From the moment Star Trek Picard was announced, people asked me if Wesley Crusher would make an appearance. Until August of last year, I told the truth when I said that I would love to do that, but had no idea if it would actually happen. I’m pretty psyched that we were able to keep this secret as long as we did.
I want to take a minute and share why Wesley’s return to Star Trek is so deeply meaningful for me, why this is so much more than merely playing a fun cameo for two pages. I want to tell you what Wesley Crusher means to me, as an almost 50 year-old husband, father, and survivor.
I love Wesley Crusher. I cherish Wesley Crusher. I am fiercely proud of Wesley Crusher. It is an honor and a privilege to be the actor who played him. But that wasn’t always true. For far too long, I allowed my opinion of Wesley, and my opinion of myself, to be defined by others. And it hurt so much, I almost walked away from Star Trek entirely, just to get away from it.
Wesley’s fictional journey and my real life journey are remarkably similar. We were both incredibly smart kids who struggled to fit in with our peer group. Neither one of us had a relationship with our father (Wesley, because his father died when he was a baby, me because my father chose to be my bully instead of my dad). Both of us spent our entire lives on paths we did not choose, struggling every single minute of every single day to make the people who put us on that path proud of us. We both felt uncomfortable in our own skin, and ended up spending as much time in our intellect as we could, because that was a place that felt safe.
Our stories and paths diverge widely in our teens: he’s awkward and angsty, but genuinely loved and supported by the adults in his life, who encourage him to explore his interests. I’m awkward and angsty, but I’m invisible to my dad on a good day, and my mother does not see me. Instead, she only sees the kid from Teen Beat, and all the trappings that come with proximity to him that she can scrape up for herself. In my headcanon, Wesley felt alone because he didn’t get to regularly interact with kids his own age, and if his life mirrored my own at that time, a lot of kids he would have wanted to be friends with judged him before they knew him, because he was kind of famous. Let me tell you, when every room you walk into is filled with people who have already made up their mind about you before you even introduce yourself, you just stop walking into rooms. Or, at least, I did.
When Wesley saw his opportunity to forge his own path with the Travelers, his entire family supported him, they celebrated the end of one journey and the beginning of another. I did not get that support. When I was about 20 and left the series, followed quickly by leaving the entire entertainment industry, neither of my parents were there for me, at all. By this time in my life, my father had stopped trying to hide his contempt and disinterest for me, and my mother had essentially abandoned me to focus her energy on a friend of my sister’s, who was climbing the teen fame success ladder. My mom was always there when I was chasing her dream of acting fame, but when I needed a mom to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life, she just did not show up at all. I was left entirely alone to try and figure out how to be an adult. It was terrifying. Luckily for me, when I was 23 I met the woman who would become my wife, and my journey toward discovering and realizing my dream began.
But let us go back to the moment when we each realized we were not on our paths, but someone else’s. Wesley and I both walked away from everything we knew, every expectation that was ever put on us, every person we ever cared about, because we both knew that something was not right in our lives, and if we were going to fix it, we had to figure out what it was. And to figure out what it was, we had to get off the paths we had been on since we were too young to know what a path even was.
Wesley was expected to be a Starfleet captain, or maybe a chief engineer. I was expected to be a famous film actor, or at least famous. We both accepted these expectations right until we didn’t. He got there before I did, but there was a moment when we both knew that we were pursuing dreams that were not ours, that they were more important to other people than they were to us. We needed time and space to find out who we were, and what our dream was.
When we had that time and space (or all of time and space, for Wesley), we could discover what was important to us, what we wanted to do with our lives and the time we had in this universe, who we were when we weren’t defining ourselves according to someone else’s expectations. During that time, I met more people than I can count who have told me how much Wesley means to them. They told me he inspired them, that they saw themselves in him at a time when they felt unseen by the people in their lives. They told me he helped them figure out what kind of person they wanted to choose for a partner in love and life.
For two decades I listened, while people told me the ways he was there for them. I never would have expected that he would also be there for me.
Ron Moore wrote Wesley’s final episode, Journey’s End. Ron knew Wesley needed to do something different with his life. He knew that Starfleet wasn’t right for Wesley. He knew that Wesley couldn’t keep defining himself through someone else’s expectations. I don’t know if he knew that I also needed that (I didn’t even know it at the time), but like so many other people who watched Wesley’s story, I was inspired by Wesley’s courage and conviction. And I followed him out into the Great Unknown.
