Cmdr. Beverly Crusher, M.D.
|Affiliation||United Federation of Planets
|Posting||USS Enterprise-D chief medical officer
Celtris III special operations
USS Enterprise-E chief medical officer
|Children||Wesley Crusher (son)|
|Portrayed by||Gates McFadden|
Commander Beverly Crusher, M.D. (born Beverly Cheryl Howard), played by actress Gates McFadden, is a fictional character on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and its subsequent spin-off films. She was a regular character in the show for all but the second of its seven seasons.
Gates McFadden was reluctant to accept the role of Dr. Crusher because of her commitment to appear in the play The Matchmaker at the La Jolla Playhouse. During the second season, the Crusher character was written out of the show and replaced by the louder, more outgoing Dr. Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur). Patrick Stewart was upset by McFadden's departure from the show and played a large part in bringing about her return. McFadden returned to the show in the third season, with her character being reassigned to the Enterprise. On the show, the explanation was given that her character "was off heading up Starfleet Medical for the year." Upon her return, the character became more varied and more richly developed, and was not afraid to go head-to-head with Picard. Episodes featuring Beverly Crusher focused on her romantic life, often with unexpected alien lifeforms.
Beverly Crusher was born Beverly Howard on October 13, 2324 in Copernicus City, Luna. Further back, before the colonization of Luna, her ancestors were Scottish-Americans. Following the death of her parents when she was very young, she lived with her grandmother, Felisa Howard on Arvada III, a colony planet until a great moon collision caused the planet to flood, forcing its evacuation. Resourceful Felisa, with her granddaughter's aid, used herbs, grasses, tree chemicals, and roots as medicines when synthetic medicines ran out for the injured.
During her youth, Beverly was known as quiet, shy, and socially awkward. She was also very self-conscious about her bright red hair and at the age of thirteen, attempted to dye it dark with disastrous results. She admits to Data later in the episode Offspring, that she was often ridiculed and unpopular in school and it had been very painful for her. She also admits that it brought back painful memories of those years when she saw her son Wesley going through the same ridicule as a child.
It was her grandmother's career as a healer and Beverly's own caring, high intelligence, and sensitivity that largely sparked Beverly's lifelong interest in medicine and healing the sick and wounded. The Arvada III disaster solidified Beverly's decision to be a doctor.
Beverly Crusher attended Starfleet Academy from 2342 to 2350 during which she attended medical school. While attending the academy she got romantically involved with cadet Jack Crusher. They were introduced by their friend, Walter Keel. She graduated top of her class and married Jack in 2348. She had also been called the Dancing Doctor when she was at the academy and had won multiple awards. In 2350 she started an internship with Dr. Dalen Quaice.
After marrying Jack, she returned to the academy while he left for the USS Stargazer. A year later they gave birth to a son-Wesley Crusher. Jack died on an away mission when Wesley was 5 years old. Captain Picard, who commanded the Stargazer at the time, brought home the body of Jack. She never fully recovered from his death. Later in her life she realizes Picard had fallen in love with her. Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard were also acquaintances whilst the character's husband was alive, as Picard and Jack Crusher were best friends. At the beginning of the series Picard and Dr. Crusher have not seen or heard from each other since Jack's death. "Encounter at Farpoint" is the first time Picard and Dr. Crusher's son Wesley truly meet face to face.
During the progression of the series the attraction or affection between the two is made more apparent, though both Crusher and Picard try to conceal their feelings; neither wants to admit to the other how they feel, though they have both been seen on separate occasions talking with other crew members about it, most notably, William Riker and Deanna Troi. The two appear to become closer and closer throughout the series, starting with the first season episode "The Naked Now". Their relationship ultimately takes its biggest leap forward in "Attached", when the two are linked telepathically, leading to the revelation of deep romantic feelings they share for each other. At the end of this episode, a budding hint of a romantic relationship is slowed down when a blushing Beverly tells Jean-Luc, Maybe we should be afraid, implying that she's not ready to take that step forward in their relationship.
However, only a handful of episodes later in "Sub Rosa", we see that neither Beverly or Jean-Luc has been able to let go of those feelings and they are back to where they started, trying to pretend the feelings don't exist and that they have no problem being "just friends" with one another.
In the series finale "All Good Things...", it is revealed that in an alternate future, Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard had been married and then divorced — still evidently having feelings for each other after so many years. Little information is given about the circumstances of their marriage or separation. In the present, during the episode, the two share a kiss. However that timeline, as well as that version of the future, is destroyed when Picard changes the past.
In the four TNG movies, the flirtation between Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard remains, though it is not as obvious as previous episodes and most certainly not part of the substantial movie plots. The most note-worthy moment between the two happens in one of the deleted scenes of the last TNG movie, Star Trek: Nemesis.
