Me being an agitated nerd aka:A minor TNG WTF

I just finished watching the episode "Thine Own Self’
A short summary:
Data goes to a planet with a pre-industrial society to retrieve irradiated fragments from a crashed probe. He then loses his memory and goes to a village with the fragments. Villagers get radiation poisoning and “kill” Data but only after he puts the cure in the water supply. In the meantime Troi has taken her bridge command test and past and apparently promoted. After reawakening Data on the Enterprise, he notices that Troi now outranks him.(Insert crappy witty banter from Troi)
So here’s my problem, Troi outranks Data? How can the ship’s shrink,Who as far as I know does not have any command experience be a superior officer to Data?
Just read the personnel files and career summaries.

Who would you rather have in charge?

And yes I know she was in charge in “Disaster”, but she didn’t make a very good commander. She just told other people to fix stuff. Brilliant strategy Napoleon.

It’s nice having a whole afternoon with nothing to do. Gives me time to do things like this.

Given the touchy-feely command example that Picard set, it makes perfect sense that Troi would outrank Data. Starfleet isn’t based on merit, or time in; otherwise, Vulcans would run everything. It’s all about the feelings, baby.

Starfleet is so touchy-feely, in fact, that they apparently eliminated enlisted ranks entirely, so no one would feel bad that they weren’t officers. Ever notice that the lowest rank in Starfleet seems to be “Ensign?”

So what would that make Miles O’Brian, if not a chief (enlisted)?

It was Gene’s idea that the new Starfleet would only have commissioned officers, but the writers gradually moved away from that after a while. O’Brien is the canonical example of a career NCO, and amusingly he seems to be pretty much the only one around.

  1. The bolded section answers your question. It appears that in the TNG universe, non-combat branches of the service (the blue shirts, etc.), can reach the rank of lt. commander, but to become a commander, they must pass the bridge command test. Troi did, became a commander, and therefore outranked Data. Simple enough.
  2. IRL, the idea of a person without command experience outranking someone with command experience is far from bizarre. In the U.S. Army, to take an extreme example, the Chief of Chaplains is usually a one- or two-star general, far outranking an infantry (major) battalion commander with actual command experience.


Actually, in the series premiere of Voyager, Chakotay makes reference to “one of your crack Starfleet transporter chiefs,” so maybe that’s what they all do…

Transporter Chief is a title, not a rank.

Don’t forget that in the final episode, “All Good Things,” future Crusher was a captain with her own ship. It was a medical research vessel, but she was still in command.

ISTR in at least one other episode, Crusher was Officer of the Day, and told someone she actually enjoyed taking her turn at the helm.

Yep, the good doctor was also a commander. As mentioned earlier, rank does not always equate to your job and it is not unusual to outrank someone but not be in a position of authority over them (in a practical sense).

Heh, under the right circumstance the doctor can remove the captain from command.

Actually, at least in Voyager, several crewmembers were actually referred to as ‘crewmen.’

I always thought that was funny, too. Didn’t they eventually (Voyager?) add in “crewman”?


The Original Series had the rank of “crewman.”

You could easily identify these individuals as they most often wore red shirts and were picked at random to join the various officers when they beamed down to planets.

Which is why later in the series there were fewer and fewer “crewman”.

And then, in Enterprise, you had Crewman Daniels (or, to steal from a noted Trek reviewer, Temporal Nonsense Agent Daniels) from the future. Sure does seem weird to entrust the restoration of TIME ITSELF to a crewman. Were all the other future people busy?

I can’t tell if you’re being facetious but Daniels’ rank as crewman was part of his over-story. He’d draw undue attention as a Captain or Admiral and since it’s never stated who exactly he’s working for, it’s entirely possible he’s not even Starfleet in the first place, anyway.

Not true; there were plenty of them on DS9, where it was implied that the station’s engineering/operations staff were all non-coms. (They worked for O’Brien, after all.) I recall an episode set entirely on the Defiant in which they’re battling a Dominion ship near a gas giant; Sisko is out of action, leaving Worf in command, and Worf is riding the engineering crew pretty hard. O’Brien reminds him that these guys are engineers, not officers, and they haven’t been to Starfleet Academy.

Also, the poor kid in TNG’s “The Drumhead”–the one who gets cashiered out of Starfleet for claiming his grandfather was a vulcan, not a Romulan–is pretty clearly enlisted; Picard asks him why he chose not to attend the Academy.

I always assumed that most of the crew were enlisted in TNG. It just seemed otherwise because all the bridge positions were filled by officers, and the non-bridge positions we saw–Chief Engineer, Chief Medical Officer, and Counselor–were officer positions as well. Geordi and his section heads, for instance, were all at least lieutenants, but most of Engineering were Crewmen or Petty Officers.

My above fan-wank aside, I agree that Troi being put in command of the bridge when Data & Worf are available is pretty stupid. Prior to that, it was clear that, though both Crusher and Pulaski outranked Data, they were subordinate to him OUTSIDE THEIR AREAS OF EXPERTISE, just as Geordi was. That is, when Data is helping in Sickbay or Engineering, he yields to their authority; but as Second Officer, he is clearly higher in the hierarchy than either of them. Take the 7th-season two-parter when both Riker & Picard are missing; Data is clearly acting captain (and appoints Worf as his acting first officer so as not to mess up Engineering’s chain of command), though Crusher outranks him.

I only started paying attention to the show in the third season, so it’s not surprising if I missed something. But I don’t know why “undue attention” would be such a problem. I mean, I know I wouldn’t be all that concerned about the specific rank of the individual who dragged me hundreds of years into the future.

But why would a spy want to draw more attention to himself than he has to? It would only make his mission more difficult and his chances of being found out higher to be an officer when he can pass just as easily as a faceless crewman and it’s not like he can time-travel at will. If caught away from his temporal devices, he’s just as fucked as anyone else would be in the same situation.

And Skald, Nog is an officer that wears mustard but was not in Security so not all the the Operations and Engineering staff on Deep Space Nine were non-coms. He’s the only specific example I can think of as a counterexample, though.