I was surprised to discover that as I got to know myself all over again for the first time, I also got to know Wesley. If Wesley could matter so much, to so many people, why couldn’t he matter that much to me, the actor who played him? It took a long time and a lot of work to find the answer to that question. I wrote a whole book about it, in fact. But what’s important is that much in the same way I had allowed myself to be defined by how I was measuring up to someone else’s expectations, I had allowed my relationship with Wesley Crusher to be defined the same way. And the end result of that was a lot of self-inflicted pain and sadness for me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that around the same time I finally felt seen in the world, I was able to see Wesley the way so many others did. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. I was, and am, worth it. Getting to know Wesley Crusher, to see him the way he was seen by the people who loved him, to love him the way he always deserved to be loved … you can see the parallels, right? Believe me, it was all worth it.
Wesley and Kore may blink out of existence and never come back on camera again. Or they might go literally anywhere through all of space and time, from Strange New Worlds to Discovery to Lower Decks (but not to season three of Picard. Sorry, nerds.). I honestly don’t know what comes next for them in canon, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent some time thinking about it.
I may get to tell more of Wesley’s story at some point – his journey over the last 25 or so years is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about – as a writer or as an actor. Maybe both. But even if that never happens, if I never get to be Wesley Crusher on camera again, I will have the privilege of hosting The Ready Room, where I get to be a Starfleet veteran, a member of the exclusive “Legacy Star Trek” club, and an unashamed superfan who gets to take other nerds into the Room Where It Happens. I get to celebrate everything we all love about Star Trek in all its incarnations, for my job.
I love the life I’ve built for myself. I love and am intensely grateful for the place in Star Trek that belongs to me, as the actor who played Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher, who now plays The Traveler Formerly Known as Wesley Crusher, who is the host of The Ready Room.
I and Wesley will always be part of The Next Generation for the rest of our lives, and that would absolutely have been enough. The fact that we both get to be part of not just The Next Generation, but also part of the larger Star Trek universe, is a privilege and a gift that I will never take for granted.
We talk about how Star Trek is so inspiring when it shows us what’s possible, what we can achieve for ourselves when we work hard and work together with compassion and empathy for each other. For me it goes deeper than that, because finding love and compassion for Wesley Crusher allowed me to find love and compassion for myself.
Welcome home, Wesley. I missed you so much. Thank you for being there for me when I needed you.
228 thoughts on “Welcome home, Wesley”
It is so good to see you – and Wesley – honored in a way that respects and celebrates the character and the man behind the character. Of all the wonderful, neat, and ‘yes!’ moments in recent Trek, this is the one that is most overdue and deserving of celebration.
Thank for you for saying ‘yes’ to the invitation (I imagine there were mixed feelings!). And thank you for giving us the opportunity to join in the celebration of you, Mr. Wheaton, both in Trek and in the many ways you have exceeded even that wonderful galaxy of stories through your story.
So glad for you that you made peace with Wesley! You’re both inspiring to me, thank you!
I have loved Star Trek since the original, (I’m 64.) I watched as you shamelessly expressed your love for Star Trek on the Ready Room. When you suddenly appeared on Picard, tears were running down my cheeks . What a joyous occurrence!!! I knew what it must have meant for you to be in Picard. And for the Traveler to show up…what moving, brilliant writing! I was really looking forward to hearing your thoughts and sharing your joy in the Ready Room after the show. I’m sorry they didn’t have one, So I searched for your reactions on the web, and found this site, Your post said it all, and fulfilled my desire to hear how it felt for you. I’m glad you’re happy now, and thrilled that you got an opportunity to act again in Star Trek, and to move your character forward.
Will Wheaton I am so happy that Wesley was finally on Picard. Your scenes on TNG were always fantastic. The characters of Wesley and Data were the most interesting ones on the show. Also you deserved better parents. Praying 🙏 for you and your family.
You were awesome, I cheered the moment I saw what was happening and I hope they find ways to give you more time on scree as the traveler…! !
Wil, I’ve truly enjoyed all the new Star Trek properties especially the way they’ve branched into different formats…and STILL, Traveler Wesley appearing onscreen was the single BEST moment in all of new Trek.
