20 Star Trek Women You Should Know

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Diana Muldaur as Dr. Pulaski in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Image via Paramount/CBS)

11. Katherine Pulaski (The Next Generation)

Dr. Katherine Pulaski remains something of a controversial figure amongst fans, even to the present day. She replaced Dr. Crusher, the ship’s doctor played by Gates McFadden on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Staff members had convinced Roddenberry to let McFadden go; however, producer Rick Berman refused to kill off the character, and so simply wrote Dr. Crusher out of the show, leaving a chance for McFadden to return.

In the meantime, however, The Next Generation needed a new doctor. Enter Dr. Pulaski, played by Diana Muldaur (who had already appeared in the original series in two different roles). At the time, viewers and critics were sharply divided on her character. Some thought that the abrupt, even awkward doctor was too reminiscent of Dr. Leonard McCoy from The Original Series. Many also critiqued her abrasive treatment of android crewmember Data, by then a fan favorite.

Others applauded the new character. She was an older woman on television in the 1990s, then hardly a leg up (not like that’s a help today, either). It was also refreshing to see someone who wasn’t blandly nice, like so many of the other characters in the early seasons of The Next Generation. Sure, she could have been far more considerate of Data, but I would rather have seen that play out over a character arc on multiple episodes than overnight.

But audiences wouldn’t have so much time with Dr. Pulaski. She only lasted through the second season. Gates McFadden returned as Dr. Crusher for the third season and remained with the show until its end in 1994.