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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old December 19 2010, 05:32 PM   #1
Verteron
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Dead Parents

I was just watching The Bonding (awful episode IMHO, but nonetheless):

Has anyone noticed the rather high level of 'absent parents' (or other near relatives prematurely deceased) in the TNG main cast?
  • Will Riker - mother died when he was two
  • Worf - an orphan
  • Geordi LaForge - mother missing (presumed dead) during the series
  • Wesley Crusher - dead father
  • Beverley Crusher - dead husband
  • Deanna Troi - dead father
  • Data - creator died during the series
  • Tasha Yar - both parents killed on Turkana IV

Only Picard's parents seem to have died from old age. Doctor Crusher's mother died of old age during the series, but she was 'bereaved' already by Jack's death.

Any thoughts on whether the writers noticed this, or whether it's deliberate? It's fairly crazy, is Starfleet or the 24th century really that dangerous?!
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Old December 19 2010, 05:41 PM   #2
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Re: Dead Parents

It's just the laws of drama. Characters with happy, contented lives aren't as interesting. Consider the fatality rate for the romantic interests of any TV hero from the '60s-'80s.
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Old December 19 2010, 06:00 PM   #3
Shatnertage
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Re: Dead Parents

Reminds me of Lost. Everyone's either got dead parents or daddy issues. Worf, whose adoptive parents were merely well-meaning and embarrassing, might have had the best relationship. We know that Riker was compelled to dress up like a power ranger and duke it out with his dad, and Picard, at least subconsciously, was dogged by the fact that his father thought he was a loser.

It does make better drama, but it's kind of funny when you think about it. For all of the talk of how humanity has evolved, parents and kids still don't understand each other.
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Old December 19 2010, 09:30 PM   #4
Finn
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Re: Dead Parents

^It was implied that Beverly's mother died relatively young in the fan favorite Sub Rosa.
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Old December 19 2010, 09:44 PM   #5
SiorX
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Re: Dead Parents

^Wot he said. It was Crusher's grandmother who died in Sub Rosa. Her mother died when Beverly was a child. No word on her father, except that we know he didn't raise her.
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Old December 20 2010, 12:38 AM   #6
SchwEnt
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Re: Dead Parents

Even more odd when you consider that in the 24th c, humans are living well into their 100s, maybe 120, 130.

You'd expect that a couple generations of one's family would be living, maybe all the way up to a great-great grandparent. But TNG crew can barely get their immediate parents to stick around.
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Old December 20 2010, 02:56 AM   #7
Christopher
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Re: Dead Parents

Well, if we went by the original conception of TNG, the Enterprise-D was intended to be a ship that would spend years, even decades, in deep space, never returning to a home port. It stands to reason that a mission like that would preferentially attract people who didn't have extensive family ties -- either people who could bring their families with them or who weren't leaving anyone behind at all.

However, once TNG's original producers left, their ideas for the show were mostly abandoned, and this ship that was intended as a deep-space exploration platform spent most of its time hanging around Federation space on diplomatic, political, or relief missions. But it could still explain things if you assume the crew expected to be away from home for a long time but the mission ended up being different than the original planners intended.
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Old December 20 2010, 09:39 AM   #8
Timo
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Re: Dead Parents

It may even be that being familially dysfunctional is an entry requirement for Starfleet: well-balanced people from wholesome homes just plain don't volunteer for the risky adventures and astronomical-scale boredom that Starfleet offers.

Or the reverse effect may be at play: people from a family line that takes such risks tend to die young and leave behind assorted orphans.

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Old December 20 2010, 07:20 PM   #9
RandyS
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Re: Dead Parents

Verteron wrote: View Post
I was just watching The Bonding (awful episode IMHO, but nonetheless):

Has anyone noticed the rather high level of 'absent parents' (or other near relatives prematurely deceased) in the TNG main cast?
  • Will Riker - mother died when he was two
  • Worf - an orphan
  • Geordi LaForge - mother missing (presumed dead) during the series
  • Wesley Crusher - dead father
  • Beverley Crusher - dead husband
  • Deanna Troi - dead father
  • Data - creator died during the series
  • Tasha Yar - both parents killed on Turkana IV

Only Picard's parents seem to have died from old age. Doctor Crusher's mother died of old age during the series, but she was 'bereaved' already by Jack's death.
Actually, you can add Crusher's mom to this list. "Sub Rosa" establishes that she did not, in fact die of old age. She died when Beverly was still a kid, and Beverly was raised by her grandma at that point.
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Old December 20 2010, 10:47 PM   #10
Verteron
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Re: Dead Parents

RandyS wrote: View Post
Actually, you can add Crusher's mom to this list. "Sub Rosa" establishes that she did not, in fact die of old age. She died when Beverly was still a kid, and Beverly was raised by her grandma at that point.
Quite right, it's been a while since I've watched Season 7 without skipping over that episode!
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Old December 21 2010, 01:21 AM   #11
J.Ashmore
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Re: Dead Parents

Beverly's parents both died. Whether from the tragedy on Arveda III or sometime after, it isn't sure. She says so in 'Arsenal of Freedom.' After they died, she was raised by her grandmother and they settled on Caldos.
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Old December 21 2010, 05:25 AM   #12
Kestra
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Re: Dead Parents

Timo wrote: View Post
It may even be that being familially dysfunctional is an entry requirement for Starfleet: well-balanced people from wholesome homes just plain don't volunteer for the risky adventures and astronomical-scale boredom that Starfleet offers.

Or the reverse effect may be at play: people from a family line that takes such risks tend to die young and leave behind assorted orphans.

Timo Saloniemi
This is pretty much what I was thinking.
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Old December 21 2010, 01:45 PM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Dead Parents

If that were true, there wouldn't have been provisions for families aboard Galaxy-class and other Starfleet vessels. Also, it's easily disproven that all Starfleet officers are "required" to come from broken or dysfunctional homes. The La Forge family was stable and whole for many years prior to the Hera's disappearance, and at least three of its members were in Starfleet. Worf came from a stable and loving adoptive family, regardless of what happened to his birth parents. The Sisko family was healthy and close-knit. O'Brien was a family man and seemed to get along well with his family back home (whom he often took time off to visit). Harry Kim was extremely close to his parents. Tuvok had a large, stable family. And so on.
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Old December 21 2010, 01:53 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: Dead Parents

There'd hardly be a written-down requirement there - but the general gist would be that only those with suicidal genes would end up in Starfleet, with obvious consequences, and the LaForge family would be a good example: sooner or later, somebody would die of "occupational causes". Two parents might still be more common than one, zero or three, but the demographics could still plausibly be very different from the civilian population.

Of the Galaxy family accommodations, many were apparently dedicated to single-parent families. We don't know if this was because only one parent would choose to be aboard, or because only one parent was alive (and although we do know single parents were REALLY prevalent just because casting two would cost twice as much, we can't say so!), but the thing is, we only really ever saw one two-parent family with kids exploit those facilities: the O'Briens.

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Old December 21 2010, 02:05 PM   #15
JarodRussell
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Re: Dead Parents

Christopher wrote: View Post
It's just the laws of drama. Characters with happy, contented lives aren't as interesting. Consider the fatality rate for the romantic interests of any TV hero from the '60s-'80s.
Yawn, really. Everyone having daddy-issues. It's a silly stereotype.
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