Denise Crosby: I Was Miserable On Star Trek TNG

Actress Denise Crosby has the unique distinction of being the first actor to ask to leave the main cast of a Trek series when she walked away before finishing the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She later returned for some guest spots and even did a couple of Star Trek "Trekkies" documentaries so she never fully left Star Trek behind, but in a new interview Crosby says that she has no regrets and that she was "miserable" in that first season of TNG.

 

Crosby: I was miserable on TNG

Denise Crosby famously walked away from being a member of the main cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation shortly before the end of the first season. Her character of Tasha Yar was killed off in the episode "Skin of Evil." In an interview with the official Star Trek site, Crosby says that with everything she knows now she would do it again, and she explained…

I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get off that show. I was dying. This was not an overnight decision. I was grateful to have made that many episodes, but I didn’t want to spend the next six years going “Aye, aye, captain,” and standing there, in the same uniform, in the same position on the bridge. It just scared the hell out of me that this was what I was going to be doing for the next X-amount of years. I think you have to take your chances. I was really young. I didn’t have to make house payments or put kids through private school or support people. I was free to make those kinds of decisions. I’d been in acting school really dreaming of playing all kinds of different things. Whether it’ll happen or not, you don’t know, but you’ve got to give yourself a chance. God forbid you go through your life thinking, “What if?”

The actress also notes how she never expected to return to the series:  

I was surprised on so many levels. First of all, my character was dead. But, I did leave on really good terms. Gene Roddenberry and I met one on one in his office. There was no animosity. I don’t know that anybody really wanted me to go. I think it stirred up a lot of things in all the other cast members. I’m not exactly sure what, but you’ve got to question your own commitment or your own place, what you’re doing there. I think it stirs up stuff. However, Gene and I were very clear about what was going on. He said to me, “I don’t want you to go, but I get it. I get why you’re leaving. I was a young writer at one time and I was hungry and I was frustrated, and I get that.” We hugged and that was it. He got where I was coming from. So I was very happy to come back for “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and in a certain way I had more to do in that episode than I’d ever had to do before.


Crosby appearing at her own funeral in "Skin of Evil" and returning in "Yesterday’s Enteprise"

More from Crosby at Star Trek.com Part 1Part 2)

 

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rogue_alice
March 19, 2012 12:08 pm

It is awful to feel trapped in any situation. I applaud her guts to leap.

space ta tas
March 19, 2012 12:15 pm

I wish she could have died in a fight instead of the oil slick killing her!

Harry Ballz
March 19, 2012 12:19 pm

It’s funny when people feel trapped in an acting role and elect to move on to…..

obscurity.

WillH85
March 19, 2012 12:19 pm

One of those calls that seemed right at the time but turned out probably not to be. TNG was a series that took a season or two to find its self and I think Tasha would have, like other characters, become more three dimensional and gotten more personal camera time as the series went on. But we’ve all made choices like that before where we make the best one we can with what we know at the time. At least it made for a cool comeback and a cool storyline with that. I wish they would have brought Sela back again, like in a TNG movie or something. Too good of a character just to get nerve pinched and that’s the last we see.

Michael Hall
March 19, 2012 12:29 pm

Can’t blame her, really. The first season scripts which featured her character were, by and large, terrible. It would take one more full season and a revolving door of showrunners and story editors before they ended up with Michael Piller, who not only gave the show some much-needed dramatic heft and creative stability, but ended up bringing on some additional fine writing talent as well. TNG fans owe him a great debt.

As for Ms. Crosby, while I totally respect her desire as an actress to want to do a variety of things and not be typecast as the result of spending years shooting a TV space opera, the sad truth is that her post-TNG career didn’t exactly set the world on fire, her most notable accomplishments being her return guest-starring roles on several episodes of the show, the “Trekkies” documentaries, and even playing her character’s ancestor in a fan film production. Despite her efforts, looks like the space opera devoured her career after all. Life can be cruel that way–but of course, there’s much worse.

GaryP
March 19, 2012 12:37 pm

The character of Tasha Yar that we know would have been COMPLETELY different had the show progressed. Michael Dorn’s Worf truly benefited from her departure as Worf become fleshed out after he moved to security chief.

Horatio
March 19, 2012 12:47 pm

+10 Harry Balz!

