together we never missed an episode of Star Trek TNG. What happy memories. Thanks to you and the rest of the cast and crew for being a MAJOR part of the time we spent togetherand for helping to make it so enjoyable. :-)

    2. Greetings, Captain Kirk! (*wow* I just said that and it wasn’t a joke!), I’d love to know how the show lead you to get in to law enforcement; it seems an unlikely pairing, although, the answer I expect you’ll provide will likely make me go “….oh, okay, I get it now!”
      Thank YOU for protecting us. Stay Safe.

      1. JunkyardAcademy, The essay I wrote was about ten pages long, so I’ll do my best to give you the short version. :-) The basic point I made is that “Star Trek” was about civic duty. It tricked my kid brain into absorbing weekly morality plays and lessons about dedication yourself to something bigger than yourself. When it came time for me to choose a *career* as opposed to a series of jobs, what I wanted to do was make my world better and safer. And I tend to credit “Star Trek” with a great deal of that.

  4. When Star Trek TNG first aired, I was 7-years-old. My dad was a huge fan of the original series so he, my sister and I gathered around the TV each week to watch the latest episode. Then I would act out scenes on the school playground with friends who didn’t have a clue who I was trying to be. Also, my sister and I played “Star Trek” with our barbies – we gave the blond one a haircut so she looked like Tasha Yar and our only plastic-haired Ken doll had to take turns playing all the lead male roles. (sigh) Those were the days. Thank you!

  5. 25 years ago today, my father argued with my mother over letting 7 year-old me stay up past my bedtime. I don’t remember everything that was said except, “She has to see this. This is will change everything.”

    1. I saw this as a kid too. I was a bit younger when I started watching it in the early 90s and I’m 26 now. It’s a part of me and I think TNG makes for a great thing for children to watch, for the most part.

  6. The show mean a lot to us! It was a great show, with a great cast. I still watch it, and enjoy every episode. I was sad when Wesley left. He was no where near my least favorite character. Im glad you stayed in the acting business since then. It has been a pleasure reading what you have written, and seeing you in movies and tv shows since then.

  7. I remember Star Trek TNG always just being there, a steady background to my growing up. We loved it in my family, would watch every episode that came on, repeat or no, and tape them all meticulously.

    And I think the atmosphere of cooperation that was portrayed – the way that this crew, made up of all these very different people, worked together so well and without any real conflicts – has been a very formative experience. Especially the complete acceptance of aliens and androids, outsiders to the human race, struck a chord with me because as a young girl geek in the early ’90s I was as much of an outsider as you can possibly be without actually being an alien. :)

    So, thank you for being part of that.

  8. Every Trek fan has “their Trek” – just like Doctor Who fans have their “first Doctor” and favorite Doctor (not necessarily the same). Next Generation was my Trek and is still my favorite. Happy Birthday TNG!

  9. I’m a bit older nerd than those who have mentioned their age when the show started. I was at a video game developers conference when I first encountered Wesley haters. I’m glad the nerd community has gotten over that and recognized one of their own.

  10. Not sure if that’s a typo, it was late, or you actually meant to say When instead of Where, however, it got me to reflect on a few things, and perform a ‘net search.

    Thanks for sharing your feelings about an incredible event.

  11. ST: TNG is one of only two shows where I have seen every single episode. It is one of my favorite shows and I will love it forever. Long live Enterprise D!

  12. 25 years ago I was excited to be celebrating my 14th birthday by watching the first episode of TNG – now I’m celebrating my 39th! Time flies I guess. Happy Birthday to Star Trek: TNG!

  13. Hey Wil,

    I would imagine you get requests for charities a ton. Here’s one I just ran across (truly, I play no part in it). The basic idea is to connect school libraries who have empty shelves with people who want school libraries to not have empty shelves.

    Since I imagine you’re going to want to read cool stuff when you’re old, I think you’re going to want kids who are readers now.

