Gates McFadden Talks Picard Show, Parallels Between ‘Star Trek: TNG’ And ‘Discovery,’ And More

This weekend, Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tour is holding their Trekonderoga event in Ticonderoga, New York. Saturday’s headliner for the annual convention was Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Gates McFadden. Speaking at a press briefing, TrekMovie and the gathered media were able to ask the actress some questions about her time as Dr. Crusher, her thoughts on Discovery, and what she knows about the new Picard Star Trek series in development with Sir Patrick Stewart.

Excited for Picard show, doesn’t know if she is in it

McFadden, who co-starred with Patrick Stewart through all but one season of TNG and through four feature films, responded to a question about what she knows about the new Picard show by revealing she is just as in the dark as the fans:

No, we haven’t [heard anything], and I am sure Patrick will fill us in sometime. I have no idea if we are in it, or if it is just Patrick or what. We will all find out, but it is just so cool, though. It is very exciting. Again, I am always blown away by the fans, who have loved the show and Roddenberry’s vision for so long and through so many different series, and they have all been so wonderful. I am as excited as everybody else.

Sees parallels with the Discovery and TNG casts

When asked a question about how Wilson Cruz had talked about researching Star Trek doctors for his role as Dr. Hugh Culber for Star Trek: Discovery, the actress talked about the parallels she sees between her cast and the new one:

I have talked to some of the [Star Trek: Discovery] cast and I love them. They have the same vibe that our cast did. They are laughing together. They love each other. They like to hang out together, which is awesome. So, that is inspiring to see that is still happening. I have yet to meet a Star Trek cast member of any show that I didn’t like. I enjoyed all of them, and they are all great people.

Specifically regarding Wilson Cruz’ comments about emulating Dr. Crusher’s heart in his performance, McFadden said:

That touches me. I am very happy he felt that way about Crusher, because Gene [Roddenberry] wanted her to be tough, but also very human. And really be more of a doctor and worried about humanity and really argue with [the captain] about the Prime Directive. That was one of the purposes of my character and I was really happy with that and thought it was cool.

Gates McFadden on the TOS sickbay set recreation at Trekconderoga 2018 (Photo: Star Trek: The Original Series Set Tour)

Happy with Crusher being thought-provoking

Following up on McFadden’s comment about the original plan for Dr. Crusher, the actress talked about how she felt the role did indeed match Roddenberry’s vision:

I feel that happened a fair amount. I feel episodes like “The High Ground,” where I disobey because of the Hippocratic Oath and I want to save someone who is suffering, but I get us all in trouble. Again, it provokes a discussion and having a discussion where people think, that is the idea behind Star Trek, to give you the idea of possibilities and show you problems where you can go this way or that way and you have to think about what the solution is.

Sees message about gender identity in “The Host”

When asked if she felt there was a message about transitioning and gender identity in Data’s arc on TNG, the actress said she didn’t see that, but did point to a fourth season episode she felt did deal with those issues:

To me what was more fascinating in terms of kids transitioning was the episode about the Trill. I thought “The Host” had our first gay writer. I met the writer, I thought it was a fantastic script. A lot of people were very shocked by it. Again, I thought it was pretty daring to ask what is love. How much is the personality, the experiences you had. How much is the physical. Just asking those questions is really interesting and we should be thinking about that. I thought the Trill were more about transitioning to me than the machine becoming human.

Gates McFadden in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s  “The Host”

Loves McCoy’s sickbay, wishes she used hers more

The press interviews took place on the recreation of McCoy’s sickbay from the original Star Trek, where she was asked what she would have liked to have seen or done differently with her set from The Next Generation. She also contrasted the looks of the two sets (TOS and TNG):

I would have liked the chance to have used certain things and had time to explore it. It was so, so clean, our set. It was so minimal. But, over time you could develop how you wanted to do your computer thing. But, I love the color palette of the whole series of this original set. It is awesome and they have done such a good job. It is Mad Men meeting Mars. I do love this color palette a lot, ours was much more sober.

