Star Trek: The Sexist Reason Deanna Troi Was Nearly Sidelined By Gene Roddenberry

"Star Trek" has always embodied a spirit of egalitarian progressivism, imagining a future of prosperity and equality for all humanity. But even so, it hasn't always managed to hold itself to those lofty ambitions. Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," can attest to one such lapse that affected her personally.

According to Sirtis, she was nearly kicked off the series due to sexism from none other than the creator of "Star Trek," Gene Roddenberry, and only managed to remain on the cast because Denise Crosby, who played Security Chief Tasha Yar in early seasons of "The Next Generation," voluntarily left the show after Season 1. Sirtis appeared on a panel for Star Trek Las Vegas in 2018 alongside co-star Jonathan Frakes, where she revealed that Roddenberry had seen her character as superfluous due to gender.

"I was very insecure in the first season," Sirtis said (via Trek Movie), "because they were always writing me out of episodes and I went from being the favorite—because when I was cast, I knew I was their favorite. [Gene Roddenberry] loved me. It was obvious I was their favorite—and it got to the point where if a producer saw me coming, they would turn around and walk away. So, I knew my job was on the line." In fact, it was only because another woman on the show's cast left voluntarily that Sirtis kept her job.

Roddenberry thought there were one too many women on The Next Generation

Marina Sirtis' suspicions that she might be on the chopping block after the first season playing Counselor Deanna Troi on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" were confirmed by none other than Majel Barrett, "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's spouse who also played Deanna's mother, Lwaxana, on the show. According to Barrett, Roddenberry had been considering writing Sirtis off because he felt there were "one too many women," and would have gone through with it had Denise Crosby not quit her role as Tasha Yar.

Further, Barrett claimed that Roddenberry wasn't sure the Enterprise needed an onboard psychologist because he believed that people in the world of "Star Trek" would have moved beyond interpersonal conflict, making jobs like therapist, psychologist, or counselor unnecessary. Of course, there's plenty of interpersonal conflict on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," whether it's Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) facing off against higher-ranking officers or Klingon cultural differences coming between Worf (Michael Dorn) and his shipmates, making it unclear why Roddenberry would have allegedly held that perspective.

The character of Deanna Troi remained on "The Next Generation" for the duration of its seven seasons, and also appeared in the feature films focused on its cast. However, Sirtis was once again nearly fired from "Star Trek: Nemesis," as she also revealed to Jonathan Frakes at the Star Trek Las Vegas panel in 2018 that the production had threatened to replace her with Jeri Ryan, who played Seven of Nine elsewhere in the franchise. But Sirtis said she didn't back down. "I said, 'Well, Jeri Ryan won't do it for that money, that is for sure,'" she told Frakes.