    If you’ve got the time, please take a look and distribute to your minions.

    http://filltheshelves.org/

  14. I’ll admit that i wasn’t a fan of Wesley Crusher; but I’m a huge fan of Wil Wheaton. Thank you, Wil, for growing up with us. And for choosing to share your growth experiences with the world.

  15. I started watching this show, 25 years ago, because “that kid from Stand by Me” was in it. :p
    Fell in love with the whole concept, been a Trek fan ever since. Thank you Wil for being a part of the show and bringing me along for the ride.

  16. The main reason I started watching TNG was because Stand By Me was (and remains) my favourite movie of all time. I’m a bit older than some of the other geeks on here and remember the first re-runs of TOS on British TV in the late 60s but I never considered myself a particular fan of Trek until TNG fell into its stride towards in the second season, and you were a big part of that. TNG for me is also a huge part of my first experiences online, discussing the episodes on Usenet as they came up on British TV over a year after they were shown in the US. Some of the friends I made thanks to TNG remain good friends to this day and I have you all to thank for bringing us together.

    It’s gratifying to hear that the crew still get along so many years later, and I wish you all many more pleasant anniversaries to come!

  17. When I was 19, I went to community college in a nasty little town full of racists. Perhaps I overstate the case but that’s how I perceived it at the time.

    Once a week, I’d watch a show that featured humans of all types, and aliens, working together for a common goal: to gain knowledge and promote peace. For two crucial years of my life TNG gave me hope.

    And Wesley, sweaters aside, taught me it was ok to pay attention in school.

    You were part of that so I just wanted to say thanks.

  18. It’s only 22 years for me because TNG (called “the next century” in Germany) was only first broadcast on the 7th September 1990 in Germany, on a Friday late afternoon (good thing I was still a student then).
    At first I was a bit WTF is this shit, but then it very rapidly grew on me as not only the stories but also the characters and their relationships grew.
    When I moved to the UK in ’96, I caught up with it in English several times over as there was always a channel that had it on.
    Oh, and I wasn’t one of those people who hated Wesley, although he was sometimes annoying. ;)
    I understand you’re a very busy man at the moment so I assume you aren’t finding the time to work on Memories of the Future Vol. 2 but I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to read it soon.

  19. From what I understand, it sounds like you were not really sure what you were getting mixed up with when you signed on to be Wesley in ST:TNG.. I remember watching you that first night, 25 years ago, sitting in the Captain’s seat, thinking this guy is the luckiest guy in the world! I would have cut off my right arm to have been a part of the show or even to just see the set. You always did a great job and you were very convincing as a genius kid way ahead of his years.

    TNG HAD to distinguish itself from TOS, and one way was to show that the future continued to mature and space travel aboard Federation starships became safe enough for families to travel together. You were a major part of that successful element, helping to give TNG its special character and philosophy.

    On a personal note, 25 years ago I was a devote fan of Star Trek, waiting for over 20 years that the show would return to television in some form. It was literally a dream come true when Star Trek returned surpassing the original in so many ways. Star Trek became a main stream favourite, ensuring its permanence in American culture.

    It helped get me through a very difficult time of my life and in no small part helped mould me into the person I am today.

    Many heartfelt thanks to you and your collegues for bring back Star Trek all those years ago!

    1. I was going to write a lot of the same thing, but since you already touched on it…I was a young girl when Star Trek: TOS originally aired. I remember being sad that there were no new episodes of it and watching it in syndication. Then when the movies started to be made I was so excited and soon Star Trek: TNG started up. It really makes me feel old to know a decade passed before the original Star Trek movies were made and now it’s been 25 years since TNG aired its first episode. I wonder when everyone will be ready for the Enterprise’s next generation series…or have we as a society technologically evolved past the point of being able to sustain another time period for Star Trek?

  20. Growing up, TV was never a big thing in my family, and certainly not as a family event. But there was one show that we *all* watched, and sat down together for. So once a week, my parents, my little brother and I would all sit down together to watch you and your Enterprise-D family boldly go.

    Thank you for that.