Here is a brief video of Gates on the TOS sickbay set talking about how she liked the aesthetic.

Urban headlines Trekonderoga  Sunday

Tomorrow’s headliner at Trekonderoga is Karl Urban. TrekMovie will have coverage of his appearance, so stay tuned on Sunday.

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Love McFadden. It would be criminal if we don’t see her on the new show, even if just an episode or two. I have a feeling most will at least make an appearance of some kind. I would love to see them married personally but don’t expect it to happen.

As far as The Host and Trill society in general I have always said this is Star Trek’s view of being transexual since they literally live as both a man and a woman. Dax in many ways should’ve been a more controversial character but I guess because she was a hot woman pretending to once be a man people weren’t bothered by it. Hope we see more Trills in Discovery (not just Section 31 decoys) or the Picard show. I love that species.

It would be great to see Picard and Crusher living together happily on the Picard estate, tending the grapes and solving medical mysteries. That probably doesn’t have the dramatic beats that CBS is looking for, but the characters had great chemistry that was never really explored.

Picard handling the archaeology end.

Sounds like that could make a fun episode, especially if this ‘shore leave’ were to come under threat by something that takes the two of them working together to solve.

I disagree about the trans thing. The Trill itself doesn’t seem to have a sex but is put into either a male or female body. It remembers having been in a male or female body previously but the Trill or it’s memories do not affect how the host views their sex. Jadzia and Ezri both had the memories of previous male hosts but did not consider themselves a man.

If anything, I would say the Trill represent the gender critical argument that what you are inside does not affect your sex – only your body does. You can have a more “masculine” personality but your body is female so you are a woman. Neither Jadzia or Ezri felt the need to change their appearance to match previous host memories. Jadzia was still able to do things Cortzan did with Klingons, even if they were more typically “male” things.

I see what you mean. I guess transexual isn’t the word for it. But I mean someone who feels comfortable in either sex or gender and have no problem relating to either. That’s what I really love about them. The Host really drove it home, he/she loved Beverly as a person, not an actual sex or gender. I think you make a good point, neither Jadzia or Erzi acted or looked like a man, but they still had no problem talking about their past experiences as a man. That’s pretty liberating when gender and sex is so fluid.

What I mean is I’m guessing if most of us came back in another life, I’m sure most of us would want to come back as the same sex we are now because that’s what we know and (usually) feel comfortable with. But for a Trill it doesn’t matter, it’s just another person and experience and they act accordingly.

I just really love what the Trill species represent and I’m happy they actually made one as a full time character. They could’ve done that one episode in TNG and we never heard of them again. But that’s why I love DS9 in general though.

But as I said, it’s more acceptable for a woman to pretend to be a man. I think if it was a male character who use to be a woman, it may had more controversy.

In rejoined Dax has issues related to her memories of having been married to a previous symbiont that is also in a female body.

Its absolutely impossible for non of the TNG cast to be involved in some way. I think Riker is a given seen as he is already well involved in the machinations of the Discovery producers.

It’ll be interesting if anything will happen with Data, especially when Brent Spiner really is too old to play him now…

I think Tom Hiddleston has been proposed as a new Data, at least proposed by fans for a supposed reboot of TNG. He’s a pretty big star though.

@Marja — that’s actually a good thing for a guest star. It’s hard to imagine Data as a regular character in a show about Picard, but as the occasional guest star it makes sense and a big name draw would be great. Of course, that’s not why everyone’s so excited about this show — it’s the nostalgia of seeing the same old actor performing the same old role. Hard to imagine what ire a new actor playing the same old character would draw from the fanbase. They’d probably be better off explaining that B4, being a prototype, had a catastrophic systems failure and had to have his consciousness transferred to a new body that we learn Data had been developing in his secret lab before his death.

Hiddleston isn’t a big star outside of the MCU.

One line about Data enacting a program that simulates the progressive aging of his appearance and that problem is solved.

Good point!

I agree with Tiger 2. She needs to be on the Picard show. From the pictures, its obvious she’s as beautiful as ever.