After her transfer to Starfleet Medical, Beverly and Jean-Luc have an intimate conversation via subspace communique in which Beverly talks about her new job. They try to remain platonic throughout the conversation until the end when Beverly says I'll save the last dance for you, a line that has private meaning between the two, implying that Beverly still has feelings for him and has not given up on their relationship.
Following the television series and films, the relationship between Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard continued throughout the non-canonical Star Trek: The Next Generation pocket book series, to the point of marrying and having children.
On board the Enterprise
Dr. Crusher was appointed chief medical officer of the Starship Enterprise-D in 2364, and joined the ship at Farpoint Station with Wesley, reporting on board on stardate 41154. (TNG: "Remember Me") Picard initially had reservations about her presence, but she assured him that the past would have no effect on her duties and she had no problem serving under his command.
An energy-based lifeform from the Beta Renner cloud was accidentally trapped aboard the Enterprise later in 2364. It initially inhabited Lieutenant Worf's body, but next moved to Crusher. It controlled her for a brief period of time, attempting to learn how to use the Enterprise navigational systems in order to return home. The being then transferred itself to the ship's computer system, then took control of Captain Picard.
In mid 2364, Captain Picard invited Crusher on a holodeck adventure set in the fictional world of Dixon Hill. They were joined by Data and ship's historian, Whalen. Unfortunately, a malfunction in the holodeck systems due to a Jarada scan caused the safeties to become disengaged, trapping the group at the whim of Cyrus Redblock. They were later freed, but not before Redblock shot Whalen and threatened to kill Beverly.
Crusher was offered a position as head of Starfleet Medical in 2365 and left the Enterprise during that year. She was replaced by Dr. Katherine Pulaski. While at Starfleet Medical, she worked with the notorious Lieutenant Commander Calvin Hutchinson. Crusher found it difficult to be away, however, and decided to return to the ship the following year.
The reason for Beverly's return was never explicitly stated.
Dr. Quaice retired in 2367 shortly after the death of his wife, and the Enterprise-D picked him up at Starbase 133 to ferry him home. Although he was in good spirits, he was slightly saddened at the prospect of facing the future without many of his friends, a feeling Beverly knew all too well. At the same time, Wesley Crusher was experimenting with a novel warp bubble. Beverly became trapped in this bubble, and her thoughts at the time created a universe where everyone and everything quickly began disappearing. With the assistance of The Traveler, Wesley was able to create a gateway back to the normal universe. Dr. Crusher was able to deduce what was happening in her universe, and escaped just before the bubble collapsed.
Beverly was questioned in connection with the explosion that crippled the Enterprise's warp core in 2367. Her testimony was twisted by Admiral Norah Satie in order to implicate the quarter-Romulan crewman Simon Tarses in the incident, later determined to be an accident.
When the Enterprise entered a temporal causality loop while exploring the Typhon Expanse, Beverly's feelings of déjà vu during a poker game and evidence of temporal phenomena lead to a solution which allowed the ship to break the cycle.
The senior staff of the Enterprise traveled back to the late 19th century in order to stop Devidian lifeforms from feeding on the neural energy of Humans from that era, and prevent the apparent death of Commander Data in that time. Beverly assumed the guise of a nurse and, along with Deanna Troi, experienced quite a bit of discomfort with the corsets of the period. Crusher determined why the Devidians traveled back to that era, and was almost a victim of their energy-draining device.
In 2369, Beverly developed a close friendship when she mentored Amanda Rogers, who was aboard the Enterprise as part of her Starfleet officer's training. It was later discovered that Rogers was the child of two former members of the Q Continuum who had abandoned the Continuum and had established a new life in Kansas as Humans. They were killed when a tornado struck their home. It was later revealed that this was punishment levied by the Continuum. Q appeared on the Enterprise and, in his own way, began to mentor Rogers in the ways of the Continuum. Beverly objected to Q's interference and was silenced briefly by Q when he transformed her into a dog. Rogers, using her new-found powers, restored Beverly to Human form.
That same year, Admiral Alynna Nechayev assigned Crusher, along with Captain Picard and Lieutenant Worf, to a covert mission to seek out and destroy a Cardassian metagenic weapon on Celtris III. Her purpose was to locate and destroy any biological material related to the weapon. The group went through a rigorous training program for the mission, and it was physically straining on Beverly. She used her charms to get a Ferengi, DaiMon Solok, to secure the team passage to Celtris III, and navigated the dangerous caves of Celtris to what was believed to be the launching point for the weapon. It turned out to be a ruse intended to capture Picard, although Worf and Crusher escaped. As a form of psychological torture under Gul Madred, Picard was offered freedom, but was told Beverly had been captured. Madred said that she would be tortured if Picard left, forcing the captain to stay.
- Adam Schrager, The Finest Crew in the Fleet: The Next Generation Cast On Screen and Off. New York: Wolf Valley Books (1997): 126
- "Conundrum", Star Trek: The Next Generation, directed Les Landau. Paramount Pictures, released 15 February 1992 (DVD Release 2002).
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