I’m roughly your age and Wesley was the element in TNG that let me image MYSELF being part of the crew.
Thank you for all that you do.
I’ve always loved the character of Wesley Crusher. I went from Star Trek fan to full blown Trekkie during a very dark time in my life buried deep in depression. Star Trek TNG helped me survive. I liked Wesley so much in fact I wrote a book where he’s the Captain of a starship looking for the Enterprise after it vanishes. I haven’t published the book but I hope to some day. A great Character deserves his own book.
Oh my Gods! I am so glad you are back! I have missed you and Wesley so very much! Thanks so much for the impact you have had on my life and I am so happy for you and for Wesley’s character! Welcome back, with much love!
I started watching the original Star Trek right from the beginning. When TNG came on I was a middle aged adult and could appreciate the series from that perspective. Reading of your personal struggles has, as I have followed you on Facebook, given me a great deal of respect for you. You have been tough yet sensitive, and I am sorry for how your personal life ran until you became an adult. I was a nerd as a teenager, and only wished I could have had your character to listen to for a different perspective. Keep up the good work, and the strong fight, you are a great man, and your wife is a great woman, together you make an unbeatable team!
After we were assured that Wesley wouldn’t be involved, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to see him. I felt bad that so many people hated Wesley. I’ve been a fan of Will Wheaton since he was a child actor. I was so excited that I sat forward and exclaimed, “Wesley!” I even smiled.
Your journeys’ parallels to the character of Wesley, then a Traveler, are so poignant, and it means so much to us because we all have so much we feel is “expected,” those constant inner-naggings that say:
“This is who you should be. This is who you have to be.”
And to know peace is to escape all those boxes we keep shoving ourselves in to. By sharing your very personal and honest journey with us, you are reminding us: we can be saved. Even if we have to save ourselves. And luckily, sometimes we meet wonderful souls who love us so much we learn to love ourselves more. Your wife sounds like a wonderful person and may all be so lucky to meet someone who sees them for who they are, and encourage them to be better. That is how evolution works.
I was so happy to see you finally return in the final episode of Picard season 2. I grew up staying up late at night to watch TNG. It expanded my mind to the possibilities of what we can become as a society. I’ve been a star trek fan as long as I can remember and this is one of those great moments in star trek history. I hope to see more of you and kore in the future. Love long and prosper Will.
I’ve never known that much about you Wil Wheaton, so it’s interesting to hear your story. Thank you for sharing about your struggle. Your account is inspiring because I’m still trying to figure out my own story, and I’m using Star Trek (one of the things I love most) as a vehicle to do this. Just so you know, I’ve always loved your character Wesley Crusher, and STNG rocked my world when it came out (I was in 7th grade) Hope you do return to season 3 Picard. I assumed you had teamed up with “The Traveler” from “Where No One Has Gone Before”. I’d like to know more about what Wesley has been up to!
Dammit, nobody to blame for spoiling on me this but me! 😀
That’s such good news, and I’m stoked now to catch up on the rest of season 2 (Europe, so I have to navigating dangerous bays!) WOO-HOO!
Wil, seeing you again as Wesley on Picard was a real treat. Joyful. Yes, Wesley has a beard. You kept the secret so well. Such fun…I want to be a traveler too. Thanks for everything you do and write but especially for your honesty and kindness.
Wil, I am so incredibly happy for you. You and your character deserved this. I have not been thrilled with some of the stories of Picard season 2, but Wesley “the Traveler” is definitely one they got right!
I very much enjoyed the Wesley/Kore scene in the Picard finale, but visually it looked slightly off to me, particularly Isa Briones’ appearance, which appeared to my eye almost like CGI/motion-capture. Wil, can you confirm if Isa was physically present as a scene partner in this sequence or if she was edited into it afterward—perhaps to help keep the surprise under wraps? Maybe I just need a new TV, but that scene looked like a composite done in post. Anyway, great to see you back in the Trek-verse!
I had the same thought about the way Kore looked!
There was a little behind-the-scenes featurette on The Ready Room, and they were both definitely physically present.
Yeah the suggestion it was all done in post is … surprising to me.
