Star Trek: TNG Actor Stands Up for His Character's Questionable Decision-Making

Star Trek: TNG Actor Stands Up for His Character's Questionable Decision-Making
Image credit: Paramount

Star Trek is set in the future, where humanity overcame many of its problems. But not the propensity of people to make questionable decisions.

Starfleet captains who featured in the various Star Trek series had their own share of morally or tactically controversial decision-making, and some of their actions are disputed by fans to this day.

But probably no captain caused as much controversy in as little time as Edward Jellico (Ronny Cox), whether in opinion of the characters or the audience.

Jellico briefly commanded the Enterprise-D in the Star Trek: The Next Generation two-parter "Chain of Command" (Episodes 10 and 11 of Season 6). He was assigned to replace Picard, when Picard went on a secret mission, and his strict, no-nonsense attitude quickly caused much friction with the crew, particularly Commander Riker.

The successful resolution of the two-parter's external conflict depended on Jellico being able to settle their differences with Riker, which to his credit he managed to do.

Now, when Jellico returned to the screen as a Starfleet admiral in Star Trek: Prodigy, his actor (now voice actor) offered some defense of his character's actions back in TNG, when discussing his new role (via): "So if you go back and look at what he did, he achieved a great deal of things there."

"One of the things that was different about "Chain of Command" is that the original producers didn't like internal conflict among the characters. That robbed them dramatically of conflict among characters," he explained. "And when Jellico came in, they were able to institute that."

This is arguable, as while Rodenberry's mandate to avoid conflicts within the crew hamstrung TNG early on, it was largely disregarded already by Season 6.

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Inarguably, however, some of Jellico's commands, aimed to give the ship and the crew more orderly and military-like appearance, which made him look like an authoritarian jerk to many viewers, were just in-setting rationalizations of small changes, which actors long wanted to implement.

For example, he got a lot of flak for ordering Counsellor Troi to replace skin-tight bodysuits she had been wearing with a standard Starfleet uniform, but Marina Sirtis, who played Troi, actually asked for that.

Similarly, Picard's fishtank, which Jellico ordered to remove from the ready room, was something that Patrick Stewart hated: "We're doing a series about the dignity of all creatures in the universe and we've got captured fish in the ready room?"