I saw her in person last year at a comic convention that I was set up at and she is definitely still a knockout.

Going to see her at Rose City Comic Con in Portland Oregon on September 7th thru 9th this year! Going to give Troy a cellular peptide cake of Riker too

And here I thought Patrick Stewart was the one who never aged.

I would love to see her as a recurring character, the Ex-Mrs. Picard, on the new show, Jean-Luc’s Antiques Roadshow to the Stars.

Federation Pickers, looking for rusty gold in the backwaters of Federation space…

I find it funny that the enterprise-d sickbay has carpet… It must be difficult to get blood out?!

So did TOS, I believe. Although, it was green.

@Danwat1234 — they beam it out nightly

Are you kidding, they probably have micro-transport technology for that sort of thing. I could really use that in my House of Cat Hair

They’re still sets. Keeps the sound down.

“No, we haven’t [heard anything], and I am sure Patrick will fill us in sometime. I have no idea if we are in it, or if it is just Patrick or what.” — Gates McFadden


I remember when I got grilled here several weeks back for saying that Marina Sirtus was not in the know about the new Stewart series when she had made that tweet about a month before the Vegas convention that she doubted a new Stewart Trek series would happen. Some posters here (like that “Lion3” or similarly named dude who posts likes 100 times per day here) insisted I was wrong, and that of course she was in the know and that she was being deliberately misleading.

Well, this comment from McFadden I think shows that my position here was most probably correct. Stewart has been extremely secretive on this, and likely did not share any info on this with other former TNG cast members, just as I had suggested was the case earlier.

“My position.” What, are you running for Senate? Get over yourself.

Seriously??? Take a Prozac or get a massage yourself. Sheesh!

I don’t think McFadden’s comments prove anything one way or the other. Gates and Marina may be telling the truth or they may be adhering to a studio mandate not to reveal anything. I don’t know the answer to this but given the policy of the DSC cast to deny everything last season I am open to the probability that the TNG cast know more than they’re letting on.

@Corinthian 7

Sure, I agree with you that this whole situation of “did Stewart tell his TNG friends or didn’t he” could be interpreted either way still. But I was ridiculed by the one blow-hard poster for suggesting that Marina Sirtus may have not known when whe made those Twitter remarks, and I think this shows that it’s really an unknown now regarding what she knew when she tweeted.

I think it’s probably most likely that they don’t know, but I can respect your opinion that this could be the reverse.

I love that you feel the need to state your position [i.e., your PREDICTION] was correct. Most of us don’t scroll through the past threads to check on it, but whatever makes you happy.

This kind of talk reminds me of a former poster here who left under the cloud of s0ck pupp3ting. Don’t be that guy.

Hi Marja,

If I had not been ridiculed by a certain person here for this earlier opinion of mine, I would have forgotten about this long ago. Perhaps that person might be that former poster you are talking about who left under a cloud, because they never take accountability when they are shown to be wrong on anything here, and their “quantity over substance” style of lazy posting is truly annoying — but, I could overlook that if they didn’t act so entitled and condescending in their posts.

I am a human being. When people ridicule my opinions, yes, I remember it, and I will point it out if and when I am vindicated by new information. Admittedly, I should probably let things slide more though — you are probably right on that. :-)


Re: lazy posting

You mean like the way you could not even bother to check the your comment “fully contracted” chain before blurting out?:

“In other words, just as I said, you never mentioned Hemsworth…” – BorgKlingon

“The only credible contract reporting I’ve seen was that Paramount optioned 3 actors of which Hemsworth was one.” — Disinvited


Re: misleading posting

LOL. You know very well that I was specifically was challenging what you said several months back, not this week…only this week did you mention Hemsworth with that quote you show now. Nice try!


Re: … challenging what you said several months back

And if you bothered to click on the link, (Hell, even lazily look at the date embedded in the URL, itself) you discover that the quote IS from several months back and that you are indeed what you profess others to be, lazy.