I’ll never understand most artists. Denise leaves TNG for the reasons she states then pretty much carves out a career out of her less than one season on TNG.

I’ve had the chance to meet and talk with her a few times and she is an incredibly kind and approachable person. If she is happy with having Tasha Yar being taken out by an intergalactic BP then more power to her.

But unlike GR, i’ll never get it.

USSEXETER
March 19, 2012 12:57 pm

I too liked Yar but Harry Ballz has said it best. +20

trekmaster
March 19, 2012 1:00 pm

Hm, don’t know. I’m sure the character would have had much more to do if she hadn’t left that early. The first season was poor for any character related to years that had come after.

March 19, 2012 1:01 pm

I’m pretty sure Crosby was originally going to play Troi, and Sirtis as Yar. Gene Roddenberry saw the actresses and switched their casting.

I would never have guessed she was miserable. Much better actress than she’s given credit for then.

John
March 19, 2012 1:02 pm

This was the best thing to happen to Michael Dorn.

Tanner Waterbury
March 19, 2012 1:10 pm

AHHH my medicine has kicked back in…welcome back TM staff!

Harry Ballz
March 19, 2012 1:12 pm

7+8

Thanks guys!

The way you two are betting quatloos on me, it makes me feel like a “newcomer”!

CAPT KRUNCH
March 19, 2012 1:27 pm

If she was so miserable, and she was as miserable to watch, then why come back to do Yesterday’s Enterprise and Unification and so on. I know her career went nowhere after she left…she had the stupid death scene…blah blah blah….. I’m glad she left…we got Worf!..
You tell em Harry!

njdss4
March 19, 2012 1:41 pm

Harry said it best. Denise left to move on to nothing. She never gave the show a chance to develop her character, then seemed desperate to get back into the show with Reunification.

Michael Hall
March 19, 2012 2:07 pm

“It’s funny when people feel trapped in an acting role and elect to move on to…..

obscurity.”

Cute, but my best guess is that obscurity wasn’t what she was betting on. If you haven’t taken any wrong turns in your life, made with the best judgement you could muster and the information you had at the time, then I envy you.

Harry Ballz
March 19, 2012 2:14 pm

Coming to realize that you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom.

pass the Tranya
March 19, 2012 2:17 pm

personally, i never liked the character. i know they were all pretty thin seaon 1, but unfortunately, i think her portrayal of an (admittedly) bad character made it even worse.

I bet Data was glad she hung around for a while tho…

pass the Tranya
March 19, 2012 2:25 pm

btw,

wasn’t the planet that the ‘skin of evil’ lived on named after the “little blue pill”..?

Dr. Cheis
March 19, 2012 2:37 pm

I never much liked the Tasha character and was a bit glad they killed her off. It seemed like her role was too much defined by “she’s the chief of security AND a woman!” and not much of a person beyond that.

After she died, all mentions of her became much more significant, and I enjoyed seeing her return was a lot more exciting than having her around to begin with, and I enjoyed her much more after that.

La Reyne d'Epee
March 19, 2012 2:44 pm

Re obscurity: are all actors solely motivated by a desire for fame and wealth? Perhaps a lot are happy simply to get by and do work that interests them. I always think actors who end up in big blockbusters for example actually have their options severely limited. I daresay lots of them go off and do obscure theatre as an antidote…

Fueled by Armus
March 19, 2012 2:55 pm

I wouldn’t have a single issue with her words in this interview if not for the fact that she came up with the idea that got her back on the show! Seriously!! If she was truly “so miserable” why would she even entertain the thought of going back – much less help create that storyline?

She jumped ship mid-season and lost out. I would think that jumping mid-season probably hurt her career more than she thought at a “young age” of 30. Who would want to take a chance on an actress who quits a few episodes in because she’s not happy with how her character is being developed?

And of course she’d do it again. She’d still come back on the show and still be able to be a part of the Trekkies films and still make the rounds at conventions.

Vultan
March 19, 2012 3:12 pm

She came back because TNG was a great show in the third season.
Not so much in the first season….

I don’t blame her for jumping ship. Even Mr. Confident Leading Man: Patrick Stewart was doubtful of the show’s success in the beginning, as were many others.

