Who is the least popular character from Star Trek: The Next Generation? Well I’ll give you a hint — her exclusive action figure has been marked down from $14.99 (which is pretty cheap for a collector’s item to start with) to a shockingly low $3.00! Yes you heard me right: Commander Deanna Troi is worth less than what you might spend on a cup of Starbucks! But I come not to praise the half-Betazoid, but instead to bury her (or rather the writers who created her character in the first place).Just for the record Marina Sirtis is a decent actress, so frankly this was always about how her role on the show was ill conceived from the early days of the series. The 80s was a time when political correctness was just getting started and the forward thinkers working on the show embraced this. So old school Star Trek was deemed a little too much of having the Captain get into childish fist fights while the lady crew members were attired in risky mini-skirts and hot go-go boots. Sadly this all needed to be updated, complete with corinthian leather chairs on the bridge.
Above: Deanna Troi just lounging about in her comfy chair while not goofing off in the holodeck or taking some “badly needed” shore leave.
The results were appalling: Suddenly you’ve got a tea sipping Captain and school children romping about the family friendly Enterprise! And because feelings are “complicated” we really need a psychiatrist to deal with all of our playtime interactions on the holodeck. And thus poor Marina Sirtis landed the ultimate wimpy role of being touchy-feely about the finer points of romping around the universe in your leotards.
And making matters worse it was like the writers never quite knew what to do with Deanna Troi: In fact just to make her character more hippy-like it was deemed that she came from a planet where everyone is married at clothing optional ceremonies, and in a later film upon discovering the fountain of youth she needs to confide loudly about her rejuvenated cleavage to Dr. Beverly Crusher. This isn’t bad for a typical soap opera, but it started to make you wanted to root for the Borg after a while.Of course Deanna Troi isn’t the most annoying character of the series — that honor would have to go to Alexander Rozhenko, the spoiled brat Klingon child of Lt. Worf. However we all knew that Muppet Baby Worf was sort of like Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch — he was there just to be cute. So I believe that Trek fans forgave this, however Troi earned their distain because they always imagined her signing up with Starfleet with the expressed mission to make the show a bit too sensitive, and to get the more macho crew members to realize that it was alright to bake a quiche every now and then.
Above: I blame Deanna Troi for allowing Riker to “let go” and embrace his inner slacker — the devastating result was non-regulation facial hair and too many visits to the food replicator for midnight snacks.
Finally the jumping the shark moment occurred for most of us was in the year 2379 when Troi tied the knot with slacker Will Riker. Now Riker was always cast with the image of James T. Kirk in mind, but he never really lived up to our expectations as the series advanced. First it was insulting that he wasn’t running the ship as Captain, but then over time he grew a beard and got slightly pudgy. So as if to confirm that the Next Generation wasn’t about “going boldly where no man had gone before” we get Riker settling down on the farm instead of having casual encounters with sexy green ladies from the wrong side of the galaxy.This wasn’t even a Yoko moment for the show, because unlike Deanna Troi you know in your heart that Yoko Ono was a decent avant-garde artist (which kind of made her kind of interesting). Instead we get Deanna Troi turning our beloved adventure show into The Love Boat. But unlike the The Love Boat as a viewer you never wanted to “just hang out” with Deanna Troi. You always knew that she’d have some sort of other agenda going on while you just wanted to fly on a spaceship and rumble with some bad ass aliens who wanted to destroy Earth this week. So instead we get stuck with Deanna Troi who needs to bring her yuppie aspirations — and improve things that just don’t need improving.
So at the end of the day Troi seems to sum up everything that was wrong about Star Trek: The Next Generation — and I feel vindicated that her action figure bargain bin status now confirms what we knew all along.
Below: By the last film Star Trek Nemesis the crew of Enterprise would just beam in Deanna Troi to attempt to make threatening aliens want to leave the sector at once due to intense boredom and idle chatter.