Another Star Trek Question

I know I can’t be the only one who has noticed the utter lack of any enlisted personall on any ship. In fact the only time I think I ever saw a reference to enlisted personall was in the TNG episode when Picard’s heart fails and Q shows him what his life would have been like had he not been stabbed in a brawl in his youth.

Anyone else ever remember an episode when everyone wasn’t an officer?

Chief O’Brien

That female yeoman who was always making puppy eyes at Kirk.

You did say “any ship”, so you have not limited your question to the Next Generation.

It seems to me some of the Originals have ensigns in various scenes. I don’t know where they fit in Starfleet Command, but they don’t rank high in the Navy! I forget, what were the ranks of Sulu and Chekof? (It’s been quite awhile.) And, what was Urhura’s rank? (Please pardon any misspelled names.)

“They’re coming to take me away ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee, to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time… :)” - Napoleon IV

Ensigns are officers - in the navy and in Starfleet.

I think Chekov was an ensign; Uhura was a lieutenant. Can’t remember about Sulu.

Please also excuse my spelling of names - I am sure they are wrong.

Jinx: Ensigns are the starting rank for officers in our Navy. They are still officers though.

I forgot about Cheif O’Brian. Was he still enlisted in DS9?

In the book “The Making of Star Trek” Gene Roddenberry said in an interview that he decided that everyone on a starship should be considered a “pilot” and therefore, an officer. Obviously, even in TOS that was ignored or forgotten (there were always yeomen, after all)but that was the original rationale.

Chekov was an ensign, Sulu and Uhura were lieutenants.

I understand all the words, they just don’t make sense together like that.

In TNG anyone without collar rank pips is enlisted.

O’Brien started out a lieutenant in TNG, but somehow ended up CPO, which is an enlisted rank. He actually stated in DS9 that he was enlisted.

Only you can prevent solipsism.

I know in the “Man Trap” (early TOS episode), the famed salt vampyre mimics a
“Crewman” of sub-Saharan descent who says he
knows Uhura. Since she addresses him as “Crewman”, and he calls her “ma’am”, it sounds to me like he’s a pretty low-level

As for Chief O’Brien in TNG, from what I remember of his level of responsibility it sounded like it might be too high for an enlisted man, generally speaking. AFter all, he seemed to have Scotty’s old job, and
Scotty was a lt. commander. I suspect that
the writers were not fully hip to Navy usages, on which the rankings were presumably based, and thought that “Chief” was a senior officer rank. Of course coming
back to our times I’ve heard it sead that
it’s the chief (Petty Officers) who run the
whole damn thing as far as our navy is concerned.

O’Brien was one of the big nits in ST:TNG. He started out as a Lt. in his first appearances, then suddenly became a Chief Petty Officer. He kept that title all the way through his stint on the Enterprise and while stationed at DS9.

There are Crewmen (i.e., non-coms) on starships. You could spot them on the original Enterprise; they were the ones running around in plain jumpsuits. The Enterprise-D also had them, and so does Voyager. There are also technicians and other psuedo-Starfleet personnel; Keiko O’Brien was a botanist on the Enterprise-D. And then there’s the mysterious case of Guinan…

BTW, Sulu’s original rank was Lt., Chekov was an Ensign, Uhura was a Lt., and Janice Rand was a Yeoman.

I retired from the TrekWorld ages ago, so I know the Trekkies will eat me alive on this; yet, still I humbly cast my bones to the circling Trekkies sharks to set me straight:

  1. Oh, ok…thanks to Missbunny et al. for explaining about the title of “Ensign”. :o

2a. Correct me if I am wrong, but weren’t all the episodes first written by James Blish? If so, wouldn’t you imagine that Gene Roddenbury (sp?) simply did not elect to waiver much from these story lines? Besides, wouldn’t the enlisted personnel simply be “extras” on the set for the most part wouldn’t you think?

2b. In some of the “spin-off” novels (which to me are unofficial Trek material), seems to me you’d find some member of the enlisted personnel involved in some dastardly plot. But, I wouldn’t really count that, would you?

  1. A “neither here nor there” WAG which may sound biased, but those famous words “He’s dead, Jim” uttered by Dr. McCoy (about a wounded crewmember) always made me think they lost a low ranking member of the crew used as guinea pigs. With the possible exception of the “Shore Leave” episode where Jim was able to reclaim his allegedly lost/killed men.

  2. I guess if one were to go back through the episodes and really paid very close attention to how the minor chracters are addressed, etc., one might find some enlisted personnel with small roles.

  3. I believe in Star Trek II, Sulu addresses a plebe nearby saying “there goes the training cruise”. Now, a plebe is in the Academy, but is not yet an officer, correct?
    (What’s the difference between plebe and a cadet?)

  4. Always remember: If in doubt, change the rules - just like Kirk.

“They’re coming to take me away ha-ha, ho-ho, hee-hee, to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time… :)” - Napoleon IV

One wonders where some people get their ideas… :rolleyes:

James Blish did not write the episodes in Star Trek; indeed, I’m not sure he wrote ANY episode (I’d have to go back and look). What James Blish did is novelize the episodes in the 70’s in a series of books that presented the episodes in ‘order’.

I shudder to think what Harlan Ellison would be doing if he read that James Blish had written City on the Edge of Forever.

Roddenberry’s take was that by ST times, everyone in StarFleet would be an officer, and their wouldn’t be any enlisted crew. (I leave the status of Yeoman Rand to other more military informed to unravel.)