The Great Bird of the Galaxy lives!
March 19, 2012 4:04 pm

Hmmm Wonder if her Playboy spread had anything to do with it? I think they axed her= Kapoots

Kev-1
March 19, 2012 4:12 pm

I liked her and still do, but you don’t always know what’s going to happen with a character. Worf was a late cast addition and could have become nothing but Klingon wallpaper. Instead he became a staple of two series. So, you never know. Having said that, it usually never pays to stay where you’re not happy. Unless you absolutely must.

Phil
March 19, 2012 4:14 pm

I suspect that considering how rancid the scripts were the first couple of years everyone was miserable. One has to be able to evaluate what the production was capable of, and decide if things were capable of improving or not. Considering how her career tailed off from there, I do hope she fired whoever was giving her equally rancid advice.

Ted C
March 19, 2012 4:31 pm

Just think Ms Crosby, if you had stuck around you would have seven seasons of tv work and 4 movies on your resume. What do you have now, I cant remember?

Jinn-Jinn
March 19, 2012 4:33 pm

I can understand where she’s coming from. What some might consider a joy, others might consider misery. Especially when you’re young and you want to do other things.

TrekMadeMeWonder
March 19, 2012 4:41 pm

It was about time that a major character died on Trek. Face it NextGen’rs that first season was pretty awful.

Red Dead Ryan
March 19, 2012 4:59 pm

Denise Crosby was also in “Deep Impact”.

montreal_paul
March 19, 2012 5:39 pm

And Pet Cemetery.

Red Dead Ryan
March 19, 2012 5:46 pm

Crosby also appeared on episodes of “The X-Files” and “NYPD Blue”.

Goosenecked Fan
March 19, 2012 5:48 pm

Hey!!! ANTHONY LIVES!!!! HE HAS A PULSE!!! YAYYYYYYY!!! NEWS GALORE!!!! YIPPEEEE!!!

Captain_Conrad
March 19, 2012 6:02 pm

Man, had Rick been in charge at the time, she would have never been let back in. Gene was the last TV series director with a heart. Anyone else would have shunned her and never let her have a career, but Roddenberry wasn’t doing Star Trek for the money. He did it because he loved Sc-Fi and didn’t take offense to people wanting to move on. Now a days, the Hollywood elite is so wrapped up in locking people into their series or movies, that they will destroy anyone who wants to do other things. I’m glad I chose the Coast Guard and decided not to pursue a life in that world of heartlessness and discontent with anyone who has dreams of going places.

March 19, 2012 6:18 pm

I admire her pluck for getting out of something she wasn’t happy doing. Whether it worked out for her or not, that’s for Crosby to decide and my opinion isn’t necessary.

richpit
March 19, 2012 6:48 pm

I was glad when Tasha died. The character was horrible and cliche. Yeah, she’s a tough *female* security officer…we get it. The only thing possibly worse? The character of her sister…or whoever that was supposed to be.

Also, I don’t think Denise is much of an actress, even given that the scrips did mostly suck.

That said, it was brave of her to make the decision and sad for her that her career never turned into much of anything afterwards.

CarlG
March 19, 2012 6:53 pm

It’s too bad they didn’t do anything with her character in Season 1. A woman doing a quote-unquote man’s job must have been way more of an anomaly on 80’s tv than today… they could have done something with that I’m sure. Too bad they basically treated her like a glorified redshirt.

CmdrR
March 19, 2012 7:07 pm

She still has a career, which is more than most 80’s actors can say today.

I don’t think most of the actors got much to do in season one. It’s a shame. but few season one eps showed the promise of what was to come. So, I guess it made sense for her at the time.

Good luck.

PeterW
March 19, 2012 7:20 pm

Nobody got to do much in season one. It sucked. It’s hard to say how much development anybody would have gotten if she’d stayed, because the fact that Worf moved way up in her wake demonstrates the show may have been overcrowded.

TrekMadeMeWonder
March 19, 2012 7:50 pm

36. richpit – March 19, 2012
“The character of her sister…or whoever that was supposed to be.”