I am not a fanboi. I truly enjoy the Star Trek stories for the way they make me believe in the possibilities and the pure entertainment I receive from them. But, when I watched that episode last night I was genuinely “OMG! Wesley was featured in Picard!” I LOVED seeing the return of Wesley, however briefly, to the Star Trek universe. ❤
So glad to have seen you in that episode and so glad to read that post. Grow in grace and wisdom. Hope to see Wesley in future episodes somewhere.
Nice, Wil. I personally don’t like Star Trek Picard, but it’s good to see that you’re still getting work.
I finally had time to watch it. Loved it! It was definitely satisfying to watch. I thought your appearance really tied together some things that seemed just too conveniently coincidental but made a lot of sense once you knew who was behind it.
It also reminded me of this: https://wilwheaton.net/2017/01/i-watched-and-i-remembered/
I love that they incorporated your head cannon!
Thanks for this insightful piece Wil. Glad you have found your bliss and with a wonderful lady who is there for you. It was a nice surprise to see you on Picard. Love the Ready Room Get to hear backstage stories.
Peace and long life as some Vulcans might say
Wesley’s appearance in Picard Season 2 was, for me at any rate, a lovely touch of writing, and a beautiful decision. I was so glad to see the Traveler, and welcoming Kore in to the “fold” was a lovely idea. Only a couple of days before watching the episode I was talking with my 23 year old son [and fellow Trekkie] about how good it would be if Wesley’s character returned to put something right. [sounds a little like Quantum Leap, but not my intention]. Anyway, it was a perfect cameo. Especially as I’m just reading Will Wheaton’s marvellous book “Still Just A Geek”.
I am a very happy Trek fan, have been since 1968 here in the UK, even though we can’t get “Strange New Worlds” for a long time. Will, your honest is something rare. Your open heart warms me. I teach students age 11 through to 18, and so often I hear shades of Wesley in many of their lives. Thanks again.
As Will Wheaton is the same age as myself, I have enjoyed watching his character grow throughout the Franchise. I too was partly surprised and delighted to see his character reappear, giving Kore the same opportunity be was given by the Traveler.
Your story is so inspiring. I cried when I first read this blog and cried again when I read it to a friend. I loved Wesley even though I was an adult with my own kids during TNG. I saw myself so much. I just got your books and I guess that I’ll cry as I read them. I was so excited when The Traveler appeared and that you kept it a secret!!! So glad that you got your moment. I enjoy The Ready Room. God bless you Wil!!
Star Trek Nerd, Debbie
I can honestly say that the scene between Q and Picard in the solarium and yours with Kore were the highlights of the entire season for this longtime Trek fan. Thanks for helping to redeem the season.
I just finished reading “still just a geek” (and oddly enough, was also watching Jeopardy at the same time, when you were the clue “who is wil wheaton”). Am glad you finally got the help that you needed. was struck in the book when you continually called your sons “step sons” in the first part, then “sons” in the second. Also noted that in the first part you were complimentary towards your parents, but seemingly abruptly in the second mentioning that you’d ceased contact w/toxicity. But I understand, because when you’re surrounded by toxic, it’s safest to not point it out. and afterward, pointing out exactly in what ways they were is like continuing to push on a bruise to make sure it still hurts. Be well.
“Suit up, Wesley.”
I am very glad that you are feeling good about yourself. So important to treat yourself well and to realize how well you have done in life.
Per ardua ad astra (through adversity to the stars) … Good to see you back on screen!
Wesley as the star trek doctor who, adventures across space and time? Now that is a series I would watch and watch and watch…
Thank you for your stellar recap of events. Traveler Wesley’s surprise return was a geekgasm of the like I’ve never known. (Too many WTF OMFG WTF OMG OMG WOOT per second to even try recounting). Off the Richter Scale, at least until we collectively construct a scale of our own. (Wesley Scale has a nice ring to it, no?). Hats off to you!
So happy you took the lead in your life and found happiness. You deserve it. Wesley was a badass, but more importantly, so are you. Wesley distilled a lot of truths we identify with. But you still do the same in what you share and without the mask of fiction. And that’s even more badass. Truly, thank you!
What an amazing story. I’ve always identified with Star Trek. I tried to explain to my kids it was Always a place I escaped too.
I was “spoiled” about your return by this post cross-linked on FB since I “follow” you and hadn’t been able to actually see the episode yet. But I am so very glad the character is back and the sky (and time) is the limit for future intersections. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world all these years.
