The characters of Jake Sisko in “Deep Space Nine” and Wesley Crusher in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” served similar purposes, but they were different from each other in subtle ways.

The Similarities between Jake Sisko and Wesley Crusher:

  • Children of Star Fleet officers, raised in spaces
  • The link between younger viewers and the television show
  • They start off as early teens and grow up over the multi-year run
  • They’re both raised by a single, surviving parent.
  • We need a plot, quick, save the kid

The Differences between Jake Sisko and Wesley Crusher

  • Wesley is spoiled because his de facto godfather is captain of the ship, while Jake is not.

There’s even one point when someone else points out it is inappropriate to have a 15 year old in a briefing, and Picard sides with Wesley saying he’s a member of a bridge crew. Note that he’s on the bridge crew before joining Star Fleet as one might a college level service academy or before a conventional kid can drive a car.

Nor do we see Jake receiving any special privileges because his father is called the Emissary by the Bajorans.

  • Wesley is elevated to near god-hood while Jake has to watch his father’s ascension by aliens.

While there is a similar plot device of humans becoming more, I think it grounds Jake Sisko more that he remains human and is left behind as his father fulfills an alien destiny. Wesley goes from spoiled brat given access and authority no one else would get to the next level of existence.

  • The romances of their parents are wildly different.

Beverly Crusher has a few, single episode romances. Her grandmother’s energy alien parasite is one. The early version of the Trill in Commander Riker is another. There’s no stable second parent beyond a distant Captain Picard. In comparison, Commander Sisko ends up with a long-term relationship with Cassidy Yates, marrying her and fathering a child. That forms a new, intact family for Jake while it lasts. This suggests his father is a more stable role model for real life relationships, alien influence aside.

  • Jake Sisko is a better example of what actual alien-human relationships would be like for kids in this universe.

Wesley didn’t have any long-term relationships with aliens in the television show. He has a crush on an alien princess resolved in one episode. He plays with alien teens before being condemned to death for hurting the flowers, and the Captain defends him from aliens. Wesley interacts with them, gets in trouble, gets rescued. It is a plot device.

Then there’s Jake Sisko. He has a long-term friendship with a Ferengi kid, Nog. They get in trouble, they argue cultural differences, they learn about each others’ way of life. They talk about what they want to be as adults and forge their own paths. There is depth here that Wesley Crusher lacks.

  • Wesley Crusher is a wunderkind, while Jake is a regular kid.

Wesley Crusher was even referred to as a wunder-kind or wonder child in one of the Star Trek TNG episodes. He’s a genius, almost everything comes easily, he’s treated like an adult by adults with high status on the show. Compare this to Jake who is an average kid, struggles sometimes with school, and doesn’t receive slack for his mother having died or his father being the head of the station. He’s an average kid in a border pseudo-military outpost. He’s relatable.

All of this explains why Wesley Crusher is routinely mocked in Star Trek fandom, though the lack of deus ex machina also explains why the character of Jake Sisko is so often overlooked.


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