…or, it could be that McFadden isn’t going to be a part of the Stewart show. The TV show will be promoting his return heavily, so until then, all we know is it’s ‘in development’.

Sound familiar….

As a African American child growing up during the 60’s, I was absolutely thrilled with Star Trek. It was the perfect escape from all the social chaos of that time. Whenever I walked outside or went to school there was always racism,hate or fear. My one joy was being able to come home and see Star Trek. It gave me hope that someday we could come together as a human race, where you were judged by your humanity, and not the color of your skin. Mr Roddenberry’s vision is so far ahead of its time it is still a vessel of social virtue today. It is his vision for a better human society, that keeps us coming back for more, or constantly setting the bar higher, to levels he dares us to achieve. We may not have the technology used in his vision, but we can change our humanity up to the standards of it. Which I think may have been his goal for us all along.


I do think Roddenberry had a bit of a retrograde view of women [“women can’t be captains”], and I don’t know WHO ultimately decided women officers needed to wear micro-mini skirts, but ASIDE from that, Star Trek still inspired me, and gave me a “home and family” I didn’t feel in my everyday life.

Your post is a lovely and succinct summation of why Star Trek matters.

Thank you.

I disagree about the absence of trek technology. In many areas we have already surpassed trek. Science has proven that warp drive and transporters are b.s.. …we already live in a trek inspired reality!…….!

100% agreed as well!

It’s why so many of us love Star Trek so much! :)

Where does she love now? I’m hearing an accent in her voice.

She’s originally from Ohio, maybe she’s reverted to her home accent?

Hopefully One of the Star Trek Shows coming either Star Trek Reliant or Star Trek Destiny eill be more Pop Action Adventure Driven rather then Cerebral.

Its early days with the Discovery cast in my opinion.
If they are still having a whale of a time come Year 5, or 6, or God forbid, 7, then I think it’s safer to say we have a cast that likes each other as much as the TNG guys did!

Is Patrick’s show going to stay canon to the books? It seems after TNG the books continued to bring more of the crews story. Picard and Crusher are married and have a child or are the program writers stirring away from canon?

Kirsten Beyer is involved, and she has been a Star Trek novel writer long before she started on Discovery. So there is a change they might recognize some of the books. On the other hand, Patrick Stewart also seems to be actively involved in developing this show, and he may have other plans for Picard.

Books aren’t canon. The writers made it VERY clear back in the early days of Next Generation that only what was shown on TV or in the movies (with the exception of the animated series) was canon.

Books are not canon. Only filmed Star Trek presented on screen by Paramount, Desilu, or CBS is considered canon. Even the animated series is considered dubious by some :^)

“Parallels Between ‘Star Trek: TNG’ And ‘Discovery,’” There are none at all

You’re right. Discovery’s first season started off a lot stronger than TNG’s first.

A lot to think about with the trill. So nice to hear from Gates. Maybe we have not seen the last of Dr. Crusher?

I would love to see her on an episode of The Big Bang Theory playing Wil Wheaton’s mother.

Listen, if there’s anyone who needs to be on the show or make an appearance in an episode, it’s Gates. More than Riker, more than B4, more than Troi or anyone, Beverly had some sort of a future with Picard in both books and an alternate future in TNG. There are just a few characters that I really need to see in this show and those would be Beverly, maybe Guinan – finally answering the age old (what’s they’re relationship) question, and Q makes senese if the story calls for it. One of those 3 have got to be here.

@PEB — as far as Q goes, I wouldn’t mind Picard waking up from a dream to find all of TNG had been one, at least the episodes with Q. hadn’t thought about Guinan, but yes I think you’re right. I’d definitely love to see Beverly again, as long as we don’t have to see Will again. They’d make a great Hepburn and Tracy.

Or he wakes up in the 35th century surrounded by a group of people and discovers all 30 years of his life as Picard was just a lesson from some Federation probe wanting to impart a story about their dead civilization.

Awesome interview, thank you very much for sharing, Gates has always been my favorite doctor! What about Karl interview?