Next Gen introduced O’Brien. I did not remember his rank officially being given, but it sounds right that he was a lieutenant. Then he was designated as Transporter Chief (NOT Chief Petty Officer). I believe this was a designation of his position as head of Transporter activities and maintenance, not a rank.

Then came DS9. Roddenberry was dead and the new people manning the helm felt a little less confined to his original premise. And somewhere along the line they decided that “Chief” O’Brien must be a Chief Petty Officer, since he was called Chief, and is therefore enlisted, not an officer. (Actually I think his official position was some other term with Chief in it that escapes me at the moment, again arguably a position title, not a rank.)

I don’t recall anyone else ever being identified as less than Ensign, except for cadets, and of course “acting Ensign” Wesley Crusher.

There were the usual batch of background extras who did not have real uniforms, but wore those jumpsuits. I suppose a person could interpret those to be the enlisted.

Guinan was interesting, but not unique, because by Next Gen the Galaxy Class ships had more than just crew - they had families and such. Remember Picard’s barber - the blue-skinned guy? Never saw him in uniform. That implies there was a certain amount of civilians aboards, though they were curiously not discussed often.

It’s that revisionist ST history (future?).

DSYoungEsq wrote:

He’d blow up and rip up every copy he owned of everything James Blish has ever written, and denigrate him at every public appearance thereafter.

Then again, he’d do that if you so much as mentioned a coffee stain on his tie. It’s not exactly a challenge to tick him off.

I’m not seeing the connection. Why would pointing out a coffee stain lead Ellison to whale on James Blish?

Because life itself ticks Ellison off. Ever since he was screwed on ‘City on the Edge of Forever’, he’s been pissed at humanity. He can’t visit one convention, go on one TV show, or do one interview without going into his rant. He’s basically just pissed 24/7.

Not that he’s not talented. He should have just been over this oh, 30 years or so ago. I’ve seen people bring it up just to tick him off. It’s a riot.


I think all the main characters were the officers and all the enlisted were the background extras. That would make sense, since nobody would want to follow the adventures of the people who sat in front of a diagnostics board all day, doodling on their datapad, and mumbling, “When’s my break coming?”… well, I guess every now and then, the ship would shake, causing our hero to say, “What the hell…?” And, in the season finale, one of the computer screens could blow up randomly, and our brave hero could be blasted across the room, instantly unconcious, only to be awakened by the ships’ doctor who’s name he couldn’t remember (and who couldn’t remember his name), given a couple days of relaxed duty where he sits in his cabin the whole time looking at smutty pics of nude Cardassians that he keeps saved on his datapd…

Which brings me to another point… do you think any of the crew would try to sneak a hardcore porno program into the ships’ holodeck? Crew members are allowed personal programs, right? (No, I’m not trying to turn this into some smutty thing, I swear!)

Anyway, back to our hero… by now, he’s made his way to the dining hall where he sits in a corner picking at that nasty Klingon food that they keep serving him, glancing over at the table where all the well-known TV stars are seated and where all the lights and cameras are always trained and… oops! Sorry… kinda lost a grip on the story…


On all 4 shows, there have been personnel addressed as “crewman” or have been noted that they went the enlisted route instead of through StarFleet. One example, the medical tech Tarses that was lambasted in the TNG episode “The Drumhead” told all about how he wanted to get into space fast, so he enlisted.

New subject: O’Brien, the big nit. There was one second-season TNG episode where Riker specifcially addresses him as “lieutenant” just before O’Brien beams him somewhere. He wore two solid pips for the first two seasons, which agreed with the costume protocol.

In the first TNG episode, “Encounter at Farpoint”, Picard addresses him only as Conn (or maybe “Khan”? :D) He was at the conn in the Battle Bridge when they did the saucer separation, then Q transported everyone in the BB except O’Brien, who didn’t miss them at all when Q zapped them back.

One explanation was that the actor Colm Meaney wasn’t playing O’Brien in those first two seasons, but just some unnamed crewman. (I could buy this; Jerry Orbach played a guest character on “Law & Order” before being cast as Brisco.) But a wrench in this: in the series finale “All Good Things…”, Picard time-travels back to when he first arrived on the Enterprise. Colm Meaney is there, and is addressed as O’Brien.

More nits:
[list=1][li]also in “AGT…”, Data didn’t wear his lieutenant commander (LCDR) pips, even though he was that rank through the whole series.[/li][li]On Voyager, Tuvok is a LCDR. But his pips have been inconsistant, and sometimes he’s addressed as Lieutenant.[/li][li]On Voyager, the former Maquis wear some specialized insignia signifying that they’re officers, but not Star Fleet grads. But in the episode “In The Flesh”, Chakotay investigates a simulation of Star Fleet Headquarters & Acadamy run by Species 8472. They don’t suspect him, even though he’s not wearing Star Fleet graduate insignia.[/list=1][/li]
OK, I’m through for now. :smiley:

You must unlearn what you have learned. – Yoda

Re: Ellison and Blish–they were good friends in real life. When it came time for Blish to do the short story version of COTEOF, he tried to use both the televised version and the original script (he also did this for “The Doomsday Machine”, written by Norman Spinrad). Ellison has commented that, while the story still is not good, he respected Blish for trying. See the introduction in the recently published original script of COTEOF for details.

Tuvok started out as a LT and was promoted in the course of the show. I’m not a big pip-watcher so I don’t know if the pips have been inconsistent since the promotion.

Which leads me to wonder, with a 75 year mission, assuming survival of various crew members, is everyone going to end up as a captain eventually? (Yes I know next season is the last so presumably they’ll get home in the season finale but the crew doesn’t know that does it?)