Star Trek Actor Addresses Reason for Missing TNG Character in Picard Season 3
There's a very good reason that Wesley Crusher wasn't in the third season of Star Trek: Picard, says actor Wil Wheaton. We just need to look at the comics.
This post contains spoilers for Star Trek: Picard.
To be sure, Star Trek: Picard season three pulled off something of a magic trick, bringing back not only the main cast of The Next Generation but also featuring surprising cameos. But by the time the credits rolled on the final episode, there was one main character conspicuously missing from the original lineup of TNG characters: Wesley Crusher.
Wesley’s absence from Picard season three seemed particularly glaring given the overall plot of those final 10 episodes, in which Picard and company go on a spacefaring trip to rescue Beverly Crusher and her son Jack. It’s a mission somewhat familiar to the once and future crew of the Enterprise-D, as they did the same a few times for Beverly’s firstborn, Wesley.
That is until Wesley’s special talents led him to become a Traveler, an explorer across space and time (think the Doctor from Doctor Who). The Traveler was first introduced in a season one episode of TNG, and appeared on a few other occasions, at key points in the timeline (think the Watcher from Marvel Comics). Despite these appearances, the Traveler was never really explained in mainline continuity. When Wesley joins the Traveler in season seven, fans didn’t really know what that meant, other than the fact that he wouldn’t be on the remaining episodes and movies (more on that last part in a minute).
Still, some fans were left wondering why Wheaton couldn’t pop in for a visit at all during the final season of Picard, especially since he was namechecked several times throughout the adventure. Well, Wheaton himself has now offered somewhat of an explanation based on some pre-existing lore from Star Trek tie-in media. According to the actor, Travelers are bound by rules that prevent them from doing certain things, such as playing a round of poker with elderly shipmates.
In response to an io9 article about questions left unanswered by the Picard finale, Wheaton wrote on Facebook, “One of the fundamental rules of being in the Travelers is that, once you’ve joined, you must NEVER interact directly with the people, places, planets, etc. that were part of your previous life, because it can affect your judgment and break reality.” So while “Wesley would like nothing more than to visit his mom, and meet his brother,” he’s willing to make the sacrifice because he’s “in service of something so much bigger than anything else in his reality.”
Wheaton admits that his explanation is “headcanon,” deriving largely from a story he wrote for Star Trek #400, a celebratory anthology comic from IDW Publishing, specifically the story, “A Matter of Choice,” drawn by Joe Eisma, colored by DC Alonso, and lettered by Nathan Widick.
But rather than explain Wesley’s situation, Wheaton’s story actually further complicates it. The fact that Wesley is present for the wedding of Deanna Troi and Will Riker in Nemesis, and that he did appear in the finale of Picard season two to recruit Kore Soong to the Travelers (technically, an alternate reality, we guess, but it’s still a timeline touched by Jean-Luc), proves that the rules can be broken. And no sooner does Wesley tell readers about his restrictions than he visits an elderly Picard in that very same comic book, before going on to find Kore.
Ultimately, Wheaton’s explanation is not canon and thus doesn’t entirely have to gel with the shows and movies. In my headcanon, Wesley was there in Ten Forward during the poker game, standing by off-screen Guinan. But every time he tried to speak, Picard responded in his usual way.
Star Trek: Picard season 3 is streaming now on Paramount+.