Wesley Crusher is a fictional character in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, appearing regularly in the first four seasons and sporadically afterward. He is the son of Beverly Crusher and is portrayed by actor Wil Wheaton.
In the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley Crusher first arrives on the Enterprise-D with his mother, soon after Captain Jean-Luc Picard assumes command. Crusher's father was killed while under Picard's command, with Picard delivering the message to Wesley and to his mother, Beverly. Picard initially found Wesley irritating, as he is often uncomfortable around all children, a fact which he discloses to his first officer, Commander William Riker, in the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint". In early episodes of the series, Picard does not allow Wesley on the bridge of the ship. However, during the first season, Picard comes to realize that he understands many things beyond his age and has inherited his mother's high level of intelligence, and grants him more opportunities on board the ship. An alien known as The Traveler tells Captain Picard that Wesley possesses a unique intelligence and great potential when provided encouragement and opportunity, comparing him to a child prodigy like Mozart. Picard soon appoints Crusher as an acting ensign.
Crusher eventually takes the entrance exam for Starfleet Academy. His test score ranks lower than required, and he is not accepted into the Academy in his first attempt, as shown in the episode "Coming of Age". Later, he misses his second chance to take the Academy entrance exam during the episode "Ménage à Troi" in which he assists the Enterprise-D crew in rescuing Riker, Deanna Troi, and Lwaxana Troi from hostile Ferengi, for which Picard grants him a field promotion to full ensign.
In the third season episode "The Bonding", Wesley reveals that following his father's death, he harbored animosity towards Picard, because Picard was in command of the Stargazer during the mission in which Wesley's father was killed. By the end of the episode, he no longer harbors these feelings.
Crusher is then invited to reapply the following year, taking the exam and being accepted into the Academy where he joins an elite group of cadets known as Nova Squadron. His involvement with this group leads to his losing academic credits when a squadron-mate is killed attempting a dangerous and prohibited flight maneuver and, under pressure from the team leader Nick Locarno, Crusher abets the squadron's efforts to cover up the truth. Although the crew's intervention and Crusher's own testimony saves him from expulsion, all of Cadet Crusher's academic credits for the year are canceled and he is required to repeat the year and graduate after most of the rest of his class. He remains in the Academy thereafter until the Traveler re-contacts him in the final season's ''Journey's End'', whereupon he resigns his commission and goes with the Traveler to explore other planes of reality.
He is next seen sitting next to his mother in the background of the wedding scenes in the feature film Star Trek: Nemesis. In a scene deleted from the movie, Captain Picard asks Crusher if he's excited to serve on board the USS Titan (Captain Riker's ship), and Crusher tells him that he will be running the night shift in Engineering, which would have indicated that Wesley returned to Starfleet at some point prior to the events of the film, if the scene had not been deleted.
The subsequently released A Time to... novel miniseries and the 2007 novel relaunch of Star Trek: The Next Generation revealed that Crusher had become a full-fledged Traveler. He was wearing a Starfleet uniform in Star Trek: Nemesis because he had mistakenly arrived to Riker and Troi's wedding naked, expecting a Betazoid wedding. Several years later, Crusher enlisted the aid of the Enterprise-E crew in stopping a powerful machine from destroying all organic life in the galaxy.
The Wesley Crusher character was unpopular among more than a few Star Trek fans. Many fans considered the character to be a Mary Sue and a stand-in for Gene Roddenberry, whose middle name was "Wesley". The character's role in the show was greatly downplayed after the first season when Roddenberry's involvement in the show's production became more peripheral, and he was written out altogether in the season four episode "Final Mission" following the end of Roddenberry's hands-on involvement.
Some fans disliked the idea of a boy who seems to constantly save the whole ship as a deus ex machina plot device. Commentators have observed at least seven times in which Wesley, "who has trouble getting into the Starfleet Academy" and is on a ship "filled with Starfleet's best and brightest crew members", has come up with "the needed solution". Fans' dislike for Wesley Crusher has become somewhat of a pop-culture meme, reflected in other TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory and in a 2009 Family Guy episode, "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", which included the main The Next Generation cast and featured Wil Wheaton in character as Wesley being bullied by Patrick Stewart.