Marina Sirtis Was Almost Fired From “Star Trek: The Next Generation” During First Season
The Star Trek franchise has survived many renditions, some better than others, but arguably the one that ensured the series would continue for decades on was “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. However, the show had a tumultuous first season where the future was never certain. One of the key cast members just spoke out about how her time on the show was nearly cut short very early on.
In an interview with the AV Club, Marina Sirtis (AKA Counselor Deanna Troi on TNG) talked about being cast on the show, and the legacy of being a part of the Star Trek universe. During this chat, they discussed whether or not the crew had any belief that the show would endure the way it has. Sirtis was not so optimistic at the time:
MS: I myself was hanging on by my fingernails, especially after the first season. I pretty much have only spoken about it recently because it was kind of awkward. I was never asked the question. When I was finally asked, I was like, “Well, actually, the reason why I wasn’t in a lot of those episodes in the first season was because I was going to get fired.”
She continued to expand on that topic, and explained how she was likely going to be cut from the cast:
MS: Well, Gene felt that there was one too many women on the show. And you need a doctor [Gates McFadden as Beverly Crusher] and a security chief [Crosby as Tasha Yar], but you really don’t need a psychologist. It was as simple as that. Security chief is viable, a doctor is viable—a psychologist, not so much.
So I was getting fired. I asked Majel Barrett-Roddenberry straight out, because we were very close, and I asked her a few years ago, before she passed away, and I said, “I was going to get fired that first season, wasn’t I?” And she went, “Yep!” The irony of the whole situation is that at the end of the first season, I was the only one left out of the three.
The fact that Sirtis survived the crew cuts meant she could have a chance to become a more important player in the show:
So at Jonathan Frakes’ wedding, [Gene Roddenberry] took me aside, and he goes, “You know what, I just wanted to tell you that whenever it is that we go back to work after the strike, the first episode of the second season is a Troi episode.” And I just burst into tears. Because basically, I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails for that whole first season—not just professionally, but emotionally.
I had landed the best job ever, and I was going to lose it. I was so up and down. One minute, I was so happy to be working. The next minute, I was just in the depths of despair. So when he said that to me, it meant the world. Not only did I have a job, but the first episode after a six-month break was going to be a Troi episode. That’s how much they thought of me.
Sirtis’ character thrived along with the rest of the crew, and became part of the modern sci-fi zeitgeist. She opened many doors for other women in the genre, and remains active in the Trek community these days through convention appearances.
Hopefully, Counselor Troi makes a comeback in the upcoming Picard series! How could she not be in it?