  21. TNG was the best show ever and the only fictional premise and characters I actually mourned when over. A testament to the stellar craft of the writers, crew, and cast, not to mention Gene Roddenberry’s vision. I’m still into it, love the series.

  22. It is as old as myself, so on behalf of all the Trekkies and Trekkers out there we boldy thank you for your part in this genius TV show and the other cast and crew that brought such a decent Television programme to my own and the rest of the worlds living rooms ..Thanks Wil :D

    1. Freeman, if you get BBCAmerica, they still show it. I think it’s on Thursdays and Fridays. And every once in a while it’s also on the SyFy channel (still bugs the heck outa me that they changed it to that spelling).

      Wil, I know I’m a little late for the anniversary, but I’d still like to express my heartfelt appreciation for everything the show has meant to me throughout my life.
      It feels like you and everyone else in that cast were old friends of the family I got to know and love so much while I was growing up. Like so many others have already said here, thank you for the part you had in that. It wouldn’t have been the same show I still love to this day if even one character had been played by a different actor.

  23. I love Star Trek TNG, and the awesomeness of it a lot is in its crew, and i do not understand why there were Wesley haters, as I heard much later, I really liked Wesley and missed him when he left. I wish there would be another movie with TNG people including Wesley who would become perhaps some fancy traveller and writer! But probably there will be no such thing, it is awesome enough that such show was made on this beautiful Earth, spinning and flying through Space.

  24. I had some time this weekend and began watching episodes of TNG starting with the first episode. I have seen you in the guild and many other TV show appearances and I know you mentioned that you are being “type-cast” now as techno-geek with a bad attitude.
    I miss seeing the “good” Will Wheaton and hope that there are opportunities for you to explore roles that tap your “boyish goodness” that came through so well in TNG!

  25. Oh, TNG. How you changed my life. No, really. Like Star Wars before you, you played such a huge role in making me who I am now, if for no other reason than my best friends came from you. Thanks for that. Hard to believe it’s been twenty-five years, but time flies, doesn’t it?

    Thanks for making the journey with us, Wil.

  26. I watched TOS in syndication thanks to my mother who also probably got me into sci-fi and Monty Python. I was 22 when TNG first aired — and I didn’t start watching it until the second season. It wasn’t that I thought TOS was untouchable. It was just I didn’t think TNG’s stories would be interesting. I was wrong. I was Worf-waiting-for-those-unnecessary-redundancies-to-kick-in-wrong. To this day, it’s the only TV show for which I have every episode on DVD. Congrats to everyone who worked on TNG for creating something that will live on to the next generation.

  27. I can remember the first episode of TNG so clearly while most memories of that time are so unreachable! I was 13 years old, and had just banished my StarWars actionfigures and spaceship stuff to the attic for my new computer setup in my bedroom. The show began and the cgi was nice but not enough to grab my attention and draw me into the story. Just before i was going to switch to another channel to watch something else at 33 minutes and 26 seconds into the episode TNG grabbed me and pulled me into it. I got sucked into the trek universe. Suddenly i could picture myself being there, being part of the great adventure of the 24th century. It was when someone i could relate to came into view. Wesly Crusher.

    Since then i’ve seen all that is Startrek. 11 movies, 5 series, a cartoon series, documentaries, fanfilms…. i’ve read over 200 of the books, written pages and pages of fanfiction, played in pbemrpg’s and all the video games ever released…. (i’m not trying to boast, just giving the scope of the effect that second in that first tng episode had)

    i can’t wait for the next movie. I’ll become violent at some point when a new series takes to long to come on tv and hope one day to see my name connected with something in startrek canon. My son speaks just as well Klingon as he speaks Dutch and to top it all off i’ve got a dog named Spock. (and if my, now ex, wife hadn’t put her foot down at the time my son had been named Wesley)

    The point i am working to, i guess, is thank you. Thank everyone having anything to do with TNG but espescially you Wes…. Will. You’re performance as Wesley Crusher, though it didn’t work for adult viewers, is what made Startrek “real” for me and no matter what anyone says i will allways be gratefull for it.

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