I think I know!!!!

http://www.siegler.net/dallastrek/toussaint.html

Orb of Wisdom
March 19, 2012 7:54 pm

I still think that Star Trek: Nemesis would have been better if instead of that Donatra character, they would’ve had Denise come back as Sela, and have Sela turn out to not be alternate Tasha Yar’s daughter, but a genetically altered and brainwashed Tasha Yar herself. The Romulans already were proven to have that kind of ability and desire, and just where did the Romulans get Picard’s DNA to make Shinzon to begin with? coughcough*alternateTasha*coughcough

CarlG
March 19, 2012 7:58 pm

Oh, and she was Dexter’s first kill, too! :)

Jack
March 19, 2012 8:03 pm

39. Agreed. And that first season really was terrible, and I’m not just saying that to be a jerk.

I remember wondering at the time whether it was good form to say to the press why she was leaving. But, I don’t think it hurt her or the show in the long run — she’s had as good a post Trek career as any of them (Stewart’s in his own category).

I agree that her character, like all of them that season, was neither sketched out nor given much to do. For some reason though, I remember her bad lines more than the others’ at that time (the over-enunciated cannots, etc.and lots of “In the 24th century we have evolved beyond…”). The bits about her having to regularly escape from the rape gangs on her home colony and the amazement of others that she was a female (!) security officer were both, well, bizarre, even for the late ’80s.

I didn’t love Troi that first season either and I grew to really like her (but wish she hadn’t just turned into Marina Sirtis in the movies). Heck, I didn’t love, or particularly like, any of them that first season.

Magic_Al
March 19, 2012 8:09 pm
^22. She didn’t come up with the idea for her return in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. Rather, her good experience on “Yesterday’s Enterprise” inspired her to create Tasha’s daughter Sela as way to continue that storyline. Unfortunately, many of the “what ifs” of Star Trek involve women characters not being allowed to develop. This goes back to the very beginning with NBC not accepting Majel Barrett as Number One, Grace Lee Whitney being fired (despite her being more integral to the episodes she’s in than, Sulu, Uhura, or later Chekov often were) and Nichelle Nichols deciding to quit (but legendarily being talked out it for sociopolitical reasons). Denise Crosby’s reasons for quitting were similar to Nichelle Nichols’: “hailing frequencies open” is not acting. And then there’s the firing of Gates McFadden, which although reversed a year later left a void during a crucial time of the show’s evolution. (One of the things that couldn’t be experimented with in the second season was developing the Crusher family relationship. By the time she returned, it was illogical to depict mother and son as dependent on each other, and Wil Wheaton quit the next year. The idea of families on the starship never gained a lot of credibility and was ultimately abandoned largely because the one family relationship in the main cast never really got a lot of thread sewn into the tapestry.) DS9 and Voyager had stronger female characters than previous Treks, but yet again each show lost regular cast members who happened to… Read more »
Daniel Shock
March 19, 2012 8:22 pm

I think things worked out exactly as they should have. She seems like a lovely person and did the right thing for her. It turned out well for all concerned.

Reliana
March 19, 2012 8:55 pm

I knew the Tasha Yar character could have been so much more but couldn’t figure out what was missing until it was brought up elsewhere that Tasha Yar should have been Kara Thrace before Kara Thrace.

r0bt3k
March 19, 2012 10:54 pm

i dunno i can understand being type cast, but atleast if you are u will still be famous for the rest of you life, there will be endless conventions camios and so on, but yes it crappy she couldnt have had her character fleshed out more

oh well, Ce la vie,

r0bt3k
March 19, 2012 10:55 pm

and thats Still all money in the bank to get by on

Jim Nightshade
March 20, 2012 12:15 am

Admittedly, denise got to stretch her acting chops much more with yesterdays enterprise n sela episodes…as already said if she woulda stayed her character would have had more depth n better stories…she was also the perfect host for the trekkies docs just the right amount of bemused deachment from the fandom yet being a perpheral member so fans would relate more to her n also confess more personal feelings et al….besides playboy didnt she do an erotic showtime episode of red shoe diaries…wasnt that a david duhovy show–its really tough in hollywood–she did better than some trek actors by quitting right away n with her guest roles she had her cake n ate it too–and re skin of evil…stupid episode wasting her death…she should have died saving her captain or crew..like an honorable klignon death in battle not taken out by an oil slick—

Greenberg
March 20, 2012 12:18 am

How apt, since Tasha made me so miserable. I was glad when she left, the show improved with her absence, and I would get a migraine every time she tried to come back – either in alternate universes, or as her half Romulan daughter, or *BARF* in fanfilms. Just when you think you’ve gotten rid of her, bam – she’s back.

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