The only faults I found in Wesley Crusher were in the writing of the character (and mostly just in the first half of season 1 where much was faulty about the entire series). You inhabited and were Wesley flawlessly, and it was the scriptwriting that finally caught up too the character. You always nailed it.
I’m 62 years old, and much of me is still the smart kid that never fit in very much. I love reading about your journey and much still inspires me in your writing.
Can I tell you how happy your show “Ready Room” makes me? I grew up on Star Trek and continue to be a Trek nerd to this day, even bringing all things Trek into my 6th grade Math class (I teach). Great job on the Series finale of “Picard!”
So good to have you back, Wil! 😀
So very pleased to see you back on Trek Wil.
Wesley was a great character and despite it being 30+ years you have aged very very well ( you still look in your 20’s). As soon as you appeared there was no doubt who it was.
I found your article very moving as well and wish only the best for you and your family. It seems you have learnt the lessons from your ‘parents’.
I have just watched the scene and I can’t begin to tell you how happy it made me to combine the listening to Still Just A Geek and watching what could be closure but might just be so much more.
I’m glad you got the opportunity to do that. You deserved it. Some of the Wesley-centric episodes were straight bangers. First Duty, Final Mission, the Game, Evolution… all personal faves.
Wow! Will!! I was thrilled to see that Wesley is now a Traveller! But more than that, your willingness to share your story and your truth – in this post and in your books – is so inspiring. The path to a holistic, balanced, and happy life is often fraught with potholes. Thank you for reminding me once again, that there is a way through. Live long and prosper!
I had a feeling you were hiding something on The Ready Room during this season of Picard. I could see it in your body language and facial expressions. I’m so very happy to see you in Star Trek Canon again. I’m 47 and grew up watching TNG (and the rest of Star Trek.) You had a huge impact on my life. It was amazing and magical to see a kid, roughly the same age as me, so deeply entrenched in Starfleet operations. I was sad when you exited the show.
At any rate, if I may be so bold, I will never think of you as the “actor who played Wesley Crusher ” but instead the actor that brought Wesley Crusher to life. I’m not convinced any other child-actor at the time could have played that part so convincingly.
As for Wesley’s new title of “The Traveler formerly known as Wesley Crusher,” I don’t think it does justice to the memory of Wesley. He was more important to us (as Trekkies) to simply belittle him in that manner, IMHO. Instead, I believe ‘The Traveler Wesley Crusher’ is more appropriate. Remember, Prince tried to change his name to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, but we all knew he would always be Prince. Just like Wesley Crusher will ALWAYS be Wesley Crusher. I think Beverly Crusher would agree.
I look forward to many more Ready Rooms, sir. Thanks for your devotion to Trek and to us fans, and thank you for being Wesley.
PEACE AND LONG LIFE. 🖖
I want to apologize to you Wil and to all the other fans of Wesley I may have hurt. Awhile back I tweeted a couple of pictures of custom Fluxx cards based upon the TableTop Day promos that you and Felicia Day produced. In the tweet I made reference to the “Shut up, Wesley” line from the Datalore episode. I thought it was a bit funny and clever but it was not. it was hurtful and I’m sorry. There is no excuse for it and I should have known better. I realized my error after reading your post about the Lego mini-figures, “because so many of you asked…” Unfortunately, it is so easy to disregard the feelings of others and to forget that public figures are persons with feelings and I am sorry for for the pain I caused anyone who so my tweet. I have deleted them. I wish you all the joy in the world. You through your work on TableTop have brought an immense amount of joy to my family as we have become dedicated board gamers because of you. Thank you for all the joy you have brought to others.
I really appreciate you taking the time to post this. Thank you. Your kindness is wonderful, your apology is gratefully accepted.
Best kept secret and best trek surprise ever. ❤
Though It makes one wonder , what would have been Sheldon.Cooper’s reaction?
Wow. I might be tearing up here.
What an absolutely beautiful and joy filled post. Like many, I was astonished, surprised and so very happy to see you appear in the final episode of season two. Sadly I’ve not seen much of the Ready Room here in the UK but love reading your posts, this is the first I’ve replied too. Thank you so much and so glad you found yourself and have helped others to do the same. Humanity needs more of this in general.
I adored Ep. 10. So many great moments, very much including yours… I can’t wait to see what the Ready Room discussion of this episode will bring!
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